The List

Ok, so, I slagged off the Leavisite notion of a definitive list of Great Books, but that doesn't mean I don't do my own. Yesterday, on the Guardian or somewhere else, can't remember, yet another other was giving a list of life changing/most influential during childhood/adolescence/whatever books. I sneered a little bit. Maybe it was his list. Anyway, it got me thinking, what ten books would I choose as the most influential thus far?

1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett - the rural idyll; secret hideaway where a child can hide from the mean adult world!

2. Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton - I desperately wanted to be in that school instead of an economically challenged Roman Catholic technical girls school in inner-city Manchester!

3. Alienated labour / The German Idelogy - Marx and Engels. Liberating and helped me shape and name some of the ideas and feelings I had in relation to the notion of personal freedom.

4. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Sharp, clear prose from a writer's writer examining existentialism and the principles of a doomed couple in the rapidly growing corporate culture in fifties America.

5. Hunger by Knut Hamsun. Due for a re-read. The painful life of a struggling writer.

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - totally feminist passionate treatise and love story and blows anything by Jane Austen out of the water.

7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - messy, dysfunctional, tragic, beautiful.

8. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - Genius.

9. The Sea by John Banville - anthithesis to prose style of Richard Yates and equally admirable in its lyrical beauty.

10. A History of Western Philosphy by Bertrand Russell - If I could take only one book to a desert island (apart from Shakespeare) then it would have to be this highly readable and endlessly interesting overview of western philosophy.

This list could actually go on and on. I missed out one of favourite short stories, J G Ballard's The Subliminal Man and then there's .....

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