19 authors have picked their favorite books about
the United Kingdom and why they recommend each book.
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The Harold Nicolson Diaries 1907-1964
Why this book?
Like Colville, Nicolson is not very important in himself (a backbench MP for most of the time) but one who matters because he knows so many greater figures and because he writes with such honesty – particularly interesting when his predictions turn out to be wrong. If you get hooked, you can read the earlier edition, which is in three volumes.
Describing a series of journeys on horseback and by foot through south-east England and the Midlands during the 1820s, Rural Rides is one of the great travelogues. Cobbett was a man of many parts – journalist, soldier, farmer, politician, and social reformer. In Rural Rides he blends lyrical description with fist-shaking fury about the injustices he encountered. He writes so well that you feel that you are travelling through the countryside with him.
A classic written on the eve of the Great Depression on the political culture of the British settlers in the great south land, with its commitment to egalitarianism, to bureaucratic process, and to protection all round, with restricted immigration and protective tariffs building ring-fences around ordinary workers’ standard of living. Hancock does not wholly approve of the result, which he sees as encouraging mediocre conformity. Written with verve and a sardonic eye.
Although the main character in this warm and funny book is a boy, I include it in my list of favorite books about girls who love sports because the best athlete in this story of a middle-school cross country team is a girl. She’s the team member all the other kids depend on. The team member who pushes Joseph Friedman – a boy with attention challenges, innumerable phobias, and no athletic “gifts” – to keep trying. She just won’t let Joseph give up. I love the relationships between the teammates in this book. And I love the way Asher shows…
I can’t tell you how many times I consulted Jonathan Mayo’s Titanic: Minute By Minute book, checking that the Titanic’s timeline fit in with what my characters were doing at any given time. It’s non-fiction, and it’s nail-bitingly intense. The book is written in present tense, giving you a sense of urgency as Mayo tells you where everyone is, and what is happening at varying parts of the ship at that exact moment. It helps ground you in reality: The truth was, many of Titanic’s crew and passengers didn’t know the ship was sinking. And many of those…
What all of Joanna Nadin’s books have in common is her ability to capture the voice of her characters so perfectly they feel truly alive. The children of class 4B have that loveable lunacy I remember from teaching kids this age. That authenticity is what has kids falling off their chairs with laughter, and what makes this such a great book to read aloud. You’ll find yourself repeating catchphrases later. Rikin Parekh’s illustrations add another layer of brilliance and perfectly capture the characters and their comedy antics. Literally hilarious!
“Dad says well at least I haven’t been arrested. Grandpa says…
A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories
Why this book?
The one and only collection by this great novelist [and the sister of A.S. Byatt] is one of my most favorite. These short tales explore all sorts of relationships, not only marriage and friendship, but our relationships with personal identity, politics, and the culture which defines us. The writing is absolutely divine – images pop from the page and characters stay with us as if we’ve actually known them. And between the lines there is a lot of philosophical musing, which I love – just enough to make us think but never wear us down. These stories are for women…
Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road
Why this book?
In addition to sharing a ton of helpful insight into what RV life is like, this book is beautifully designed and full of colorful photos. It includes profiles of RVers, tips for starting RVing, and plenty of inspiration to hit the road. It’s a perfect coffee table book!
It is rare for anyone with real power to write an interesting diary. They do not have the time or the self-awareness. Harold Macmillan is the exception because his diaries are fantastic and those that he writes as prime minister are much better than those that he writes earlier in his career. He is such a lonely man (England’s most famous cuckold) and one senses that his diary is his only real confidant. He is also so extraordinarily aware of historical change. He is himself a considerable historian and one who reads very widely even when prime minister. There is…
The Official Bewitched Cookbook: Magic in the Kitchen
Why this book?
I love this cookbook because it is a collectible and a treasure. Kasey Rogers was Louise Tate, the boss's wife from the television show, Bewitched. I was fortunate to have coordinated a book signing at Barnes and Noble in 2005 with Kasey. I got to hear firsthand knowledge of her memories of being on the set of Bewitched. She actually was able to participate in a lot of cast parties and be invited to the star of the show’s home, so the recipes are authentic. Everyone knows that "Samantha Stephens" didn't have to lift a finger in the kitchen... Now,…