In the age of the Kindle and smartphone screens the size of your face, the old fashioned book often falls by the wayside. But what better travel companion that a Penguin Classic? Or a hardback novel passed through the family for so many years its spine is crumbling and pages turned a leafy golden brown? Precisely. So here’s a little list of our favourite books, the ones that always have pride of place of our bookshelf, and should on yours too.
Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
A parody travel-memoir documenting Lemuel Gulliver’s misadventures to unknown islands. Funny, fantastical and brilliantly written. Perfect for Robinson Crusoe fans and for reading to mischievous children before bed.
The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende
A beautiful novel set in Latin America and covering four generations of Allende’s eccentric and fascinating family. Fact? Fiction? A blend of the two perhaps. Compelling characters and stunningly penned.
A Room With A View – E. M. Forster
A classic novel set in Italy and England at the turn of the 19th century. A wistful, meditative and romantic tale exploring the emotional journey of the young Lucy Honeychurch as she gets to grips with love in a repressed Edwardian society.
The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend
Comedic fiction at its very very finest. Sue Townsend’s hapless, ‘misunderstood’ teenage narrator expresses the pubescent struggle so perfectly, even 30 years on this book is still absolutely hilarious.
Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dick and Nicole Driver are the starlets of the1920s French Riviera but when the young film star Rosemary Hoyt enters their lives the cracks begin to show. A complex and beautiful novel, underlined by Fitzgerald’s socio-critic voice and the darkness underneath the couple’s seemingly perfect marriage.
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Sal Paradise will follow the enigmatic Dean Moriarty to the end of the earth, and very nearly does. This iconic novel of the ‘Beat’ generation will have you yearning for a life on the road like no other.
The Arabian Nights – Edited by Andrew Lang (various other great versions available.)
As a child, my mother used to read me this book before bed and to this day I still find it utterly enchanting. Compiled over centuries by various contributing authors, this book is a tapestry of Middle Eastern, North African, Indian and South Asian stories intricately woven together to create what we know today as ‘The Arabian Nights’ or ‘1001 Nights.’ All framed by the story of the malevolent King Shahryar and his new wife Sheherazade, who tells him a series of brilliant stories every night to delay her execution.