Books and Writers

Carol Shields

My love for this author knows no bounds. Curse her early death - we could have had another six books out of her.



George Orwell

An early favourite. Perfected the art of using language to say exactly what he means. Read his essay 'Politics and the English Language'. How's that for clarity of expression?

William Golding: Darkness Visible

This book has a mysterious hold over me. I've read it about 10 times and still don't really know what it's about - but I wish I'd written it.

Ian McEwan

The writer to whom I have most tried to play the "sedulous ape". His early stuff had a weird surrealism which he has since abandoned but I still feel bereft every time I finish one of his novels 

Evelyn Waugh: Brideshead Revisited

Everyone has a sentimental favourite. This is mine. An interesting thing about Waugh - he seemed to despise a lot of people but he captures their dialogue perfectly.

James Joyce: Ulysses

If you are daunted by the idea you could try reading a page a day, as I did. It'll take you two years, but your life will be enriched. If not convinced, read the final story in Dubliners - perfection!

Anthony Trollope:

The Barsetshire novels

If Dickens and co are too much, try Trollope - kind of makes you want to live in his world

Alice Munro

What is it about these Canadians? She says it all in 30 or 40 pages. She makes you feel you could write like her but of course, you can't.

David Leavitt

I don't tend to click with many writers, but a new book by him is always a treat. Immensely literate and engaging. He should be more famous!

Penelope Lively

What a joy to discover a writer you just click with!  And she's written lots. One thing about her is that she tries something different each time. I haven't yet read one that I didn't love.

John Banville: The Sea

In this novel he has married style and feeling to produce something quite beautiful.