The Times is conducting a poll on-line to find out the sixty best-loved novels published since 1949. Should you wish to register your vote, go to timesonline.co.uk/books and then click on The Cheltenham Literature Festival - for this festival is sixty years old this October and the list of the best sixty novels will be published to coincide with the festival in October. But this got me thinking about reading and books and enjoyment.
I find I love a particular book so much that I read it several times over. But what I love and when seems to depend upon my mood, the state of my health - lots of things. Is this just me, or are you the same?
For example - if I am really down and under the weather and my brain seems incapable of reading anything properly - then I will pick up "Anne of Green Gables", which I must have read twenty times since I bought it at Montgomery's house on Prince Edward Island. Each time I read it (and it is very easy to read as I almost know it off by heart) I picture the house and its grounds and the lovely holiday we had in that area. On the other hand, if I am in a real reading mood and having nothing new to devour - I may well go for Sebastian Foulks's "Birdsong" or Evelyn Waugh's "Bridehead Revisited" - or even a book of the poems of RS Thomas. With me, so much depends upon circumstance. Anything by Anita Brookner I could read again and again.
So here is the task I set you all for today.
For whatever reason you choose to imagine - you are in solitary confinement for a whole day. You may take one book with you - it could be a World Atlas, a book of Poetry, a novel, a travel book - anything at all (cookery book?). Which book are you going to choose to be your day's companion. I would love to know.
I will register my own, here and now. A whole day cut off from the world would most likely see me reading - yet again - John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley" . Why? (yes I would like to know why from you as well) - I find it enchanting, poignant (JS died not so very long after writing it), funny, and - to a doggy person like me - delightful.
What would you choose?