I was brought up in a house full of books and thought I’d share my list of the top six I was brought up with. Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?
1. J. R. R. Tolkien – The Lord Of The Rings (1950s).
Hobbit and his batman carry magic ring to volcano and drop it in, all set in a world inspired by the Volsung saga and Norse mythology in general.
2. J. R. R. Tolkien – The Hobbit (1937).
One of my favourite books of all time, ever. A Hobbit goes on a classic Hero Journey. Identical plot structure to Star Wars and Wizard of Oz.
3. The Harvard Lampoon – Bored of the Rings (1969).
Not actually a British novel, but it’s kind of one because it’s a parody of (1), and a brilliant comic novel in its own right. Some of the late-1960s pop-culture references are a bit obscure these days.
4. A. A. Milne – Winnie The Pooh/The House at Pooh Corner (1920s).
A.A.Milne’s wonderful antidote to the First World War, a fantastic medicine for a shell-shocked Britain of the 1920s. Although portrayed as kids’ stories, naturally there is an adult level, one that speaks much of the context in which they were written and of the desperate need to explore and build a philosophy around the ordinariness of life, a need to exalt the everyday world, felt by a shattered nation struggling to come to grips with a ‘lost generation’.
5. Kenneth Grahame – The Wind in the Willows (1908).
Letters from Kenneth Grahame to his son, assembled into a 1908 novel about a pastoral riverside community of animals, each representing a British social class of the day. My favourite is Badger. What’s yours?
6. Warren Chetham-Strode – Top Off The Milk (1959).
A hilarious light comedy novel, semi-autobiographical, about a writer, his wife and their four Siamese cats. Kind of like A Month In The Country, only without the shell-shock, and with writing and cats.