Top Twenty, make that fourteen, Books

Ages ago I was having a discussion with a friend regarding our favourite books – we trying to think of our five favourite books, which is pretty difficult off the cuff. Then later we went away and agreed to write lists of our top twenty book to serve as recommendations to each other. I didn’t quite get to twenty, as you can see, but this is what I consider essential fiction.

1. Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys

An utterly incredible writer – dark, sad and funny. It’s clear Jean Rhys wrote about what she knew and the isolation of her characters is always so perfectly penned.

2. Metroland – Julian Barnes

Again, an amazing author – very witty and articulate – his characters are brilliant – this is his first novel but I’d recommend a ton more. It was also made into a great film starring Christian Bale and Emily Watson.

3. Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood

Another brilliant author!

4. A Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson 

It’s said that when you talk about your favourite books, don’t mention books you studied at school. Well I am because it’s a book I feel like I can read over and over and constantly get new things out of it. It holds such a lot for such a short story.

5. Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

Whether you like sci-fi  or not, Wyndham is a must-read.

6. Women in Love – D H Lawrence

I first read Lady Chatterley’s Lover expecting it to be quite dry but it’s not – DHL is great, this book has some great characters. His characters are extremely passionate – they love and hate in equal measure and all have really diverse opinions.

7. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

8. Kartography – Kamila Shamsie

Parallel stories about love and friendship in politically tense Pakistan.

9. Frozen Music – Marika Cobbold

This is my chick-lit option, I’m not usually a fan of this genre but this is good in that its characters are interesting and complex – you know they’re going to end up together but it’s about how they get there.

10. The Man Who Fell To Earth – Walter Tevis

11. The Princess Bride – William Goldman

I’m not usually into ‘funny’ books, preferring a more subtle level of humour, but this is brilliant and I haven’t seen the film which is shocking given how I like adaptations.

12. Stardust – Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is a legend – I was torn between this and The Graveyard Book but decided to go with the ‘adult’ book – his stories sometimes seem to go on a bit longer than necessarily but the worlds he creates are fantastic.

13. City of the Beasts – Isabel Allende

This is my allocated kids’ book, or rather young adult, though I think it’s enjoyable for any imaginative adult as well – it’s the first in a trilogy.

14. Wicked – Gregory Maguire

I so want to see the musical but what I love about the book, and know it’s lost in the musical, are the politics of the world – it’s very socially aware and Elphaba is a great protagonist with some fantastic relationships with supporting characters.

It’s be interesting to read the lists and suggestions of other UnrealityShout members.


  1. Gerard McGarry

    Shockingly, I haven’t read many of the books on your list at all! I think the only one is Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed the story, it had a fairytale feel to it, although the movie was a bit by-the-numbers, I thought.

    The DH Laurence and Evelyn Waugh books…it’s been a while since I’ve read those ‘period’ authors, but I was always partial to a bit of Thomas Hardy. Thought Jude The Obscure was quite a shocking book.

    Maybe I’ll post a top 20 of my favourite books…

  2. priyabhakta

    I thought the Stardust film was lovely actually. It’s heartwarming goodness that I’d usually detest but there’s something in there that’s really charming – maybe it’s the fantasy twist.

    I never liked period or classics so it’s weird that those are on my list I suppose. Brideshead is amazing – it’s just so intense and I could barey put it down whilst I was reading it. The mini series was brilliant. I wasn’t so impressed about the recent film. I actually wrote a review of that somewhere – I might track it down and post it.

    Please do write your list – it’s always great to hear recommendations 🙂

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