Top 200 Books
What's your favourite book? A difficult question for many to answer. When we asked Sue Wilkinson, our new CEO, about her favourite books she revealed she doesn't have one single favourite title, or even a list of her best 10, but a top 200! Here's what she said about some of them.
Just some of the top 200
How do you choose your favourite books when there are so many that you love? I went to the library in Barnsley at least three times a week as a child. The very first books I remember getting out of the main library, when I finally got my adult ticket were by Caryl Brahms and S. J Simons and I can't count how many times I have re-read No Bed for Bacon; Don't Mr Disraeli and Bullet in the Ballet since then.
I have a whole beloved collection of books published in the 1930s, 40s and 50s which I never lend to anyone in case they lose them and I can't replace them. Its hard to whittle the list down but if I have to then Sarah Gainham's trilogy set in Vienna between about 1935 and 1960 would be at the top. Night Falls on the City, A Place in the Country and Private Worlds made me wonder what I would have done if faced with the daily horror of living under a Nazi regime and how you would manage to protect the people you love and the values you live by.
E. H Young's William; Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Long View, Phyllis Rose's Parallel Lives; The Willow Cabin by Pamela Frankau and The Sleepless Moon by H. E Bates are books I read again and again. (I am a great re-reader of books I love). I think I have liked everything Margaret Forster, Penelope Lively, Simone de Beauvoir, Anthony Sher, Barbara Pym, Rumer Godden, Claire Tomalin, Hilary Mantel, Helen Dunmore, Roberstson Davies and Charles Nicholl have written and I love some of Marge Piercy's books ( Summer People and The Longings of Women).
Victoria Glendenning's biography of Vita Sackville West, Vita, is still one of my favourite biographies even though I am not a great fan of Vita Sackville West's poetry or novels and Janet Malcolm's wonderful book The Silent Woman is right up at the top of my favourite 200 list as are The African Trilogy by Chinua Achebe; The Chaneysville Incident by David Bradley; The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
That is just some of the fiction that I love. I also read a lot of travel books (Marlena de Blasi, Frances Mayes, Annie Hawes) and books about cooking (Ruth Reichl is my favourite food writer with Elizabeth David and Nigel Slater running a close joint second). History is my other passion. I studied history at University and still read a lot of Norman, Medieval and 16th century history books; I really enjoyed John Cooper's biography of Francis Walsingham, The Queen's Agent, and Winter King by Thomas Penn is a great book.