top ten books

Imagine your child, your god-child, or perhaps a child you know will become the leader of the free world, can only ever read ten books in their lifetime. What would those books be?

Thanks to all who contributed to the experiment. I received some wonderful lists from people, many of whom also gave their reasons why they chose the books.

In the end, we didn’t have a full top ten. There was a handful of books who were nominated a number of times, and a clear number one book. But the rest of the books nominated make such a great collection that I have listed them all here. Click here to buy any or all of the Top Eight from Amazon. Enjoy!

Number 1 – four votes

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Nominated by:

Nick Lawrance        
“Read this book firstly as a fairy tale”      
“To be read a second time immediately after The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, as an allegory of how power corrupts and all that”

Mairead Doyle                                                                                        “This book can be read again and again in life to appreciate its many layers”

Katea Downie

Joint 2nd

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Nominated by:

Manu Pillai
Katea Downie
Mairead Doyle         
“The ultimate cautionary tale for our times”

Joint 2nd

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

Nominated by:

Nick Lawrance        
“Because mental health problems are just health problems”

Eileen Kershaw
Mairead Doyle

Joint 4th

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Nominated by:

Sam Evans  
“Read this book and you won’t have a great view of humanity; like no other book it reveals the human cost of wars and why they should never be fought”

Mairead Doyle         
“Probably the best war book ever written”

Joint 4th

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Nominated by:

“A modern Australian flavour”

Sam Evans  
“An Australian masterpiece, amazingly written book about two poor families in western australia that suffer catastrophies but live on – wonderful use of Australian rural language”

Joint 4th

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Nominated by:

Katea Downie
Katharine Haines

Joint 4th

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Nominated by:

Katea Downie
Mairead Doyle         
“A powerful story about growing up in an imperfect world”

Joint 4th

The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama

Nominated by:

Manu Pillai

Sam Evans  
“Helped me get perspective – I think I’ll need to re-read this every few years to keep its messages fresh”


Ref. Title Author Nominated by
1 100 Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez Suzanne Parsons
2 A Shropshire Lad AE Housman Katharine Haines
3 A Well Dressed Gentleman’s Pocket Guide Oscar Lenius Orlando Gibson
4 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy Sam Evans
5 Art of War Sun Tzu Manu Pillai
6 Between You & I James Cochrane Orlando Gibson
7 Bhowani Junction John Masters Hayley Burchill
8 Bible Reference Lesa Campbell
9 Black Beauty Anna Sewell Louise Beechey
10 Black Dogs Ian McEwan Bres
11 Bonjour Tristesse Francoise Sagan Katharine Haines
12 Brave New World Aldous Huxley Manu Pillai
13 Bridge to Terebithia Kathrine Patterson Alison Crimmins
14 Brotherman Herb Boyd & Robert Allen Orlando Gibson
15 Captain Correlli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres Louise Beechey
16 Catch 22 Joseph Heller Nick Lawrance
17 Catcher in the Rye J D Salinger Katea Downey
18 Change the World Robert E Quinn Dean Campbell
19 Computer Programming for Dummies Reference Orlando Gibson
20 Crime & Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky Louise Beechey
21 Danny, Champion of the World Roald Dahl Nick Lawrance
22 Definitely Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand Alison Crimmins
23 Dracula Bram Stoker Nick Lawrance
24 Elizabeth – Red Rose of the House of Tudor Kathryn Lasky Kathryn Fridman
25 Endurance Alfred Lansing Sam Evans
26 Famous Five or Secret Seven Enid Blyton Eileen Kershaw
27 Fast Food Nation Eric Schlosser Katharine Haines
28 Howl’s Moving Castle Diana Wynne Jones Kathryn Fridman
29 I Capture the Castle Dodie Smith Katharine Haines
30 I, Coriander Sally Gardener Kathryn Fridman
31 If This Is A Man Primo Levi Katharine Haines
32 In Praise of Slow Carl Honore Katharine Haines
33 In Spain Ted Walker Annette Doyle
34 Journey to the River Sea Eva Ibbotson Kathryn Fridman
35 Les Miserables Victor Hugo Louise Beechey
36 Lord of the Rings J R R Tolkien Sam Evans
37 Lyn: A Diary of Prostitution Lyn Madden Annette Doyle
38 Maid of Buttermere Melvyn Bragg Louise Beechey
39 Martin and Malcolm and America James H Cone Orlando Gibson
40 Master and Commander Patrick O’Brien Hayley Burchill
41 Mayor of Casterbridge Thomas Hardy Louise Beechey
42 Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie Mairead Doyle
43 Mr God This Is Anna Finn Mairead Doyle
44 Northern Lights Philip Pullman Kathryn Fridman
45 Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman Mairead Doyle
46 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Ian Fleming Nick Lawrance
47 Oxford English Dictionary Reference Orlando Gibson
48 Parade’s End Ford Madox Ford Hayley Burchill
49 Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyon Hayley Burchill
50 Pole to Pole Michael Palin Katharine Haines
51 Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry Various Louise Beechey
52 Rachel’s Holiday Marian Keyes Annette Doyle
53 RHS Gardening Manual Reference Hayley Burchill
54 Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare Katea Downey
55 Schindler’s Ark Thomas Kenneally Mairead Doyle
56 Sophie’s World Jostein Gaarder Bres
57 Teach Yourself Chinese Reference Orlando Gibson
58 Teach Yourself Spanish Reference Orlando Gibson
59 The Butcher Boy Patrick McCabe Annette Doyle
60 The Communist Manifesto Karl Marx Nick Lawrance
61 The Constant Gardener John le Carre Suzanne Parsons
62 The Five People You Meet in Heaven Mitch Alborn Bres
63 The Horse Whisperer Nicholas Evans Annette Doyle
64 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Suzanne Parsons
65 The Lady Grace Mysteries – Assassin Patricia Finney Kathryn Fridman
66 The Lonely Planet – India Lonely Planet Annette Doyle
67 The Lost World of the Kalahari Laurens van der Post Katharine Haines
68 The Mousehole Cat Antonia Barber Louise Beechey
69 The New York Trilogy Paul Auster Bres
70 The Once and Future King T H White Katharine Haines
71 The Piano Tuner Daniel Mason Hayley Burchill
72 The Prophet Kahlil Gibran Annette Doyle
73 The Reader Bernard Schlink Nick Lawrance
74 The Silent World Jacques Cousteau Louise Beechey
75 The Star of Kazan Eva Ibbotson Kathryn Fridman
76 The Treatment Mo Hayder Annette Doyle
77 The Worlds of Chrestomanci – The Magicians of Capriona Diana Wynne Jones Kathryn Fridman
78 Time Bandits Michael Palin & Terry Gilliam Orlando Gibson
79 Twinkle Annual Eileen Kershaw
80 Veronika Decides to Die Paul Coelho Annette Doyle
81 Vile Victorians (Horrible Histories) Terry Deary Kathryn Fridman
82 Voyage of the Dawn Treader C S Lewis Nick Lawrance
83 Winnie the Pooh – Complete Collection of Poems and Stories A A Milne Mairead Doyle
84 Women’s Room Mariyn French Annette Doyle

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