MYSTERIES by Knut Hamsun Out of print
I chose this because of the beauty of the prose. I read it in my early teens and, to paraphrase Hamsun, it’s the kind of book that leaves a mark on you. His world was a place you could spend many years exploring.
THE KILLER INSIDE ME by Jim Thompson Orion, £8.99
Thompson was less well-known than Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler but this is more hardboiled, like American Psycho written 30 years before Bret Easton Ellis did so. What I liked was his minimalistic language but he still revealed character in every sentence.
JENNY by Sigrid Undset Out of print
She won the Nobel Prize but I prefer this to the books that made her famous. It is about a young female artist living in Rome around the turn of the 20th century. What was astonishing was realising that people haven’t changed. We think we’re modern in our thinking about society but they were dealing with the same things back then.
LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov Penguin, £8.99
The story challenges you because you must be willing to go into a love affair that you can’t accept – between an older man and an underage girl – and see it from the point of view of a person you don’t like.
HAM ON RYE by Charles Bukowski Canongate, £9.99
Bukowski is one of my favourites. This is about his upbringing and it’s brutally honest with a dark humour. I can’t remember exact details but I can remember it was a great book: ugly and beautiful at the same time.
THE BASKETBALL DIARIES by Jim Carroll Out of print
About growing up in New York during the 1970s, playing basketball and doing heroin. Carroll describes Manhattan like a universe of his own and I really like that. The 1970s are interesting to me as a grim period with the Cold War and unemployment but there was also an optimism.