Here are five mesmerising books that I'd gladly read again, except for one
My favourite reads: Gareth Cox
A good book has you mesmerised from start to finish and then sticks in your mind long after finishing. All of these did that for me and I would happily read any one of them again tomorrow … bar the Brexit one as the main protagonists make me want to implode with fury. Gareth Cox is a sub-editor at The National
All Out War – The Full Story of Brexit by Tim Shipman (2016)
An unbelievably well-sourced account of the British referendum that speaks to all the main movers and shakers in the "remain" and "leave" camps. Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, has an incredible contacts book that provides you with a warts-and-all take of both campaigns, which were brimming with divisive rhetoric, dreadful characters, woeful incompetence, shameless skulduggery and outright treachery. By the end, you come away thinking "no one deserved to win that".
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
An epic story, told in just 280-odd pages, about an unnamed father and his young son trying to survive in a world ravaged by a cataclysm that is never explained. It is full of haunting imagery, beautiful prose and nerve-jangling tension, as the pair hunt for food and shelter while trying to avoid marauding gangs of cannibals. A line the father says about the fragility of memories – “You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget” – is imprinted on my brain
Touching Distance: Kevin Keegan, the Entertainers and Newcastle’s Impossible Dream by Martin Hardy (2015)
Being a fan of English football team Newcastle United is a life-long affliction of which there is no escape for me. But for an exciting period in the mid-1990s, following "The Toon" became a privilege. I went to all the home matches at the time with my dad and we still speak fondly of this era – as do all of the players interviewed in this book and Hardy perfectly captures the mood of a city that lives and breathes football.
The Stand: the complete and uncut edition by Stephen King (1990)
In the first flat I ever rented out when I moved to London in 2002 was a bookshelf full of King novels. This hefty tomb is one of the first I read and kicked-off a love of the prolific writer that lasts to this day. The story – about the survivors of a deadly strain of flu that that has wiped out most of the world’s population – sucks you in from the first page right through to the last.
Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky (1991)
I remember reading this by the pool on my first holiday away with friends on the, appropriately, hedonistic party island of Ibiza. It charts Morrison’s journey from shy boy in a military family – his dad was an admiral in the United States navy – to becoming lead singer in chart-topping rock band The Doors, through to his death aged just 27. All the key players in his life contribute, and it’s full of great anecdotes and insight into what made him tick.