Last list for now – some guilty pleasures.
41. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding. cribbed from Austen of course, and brought to life brilliantly by Renee Zellwegger, but the books (or at least the first one) are great fun.
42. Enid Blyton – not now of course, but as a child I consumed Blyton books at the rate of about one a day. Horrible, inexcusable stuff in many ways, but one can’t deny their ability to keep you reading.
43. Antony Buckeridge – as above really – childhood nonsense but silly, relatively harmless nonsense.
44. Richmal Crompton. If I enjoyed Enid Blyton’s various series (Secret Seven, famous Five, Adventure, etc) then I adored the William books, which for some reason I remember being sold in our Post Office, probably the only place outside the library where you could get books in our little village.
45. Willard Price’s “Adventure” series (Amazon Adventure, Southsea adventure, African adventure, etc). Another series I couldn’t get enough of – what is remarkable about this series of books is that it seems to have been the author’s life works; the first was published in 1949, the last in 1980, long after I stopped reading them. Price was a genuine natural historian, and while my memory of these books is of a fairly brutal attitude towards the animal kingdom, the inspiration for them seems to have been an attempt to given children a love of and respect for animals and nature.
46. Michael Connolly – the Harry Bosch series. Walking in Chandler’s footsteps, as all crime fiction writers must do, Connolly has nevertheless managed to forge a character who is more than a shadow of Philip Marlowe.
47. The Edge Chronicles – Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. Probably ought to be in my sci-fi and fantasy list, because apart from the fact that these novels are aimed at early teens (I’m guessing) there is nothing guilty about my enjoyment of these books. This is a fine, complex series, full of great ideas, and with a strong, dark streak – one image of a knight trapped in a forest where he cannot die, but where he still decays, remains particularly disturbing.
48 The Girl… series – Steig Larrson. Compelling when first read, but some perspective allows you to see how much these books are weighed down with unnecessary distracting content. The films cut out a lot of sub-plots that are not missed at all eg the editor getting a new job, which doesn’t work out so she resigns and comes back to Millenium. The rape scene is unblinking which could be seen as brave, or distasteful – I am still not sure which.
49. Mark Wallington – Boogie on up the River – to my mind funnier than its inspiration, Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, mainly because it puts the dog centre stage.
50. The Molesworth books, by Geoffrey Willans, illustrated by Ronald Searle. The intrepid curse of St Custards, and gorila of 3b, very silly and perhaps a little bit dated, but some of the funniest sketches about boyhood I have ever read.