Ah, the final part. I said 'top three' in my last post and, well, I lied. I implied that I had a 'top' of anything. Again, these are just ten of the books that stayed with me "for some reason" and some of them are for different reasons. So far, most of them have been fiction (and I suspect that will remain so) but I ought to explain this apparent bias.
Factual books I love, I do, but I view them as a means to an end - a way to acquire more knowledge or to think in a new way. As a consequence I am strictly utilitarian, mostly, when reading them. Some, like one in this installment, make me think so much in a new way that they stay with me. Most, I dip in and out of chasing references or sources. I am an historian and I read like that all the time. I said before that I do not prize a clever narrative over facts, and I don't, so 'great literature' to me can rarely be factual - mostly I chase information through labyrinthine corridors left by dry academics, and I like that. See a clever bit of prose and I get suspicious - what angle are they going for and why would they want me to focus on the prose rather than the facts?
However, I do respect the fact that some factual books are simply mind-blowing. Here I must plead the arrogance of youth and of my profession. I have worked so long and so hard to appear unfazed that I usually convince myself that mind-blowing information isn't. Now, I have already cited The Politics of Breastfeeding as one of my books and tonight I shall cite two more factual tomes that did blow my mind. But, hopefully, this explains why fiction has such a lasting hold on me.
And all this leaves out wonderful works like the Mars trilogy, the Night's Dawn trilogy, virtually every major history of the First World War or the Somme, Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor, Sahara by Clive Cussler, Invasion by Ian MacKenzie, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostakova, The Undercover Economist, Freakonomics, everything Harry Potter, and a whole host of other books that I can heartily recommend. But there, you have my list.
I now nominate the following lovely people to furnish us with similar lists that I may quail before their better reading choices than I! +Nina MJ +Karen Schumacher +Karen Woodward +Lewis Miranda +Laura Klein Stephens +God Emperor Lionel Lauer +Tracy Swearsalot +Ayoub Khote +Sarah Rios and +Daniella Donati