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I read first thing in the morning and last thing at night – and many hours in between.  When I’m on the road, I tend to travel light, with usually just a change of clothes and washing things, but I always pack at least three books, often more.  I find reading on an electronic device is not the same at all!  I love the look of books, whether they’re new stylish hardbacks, well-thumbed second-hand copies, or smooth leather volumes.  I love fiction, literary biographies, art, nature – and books about books.

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge is one of the most memorable characters in modern fiction.  Olive can be compassionate but she’s often cruel too, and yet you can’t help caring about her.  Anyone who’s met Olive already will seize this book and greedily devour it.

Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson’s tales really are dark, though they are set in small towns in America amongst ordinary-seeming suburban folk.  They are beautifully written, clearly told stories, which suddenly chill you to the bone.

The Body by Bill Bryson

When we’re young we fuss about what our bodies look like.  When we’re old (like me) we don’t really care what our bodies look like, we just want them to keep working.  This wonderfully comprehensive book tells us all about what’s going on inside us and is crammed full of fascinating facts.  

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I like to read about Victorian waifs and strays – and Oliver Twist has to be the leader in the field.  I’ve got a lovely old set of Dickens, but a paperback fits neatly into my handbag for those long journeys.  

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

I loved his first book about his secondhand bookshop in Wigtown – and this is an equally engrossing sequel.  He describes his weary struggles with staff and customers with dry humour and in spite of everything, he’s retained his passion for books.

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