The Reader’s Table

I mentioned a while ago that whilst I was milling in Waterstones I happened upon  a table filled with an authors favourite books. The Waterstone’s Writers Table is a great idea, have a very popular author who many people love to read telling you what their favourite reads. Well it works if you love the author and so far the ones they have chosen apart from Philip Pullman I havent read a word of but I feel I would love Faulks and Mosse should I read them.

I then had the thought that a writers table is great, but wouldn’t a readers table in a bookshop be great? Well I decided that I rather than just start rearranging a display in Waterstones there and then I would go home and think about my forty favourite reads of all time and then make an all new page on the blog so you can see them. And I have almost done it…

You see forty books is actually much harder than you think and after hours and hours of listing I came up with 24, then I went away from it and came back with 57. I started whittling this down until I came up with around 43 considered 37 of which where definates leaving six of them are fighting as to which will make it into the final three. Well tha battle is still on and so am leaving it for a few days but leaving you with my Top 20 as it stands today and you can find them here.

The top ten was really, really easy… in fact actually the top fifteen was really easy then then it gets harder and harder. Which was my favourite? Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier of course though it was a close fight to the death between that and Wilkie Collin’s ‘The Woman in White’. There is another thing that has come out of this delightful little excercise and that is the desire to re-read quite a lot of my favourites. Rebecca, The Woman in White and The Time Travellers Wife all may have to go back onto my TBR in the neare future. Is this something that any of you ever do at all?

I also noticed that despite having written some of my favourite books I have never read another book by some of the authors in the top 20 let alone the top 40. Obviously some of them have only written one book, however I definately need to read more Wilkie Collins (I am desperate to try ‘Armadale’ and may now have to treat myself as have more long train journeys this weekend to see my mother and my Gran), John Boyne, Evelyn Waugh and Cormac McCarthy. I am also aware I need to read a lot more classics as I think this will change the list, which is a constant everchanging work in progress.

If any of you want to do your own ‘Readers Table’ page do let me know, and do say where you saw it hahaha! So which books would you have in your top twenty? Can you guess what might make it in my my top 40 – 21? i look forward to your thoughts and hope you like the new page!


Filed under Book Thoughts

15 responses to “The Reader’s Table

  1. Great idea! Our top reads are very similar, but you have quite a few in your list which I haven’t read yet.

    The only one which I’ve read but wouldn’t put in the top 20 would be Mr Pip. I agree that it is a very good book, but would probably struggle to make my top 75.

    I can imagine how hard it is to write a top 40 list. By the time you get out of the top ten you are just comparing lots of very good books, which are often very different, so hard to compare. I look forward to seeing what makes it into your top 40.

    • Oh i adored Mister Pip I thought it was just stunning and not what I expected from the cover of the book at all. But loving and not loving different books is what makes for exciting book chatter.

      I could oddly do a top 50 I just think its something that will change over time, I think the more classics I read will effect it a lot!

  2. Simon, I wrote a “Fifteen Books” reader’s table post this month and found it quite hard to whittle down and from 11-15 books were battling for pride of place. Some of our favourites are the same (including our number one).

    Have you read The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins? I preferred that over The Woman in White (have you read Fingersmith by Sarah Waters? reading that before The Woman in White I think spoiled the classic for me.)

    You will be glad to know that Audrey Niffenegger’s new book is being published later this year! I am incredibly excited. I think I also need to reread The Time Traveller’s Wife before the movie is released.

    • Was that the ‘fifteen books you can think of in fifteen minutes’ as I did that one and oddly the books that I instantly think of in a short space of time arent always my favourites. Some of the bad ones pop in too hahaha.

      • No, but it contributed to the idea for the post.
        I didn’t do that meme on my blog but did it on facebook and I found that I immediately thought of books that I had recently read or ones that I had been discussing that day.

  3. Julie

    I’d really recommend one of Nick Hornby’s suggestions – Empire Falls by Richard Russo.

    • Oh Julie I have read that, I enjoyed it very much in hindsight (and have a fabulous American issue) but found it a little difficult at the time of reading it. Though its not in my top 40 I would definately read Russo again and this book is on my shelves at home which doesnt happen with every book I read.

  4. I’ve not seen a writer’s table like that here in America but it’s a wonderful idea. I’m a long time fan of A Good Read on BBC 4, I listen via the internet, and have discovered many excellent books based on the “favorites” the guests bring on that show.

    It would be fun to have other well known people produce a list of favorites, too. Might end up getting a wide range of people interested in books. To be honest, the best books on A Good Read are the one’s recommended by people who are not authors. I suspect authors look for good writing, while readers look for good reading.

    Somehow I can’t get the link of your reader’s table to show up. Any chance it might find a home in your sidebar someday…..

    • Oooh C.B is it not showing up? At the top of the page there are some tabs so click on ‘Savidge Reads… The Great Reads’ and you should be able to click on it! Do let me know!

  5. lizzysiddal

    I said I was going to set up my reader’s table …. and I will once my great German summer is over. There’ll be two titles from your twenty on it – To Kill A Mockingbird and The Road. Still debating Rebecca – I think it’s too long since I read it, but it is a fabulous read.

  6. I absolutely loved The Road and Boy In The Striped Pajamas. Funnily enough, On Chelsil Beach is my least favorite book by McEwan.

    Now you’ve got me thinking about my top forty!

  7. Sorry to hear you’ve fallen prey to H1N1, Simon. I hope you get well soon.

    With regard to CB’s comment “It would be fun to have other well known people produce a list of favourites” (please forgive my British-English insistence on adding the u in favourites, CB! I have to admit the American spelling is far more logical), I recall there used to be a programme on the late lamented uk digital radio station Oneword in which well known people selected their favourite books. The programmes are no longer available, but the website still contains some of the lists ( For example, Ian Rankin selections included Jeckyll and Hyde, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Dance to the Music of Time.

    Searching for that site I came across what looks like the website of a women’s magazine ( that also runs a “My Life in Books” feature. Here you can find Irish pop star Andrea Corr selecting Crime and Punishment (am I implying surprise there?), Hardy and McEwan. London Mayor Boris Johnson’s choices range from Homer’s Illiad to a humourous book called “Who Moved My Blackberry?”, and Ronan Keating’s choices include the Collected Poems of Patrick Kavanagh. Another of Keating’s selections, A Little Love Story by Roland Merullo, has taken my interest. Apparently it is about a man who lose’s his wife on 9-11, and finds new love with a cystic fibrosis sufferer who does not have long to live. As is so often the case with such potentially grim books, Keating assures us that whilst it sounds sad “it’s beautiful”.

    • Now then, now then… No England vs. America malarkey on here please!

      Thank you for the list of sites and books once my internet is back and am not just on blackberry will check out all those links! A Little Love Story does indeed sound interesting! You’ve given me much food for thought!

  8. I have narrowed my favorite reads to about 11 books on the left hand side of my blog. Picking a favorite book is almost as difficult as picking a new baby’s name. There are so many to choose from! My favorite reads are ones that are most memorable, most influential, and ones that I would re-read from time to time.

    I haven’t read Rebecca yet, but judging from all the raves around the blogsphere, it might become another all-time favorite! Will see… 🙂

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