Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Hundred Books

Earlier in the week I sawAnnabel's post about her new desert island book list. Her post had been inspired by Paula at Book Jotter who had been reading about a man in his eighties who had decided to cut his extensive book collection down to just 100 titles.

Paula, and Annabel chose their lists based around books that particularly meant something to them and had a few other rules and guidelines (see original posts for details). There are a couple of times in my life when I've had to head off with only a handful of books to my name (university and the years living in rented rooms) more always joined them.

Maybe in my eighties stuck in a home there will only be space for a hundred books, and maybe at that point I'd want the hundred that had meant the most to me. It's equally possible that the reality of that would be 50 Georgette Heyer's (those books have seen me through 30+ years already, I could find myself in worse company) and a bunch of crime fiction.

Right now though I'm in my 40's, and I want something a bit different from the books I'd keep with me, or hope washed up on my deserted island. My list is a mix of familiar favourites and books I've yet to read. Long books that I dream of having the time to get stuck into without interruption definitely feature. There are some cookbooks - almost all the kind that are wonderful to read as well as cook from, and there's no particular order.

That's because I started at one end of my flat and finished at the other, then repeated until I had 100. This has taught me that a) my books really need sorting out into a proper order, b) I have some great looking books that I'd completely forgotten about, and c) whilst I don't want to get rid of any of the books I have, I'm not as attached to some of them as I might have supposed.

1. Patience Gray - Honey From A Weed
2. Ambrose Heath - Good Drinks
3. Jane Grigson - Fruit Book
4. Jane Grigson - Vegetable Book
5. Daniel Stevens - River Cottage Bread Book
6. Claudia Roden - A New Book of Middle Eastern Cooking
7. Jancis Robinson - The Oxford Companion to Wine
8. Diana Henry - Salt Sugar Smoke
9. Claudia Roden - Picnics
10. T. S. Eliot - The Complete Poems and Plays

11. John Milton - Paradise Lost (Longman annotated edition) when I bought this it was with the thought it would be a retirement project, and that must have been 15 years ago.
12. Ovid - Metamorphosis
13. The Rattle Bag - Edited by Seaumus Heaney and Ted Hughes
14. English Romantic Verse
15. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
16. John Sutherland - Lives of the Novelists
17. Jen Hadfield - Byssus
18. Kathleen Jamie - Sightlines
19. Arboreal: A Collection of New Woodland Writing (Little Toller)
20. A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe - Collins I still have a copy bought in the early 1980's I keep meaning to update it, do I need to?

21. Simon Schama - Landscape and Memory
22. Hall’s Dictionary of Subjects and symbols
23. Sharon Miller - Heirloom Knitting
24. Susan Crawford - the Vintage Shetland Project
25. Ian Niall The Poacher’s Handbook
26. Jill Liddington - Rebel Girls; Their Fight for the Vote
27. Maggie Craig - Damn Rebel Bitches; The Women of the ‘45
28. Georgette Heyer - The Talisman Ring
29. Georgette Heyer - Sylvester
30. Dorothy L. Sayers - Gaudy Night. I'm not sure how much I enjoy Sayers these days but thus book certainly meant something to me when I first read it.

31. Dorothy B. Hughes - In a Lonely Place
32. John Mortimer - The Collected Stories of Rumpole
33. Damon Runyon - On Broadway
34. Gypsy Rose Lee - The G String Murders
35. Raymond Chandler - The Lady in the Lake and other novels
36. Compton Mackenzie - The Monarch of the Glen
37. Wilkie Collins - Armadale
38. Wilkie Collins - No Name. I really love Wilkie Collins.
39. Charles Dickens - Bleak House
40. Jane Austen - Persuasion

41. Alexander Dumas - The Three Musketeers
42. Maria Edgeworth - Helen
43. Margaret Oliphant - Miss Marjoriebanks - has to be the most underrated writer on this list.
44. Anthony Trollope - Orley Farm
45. Walter Scott - The Heart of Midlothian
46. M. E. Braddon - Lady Audley’s Secret
47. William M. Thackeray - Vanity Fair
48. Edith Wharton - The Mother’s Recompense
49. Mae West - She Done Him Wrong
50. Mary Renault - North Face

51. Muriel Spark - Momento Mori
52. Colleen McCullogh - The Thorn Birds
53. L. M. Montgomery- Jane of Lantern Hill
54. Molly Keane - Taking Chances
55. Nora Ephron - Heartburn
56. Florence King - Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady
57. Rumen Godden - China Court
58. Barbara Comyns - Who Was Changed and Who was Dead
59. E. M. Delafield - Diary of a Provincial Lady
60. Daphne Du Maurier - Frenchman’s Creek

61. Raymond Postgate - Verdict of Twelve
62. Nan Shepherd - The Living Mountain
63. Saki - The Complete Saki
64. W. Somerset Maugham - The Painted Veil
65. Gavin Maxwell - Harpoon at a Venture
66. Tex Geddes - Hebridean Sharker
67. Adrian Bell - Apple Acre
68. George Mackay Brown - Winter Tales
69. E. F. Benson - Mapp and Lucia
70. Anita Loos - Gentleman Prefer Blondes

71. John Cheever - Collected Stories
72. M.F.K Fisher - With Bold Knife and Fork
73. Ford Maddox Ford - The Good Soldier
74. Margaret Atwood - The Penelopiad
75. J. Pullein Thompson - Gin and Murder
76. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman - Good Omens
77. Crimson Snow - crime classics edited by Martin Edwards
78. Stefan Zweig - Fantastic Night
79. The Brothers Grimm - The Complete Fairy Tales
80. Angela Carter - Nights at the Circus

81. Angela Carter - Burning Your Boats - Collected Short Stories
82. Richard Burton - The Arabian Nights
83. Kevin Crossley- Holland - Norse Myths
84. Rafael Sabatini - The Sea Hawk
85. Robert Louis Stevenson - The Master of Ballantrae
86. Dracula's Brood - edited by Richard Daley
87. Teffi - Rasputin and Other Ironies
88. John Banville - The Untouchable
89. Baroness Orczy - The Scarlett Pimpernel
90. Virginia Woolf - Orlando

91. William Goldman - The Princess Bride
92. Sophia Kinsella and Jennifer Westwood - The Fabled Coast
93. Barbara Pym - Excellent Woman
94. Shirley Jackson - The Lottery and other stories
95. A.S. Byatt - Little Black Book of Short Stories
96. George Gissing - The Odd Women
97.E.T.A Hoffmann - Tales of Hoffmann
98. Robert Chandler - Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platnov
99. Robertson Davies - The Cornish Trilogy
100. Evelyn Waugh - Vile Bodies


  1. I find lists like this fascinating. I always want to know why a book was included and whether or not it is an old favorite. I suppose that would make a ridiculously long post. Of course, now I want to add all the books from this list to my shelves which I suppose is counterproductive.

    1. I daydream about having a little bolt hole Cottage somewhere like Shetland, where I would want books (of course) but not all my books. This list is a mix of old favourites, books I haven't read by authors I love, books I think I'd love but haven't got round to yet, And things I hope would cover most of my interests and reading needs. A lot of books I've loved have been a bit depressing (everything I ever read by William Golding for a start), and full of emotions I don't much need to revisit in fiction at this point in my life. Daphne Du Maurier is on there because she continuously defeats me but I'm not done trying with her yet. I hope part of the fun might be in guessing which ones I have read and which ones I haven't. And yes, the downside of reading other people's lists is that you always see things you want on them ;)

  2. A wonderful list Hayley - glad to see Brewers in there - the one book we share I think! Thank you for the link. This was fun to do, and I will need to edit my list - no fairy tales in there at the moment, and I'm sure I can find some omnibus editions of authors with several entries to make room!

    1. It was fun to do, and an excellent prompt to have a good look at all the books I have - it's a bit easy to forget some of them sometimes. Thank you, and Paula, for the idea :)

  3. Love your list, Chris. Thank you so much for the link!

  4. Really sorry - Hayley, not Chris. Duh!

  5. Excellent list. Lots I'd love to read on here.

    1. Me too, was looking at the run of Dumas books I have, I've seen some of the films, and long to read the books but they're so long there never seems to be time. They're top of the One Day list.

  6. I love this. With one hundred books, there's enough room to include both the comfort reads (like Heyer) and the books you always planned to get to but just haven't yet. And I love that you include a healthy number of cookbooks - a list without Claudia Roden would be bleak. Might have to take a crack at my own list...

  7. In real life I suppose the number of books I eventually keep will be dictated by the shelf space available, but a hundred books really does give plenty of scope, and I think the books you really want to read say as much as the ones you’ve read often if you want to consider them as a sort of biography.

  8. I really enjoyed this list. Lots I'd like to keep on my shelves (The Talisman Ring is a favourite Heyer, Wilkie Collins and Dickens and other sensational Victorians, Good Omens, E F Benson, vampire and crime stories, Florence King, Austen and more) which makes me all the more interested in the ones I haven't read. I must give Walter Scott another go, and there are lots of fairy tales here I'd like to try. Thank you!

  9. I know he's not fashionable but I have a lot of affection for Scott. He uses 20 words where nI me are necessary just for the fun of it, and I have to make myself slow down and go at his pace, but he rewards that. Waverley is my favourite so far.

  10. An interesting challenge. As we are thinking of down-sizing, I am having to consider getting rid of a lot of books. I have a huge wall-to-wall fitted cupboard in one of our spare bedrooms crammed two-deep with books. As well as a secret stash under the bed in another spare bedroom which my husband doesn't know about. And further piles in other parts of the house. One thing I have found out, that if you join a large county library (I am a member of two other county library services, as well as our own city library) you can order old, rare, and out-of-print books. This is a good alternative to buying them on Amazon or in charity shops.

  11. There's nothing like packing up to put you in the mood for a thorough clear out. I got overwhelmed by the number of books in my flat a couple of years ago and sold over 300, then did the same again just before Christmas last year with almost as many. A fair proportion of those were review copies, but there were plenty of duplicates, things I'd grown out of (Jilly Cooper, who I loved in my teens when reading her felt a good kind of trashy, but who I find unbearable now) and all those charity shop buys that seem to good to miss at the time but in hindsight will never get read. Yards of letter collections went, when I realised I just don't really enjoy reading other people's correspondence that much. It was much easier to let go than I expected, and very cathartic. Good luck with the downsizing if you do it.