Favourite books

Shogun The fiction books that have shaped me the most are:
Shogun by James Clavell – I read this in the paperback 1600-page version and found it far too short. When I finished I had to reluctantly leave that world. It made me go on to reads his Asian saga – King Rat, Taipan – and then buy as they were released Noble House, Whirlwind, Gai-Jin. All so evocative of the time and location but also each a study of the wielding and retention of power.The movie and the TV series you can keep – the book was the thing!
ChikdrensStory The Children’s Story by James Clavell. This book is so often mis-filed in libraries in the children’s section and we can’t seem to stop lending it out and having to buy a new copy. He is a Brit living in America and his daughter went to school there. She came home having learned the Pledge of Allegiance. She recited it but had no concept of what it meant. In my paperback version it is thinly stretched over 57 pages and takes around fifteen minutes to read. It was this event that made him realise how vulnerable his child’s mind was to teaching, the power a teacher wielded. The short book is terrifying for any parent!
BillBryson Everything and anything written by Bill Bryson but particularly Mother Tongue, his mind is as much a butterfly as my own, he flits from tantalising tidbit to fascinating fact unlike anyone else I have ever read.
Hitchhikers The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. This was helped by the fact that I worked in Islington and shared a bank manager with the author. So I knew Hotblack Desiato as a local estate agency, but the name was perfect for Adam’s rock band that blew up planet as their finale.His different thought processes are best summed up with his Mostly Harmless subtitle – the fifth book in the trilogy! His ideas still cascade through my mind, Don’t Panic; Bistromathematics and the Infinite Improbability drive; Someone Else’s Problem field; Slartibartfast’s occupation; the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything; Marvin the Paranoid Android with a brain the size of a planet and reduced to parking duties; the ‘B’ Ark full of telephone sanitizers, hairdressers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives, management consultants and account executives.
HolyBlood I like everyone else read Stieg Larson’s trilogy, the Hunger Games trilogy, the Da Vinci Code… But because I had long been a keen promoter to friends of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail written by Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, my opinion of Brown’s book was dampened by its use of a similar theme.I have also enjoyed every Gerald Seymour though the themes are getting a tad repetitive now, the long-term loser suddenly having to take a stand.
Andromeda Everything that Michael Crichton ever wrote, he had me hooked as a fan from the Andromeda Strain onwards and never disappointed.
Ghost Other writers that keep turning up on my shelves are David Baldacci, John Connolly, Bernard Cornwell, Nelson Demille, Vince Flynn, Robert Harris, Conn Iggulden, Simon Kernick, Wilbur Smith – yes I am bloke-ish in my tastes!
2001 But I can’t finish this piece without mentioning the early joy I got from the works of Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and other less lauded sci-fi writers.
Clarke famous not just for fiction but prolific in non-fiction too, he discovered the geostationary orbit we depend on today for our communication satellites. I had my first real trip to London (other than for sporting events) in 1968 and the tube stations were all promoting the Kubrick film, 2001, a Space Odyssey based on Clarke’s The Sentinel. The promotion fed straight to the excitement we had all felt from NASA’s Apollo missions – it was a must-see. But his early sci-fi was all so thought provoking, not bug-eyed monsters more ideas that bugged your mind.
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