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To find out which author has chosen which book as an all time favourite - just click on a title below.
One of Hardeep Singh-Kohli's favourite books. Ideal as an early introduction to Roald Dahl just as a child is starting to read alone because it’s a short story by comparison to some of his others. Filled with quirky black and white illustrations by the wonderful Quentin Blake that complement the story so beautifully. As three of the nastiest and most crooked farmers vow to wreak revenge on the foxes eating their chickens, little do they know what the foxes have in store for them.
One of Anne Berry's favourite books. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2006. An epic novel of the early settlers in Australia, of the plight of the Aborigines and the crushing of ambition by the pure hardship of developing the land. We know the history but interestingly this leaves the reader to decide on the rights and wrongs as the facts are portrayed. It’s a very grand, rich, multifaceted work indeed. Comparison: Indra Sinha, Khaled Husseini, Barbara Kingsolver.
April 2014 Guest Editor Nicci French on To the Lighthouse. Some people think modernism is chilly and unemotional: not this modernist masterpiece, which made me long to write. It’s a miraculous novel about time, which passes over everything, about art and the act of writing, about families, about human loneliness, about love.
One of Rose Tremain's favourite books. 'This brilliant but devastatingly sad novel moved me so much, I began it again the moment I got to the end.' You can read Rose Tremain's full Introduction to Eugenie Grandet in this Orange Inheritance edition published by Vintage.
The start of this story is an account of a murder and suicide set in the 1920s in a town in rural America. It's easy to get into and absorbing from the word go. It is also a slim volume and so can’t afford to waste words but brings across the characters, the description of the people, places and the era, very vividly, in carefully chosen words. There are parallel stories running through it, involving two young lads who come together in a tenuous fashion to connect the plot in a believable way. At first I had thought it would be a straight forward who-dun-it detective tale, but instead it revealed the autobiographical account of the life of the boy who tells the story, and then his account of what could have happened to the other lad, who was the son of the murderer, after their friendship ended. The imaginative quality of the thoughts of the narrator, even down to an imaginary dog that could have had a place in the tale, was intriguing and thought provoking and I found it a quite unique and unusual approach and a very good read. One of Ann Patchett's favourite books. 'When thinking of a novel I would want to pass on to future generations, it stood to reason that I would see my favourite William Maxwell novel as the best inheritance. It comes from a place so deep inside the human soul that I cannot imagine a time when its wisdom would not feel fresh and applicable. The result is a mosaic of human emotion, a singular and spectacular work of art.' You can read Ann Patchett's full Introduction to So Long, See you Tomorrow in this Orange Inheritance edition published by Vintage.
One of Linda Grant's favourite books. 'It took three weeks to read and three weeks to recover from the experience. Novels fade, your immersion in their world turns into a faint dream, and then is forgotten. Only great literature grows in the imagination. Grossman's book did more than grow, it seemed to replace everything I had previously felt...In the seven years since I first read Life and Fat I have urged all my friends to read it... The novel should be as famous as Doctor Zhivago or The Gulag Archipelago. ' You can read Linda Grant's full Introduction to Life and Fate in this Orange Inheritance edition published by Vintage.
One of Anne Michaels' favourite books. 'Why does Tess continue to move us?...One is Hardy's relentless compassion. His characters are deeply human…and there is Tess herself, her lack of self-pity, her humility, her heorism…And of course, it is Hardy's writing, gloriously physical, full of passion and irony, humour and tenderness.' You can read Anne Michaels' full Introduction to Tess of the D'Urbervilles in this Orange Inheritance edition published by Vintage.
One of Helen Dunmore's favourite books. 'There are novels which have an almost uncanny power to renew themselves in the reader's imagination. Each time I return to To the Lighthouse I'm struck by something that I haven't noticed before: a flash of description, a moment of double-edged intimacy between two characters, a touch of senory experience so immediate that it brings a shiver. More and more as we grow older, these great novels declare their authority. they will certainly outlive us, like sea or rock or sand.' You can read Helen Dunmore's full Introduction to To the Lighthouse in this Orange Inheritance edition published by Vintage.
Top historical novelist Manda Scott has selected this title as one of her favourite books. See below our review for her comment. STOP PRESS: The UK premiere of The Eagle took place in Leicester Square on 9 March 2011. Huge crowds were there to see Channing Tatum and other stars of the film walk up the red carpet and join in the celebrations. We were lucky enough to join the stars and rest assured it's a great film. Whether you've read the book on which its based or not, it's a film well worth seeing but do read the book as well. It's a classic of children's literature.The Eagle of the Ninth is one of the most celebrated children's books of the twentieth century and is now the subject of a major film, THE EAGLE, starring Channing Tatum. This new edition, with its movie tie-in cover, is being published to coincide with the film's release - see below for the trailer.It's a welcome return of a classic story of loyalty and bravery at the time of the Romans. Brought up the stories of his father’s heroism and speculation about how he and his 5,000 soldiers disappeared without trace, Marcus sets out to try to unravel the mystery. His journey is full of danger and emotion which makes this both a thrilling adventure and a thoughtful story about one boy's search for his missing father. From Manda Scott: "Sutcliff herself said that her books were designed to be read by 'children of all ages from eight to 88', but she didn't, I think, fully understand the impact of what she had written. Log on to any historical website, talk to any group of amateur or professional archaeologists or historians, and say the magic words, The Eagle of the Ninth. You will find that a good percentage of those present will agree that their entire life's path has been moulded on a single reading at a formative age. I was eight years old when I read it, but it opened doors that have never closed. I was captivated not so much by Marcus Aquila and his quest for the lost eagle of his father's legion, but by Esca, the captured Briton, and the barbarian tribes that lived north of Hadrian's Wall. They were wild, savage and magical; they spoke to seals, to horses, to hounds and conducted shamanic ceremonies that were closed to outsiders. Sutcliff based her narrative on the then-recent finding of a wingless legionary eagle beneath an altar stone and coupled it with the myth of the Ninth legion's disappearance around 117AD. Scholars now will tell you that there's no evidence the Ninth was ever lost, and reasonable evidence that it was simply recalled to Rome at a time when nobody was paying much attention; that it vanished from history rather than reality. But the Twelfth legion definitely did lose its eagle to enemy forces at the massacre of Beth Horon and, given that it survived in later centuries, must have got it back again. From such grains, do novels grow – and they grow remarkably fast. I have waited 40 years to write this without realising I was waiting, and now that it's done, I can confirm that when an author says that a book wrote itself, they're not necessarily lying. Before I could begin, of course, I had to re-read the book I had loved in my childhood. If this is going to be an homage to a great writer – which it is – it was important to know the rhythms of speech, the flow, the narrative drive; even to find out if it was written in first-person or third, because I never noticed that kind of thing in the headlong rush to finish the story. For the record, it's written in first-person from a Roman viewpoint; and it's every bit as amazing as I remember: short and lyrical and beautiful and full of the small anachronisms that have only become apparent as our understanding of Roman arms and armour has grown. None of which matter in the least." To read the whole article which appeared in the Independent click here.
One of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire's favourite books. These classic cautionary tales contained in Struwwelpeter have sent shivers of fear and delight down the spines of children and their parents for generations. Almost every foible from sucking your thumb, fidgeting at table, not eating up what you are given is covered in a witty rhyme which ends in a nasty comuppance for the child. Although the shocking endings are more savage than would now be thought acceptable the sentiments will be familiar to parents and the brutality awesomely delightful to children. Interestingly, although written in language that would no longer be acceptable, the verses warning against racism and playing with guns seem remarkably modern.
One of Irvine Welsh's favourite books. The anarchic, phenomenally strong-sellling classic from the godfather of the Beats. Welcome to Interzone!
One of P. D. James' favourite books. February 2011 Guest Editor Carmen Reid on Nancy Mitford... I gobbled up all of Nancy Mitford’s books when I was a young teenager. I loved them. I still re-read them every now and again and Nancy never lets you down. All human life is here, but through splendidly upper-class goggles. Dating and mating was never so posh, so gossipy and so utterly scandalous. The Pursuit of Love and Love In a Cold Climate are full of life and wit and all kinds of fascinating love affairs. For me, Fabrice was the ultimate romantic hero - a Parisian lover, who gave gifts of fur coats and silk knickers! Nancy brought unimaginable glamour and sophistication to my reading life.
What are the great books that have influenced other authors the most?
We know that our guest editors often share their personal favourites with us, but some of these titles come up again and again.
So, we have put them all into one easy list for you to enjoy. If books were football players, this is the team that would win the World Cup!