THE MEMORY CHALET by Tony Judt Vintage, £10.99
Judt was a great social historian who was completely immobile in his later years when he wrote this remarkable book, looking back on his life. He was a man of deep feeling and many contradictions. To a lesser extent, I know what it’s like to be confined and your mind does go back.
WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy Penguin, £9.99
A wonderful survey of the Tsarist era in Russian history and the gradual decline of the families.
It’s a Russian Forsyte Saga really. The 1972 BBC production, when Anthony Hopkins played Pierre, brought it to life for me.
DON QUIXOTE by Cervantes Penguin, £9.99
The story of a chap who goes on crazy journeys believing he’s a knight and fighting evils around him. It’s from this book we get the saying “tilting at windmills”. He thinks the windmills are giants so he fights them. It’s a rambling fantasy and very funny.
THE MASTERS by CP Snow Out of print
The Strangers And Brothers series traces the character Lewis Elliot from 1914 to the 1960s.
I was fascinated by this novel about his time in Cambridge, where I had a fellowship. It rings true: the petty jealousies and fighting for position.
JUST WILLIAM by Richmal Crompton, read by Martin Jarvis BBC audiobook, £13.25
I read the William books as a child and was irritated by the slang he used. But read by Martin Jarvis, it’s perfect. The schoolboy humour in William struck a chord with me.
GREAT ESCAPE STORIES by Eric Williams Out of print
A very old book about escapes in the Second World War. When I was in captivity, I didn’t have books for years. Then I had a guard who brought me this.
He couldn’t read English and I laughed out loud when he dropped it in. It wasn’t much use to me but it was fun to read.