Favourite books

For World Book Night 2014 we asked Ventnor readers to let us know what were their favourite books – their ‘Desert Island’ books. Here they are, in no particular order, just a lovely collection of personal reading pleasure – we hope you might be inspired to seek one out to seew what has made a book so much enjoyed.

Where books are available from Isle of Wight Library Service we have given a link to the title in the catalogue so that you can order them.

If you would like your favourite books added, email them to us .

Evelyn Knowles:

My favourite book? I have no one favourite, I have always loved The Wind in the Willows and I find so much excitement in reading Wolf Hall (even the second time), but I suppose the book which always transports me to other times and places, makes me laugh and cry, is David Mitchell’s ?The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet?. The year is 1799 when a young Dutch clerk, employed by the Dutch East Indies Company is sent to trade with Japan at a time when foreigners are excluded. He finds himself on an artificial Island connected to Nagasaki through which all trading activity is conducted. It is a book at times terrifying, sometimes hilarious and yet contains some of the most beautiful passages of love. You will be transported.

Beryl Couchman:

The book I dip into fairly regularly is called ‘One Hundred Favourite Poems‘, with introduction and biographies of the poets by Mike Read. They remind me of so many happy days. Printed by Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-71320-8.

Jon Idle:

My favourite book is Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West. There is a copy at Ryde Library. It is a huge book, mainly about her observations on her travels in Yugoslavia in the early 20th century. But it is so much more than a travel book – a small incident will lead onto a whole section of the book discussing human nature, European history, and pretty well everything else. A book appeals to me if the writer is observant and wise – Rebecca West is both. (Jon Idle)

Leigh Geddes:

The Dresden Greenby Nicholas Freeling. This stand-alone thriller tells the story of Louis whose carefully-controlled life as an EU interpreter is derailed by his discovery of the Dresden Green, a famous diamond lost in the fire-bombing of Dresden during WWII. Now read on . . . )

Christine Benson:

Two of my favourite books are Two Lives by Vikram Seth and The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. Then of course there’s Middlemarch Then of course there’s The Book Thief. Love, love, love it. Narrated by Death, but in the most beautiful way, set during World War Two. I love the way it’s written and how it makes you feel empathy and compassion for Death. I also have a keen interest in that era. I won’t give too much away!

Becky Newman:

Wuthering Heights, obsession and possession. A complete contrast to boring chick lit. It’s written well, atmospheric with a sense of foreboding from the start and weaves destructively through further generations.

Karen Tweed:

I have 2 favourite books – one fiction and one non but if I had to say THE one I return to every time it’s ‘99 Words: You have breath for no more than 99 words. What would they be?‘ by Liz Gray, who asked this question of ninety nine people whose voices she admired – this book gives their responses. It is a favourite of mine because I needed to place myself in that position before major surgery last year and now I consider that idea every day. The contributors range from poets to peacemakers, artists to scientists, philosophers to musicians, the famous and not very . . . A tiny five minute dip into this book will change your life and give you so much to think about; it has made me love life and every tiny moment. (I have a copy which I am happy to lend).

Sarah Marriot:

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time. It’s brilliantly written.

Jen Roberts:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’ve re-read it so many times. It deals with a taboo subject in a such a humourous way. He writes women so well.

Pixie Willow Moon:

The Traveller by John Twelve Hawkes, it’s a stark look at the dystopian world that we live in with such uncomprehendable accuracy yet a hopefulness of redemption by spirit travellers guarded by a network of dedicated warriors I loved it so much when I finished it and immediately started again back at page one. Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmerman Bradley because it’s a very matriarchal view of the Arthurian legend and the imagery she uses is beautiful.

Julia Aratoon:

The Great Gatsby. First read at fifteen and was seduced by the era, the charisma and the sadness in the characters. Have loved it ever since, re-read every year or so and find a different pleasure each time. Amazing how visual scenes from the book are, in glorious 3D senses.

Eileen Schaff:

Ooohhh, dilemma! 2012 favourite was Witch Light by Susan Fletcher: Witch Light was stunning. A review without reveal is hard, but the character Corrag, is small, intense and wise and her story, set in the Highlands is intensely moving. The language is mesmerising, as lyrical as poetry. This is How by M J Hyland: a slow start that moves into a slow emotional reveal. The main characters are not loveable, but I found it thought provoking for that reason. It’s very tender and astute. Both highly recommended.

Mikaela Kate Hennessey:

Anything by Sharon Shinn. She brings together worlds apart and makes sense of them in magnificent storytelling.

Bee Stingle:

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpugo. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. A Town like Alice: awesome determination of a woman and a true story.

Leigh Otsuka Curran:

Lamb by Christopher Moore. The gospel of Jesus Christ as told by his best friend Biff. The funny parts are pee your pants, irreverently funny. The sad parts break my heart. And if Jesus was the guy who is in this book, then he is a dude I want to hang out with.

James Mansfield:

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Rich in late Victorian horror, replete with deeply unsettling psychological tension and strange terror. A story that reminds us of a Comsos so Vast, Impersonal and Monstrous that it dwarfs the Finite Mind and Ego with utmost brutality and cruel efficiency.

Mark Sonlyne:

The Chymical Wedding by Lindsay Clarke. It is an interesting story about mythology, alchemy, social attitudes, a mix of different periods (modern day and Victorian), the leading female character in the Victorian era is a really strong person..a bit spooky, with things crossing over the time periods . . . not a good explanation but difficult to sum up in a few words!

Sue Morgan:

I would like to recommend a book that really made a deep impression on me when I read it when I was about nineteen or twenty, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It made me aware of issues such as social justice, poverty and environmental degradation and was a turning point in my political development. Books can help you to understand “how the other half lives” and be agents for social change (hence the attempts by various political regimes to burn them)!

Elizabeth Jane Lovely:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Cooking With Bones by Jess Richards. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gorgeous strokable books that feel like curling up in a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows! Characters I wish I were or wish were my friends that I never wanted to leave.

Gail Mathie:

My two favourite books were both reading for my O level exam. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: though written in 1813 the story is just as fresh today,all the characters are recognisable and as always the course of true love does not run smoothly but with a few twists and turns all ends happily for Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell: one of the funniest books I have read but also informs without the reader even realising so much about the wild life of Corfu. Each member of the family is dysfunctional in their own way and the people they meet in Corfu are wonderfully described. A snapshot of life just before the start of the second world war.

Lesley Telford:

Mariana by Monica Dickens: This book is about a young woman growing up in the 1930s in England – I re-read it regularly. It is true, and funny, and just a great story. Monica Dickens is a grand-daughter of Charles Dickens and she has a wicked way with words that brings her characters alive. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson: I think this is my favourite of Kate Atkinson’s books. It is funny and sad and witty, and really several stories woven linked together by her wonderful off-beat private detective Jackson Brodie and his obsession with ‘lost girls’. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller: I discovered this when I was a teenager, and it is still just as good. How can I describe it? If you don’t know it, just read it!

Cath Lovely:

The Horse Whisperer – I get lost in the story and can relate to it.

Scott Moger:

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. It’s an amazing mix of sci-fi and old school gumshoe genres. An amazing book I recommend to anyone who will listen.

Basil Barrett:

My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday used to be one of my faves – no, not the kiddy one, the other one – a wonderful celebration of the rich diversity of female sexuality and a great gift for any woman who worries that she has ‘odd’ fantasies – I’ve given away quite a few copies in my time.