“The Plato Papers” - Peter Ackroyd
“Lord of the Rings” - J R R Tolkien
I need to cheat a bit here and include “The Hobbit”. I re-read these old friends every 5/6 years and never tire of the epic scale of Tolkien’s imagination and his attention to tiny details of the back-story and invented languages that lend a richness, immediacy and veracity to the whole endeavour.
“Untouchable” - Mulk Raj Anand
A day in the life of a low-cast latrine cleaner in the time of the Raj. The author who died a few years ago was the premier Indian novelist writing in English. He spent time in UK with E M Forster and the Bloomsbury Set. Beautifully written and a genuine insight into another time and culture.
“Monsieur Linh and His Child” - Philippe Claudel
Almost unbearably poignant. Please read this book.
“Shantaram” - Gregory David Roberts
A novel written by a young man who escapes from a high security prison in Australia, runs away to India and gets into trouble with the local mafia and all about a young man who escapes from a high security prison in Australia, runs away to India and gets into trouble with the local mafia. Just a really good read.
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The Grapes of Wrath” - John Steinbeck
I can hear Woody Guthrie strumming and singing his Dust Bowl Ballads every time I read this monumental story of America’s displaced and disposessed. I could have chosen any story by Steinbeck or John Irving. Both these authors have the ability to slide their words through the ears and into the brain without any conscious effort from the reader.
“Credo” - Melvyn Bragg
A brilliant telling of the coming of Celtic Chistianity to these shores by one of our master storytellers and wordsmiths.
“Half of a Yellow Sun” - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
If you enjoyed “The Kite Runner” then this book set in the Biafran war is for you. It pulls no punches and shows duplicitous UK foreign policy in a way that should make us feel ashamed.
In a dystopian future a mysterious public orator interprets the ideas and culture of the late twentieth century and gets it all wrong. Should be required reading for historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists to stop them from drawing conclusions based on minimal evidence. Will make your brain hurt in a good way.