Tuesday 02 September 2014

So no-one nominated me for the thing where you say about ten novels that have stayed with you. But then again no-one nominated me for the ice-ferrari challenge so it’s not all not-being-nominated-for-a-thing-about-books.

But I started thinking about what ten novels I would say so, inevitably it’s become a sporadic blog stimulus.

(1) Billy Boot’s Brainwave (Gard). I read it a lot when I was young and I still think about it. It was the right amount of weird (family wins money and changes their living room into a football pitch etc) and football (the three stories were about football). There is a new version on Amazon for £2,499. People don’t pay £2,499 for something that isn’t amazing.

(2) Dracula (Stoker). This is what I say is my favourite book, remember I wrote about it recently,  when it’s quite a sophisticated conversation. Don’t get me wrong it IS one of my favourite books. I just don’t have A favourite book. And it’s between this and..

(3) High Fidelity (Hornby). I don’t know why I would be embarrassed to say this was my favourite book. Unless I was with the snob/wrongling who thought Dracula was a bad book for idiots. I read High Fidelity a lot. It massively eclipsed Fever Pitch for me, though that’s the book everyone jizzes over.

(4) Post Office (Bukowski). There are three or four books by CB that could be on the list. But this was the first I read and if this had been shit I wouldn’t have read the rest. It’s also fucking great.

(5) The Witches (Dahl). I can’t keep writing ‘it could be any book by this author’ but, again, this could be one of about ten Roald Dahl books. It was very nearly Matilda as that was the one that came out when I was ten – so I got to be excited about it and buy it new and all that shit. But The Witches is the darkest one and I liked that. The little girl who ends up trapped in the painting is one of the darkest things ever. Danny Champion of The World also rocked my child mind. And I can’t fault the one about the guy who is fat and gets into the chocolate factory and then falls into the chocolate river.

(6) The Catcher in The Rye (Salinger). Sorry, wooooh look at Phil he likes counter-culture subversive stuff – even when it’s such a cliché that it’s not even remotely subversive anymore. I had the time reading this book.

(7) To Kill A Mockingbird (Lee). David Baddiel annoyed me on Twitter today saying something along the lines of if you don’t think 1984 is the best book ever then you’re wrong. I think it’s a stupid thing to say about art. But, if I was going to say it about a book, I’d probably say it about this. And I didn’t even have to read it for school.

(8) The Magic Faraway Tree (Blyton). I can’t remember if I read this or Adventures of The Wishing Chair first. But I remember proper escaping into the world when I read them. I can’t really remember what they were about. I can just vaguely remember I had it in hardback and it was yellow. I can’t really remember what happened in this or AoTWC but I remember the notion of being excited to read them and escaping and being jealous of the kids in them. Where was my wishing chair?

(9) Oliver Twist (Dickens). I’m not trying to put in any great works of literature. But they are generally quite good books, yes? I should probably read more Dickens as I’ve only read this and A Christmas Carol and I love them both. Oliver Twist and its place in my heart probably pre-dates the book. I remember my dad watching one of many dramatisations of it and watching it with him when I was little. But reading it was special. Great story. Brilliant characters. Not Oliver, though. Little simpering prick. But this book has The Arful Dodger, Fagin, Bill Sykes and Nancy. They could sustain a book each. Also always had a soft spot for Mr Bumble the Parish Beadle for some reason. I still don’t know what a beadle is. And I didn’t even get on to Noah Claypole.

(10) Trainspotting (Welsh). Just fucking radge. The cat kin write, likesay. I loved every minute of reading this book. Just an amazing narrative told in a vernacular and style I wasn’t really used to. Not that I noticed as I lost myself in 80s heroin Edinburgh. A masterpiece and no mistake.

(11) The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ (Townsend). I forgot about this. And I couldn’t delete any of the others, it felt mean. The main thing I remember about reading this is starting it on a train going on holiday. I must have been pretty young because I didn’t really go on holidays after being about 10. Adrian Mole is perhaps the greatest character ever created in literature (Partridge outside that obvs). I laugh a lot when reading any of the Mole books. I laughed a lot even then and despite being a precocious little fuck at least 40% of the jokes must have gone over my head.

There were a few things I tried to squeeze in. Something by Chuck Palahnuik, maybe Snuff or Survivor. But as much as I love his style and those are great books I just couldn’t quite fit one in. Jurassic Park nearly got in as well. And let’s not fuck about, there is some utter shit that I’ve loved – hey, The DaVinci Code is a great page-turner. More recent read that nearly got in was Anno Dracula, a great book that I can’t recommend enough. Also Powder and Awaydays by Kevin Sampson are both great, if a bit scouse.

Oh and Ask The Dust by John Fante should probably have made it in there. Ah well, couldn’t quite edge out the one about the family playing football in their living room.


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