Books are my rock ’n’ roll. I like making lists about books ... books bought, books read and books about books, like 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.
I am grateful to Borough Press - HarperFiction’s literary fiction imprint - for this questionnaire..There is a question for every day of the month. What will your answers be?
My dream fictional lockdown company?Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad from Wind in the Willows. Gentleness, kindness, wisdom, wit and silliness.
That book that most surprised meFrenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier. I thought it would be historical chick-lit only to find it’s the Wicked Lady but with pirates.
The best book set in a galaxy far, far awayNot a great sci-fi fan. Although it is not another galaxy, it is another world - Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.
My favourite series of booksUncompromisingly and easily - Biggles by Captain WE Johns.
The fictional home I’d like to be locked down inManderley in Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Maxim DeWinter’s house by the sea in Cornwall. Before the fire, of course!
My favourite World War Two novelSchindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally which inspired, in my opinion, Spielberg’s best film Schindler’s List.
My favourite dinner party in a novelPosh dinner parties in Anthony Powell’s A Buyer’s Market, the second book in the first volume of his Dance to the Music of Time series.
A Buyer’s Market is set in 1928, and is one social event after another. There is a full-scale grand pompous dinner, after which the guests all troop off to “the Huntercombes’ dance”. It is here that Barbara empties the sugar castor over the awful sneak Widmerpool.
The book with the best fictional motherThe Railway Children by E Nesbit. She is kind and resourceful - and writes children’s stories.
The first book I truly lovedTreasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson - pirates, buried treasure and seafaring adventure.
The fictional pet I’d most like to ownSnowy, reporter Tintin’s wire fox terrier in the cartoon series by Herge. I have all the books.
The book that has taught me the mostThe Usborne History of Britain at Usborne Children’s Books. From the Ice Age to the dawn of the 21st century, this book tells the story of Britain, its people and the events that have shaped their lives. It is a great accompaniment to my historical crime fiction collection.
A book that scared me when I was youngThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow - also known as the Headless Horseman - by Washington Irving.
The best fictional sporting sequenceNo contest, the football match in A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. Brian Glover played the PE teacher obsessed with Bobby Charlton in the Ken Loach film version of the book.
The book I give everyone as a presentFrenchman’s Creek - because I love Du Maurier and the heart-pounding, breathless adventure and romance of that particular book.
The best fictional friendshipSherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson in the series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
My favourite travel writingI love going abroad, mainly in book, so almost anything with a foreign setting. But, Simon Armitage, now Poet Laureate, writing about his walking adventures is up there.
The best love scene in literatureThe English Patient by Michael Ondaatjie.
My favourite twistNo question - Atonement by Ian McEwan.
A book that inspired me to become a better personA Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens.
My fictional nemesisBridget Jones - the creation of Helen Fielding. I can’t even read the books, I dislike her so much.
The perfect holiday readChanges every year - this year I’m going for Beach Read by Emily Henry.
The fictional family I most want to be adopted byThe Brown family from Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear books.
A book I would never lend to anyoneI never lend any of my books - I’d rather buy someone a copy of it then lend it.
My favourite fictional teacherJulian Morrow from Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
The first book that broke my heartA Tale of Two Cities - Sidney Carton’s ultimate sacrifice.
My favourite book in translationThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandra Dumas.
A book that has a perfect endingThe Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. Reggie comes back ‘from the dead’.