This week we will be celebrating International Literacy Day and we asked the PHM team for their favourite reads - not just this year, but ever. An eclectic mix of titles came back!
The Old Patagonian Express tells of Paul Theroux's train journey down the length of North and South America.
Twelve year old Amir is desperate to win the approval of his father Baba, one of the richest and most respected merchants in Kabul. He has failed to do so through academia or brawn, but the one area where they connect is the annual kite fighting tournament.
Both a love letter to 80s pop culture and a dazzling science fiction extravaganza, Cline's cult classic centres on an immersive video game on a future Earth and one man's all-consuming quest to gain control of this virtual utopia.
Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry. Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other's sentences. No one could ever imagine them without each other.
When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage. His equilibrium is further disturbed when his friends all decide to come and keep him company and Charles finds his seaside idyll severely threatened by his obsessions.
After spending nine years in the British care system, Nigel went on to educate himself and become an author of contemporary fiction and crime. He found his voice as the editor of his own magazine, which he ran for eight years. Prior to this he studied screenwriting in London. He also has a wealth of experience as a freelance journalist, writing articles and stories for numerous magazines and newspapers.
When Elspeth Huxley's pioneer father buys a remote plot of land in Kenya, the family sets off to discover their new home: five hundred acres of Kenyan scrubland, infested with ticks and white ants, and quavering with heat. What they lack in know-how they make up for in determination: building a grass house, employing local Kikuyu tribe members and painstakingly transforming their patch of wilderness into a working farm. Huxley's unforgettable childhood memoir is a sensitive account of settler life at the turn of the twentieth century and a love song to the harshness and beauty of East Africa.
It is 1941 and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is posted to the Greek island of Cephallonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals but over time he proves himself to be civilised, humorous - and a consummate musician.
Il romanzo comincia seguendo le due protagoniste bambine, e poi adolescenti, tra le quinte di un rione miserabile della periferia napoletana, tra una folla di personaggi minori accompagnati lungo il loro percorso con attenta assiduità. L'autrice scava nella natura complessa dell'amicizia tra due bambine, tra due ragazzine, tra due donne, seguendo la loro crescita individuale, il modo di influenzarsi reciprocamente, i buoni e i cattivi sentimenti che nutrono nei decenni un rapporto vero, robusto.
'The first of my father's illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels.'
So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, they 'dream on' in this funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel.
Laura Chase's older sister Iris, married at eighteen to a politically prominent industrialist but now poor and eighty-two, is living in Port Ticonderoga, a town dominated by their once-prosperous family before the First War. While coping with her unreliable body, Iris reflects on her far from exemplary life, in particular the events surrounding her sister's tragic death. Chief among these was the publication of The Blind Assassin, a novel which earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following.
We loved the conversation this question provoked in the office and the memories associated with reading these books - some books read on special holidays or when at school, or some that reminded people of events or people that they had not thought about for years.
What would be your choice?
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