My first top 5…

In my welcome blog post I wrote a bit about the value of book recommendations and it started me thinking: which literary discoveries do I owe to the friends who put them into my (sometimes sceptical) hands?  Which books would I never have picked off the shelf if left to my own devices?  I plan on sharing more of my top 5s in the weeks to come, but to get the ball rolling here’s my first list…

My Top 5…..recommendations that have exceeded expectations!

  1. “This Thing of Darkness” by Harry Thompson – a bit of a doorstop, this has an unenticing painting of a Victorian sailing ship on the cover. I anticipated 800 pages of tedious maritime shenanigans. It’s actually one of the best books I’ve ever read. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that…
  2. “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett – I love my historical fiction, but for some reason I held out against this for years. Possibly the lack of a sumptuous Tudor dress on the cover had something to do with it. In any case, the lovely lady who persuaded me it was worth a go did me an immense service; no one can make you root for a hero or detest a villain more than Mr. Follett.
  3. “Rivers of London” by Ben Aaronovitch – I should probably make it clear from the outset that science fiction and fantasy are pretty much the only genres I almost never touch. This is one of only two fantasy series that I’ve ever enjoyed, possibly because the author does such a fantastic job of melding the fantasy element into a world that we can all recognise.
  4. “Instructions for a Heatwave” by Maggie O’Farrell – I had always overlooked Maggie O’Farrell based on that inexplicable sense I’m sure we all get sometimes that she just “wasn’t my thing”. This novel wrung many emotions out of me without ever becoming sentimental or overtly manipulative, and really made me appreciate her skill as a writer.
  5. “Clayhanger” by Arnold Bennett – this novel will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first book recommended to me by my mum; to read this tale of love and family amid the Staffordshire potteries at the turn of the twentieth century is to think of her, and the many literary doors her double-stacked bookshelves opened to me.

I would love to think that maybe one of the books I’ve persuaded someone else to read will one day make it into that person’s own top 5….I love being surprised by books myself, and I love surprising others even more!

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