Ten Favourite Books, in No Particular Order and Without Wanting to Claim That They Really Are The Top Ten:

Jane Austen, Persuasion (my favourite Austen, though P&P is funnier and Mansfield Park more clever)

Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy (massive meandering tome about India in the Fifties, full of incredible charm, wit and tragedy)

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (the all-American classic. Excellent!)

Patrick O’Brian, H.M.S. Surprise (or really any of the Aubrey-Maturin books. Men! Ships! Music! Jargon! What’s not to love?)

Adam Thorpe, Ulverton (Beautifully complex story of an English village, played on historical instruments)

Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic (one man’s journey into the wild, wild South)

Alain de Botton, The Romantic Movement (an everyday love affair, dissected by smart Mr de Botton)

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (absolutely perfect. I will sneak in Mrs Dalloway as my eleventh book here, because they’re in some ways quite similar)

Dorothy Sayers, Murder Must Advertise (it’s hard to say which of the Wimsey mysteries is best, but I can’t pick them all)

Dava Sobel, Longitude (big problem, little man, cunning adversary, huge reward. And ships! And it’s true!)