Inspired by Jillian, and entirely for my own pleasure and amusement, I’ve made a list of my favourite fifty novels. The first ten are in a Strict Descending Order of Belovedness, but it gets a bit more lax after that. She did hers in January, like a sensible person, but I am doing mine in April, like a person deep into thesis procrastination. If I remember, I’ll review the list in a year or two, and see how it’s changed. I’ve been incredibly inconsistent about whether I count a series as one entry or multiple, but hey, it’s my list. I couldn’t possibly pick my favourite Swallows and Amazons book, for example—it’s always whichever one I’ve read most recently. Some of these are books I will never read again, because they are too devastating—others I pick up at least once a year. A handful of these I read as a child or young teenager, and they might actually be terrible and I am being nostalgic.

  1. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  3. Gaudy Night by DL Sayers
  4. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  5. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  6. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
  7. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
  8. Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome
  10. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
  11. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
  12. Fanny Herself by Edna Ferber
  13. Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
  14. Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe
  15. The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor
  16. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  17. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  18. Harry Potter series except books 5 and 6 by JK Rowling
  19. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman*
  20. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  21. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  22. Jeeves and Wooster series by PG Wodehouse
  23. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  24. 1984 by George Orwell
  25. The Spy who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré
  26. The Silver Chair by CS Lewis
  27. The Expendable Man by Dorothy B Hughes
  28. Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
  29. Strong Poison by DL Sayers
  30. Have his Carcase by DL Sayers
  31. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  32. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  33. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  34. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome
  35. The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith
  36. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  37. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  38. Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis
  39. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  40. Black Sheep by Honore de Balzac
  41. Bridget Jones’ Baby by Helen Fielding
  42. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
  43. Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott
  44. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks
  45. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  46. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  47. We Danced in Bloomsbury Square by Jean Estoril**
  48. What Katy Did at School by Susan Coolidge
  49. Someone to Run With by David Grossman
  50. The Queen and I by Sue Townsend

*Technically non-fiction, I know, I know—but still a graphic novel, so I’ve decided that it counts.
**This makes the list because I haven’t read it since I was twelve and I can still recall huge chunks of it, fondly, from memory. It’s been out of print for years and I can’t find a copy, so it might well be dreadful. Also, I knew it as Ballet Twins and because I could never find a copy of it, I was beginning to think the whole thing was an hallucination.