Of a Sunday morning, I like to read the blogs of fellow writers that I have linked here while listening to the Archers omnibus. (Ruth: Oh noooo!)
I have noticed there is growing trend for bloggers to publish lists. Caroline seems to me to be the one who has been promoting this trend. She is an avid list publisher. Perhaps it is just the impression I have. I could be wrong. She might slap me for saying so. (But she is obsessed by Simon Callow, so she had better not or I will tell the whole world.)
So I am publishing my list. Trouble is I am not a person who has favourites. Ask me what my favourite book is and I will respond by asking, ‘What time is it?’ I don’t have a favourite book. I can list books that I enjoy, have enjoyed, for different reasons and different moods.
Wow – a list! I mentioned a list so let me list, in no particular order, some of my favourites and the reasons why.
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte: I first read it when quite young, 15 or 16, so its dark romanticism filled my adolescent soul. I studied it at University when I was 50, so the unconscious allegory of the protagonists and location gripped my imagination.
Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, Daphne du Maurier: same as above, but I didn’t study them later.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John le Carré: Having grown up through the Cold War years, and being a boy, I do like a good thriller. For my money, le Carré is the most intelligent writer of this genre.
Doctor No, Ian Fleming: one of Fleming’s secretaries lived just down the road from my uncle and aunt in Richmond, Surrey, so, at the age of 14, I believed I knew him intimately. Doctor No includes a small erotic scene that was, how shall I explain this delicately, jolly exciting for a 14 year old.
My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell: again a book I read as an adolescent and adored. Being the son of an army officer and so having lived in a number of countries in my early life, Durrell caught the dream like quality of my youth albeit in a country I had never visited then.
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh: I was educated at Stonyhurst College so was a Catholic. (Waugh’s youngest son was there when I was.) Be that as it may, and accepting the fact that Waugh was not a pleasant character, the exploration of sin, sexuality and sanity in the character of Sebastian is masterly.
Brighton Rock, Graham Greene: I choose this book, though I could have selected any by Greene, because it is encapsulates everything that was to dominate his writing for the rest of his life, i.e. the precise nature of good and evil.
Lord of the Flies, William Golding: similar to Greene, I could have selected any of his works, my reason being because he first awoke in me the idea of social determination and thus my interest in philosophy.
Hmmm, having said no particular order, I notice that so far I have listed books that had an early influence on me and have remained with me. I shall have to continue this at a later date.