For more information go to our website competitions page, which is here.
We thought you might be interested in some of the great and good's choices, and so today we have the wonderful Karen Maitland's picks . Karen is the author of the spellbinding pageturner The Company of Liars, which we love. I reviewed it here by the way.
'Here are my favourite five in no particular order. If you saw my house at home which is stacked floor to ceiling with books that I love and couldn't bring myself to part with, (I've now run out of bookshelf space), you'd know how hard this was. My top 500 would have been easier, so many apologises to anyone who books I adore, but didn't mention.
The Power and The Glory by Graham Greene.
This was the first adult book I read when I was growing up and it made me realise for the first time that novels, instead of having as their main characters impossibly brave, handsome heroes, could be written about real people that I could relate to, who had stomach ulcers, human vices and faced with danger sensibly wanted to run away and hide. This was the book that made me want to be a writer.
Carnage on the Committee by Ruth Dudley Edwards
A hilarious crime novel for anyone who loves books. Panellists on a literary-prize committee are murdered one by one. Is the killer a disgruntled, author, publisher or reader? I love this book for its ingenious plot, the caricatures of different literary types and the thinly veiled references to certain modern authors, as well as its redoubtable amateur detective Baroness 'Jack' Troutbeck who a brilliant creation. This is the book that makes me laugh out loud.
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
A historical novel set in Paris with ruthless and unique killer who stalks these pages. The character is so horrible yet so captivating I found myself desperate for him to get away with his crimes. Amazing atmosphere and such an original character.
Midnight's Children - by Salman Rushdie
I am a big fan of magical realism and a love the way the author seamlessly blends history with magic and wonder in this novel which reveals so much about the period and the culture. It brings home the great suffering that the people of India and Pakistan endured at the time of partition far more than a straight historical novel ever could.
Nights at the Circus - by Angela Carter
A fantastic book in every sense of the word, set in the 19th century about a raunchy cockney trapeze artist who appears to have wings and be able to fly. Like the bemused reporter sent to investigate her, we don't know if its true or a con and the author skilfully pulls you deeper and deeper into her bizarre fantasy until you believe that anything is possible. Reading this book for me is like being a kid a toy shop, because it invites your imagination to play in an endless world of ideas with anyone saying to you – ‘No that's silly. Stop that at once!’
Now everyone go and buy her books.
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