The one which kickstarted your reading habit:
The Hobbit (JRR Tolkien). I read it when I was 7, and still have my 30-something year old paperback copy of it (the one with Smaug on the cover). I thought it was such a good story, and so much less insipid than some of the other childrens books that were put my way in school. I went on to read all of Tolkien, and lots of others, and loved every minute of it.
The one which changed your view of the world:
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee). I liked the way it positioned both adult & childrens views of the world and made me wonder at what point in someone’s life do they pick up such irrational attitudes towards race and class. No-one’s born with them.
The one you go back to again and again:
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series…..yes all of them……sorry to cheat on the book count…...I’m sure there will be a compendium version along soon, to get me out of trouble. For a start the stories are a lot of fun, and then there’s all the references to other films, books and cultures, which I enjoyed. I think Terry Pratchett was a very knowledgeable man. Some of the Discworld characters reminded me of people I met at university and in my first job. I guess these characters are the same everywhere…..I thought their portrayal was really spot on, and written with considerable affection.
The one which is your guilty pleasure:
Flashman (George MacDonald Fraser). George MacDonald Fraser picked up the character from Tom Brown’s School Days and developed him into a Victorian anti-hero. The Flashman books span all military campaigns of the Victorian era, and blend great fiction (Flashman’s own story) with so much historical detail. If you want to learn about British History, reading the Flashman books is a really enjoyable way to do this. As a character Flashman has no redeeming features and is clearly beyond redemption. While he has few, if any commendable qualities, I just can’t help wanting to read more. Plus its the only book that I’ve seen get good reviews from both The Guardian & Telegraph newspaper critics, so I guess there must be something in Flashman that appeals to just about everyone.
The one which you had an unexpected response to:
The Mighty Atom - Life and Times of Joseph L Greenstein (Ed Spielman). I got into feats of strength & steel bending a while back. I wanted to learn some more about the Mighty Atom, who was a performing strongman well into his 70’s. The book is written very simply. As well as telling us about his fascinating life, there’s lots of subliminal strength tips in there, plus observations on life in general. Anytime I’m suffering from too much comfort its good to dip into a chapter of this one.
The one you wish you had time to read:
The Book of Five Rings (Miyamoto Musashi) - it’s one of the definitive martial arts books, written around 400 years ago. Lots in this book about swordsmanship, and overall strategy for the wider martial arts and beyond. Its not a long book by any means, but needs time to be read, re-read, and really be absorbed properly. It also seems to have been the inspiration for some scenes in Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. Personally I think the similarity for one scene in particular is too much to be a coincidence (if you’ve read the book and seen the film, you’ll know which one I mean).
The one with sentimental value:
Again its a series rather than a book (sorry!) - “Best Karate” by Masatoshi Nakayama Sensei. I have a full set, bought for me by the Delightful Mrs F. What could be better than that?
The last one you read:
Sandman Slim (Richard Kadrey). The Delightful Mrs F has just reviewed this on Fennell Books, and written more eloquently & succinctly about this than I ever could, so look there for the details. It’s just fun, pure and simple, and I can’t wait to read the next in the series.
My beverage of choice is: Coffee, very dark roast, freshly made & unadulterated. Lots of it.
My snack of choice is: Right now its slow cooked lambs hearts (though I reserve to right to go back to something more chocolatey in the future…..), bought from Holdshott Farm Shop in Heckfield. Very nutritious and they taste fantastic if you cook them right (don’t knock them if you haven’t tried them…..). Also they’re very good to eat at work while you’re reading…….eat a whole one with your fingers…….and suddenly no-one seems to want to interrupt you anymore.
My comfy chair and bookshelf are located: My comfy chair is a 35 year old Parker Knoll Norton recliner that used to belong to my uncle, in the Fennell Towers library. It’s definitely one of my favourite places, surrounded by our books, and being able to listen to the garden birds outside. Reading here with the Delightful Mrs F is a "perfect moment” (spot the reference :)).