Being someone who leans towards films over books it takes something special to make me pick one up. Once one grips me however, I read it non-stop until it’s finished. Here are five of the best that have suceeded... to date.
My favourite reads: Emma Tracey
The Godfather by Mario Puzo (1969)
Written almost like a screenplay from the outset, this book sets a vivid scene and leads the reader into the world of the Italian Mafia. Later made into arguably one of the best films ever, it transports you into the heart of the Corleone family where you will no doubt fall in love and feel a sense of Omerta with some of the most brutal and ruthless characters to grace the genre.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
I picked this book up during my first month living in the UAE, back in 2012. Needless to say the spine melted and the pages fell out. Set during the Second World War, it is genius in its wit and third-person omniscient narration of Captain John Yossarian. Catch-22, now a phrase officially entered into the English language, is a plot based around the fictional 256th squadron airmen trying to maintain their sanity.
The Constant Princess by Phillipa Greggory (2005)
Having always been fascinated by anything to do with the Tudors, I was happy to discover the English historical novelist Philippa Gregory. My favourite read of hers, The Constant Princess, depicts the life of Catherine of Aragon (Henry VIII’s first wife) and her rise (and fall) to power in England. Greggory transports you in such detail that you can almost taste the banquets of the Tudor period.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2005)
After being told by a friend “You’re like Lisbeth from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, I felt compelled to read the book. After battling through the first chapter, which I found hard work (and irrelevant), it opened out into a multifaceted psychological thriller about a deeply troubled computer hacker. Bemused at how my friend could make that comment, I went on to read all three parts of the series in two weeks and wound up feeling honoured by the comparison.
Pryor Convictions: And Other Life Sentences by Richard Pryor (1990s)
This autobiography was a gift from a friend. I read the book in its entirety on a train journey from London to Liverpool. It made me laugh out loud and cry with full-on tears for both comedic and melancholic reasons. Afterward Pryor – a man I had always thought was brilliant – shot up in my estimation to a comedic legend. Totally underrated in his lifetime and overcoming many personal demons, he set a precedence for modern day stand-up comics.