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DesertIslandAs part of the Words In The Square 175th anniversary celebrations we were joined by Ned Beauman, Philippa Gregory, Deborah Levy, John O' Farrell, Nikesh Shukla and Sara Wheeler in a hugely entertaining "Desert Island Books" session chaired by Tom Sutcliffe.

During a fascinating hour the panel was asked to nominate books in different categories that they would take with them as castaways on a desert island. 

 The categories were:

My Favourite Childhood Read

The Book that Most Influenced Me

My Guilty Reading Pleasure

A Former Favourite I Won't Be Bringing to the Desert Island

An audience vote then picked the following category winners:

  • Favourite Childhood Read: “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson-Burnett (nominated by Deborah Levy)
  • The Book That Most Influenced Me: “A Room of One’s Own” – Virginia Woolf (nominated by Philippa Gregory)
  • Guilty Pleasure: “These Old Shades” by Georgette Heyer (nominated by Philippa Gregory)
  • Former Favourite: “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell (nominated by Philippa Gregory); joint winner with “1984” by George Orwell (nominated by John O'Farrell)

Recommended Recent Reads

Each member of the panel also selected their recent book recommendations:

  • Family Life” by Akhil Sharma (chosen by Nikesh Shukla)
  • Preparation for the Next Life” by Atticus Lish (chosen by Ned Beauman)
  • Simple Gifts” by Joanne Greenberg (chosen by Philippa Gregory)
  • Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter (chosen by John O’Farrell)
  • The Lure of The North” by The London Library/Pushkin Press (chosen by Sara Wheeler)
  • Outline" by Rachel Cusk (chosen by Deborah Levy)

PANEL MEMBERS' INDIVIDUAL SHORTLISTS

Ned Beauman square

Ned Beauman

  • Favourite Childhood Read: “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson
  • The Books That Most Influenced Me: “Permutation City” by Greg Egan
  • Guilty Pleasure: “Blood House” by David Gatward (or p310-316 of any serial killer novel)
  • Former favourite: “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
  • Recommended recent books:  “Preparation for the Next Life” by Atticus Lish  

Philippa Gregory squarePhilippa Gregory

  • Favourite Childhood Reads: “Stalky & Co” by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Books That Most Influenced Me: “A Room of One’s Own” – Virginia Woolf
  • Guilty Pleasure: “These Old Shades” by Georgette Heyer
  • Former favourite: “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
  • Recommended recent books: “Simple Gifts” by Joanne Greenberg

Deborah Levy CR SheilaBurnett squareDeborah Levy

  • Favourite Childhood Reads: “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson-Burnett
  • The Books That Most Influenced Me:  “The Lover” by Marguerite Duras
  • Guilty Pleasure: “Chéri” or any novel by Colette
  • Former favourite: “Women In Love” by DH Lawrence
  • Recommended recent books: “Outline” by Rachel Cusk

John OFarrell squareJohn O'Farrell

  • Favourite Childhood Reads: “Down with Skool” by Geoffrey Willans
  • The Books That Most Influenced Me: “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K Jerome
  • Guilty Pleasure: “Frank Skinner” by Frank Skinner
  • Former favourite: “1984” by George Orwell
  • Recommended recent books: “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter

Nikesh Shukla 1 squareNikesh Shukla

  • Favourite Childhood Reads: Spiderman Comics
  • The Books That Most Influenced Me: “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” By Junot Diaz
  • Guilty Pleasure: “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg
  • Former favourite:  “The scam poetry anthology where as a 13 year old Nikesh Shukla had his first poem published alongside 1000 others who had also paid £45 per entry
  • Recommended recent books: “Family Life” by Akhil Sharma

Sara WheelerSara Wheeler

  • Favourite Childhood Reads: “Spring & Fall” from Poems, by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • The Books That Most Influenced Me: “The Worst Journey in the World” by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
  • Guilty Pleasure: Any novel by Françoise Sagan
  • Former favourite: “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” by TE Lawrence
  • Recommended recent books: “The Lure of The North” edited by The London Library/Pushkin Press

 

 

 

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