1. My First Dictionary. I’ll never forget the lovely little illustrations against each entry: A is for Apple. I pored over it for hours, learning the words.
2. The Rupert Bear Annual. The rhyming, the beautiful illustrations, the fantastic stories. I still think of the wonderful Jack Frost tale when winter comes around.
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. The love story to end all love stories. One of the most original novels ever written, imho.
4. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Magical realism at its best in an epic love story. The only author’s death I’ve actually sobbed over. He changed the way my brain works.
5. Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels. The most beautifully written novel I’ve ever come across and a WW2 classic.
6. The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi. Essays on his experience as a concentration camp prisoner. Read following a visit to Auschwitz.
7. Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams. Irish magical realism at its very best. An epic ode to love set in my favourite country.
8. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell. A surrealist work of utter brilliance, with stories interwoven and interlinked in mind-blowing ways.
9. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Semi-autobiographical story of a guy who flees to India after escaping prison in Australia. His voice mesmerised me. Incredible storytelling.
10. The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux. Gets on a train and doesn’t get off one until the land runs out. I felt like I travelled with him.
Am I allowed one more?
11. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. The moment when I discovered this surreal Japanese genius and fell in love.
So many left out: Mallory Towers, Flowers in the Attic, Jane Eyre, Beloved, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, Any Human Heart…I could go on and on…