THE DIARY OF A NOBODY by George and Weedon Grossmith Penguin, £7.99
Written towards the end of the 19th century, this is one of the great comic books. Charles Pooter is a wonderful character, reeling from one social humiliation to another.
He lives in Holloway, an area I know well, and the historical nature of the book appealed.
THEY ALL LOVE JACK: BUSTING THE RIPPER by Bruce Robinson Fourth Estate, £9.99
I’ve read more books about the Ripper than I should have and he nails it. The Ripper story speaks to a collective nightmare: the demon who does awful things and vanishes.
THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame Vintage, £5.99
The book I’ve read more than any other, including to my daughters. It’s representative of a way of life that we all wish existed, so beautiful and pastoral. It flips between the hilarious and charming adventures of Toad and an incredible exploration of human emotions.
FLASHMAN by George MACDONALD Fraser HarperCollins, £8.99
It is breathtaking how immoral Flashman is and how unapologetic he is about it. He describes why over the background of the second Afghan War, having been thrown out of Rugby School. I love the fact that when it was published a lot of Americans thought it was all true.
THE GORMENGHAST TRILOGY by Mervyn Peake Vintage, £18.99
This had an extraordinary effect on me. I read it in my late teens, the same time as I read The Lord Of The Rings. Gormenghast Castle is a more complete fantastical world than Tolkien’s, especially when you’re introduced to all the characters with ridiculous names, and it’s more disturbing.
BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy Picador, £9.99
A hard read but a masterpiece. I’ve got a high tolerance for descriptions of violence but there were moments when I had to put this down.
It’s set in the American West about guys going around scalping Indians.