The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. This list isn’t ordered, but this one might actually belong at the top anyway. Brutal and absolutely brilliant, The Wasp Factory also has the best twist I have ever come across.
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes. Not just Lauren Beukes’s debut novel, but also the first South African sci fi novel I’ve read. It’s punky dystopian fiction set in my birthplace, Cape Town, and shows advertising escalating to invasive extremes with branded DNA.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I never get tired of re-reading the Hitchhiker’s series. I can open an book on any page for a fun read and a good laugh. I also like to quote/reference it when I feel like being a little bit nuts. It’s always there for me when I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle.
Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith. Hmm, more sci fi, although this one is not quite so easy to categorise, blending sci fi, fantasy, thriller and dark humour in the kind of cross-genre fiction that makes me mutter “This is fucking awesome” while I bury my nose further into the book and become oblivious to the world.
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. I’ve never read any book that managed to be so funny and so tragic at the same time. Not to mention weird. But I love weird.
Firmin by Sam Savage. Speaking of weird, here’s another wonderful oddity – a book about a rat who learns to read by eating books, would love nothing more than to have a stimulating conversation about literature, and who falls in love with a (human) porn star. Also memorable for his description of his mother: “Not enough tits.”
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. This is one of those books that I use to show people that beautiful writing is not something necessarily highbrow and hard to comprehend, that it can be simple, beautiful and evocative. Which is how I would describe this novel as a whole. Sublime…
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Roy’s debut novel and her only one to date, this is another masterpiece of beautiful, vivid writing and storytelling. If she writes another novel I won’t hesitate to read it.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I’ll admit it has it’s flaws, but I loved Jasper Fforde’s literary world, where criminals sell forged poetry instead of drugs, so many people have named their sons John Milton that they’ve started assigning them with numbers to help with the admin, and the heroine, Thursday Next, is trying to stop a villain from kidnapping the world’s most beloved characters from the classics.
And finally: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I’m not a fan of romance, and most of the time when I encounter too much of it my rating of the book starts to drop, but when Jane Eyre says “Reader, I married him” I just want to yell “Yes!” and burst into tears.
There, that’s enough girliness for today.