My favourite authors: who and what I read.

My reading habits are eclectic and I don’t really have a genre I most like, no section of the bookshop I automatically head for. I’m a browser. I thought I might share some of my favourite authors, and why.

So in no particular order, these are the authors that I have read and most enjoyed and am most likely to look out for.

Mo Hayder. I read Birdman having seen a scribbled staff recommendation of it in Waterstones. The follow up, The Treatment had me hooked. Unputdownably good, I read it on a stag do. That reflects well on the book since you’ll know (or may reasonably assume) that not much reading happens on stag do’s, especially considering it was the most intense and punishing such trip I’ve ever done. Each and every follow up is a must read, either the Jack Caffery stuff or the stand alone titles. She is one of those authors who not only makes me want to read, but makes me want to write too.

Anthony Beevor. I like reading WWII books as I find the topic endlessly fascinating. Stalingrad was a book that sat waiting for a long time on the self before I picked it up, dauntingly large as it was. Worth the wait of course. A work of non-fiction with all the compelling readability of the best thrillers. Then I devoured Berlin: The Downfall and am currently working my way through D-Day. WWII is hardly a subject you’d struggle to find titles on, but you’ll struggle to beat these.

Mark Billingham. I don’t ordinarily do crime thrillers but along with Mo Hayder, I’ll make an exception for Mark Billingham and his superb creation Thom Thorne. A great supporting cast, well crafted thrillers, fast paced and witty writing.

Hilary Mantel. Sometimes a book takes you completely by surprise and demonstrates to you just how singular an experience reading can be. Engrossing, engaging, addictive, entertaining, educational. Wolf Hall was that book for me, the book that most got into my head since Catch 22. I’ve read several of her others since then and at some point will wrestle with the sequel to Wolf Hall and the huge A Place of Greater Safety.

David Peace. First I read The Damned United, interested by the story of Brian Clough that it told. Then I began with the Red Riding titles which are very different in their style but no less compelling. I have several more on my bookshelf now, forming an orderly queue.

As I write this I realise that there are more names to add to this list, so perhaps I’ll revisit this topic with a Part II. This isn’t supposed to be some sort of cliffhanger you understand. Just trying to keep it brief.


Last book I read.

Technically it was an In The Night Garden book with my youngest son this morning, but the last ‘book’ book was The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson.

I’ve read his first one, Them, and absolutely loved it. We all love a good conspiracy nut, and Ronson gives us several.

The Psychopath Test is a belting read, equating the common traits of psychopaths with the rich and successful – ruthless, heartless leaders of countries and companies. I found myself tallying up all the traits on the test with an old boss of mine who scored (by my reckoning) very high. I knew it!

It is of course broader than just an examination of what makes a psycho but takes in the whole nature of mental illness and diagnosing it, and more sinister, the industry that has grown up around it. Particularly sinister, pharmaceuticals.

Funny, intelligent and thought provoking. I’m really struggling to resist the urge to use the line ‘you’d be crazy not to’ not least because – awful punning aside – it’s probably in quite poor taste. There’s also some amazing stuff about David Shayler that I was completely unaware if. Great read.