Stuck for your next great read? Look no fur­ther than this in­spi­ra­tional list of our award-win­ning critic’s 100 favourites – in­clud­ing one epic he still hasn’t nished nearly half a cen­tury af­ter he picked it up... Craig’sad­ven­tures in won­der­land

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - BOOKSEVENT - Craig Brown

This is not one of those pompous lists of the 100 Great­est Books Of All Time. Nor is it a list of books You Ought To Read In Or­der To Ap­pear So­phis­ti­cated, or Books To Feel Guilty For Not Hav­ing Read.

In­stead, these are 100 books I have par­tic­u­larly en­joyed, at one time or an­other: books that have ex­cited me, moved me, fas­ci­nated me, made me laugh. The per­fect book would do all these, and much else be­sides. My key cri­te­rion has been sim­ple: would I give this book to a friend?

Look­ing at my list, I notice a bias to­wards the com­i­cal and the cat­a­strophic. I also favour pre­ci­sion, wit and orig­i­nal­ity. I find the dis­tinc­tion be­tween high­brow and low­brow – or ‘lit­er­ary’ and ‘non-lit­er­ary’ – largely bo­gus. Books are ei­ther well writ­ten or not. To my mind, El­more Leonard and P G Wode­house were greater writ­ers than most of the grandees awarded the Booker or the No­bel Prize. Nor do I find pos­ter­ity as trust­wor­thy a judge as oth­ers seem to do: quite a few of these books are in dan­ger of ex­tinc­tion.

We change with time, and so does our taste. There were books I loved in my youth – Fitzger­ald’s Ten­der Is The Night is one, Pa­trick White’s The Vivi­sec­tor an­other – that now, at the age of 60, I’m less con­vinced by. Was I right then, and not now? Per­haps. Will I have changed my mind in a few years? Quite pos­si­bly. But this is my list for now.

Above, from left: Helena Bon­ham Carter, Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska and Anne Hath­away in Alice In Won­der­land, 2010. Right: Paula Wilcox as Miss Hav­isham in Great Ex­pec­ta­tions, 2013

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