Another way of looking at Tube maps

Once upon a time, when our daughter lived near Croydon, I became familiar with South West Trains, particularly the Caterham and Tattenham Corner lines, because they were the easiest way to access central London. I had started writing my fae saga, and I suppose fae were on my mind. We (my daughter and I) went to the Tate Modern where I saw some wonderful ‘maps’ with different names of all sorts imposed on actual maps. Then we went home by train and I picked up a map of our route. I played about with the names and the shape of the lines until I was reasonably happy with them.

I thought I’d share the result with you. I’ve included the real map too, for comparison purposes. I don’t imagine the rail company will care about their copyright as it’s a very old map and definitely out of date (and possibly out of print). We usually alighted at Gnome…

I wonder whether, during the lockdown, and the reduced train services everywhere, the fae might have crept out to play again, and whether they would approve of my station names! And whether any of you might spot them, out of the corner of your eye, when travelling.

I photographed the unicorn at a forge just south of Croydon where there was a fabulous display of mythical creatures.

Black Lives Matter

Where to start?

I spent much of my career in antiracist education. We produced teaching materials which were going well in schools but were overtaken by the National Curriculum. We worked with children, especially in ‘all white’ areas, and with teachers, both longstanding practitioners, trainees and their trainers. We attended conferences and marches, and helped organise both. When I say ‘we’ I include colleagues and close friends from all ethnic minorities, ethnic majorities and political persuasions. All our work was, it would seem, for nothing. That, I think, sums up my own long term stance on the matter.

I could and should also mention that I am white, with all the privilege that includes, and that my best friend ever (met at uni) was black, of Caribbean origin. She died of cancer in 2005 and I was devastated. I valued her friendship and also her opinions on the world, including her views – personal, professional and political – on issues such as racism. Towards the end of her career she was the first black female professor of law in the University of the West Indies and on her retirement which was imminent, she hoped to work with UNHCR who were, I think, looking forward to her services. Sadly, that was not to be.

My last service to her was to act as her executor. One of her nieces, who inherited some money in her will, is a young black woman from Trinidad and is currently practising in medicine in New York. Slightly ironic, I suppose, in the way it connects me, at however much of a distance, with current events in both the pandemic and the protests. (I am not in touch with the young doctor, only with one of her aunts.)

When I was doing a postgraduate diploma in antiracist studies I wrote my thesis on literature in English (not in translation) by writers who were not from the obvious first world countries. Most of the work I considered was from authors in places like India, South Africa, The Caribbean, Bangladesh, etc. I argued that works like this should be included in the British school curriculum alongside our teaching materials on history and antiracism. My work was well received – and part of it was published in an educational magazine. Again, it would appear all the effort was wasted.

Not wasted for myself, of course. I read countless novels and poems that enriched my life, and helped inform me about the experience of people from other countries and cultures. And at the very least I am able to understand the current riots, arguments, etc. without having to do any further research.

Which is just as well, because all my notes including all references to sources went up in flames in our Portuguese fire. So no, I can’t recommend any specific books. Blame climate warming…

The protests are totally justified. Totally. No arguments. If there is state-condoned thuggery and violence, there will and should be protests. Even the violence of a tiny minority of protesters is explained by the way the protests were triggered. And of course the state will use that as a distraction from those same triggers. The protests elsewhere are heartening. There has been systemic racism and poor policing in countries such as UK, France and Australia. The current US riots, along with lockdown and the internet have brought about a world outpouring of rage which I can only applaud even whilst wishing it had happened decades earlier.

Toppling statues? I think they should have been toppled long ago and feel ashamed that in the twenty first century we feel able to glorify men who were involved in the slave trade. We would not welcome statues of Hitler, however much he did for things like German motorways. So yes, I think the statues should be removed if the person commemorated had a personal connection with slavery, and maybe if they didn’t, if ‘just’ their family (and their wealth) was involved the statues should either be taken to a museum or given a plaque or one of those display information boards. Yes, toppling a statue is a violent and ‘lawless’ act, but how would any of us feel and react if for example a present day murderer was honoured with a statue? Or someone like Jimmy Saville for his charitable work? And what do we think about people who broke Nazi laws? No, I am not comparing our governments to a Nazi regime, but there are points of similarity which cannot be ignored.

What can we do? All live matter, of course, but black lives are being treated as expendable in so many places. So our focus should be on those at present. In policing, in the effects of the pandemic, in education, and so on. There’s a useful petition you could sign: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/324092/signatures/new

You’ll have gathered that I have very ‘violent’ views on this. I am sad that my age and state of health stop me from participating in marches or any public protest. All I can do is write my blog and hope it gives either information or comfort to someone reading it.

As always, if you want to discuss the matter further I am here for comments or you can email me. I can probably dredge up a few titles and authors to talk about, but for now, scroll back in my blog to read in depth reviews of works on racism by modern Black British authors.

(The illustration is my current FB photo which is why it has a camera in the way…)

May reviews

TV and films

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Russell T Davies version)***** Absolutely gorgeous with lots of magical effects and slight twists on characterisation. BBC but I think it’s available to buy.

Valerian and the city of a thousand planets***** A re-watch. I love it. Lots of well done aliens and an underlying standard thriller plot with endearing main characters.

Science and Islam (BBC 4)***** I’ve watched one or two of this history of science series. Excellent. (I knew most of the history but my grasp of the science was shaky…)

Vera Series 3***** Still loving this – set in my native region with a quirky but extremely competent female detective.

Books

The brilliant non-fiction

Becoming Human: New Scientist Collection***** Excellent collection of articles about up to the minute research about evolution.

Pale Rider by Laura Spinney***** The Spanish flu of 1918 and how it changed the world. Excellent historical research. Stunningly relevant to our current pandemic even though it was written a couple of years ago.

Myths of Gender by Anne Fausto-Sterling***** As the author says:‘…an extended argument against lodging social difference in the body’. Fascinating account and critique of research into gender differences.

How Baking Works by James Morton*****
This really explains why we whisk, fold, etc. and how ingredients can be substituted. Kept for reference though I would prefer a hard copy.

The brilliant fiction:

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo*****Wonderful interweaving of black female lives in modern Britain. Amazingly good use of tense changes to underpin different periods and points of view. (And that’s something I never thought I’d say!) Well worth the Booker Prize!

A Carriage of Misjustice by Charlie Cochrane***** Vol 4 of the Lindenshaw series. As usual, I enjoyed the mystery and loved the dog, Campbell, who somehow manages to cement the relationship between the policeman and his teacher husband. A masterclass in how to juggle large numbers of suspects and witnesses – something I really needed for the book I was writing at the time.

Finders Keepers by N R Walker***** Heart warming story of two guys brought together by a dog (who gets lost) on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Thicker than water by Becca Seymour***** Thatch and Callen are shifters in law enforcement in Australia. Interesting characters and location.

The good:

You let me in by Lucy Clarke**** Psychological thriller with a very gripping plot but the final mystery had no real clues in story which I found disappointing. I guessed ‘whodunnit’ or rather ‘wasdoinit’, but the why was totally unclear until the last chapter.

Song for the Basilisk by Patrician Kilip**** Lovely story about music and magic with fascinating characters. However, too much purple prose with no breaks became hard to read.

The readable:

Thicker than Water by J D Kirk*** Sequel in the DCI Logan series. Well written and plotted but not as exciting as the first one. ‘Tartan noir…’

The poor and the dire:

Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg**
First in the Eve Ronin series. Poor world building and some unpleasant characters

Canis Falls Academy: Year One by Imani L Hawkins* Dire structure, characterisation, plot…..

And the abandoned: (Only one this month)

Sword Dance by A J Demas. A confusing Graeco-Roman/mediaeval Japanese world with fantasy and mm elements being introduced too slowly. I simply gave up.

Short stories

Not highly recommended but others might like both these:

Under the Law by JP Bowie*** More of a novella, perhaps. Tired tropes and unmemorable plot but the writing was competent and anyone who likes short mysteries with an mm focus might enjoy it.

Australia: a Romance Anthology. Various authors.***
OMG. I bought this because the profits went to Australian wildlife victims of the fires. Good value with a lot of stories, all but one of them het romance (and the mm one was a vampire tale). Too many were spin-offs from series but could be read stand-alone. However, I will never (?) complain about the amount of explicit sex in mm romances again. I am still reeling from the content of some of these! One or two really good pieces; all readable.

Fanfic

I frequently recommend Small_Hobbit and some of her collaborators on things like the Marylebone magazine. I do enjoy their writing but I think the main reason they keep cropping up here is that their work, as well as being good, is often accessible to readers who don’t share their fandoms. This month I also read a number of stories by Brumeier (another writer I like) but they all needed in depth knowledge of SGA for true enjoyment.

Five times Lucas met Pooh Bear and friends by Small_Hobbit***** (all you need to know is that Lucas, Adam, Ros and Harry are spies and that the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood sometimes stand in for Sherlock Holmes) https://archiveofourown.org/works/24352783

Welcome to Castle Elsinore https://archiveofourown.org/works/24004696 and On to March Ides Woods https://archiveofourown.org/works/24115366 *****by Small_Hobbit. Imagine a coach tour and people the staff and tourist groups with characters from Shakespeare, The Hobbit, and other classics. Short but powerful!

Reclaim (poem by okapi)**** https://archiveofourown.org/works/6848800/chapters/58468873

Lockdown (a poem for 2020)

The first thing
we noticed was the way the birds seemed to sing
louder, day by day. Then,
as the skies grew bluer and the sun invariably shone,
living under a flight path we inevitably noticed the planes had gone.
Traffic became something exciting when we occasionally heard it pass
(and not to be confused with the noise a neighbour made mowing the grass).
Ferns, made bold by the cleaner air, grew twice as high as before,
twining around the garden chairs and blocking the back door.
Yesterday a plane flew over and as we wondered
at the noise and the white trail, I pondered.
When we leave house and garden for a more usual way of living
Will we remember, and will we regret the softer way the birds sing?

Fictional towns


(from a photograph by Mihail Ribkin on Unsplash)

I have been irritated recently by the insertion of fictional towns into landscapes I know and love. I have just read two crime stories set in Northumberland, my home county, and in both cases the crimes were set in completely fictitious towns. I kept trying to work out which towns were actually being described (they weren’t) and that distracted me from the stories. (See April reviews, the post immediately before this one.)

I realise that it’s perfectly possible that the same thing happens with novels set in e.g. Australia or US and that I’m simply unaware of the fact. Residents of those countries might share my annoyance and anguish.

It isn’t that fictional towns are always a no-no. I have enjoyed two entire series set in fictional towns – Porthkennack, which is supposedly in Cornwall, where a group of writers have set their historical tales and their modern romances, and Trowchester, a town created by Alex Beecroft for Trowchester Blues. In both cases the town itself is brought to life with a lot of detail and an obvious love of the well-imagined place. I had no objection to Starsky and Hutch operating in Bay City rather than anywhere real. There are plenty of fictional towns out there functioning happily in my imagination as well as that of their creator.

However, when a town is used simply as a place where there is a generic police station, a generic hospital and a generic town hall, etc. I feel annoyed. Why can’t the detectives, victims, etc. go to the perfectly good police stations, hospitals, and so on in towns that do exist? Somehow, it seems rude to ignore their existence. And how have these modern towns sprung up in countryside where there are sparse populations, little or no industry, and no apparent historical foundation? I suspect a lazy desire to avoid having to research the actual centres of population in the region. Porthkennack has the fishing industry and tourism to sustain it. Trowchester is in busy middle England. In neither case do people refer to other local towns, only to London or regional centres such as Birmingham. They ‘exist’ in their own right and could easily be true.

I could, to be kind, assume the authors who upset me were trying not to associate crime with real places. But plenty of crime and horror stories take place in well known locations, just as they do in real life. So do romances and adventures. Even urban fantasy and science fiction. Nobody ever seems to complain that their town should not be used as a setting.

So for anyone out there thinking of creating a fictional town: give it some life, some depth, some believable history, some detailed description, etc. Think about why it might be where it is. Think about its history and its name. Think about who lives there, what jobs they do, where they shop… You don’t have to go quite as far as Marquez did in his creation of A Hundred Years of Solitude, but you do have to get me to believe in the place.

A warning: I know most of Britain and a lot of Europe quite well, and am likely to be disappointed and to some extent shocked when a town turns up in the middle of nowhere for no good reason!

Happy Valentine’s Day 2020

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I intended to write a story for you. However, the plot bunny grew to stupid proportions and necessitated quite a bit of research so will not be ready for publication for some time. By the time I realised that, it was getting too late to write anything else. So, as I was about to add pdf versions of some of my work to my free fiction page I decided that would have to be my Valentine gift to you this year. People who have been following my posts for some time will be familiar with the works but at least can now download to read at their convenience and on any device. So I’ll post now for the sake of my Australian friends. Click on the free stuff tab and download anything you want to read, re-read or share! Enjoy!

November Reviews

Films and TV

Dublin Murders*****
I really enjoyed this, with the flawed detectives (well acted), the Dublin background and the story which reached a satisfactory ending but still left it open to the viewer to accept a paranormal explanation for some aspects of the events. One review I saw criticised the fact that the lead detective should not/would not have been involved because of his previous history but his eagerness to take the case and deceive his superiors was explored in great detail. I was disappointed to learn that much of the location filming was actually in or around Belfast…

Spiral Season 7*****
What can I say? My all-time favourite cop show. Season 7 didn’t disappoint. I love the ensemble cast, the views of lesser known parts of Paris, and the interesting exploration of the French police, judiciary and legal system.

Carnival Row Season 1*****
Gorgeous show. Fae and steampunk meet in an AU Victorian London. There’s a gripping plot with lots of nods to current issues such as immigration and racism, fabulous special effects, and, amazingly, Orlando Bloom can act. But then he was one of the people involved in making the film so perhaps he was better directed than usual? I really hope Season 2 doesn’t take for ever to arrive. I watched this on Amazon Prime, and sort of spread it out because I didn’t want it to end.

Wild China*****
Lovely series with a focus on wildlife but plenty of information about the various Chinese regions. Eye candy, yes, but intelligent eye candy that educates as well as entertaining.

Great Australian Railway Journeys*****
Michael Portillo, being his usual flamboyant self, introduces the viewer to Australia and links the various places and aspects of life via train journeys. He has done the same in UK and parts of Europe. If you liked those programmes you’d like these. And it’s a great way to learn more about Australia; I think even a lot of Australians would enjoy it, not just for the scenic rides but for the interesting interviews with Australians.

House of the Year (Grand Designs) ****
I mostly agreed with the judges, with one exception, the eventual winner. I found that house boring! I much preferred the ones that were completely eco-friendly or that merged into their surroundings.

The Accident****
Brit drama set in South Wales, where a combination of company greed, local council desperation and kids behaving recklessly lead to loss of life and an interesting (and grim) court case. Some excellent acting.

Cold Call****
Another Brit drama, where the wronged victim inches gradually into crime to retrieve her money. Good acting. And chilling information about how scams can work.

Gold Digger****
Yet another Brit drama, this time looking at an older woman who finds a young boyfriend to the shock and horror of her family. Good acting and interesting character development. However, it was quite slow, and I accidentally missed an episode but didn’t notice or find myself at all confused!

Goldstone***
An Australian film about a Native Australian detective. Some good acting and photography, and it was interesting to see David Wenham as a baddie. However, I gather it was a spin off from a series aired about ten years ago. I didn’t see that and I kept feeling I was missing fairly vital information. The immediate plot was fine, but there were mysterious references to the detective’s past, and his private life.

Books

The excellent and the highly recommended:

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco*****
A re-read, to go with the TV series. I will post a longer critique when the series is finished.

Rhapsody for Piano and Ghost by Z.A. Maxfield*****
A pianist finds himself falling for his used-to-be step brother. However, although this is a contemporary mm romance the most interesting characters are the ghosts who help the plot along and have an mm romantic (and possibly tragic) past themselves.

Skin After Skin by Jordan Castillo Price*****
This is a novel in the Psycops series. I’ve read all the rest but hadn’t come across the story of Crash, who is a minor character in the other novels. The book explores his past and gives the reader another view of Jacob and Victor, the main protagonists in the main series.

Tallowwood by NR Walker *****
A really thrilling detective mm novel where a Sydney detective is thrown together with an Indigenous Australian cop in a small town. Beautiful writing, too. I am now looking for other books by this author and have so far bought one. More will follow, I think.

A Litter of Bones by JD Kirk*****
A new series set in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a police thriller with lots of excitement as well as an interesting location. I might follow this detective.

Twice Shy by Sally Malcolm****
Pleasant contemporary mm romance in which teacher meets single dad. One of the protagonists has believable children which is always a plus.

Five Bloody Hearts by Joy Ellis****
The first volume in a new police procedural set in the north east fens. A gripping story and an interesting lead detective.

The Arrangement by Alex Jane****
A really heartwarming story in which friends push Gabriel and Nathaniel together. It loses a star because of poor proof reading.

The Replacement Husband by Eliot Grayson****
I really enjoyed the arranged marriage between Owen and Arthur, but found the world building less than stellar. I do think that if the main character is ‘Goddess Blessed’ and this affects their life and their future, the reader might be given an explanation.

The readable:

Silver Scars by Posy Roberts.***
A nice mm romance between two people with physical injuries and PTSD. However, although it was novel length, I found the writing rather repetitive and ‘padded’, and might have enjoyed it better if it hadn’t been written in present tense.

Bring Them Home by DS Butler***
This is another new police procedural set in Lincolnshire. The story was gripping enough but there was too much focus on procedure and the team seemed somewhat disjointed. I don’t think I’ll follow the series.

Survivor by TM Smith***
I enjoyed this story but thought it had poor structure. The author never seemed to make up their mind whether they were writing a thriller or an mm romance. Yes, you can cross genres to great effect, but there needs to be a main focus and that was missing here.

The Greater Freedom by Alya Mooro***

A book about feminism written from the perspective of an Arab woman. I’ll look at it in greater depth in a later post.

And the poor:

Dragonslayer by Resa Nelson**
I read the whole story and found it interesting and gripping enough, but won’t be following this series about Astrid, a smith, and her lover DiStephan in this AU mediaeval world. There were a lot of plot holes and I didn’t think the world building was adequate.

I can see you by Michael Leese**
How on earth can someone write a boring serial killer/spy story? This author managed it. I think the main problem was the way the story was structured so that the reader had too much knowledge before the protagonists did.

Short stories

The recommended:

Vlarian Oath by MistressKat***** https://archiveofourown.org/works/21288197
I reviewed this in an earlier post. Gorgeous sci fi with an ff romance at its heart. An original story written for a story challenge that spanned original work and fanfic.

Trolling for Cupcakes by JL Merrow****
Short sweet ff ‘take’ on the tale of Three Billy Goats Gruff. Too short to get five stars. (I don’t mean that really short stories can’t get five stars, but that this one was too short for me.)

The readable:

A World Apart by Mel Gough***
Ben, a cop meets Donnie when the latter is wrongly arrested. Quite a nice story but for my taste there was too much focus on injury and medical care.

And the forgettable:

Cops, Cakes and Coffee by Sara York**
Fortunately short story. Drake is a cop and Adam is a baker, hence the title. It’s PWP (plot what plot in case you don’t know the genre) and has too much sex for too little reason.

Fanfiction

I read more Professionals Big Bang fic but there was nothing further I’d recommend to readers who are not already part of the fandom.

I also read more contributions to the Lewis FrightFest Challenge. I’d like to recommend:
In the forests of the night by greenapricot***** It isn’t actually frightening at all but is a lovely look at legends about shapeshifters and is set in Northumberland. https://archiveofourown.org/works/21281798

In other fandoms:

The Monster Next Door by Brumeier***** https://archiveofourown.org/works/21245204
This is a great short story written for a Halloween MonsterFest. I now want the author to write the story from the point of view of the cat…
It’s ostensibly a crossover between SGA and Labyrinth but takes off in a direction all its own.

I also found some beautiful poetry by silverr, based on folk tales, legends and art:
Wild of Branch and Root***** https://archiveofourown.org/works/14570421
The Black House***** https://archiveofourown.org/works/1088288

BBC’s 100 books list

A number of my friends on social media have been posting this as a meme so I wanted to join in.

The theory is that the BBC estimates that most people will only read/have read 6 books out of the 100 listed. People are told to reblog the list bolding the titles they have read.

The BBC never said anything of the kind. I watched the original series of programmes that introduced the list, which generated a lot of interest and comment at the time. The ‘six books’ thing was someone’s unofficial throwaway comment intended to provoke discussion. It certainly did!

I did a bit of research before finding the definitive original list in a format that could be downloaded and edited. It didn’t contain the later additions of Jacqueline Wilson’s books for young teens, and there are one or two other titles ‘missing’ which I have seen on other lists. So far as I can tell, this is the 2003 version but is unranked. There were originally 200 books and that might explain the gaps. There were also versions where people added or subtracted books at will…

As requested, I’ve bolded the ones I’ve read, and have also added my own star ratings in line with my normal monthly reviews. It appears I’ve read 86 of the original 100 and a few of the ones I’ve missed were missed deliberately. I’ve put my five star reads in red.

I apologise for some of the extra line breaks. WordPress wouldn’t let me remove them.

1.The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon***** (made special because I read it in Barcelona where it is set)
2.Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernieres****
3. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden*****

4.One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Marquez****
5.The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
6. Watership Down, by Richard Adams*****

7.The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
8.The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold***
9.Atonement, by Ian Mcewan
10.Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. (I know it – was there a TV series?)
11.Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini****
12.The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins****
13. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams*****

14. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen*****

15. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien***** This came top of the nation’s list, and mine too!
16.Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë**** I went to the school in this.
17.Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling**** I prefer the films.
18.To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee*****

19.The Bible*** Yes, I’ve read all of it and really, you’d need stars or otherwise for the various sections.
20.Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë*** Too melodramatic for me.
21.1984, by George Orwell****
22.His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman****
23.Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens****
24.Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott***
25.Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy**** I ‘did’ this for A level.
26.Catch-22, by Joseph Heller***
27. The complete works of Shakespeare*****  All read but I really do prefer the stage versions.
28.Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier***
29. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien*****

30.Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks***
31.The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger***
32.The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger***
33. Middlemarch, by George Eliot*****

34.Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell***
35.The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald – started and abandoned twice
36.Bleak House, by Charles Dickens****
37.War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy***
38.Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh****
39.Crime and Punishment, by Fydor Dostoevsky***
40.The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck****
41.Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll****
42. The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame*****

43.Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy***
44.David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens****
45. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis*****

46. Emma, by Jane Austen***** My favourite of Austen’s books.
47. Persuasion, by Jane Austen*****

48. Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne*****

49. Animal Farm, by George Orwell*****

50.The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown**
51.A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving – I don’t like Irving but have read other books by him
52. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery***** I read all the sequels, too.
53.Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy****
54.The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood****
55.Lord of the Flies, by William Golding****
56.Life of Pi, by Yann Martel**
57.Dune, by Frank Herbert***
58. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen*****

59. A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth***** Vies with LotR for top spot in my personal pantheon.
60.A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens****
61.Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley****
62.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon*****

63. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Marquez*****

64. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck*****

65.Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov***
66.The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas – I think I only know the film version but I might have read the book when at school.
67.On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
68.Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy****
69.Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding***
70. Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie*****

71.Moby Dick, Herman Melville*** ( I confess to skimming this)
72.Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens****
73.Dracula, by Bram Stoker***
74. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett*****

75. Notes From a Small Island, by Bill Bryson***** It seems odd me that this reached the list, along with the bible and the complete works of Shakespeare. They’re the only ‘non-fiction’. And yes, I know the plots of Shakespeare are fiction but they’re usually shelved as plays, not fiction.
76.Ulysses, by James Joyce – started and abandoned twice
77.The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
78.Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome***
79.Germinal, by Emile Zola
80.Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray***
81. Possession, by A.S. Byatt*****

82.A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens****
83.Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell***
84.The Color Purple, by Alice Walker***

85.The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro**
86.Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert***
87.A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry
88.Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White****
89.The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom
90.Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle****

91.The Faraway Tree Collection, by Enid Blyton****
92.Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad***
93. The Little Prince, by Antoine de St.-Exupery*****

94.The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks****
95.A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
96.A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute****
97.The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas***
98.A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess***
99.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl***
100. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo*****

 

Somebody remind me not to do this kind of list again. Getting the formatting right for WordPress was a nightmare!