What Do You Think of Jane’s Top Ten Books?

Ahead of their LiveRead Festival (an online literature festival), which started on Monday, Liverpool Daily Post published ten Liverpool people’s favourite reads. Here’s what Jane Davis chose as hers:

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot

This great novel looks at the series of relationships that make up a small provincial town: how we’re connected to one another and why we do the things we do. The prose seems weighty at first but its worth persisting: you get attuned and there’s as much thinking about life in here as there is in Darwin’s Origin of Species.

2. The Corner by David Simon and Ed Burns

It’s not fiction but it is a great story and I think everyone who loves The Wire (which grew out of this book) will forgive me for including this terrific blockbuster, which does for the Baltimore corners what George Eliot did for Middlemarch

3.& 4. Gilead and Home by Marilynne Robinson

Gileadis the story of an old man looking back over his life and the lives of people he lives with as a pastor in his small Kansas town. Home is the sequel – the same story told from someone else’s point of view. Utterly brilliant, terrifying, moving, and also recommended by Barack Obama.

5. The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban.

Okay, this is a children’s novel about clockwork toys but read it anyway. A father and son try make their way through a cruel and dangerous world. One of the great post-holocaust novels, loads of jokes, and a happy ending.

6. The Assistant by Bernard Malamud

This wonderful 1950’s novel introduces to you Frankie Alpine, loser, a man you ain’t never gonna forget. He wants to be good, but how to start?

7. The Mayor Of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy.

This is what life is like for some of us, and it’s strangely good to recognise the remorseless pattern of mistake and mistake and mistake and mistake and mistake…

8. Still Life by AS Byatt

Yorkshire sisters go to South of France/have baby. There’s plenty to skip over if you aren’t interested in Van Gogh, for example, but read it for the brilliant accounts of family life – Christmas dinner with in-laws for the first time, or the unsurpassed account of giving birth. Nobody has written that, or love for a new baby, better.

9. Bleak House by Charles Dickens

One of his best ( and longest), this dark novel takes on problems of identity, connection, class… and the ability to read is central. The flight of Lady Dedlock is one of the most moving things dicken’s has written – all human life is here. And so contemporary…

10. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Because it may be the greatest novel ever written, plaiting individual lives into history – the panorama is immense, the close-ups recognisable and moving – and you’ll be amazed how easy it is to read – though I recommend a who’s who list of characters bookmark like the one I found in my second-hand hardback copy from Waterstone’s Secondhand Bookshop, top of Seel Street, 1978.

What about yours? Let us know.

To read the other ‘top tens’, click here.

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