Ten Favou­ri­te Books, in No Par­ti­cu­lar Order and Wit­hout Wan­ting to Cla­im That They Real­ly Are The Top Ten:

Jane Aus­ten, Per­sua­si­on (my favou­ri­te Aus­ten, though P&P is fun­nier and Mans­field Park more clever)

Vikram Seth, A Sui­ta­ble Boy (mas­si­ve mean­de­ring tome about India in the Fif­ties, full of incre­di­ble charm, wit and tragedy) 

Loui­sa May Alcott, Litt­le Women (the all-Ame­ri­can clas­sic. Excellent!)

Patrick O’Bri­an, H.M.S. Sur­pri­se (or real­ly any of the Aubrey-Matu­rin books. Men! Ships! Music! Jar­gon! What’s not to love?)

Adam Thor­pe, Ulver­ton (Beau­tiful­ly com­plex sto­ry of an Eng­lish vil­la­ge, play­ed on his­to­ri­cal instruments)

Tony Hor­witz, Con­fe­de­ra­tes in the Attic (one man’s jour­ney into the wild, wild South)

Alain de Bot­ton, The Roman­tic Move­ment (an ever­y­day love affair, dis­sec­ted by smart Mr de Botton)

Kazuo Ishi­gu­ro, The Remains of the Day (abso­lut­e­ly per­fect. I will sneak in Mrs Dal­lo­way as my ele­venth book here, becau­se they’­re in some ways quite similar)

Doro­thy Say­ers, Mur­der Must Adver­ti­se (it’s hard to say which of the Wim­sey mys­te­ries is best, but I can’t pick them all)

Dava Sobel, Lon­gi­tu­de (big pro­blem, litt­le man, cun­ning adver­sa­ry, huge reward. And ships! And it’s true!)