The Booker winning novelist's ten favourite books, in no particular order.


Ill Seen Ill Said, Samuel Beckett. A masterpiece of his late period, compassionate, tender, exquisitely written.

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov. The most wonderful love poem ever composed in prose.

Historical Essays, Hugh Trevor-Roper. One of the great English prose stylists ranges over the centuries.

Duino Elegies, Rainer Maria Rilke. An ecstatic vision of the human predicament.

Ulysses, James Joyce. A book with which I have many problems, but which I would not be without.

Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson. A great writer disgracefully banished to the nursery.

Die fröliche Wissenschaft (‘The Gay Science’), Friedrich Nietzsche. Poetry disguised as philosophy. If only we could find a better English title.

The Tower, William Butler Yeats. The greatest single volume of poetry ever published.

The Greeks and the Irrational, E. R. Dodds. What the ancient Greeks were really like, by a marvellous writer.

Dirty Snow, Georges Simenon. The greatest of what he called his romans durs, his ‘hard’ novels, and no Maigret in sight.


Why not read some of John's novels? You can find out more about them all here.