Somehow, this was harder than my last post, on nonfiction. Perhaps because during the first three or four decades of my life I read vastly more fiction than nonfiction, and so there are so many more titles to choose from. There was the ever-present difficulty of trying not to focus on the novels I have loved best, or which moved and affected me deeply – which would, except for one or two titles here, probably be a different list; nor on the very, very many which made me think deeply – but on those that were most transformative. Also, I know exactly how it is: five minutes after I’ve pressed the button, I’ll think of five more that I was an idiot to leave out. It is curious that I couldn’t find a single book read in childhood which could contribute to this list, though there were for sure many that I loved – but anyway: after much agonising, here they are; I’ve taken much pleasure in searching out, where possible, the cover images of the ancient editions I still possess. Again, they’re ordered according to the time in my life when I read them, earliest first.
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