If I ever needed an excuse to list my favourite books, this is it! So here are 30 books which I love and always return to.
To keep the list interesting and varied, I’ve only chosen one book per author. I should also note that these books are my favourites of all time and are not representative of what my favourites were at different life stages (if that makes sense). The list includes children’s books but not picture books.
Villette by Charlotte Brontë is an entertaining, complex, gothic masterpiece, in my opinion better than Jane Eyre!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling – I am old enough to remember the hype when a new HP novel was published, and it didn’t get more exciting than this, the final instalment in the series containing the final battle against Voldemort.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend – hilarious, easy to read and bittersweet, this is the first in a series.
A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down by Nicey and Wifey is based on a biscuit-reviewing website and is very British, very funny but also informative.
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells never fails to impress me with its chilling visions of the distant future.
Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood is an atmospheric, characterful and well-written collection of stories set in pre-war Berlin.
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman is the astonishing, epic finale in the His Dark Materials trilogy.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – always curious, charming and clever.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is impressive, powerful and wonderfully narrated.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – I haven’t had much success in enjoying other Dickens novels, but I love the story of Pip, Joe, Miss Havisham, Magwitch and Estella.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is an endearing, impactful diary about fitting in, friendship and mental health.
Bright Earth: The Invention of Colour by Philip Ball – the perfect blend of art and science.
Holes by Louis Sachar is a brilliant YA story about luck, fate and family, set in a young offenders’ desert camp.
The Monk by Matthew Lewis is an over-the-top gothic extravaganza containing crypts, bandits, a depraved monk, etc.
Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure by Dave Gorman – a comedian on a hilarious journey meeting random people.
Orlando by Virginia Woolf is a surprising and original exploration of gender and time.
The Speed of the Dark by Alex Shearer never fails to move and enthral me, a seriously underrated YA novel.
Collected Poems by Philip Larkin – his poems really speak to me and this is the first book I turn to when in the mood for verse!
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – the iconic addictive tale of Holden Caulfield and his contempt of ‘phoneys’.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli – a lyrical, inspirational YA novel about a boy’s admiration for a girl who’s not afraid to be herself and stand out from the crowd.
Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer is an absorbing story about a girl at boarding school in contemporary times whose life is switched with that of another girl in the past.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is a compelling narrative of mental health, relationships and society’s expectations.
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett is the first in the amusing and exciting Discworld trilogy about Moist van Lipwig, a smart yet shady character who’s forced to be the manager of the post office and all the danger that entails.
Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites by Franny Moyle is a readable and interesting account of this fascinating group of artists.
Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr is a rather creepy story about a girl who, in her dreams, is trapped inside her drawings.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – I love the pairing of comedy and space.
The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit – it’s always fun to revisit the children’s adventures as they try to use magic with good intentions and then get into scrapes which somehow are eventually put right.
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke is a well-thought out and unsettling piece of sci-fi written in tandem with the film.
Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell – the first in the Edge Chronicles series, this story has some fabulous creatures – most of them deadly – which the protagonist Twig encounters while pursuing his quest for family and purpose.
Emma by Jane Austen is the classic tale of a young woman whose confidence in her matchmaking ability is nearly her downfall.
I hope you liked reading my list of top 30 books! Are any of them your favourites too?