Sasha Swire: my five best books
The journalist and author chooses her six favourite diaries, from politics to nature
Sasha Swire’s Sunday Times bestseller, Diary of an MP’s Wife (Abacus £9.99) is out now in paperback.
edited by Simon Heffer (2021)
Henry “Chips” Channon: The Diaries (Volume 1) 1918-38
The best political diaries are witty, waspish, snobbish and gossipy. And they are often written by people not necessarily at the heart of power, but at its edge. Chips Channon is an absolute master at the form. His diaries are delicious, dangerous and utterly compulsive.
The Harold Nicolson Diaries
Nicolson was an MP and a diplomat married to the poet and gardener Vita Sackville-West. Both were gay but devoted to each other and their famous garden at Sissinghurst. I’m as much a nature writer as a diarist, so share Nicolson’s concentrations and interests.
Alan Clark (1994)
Diaries: In Power
Like Chips, Clark had the flaws of vanity and lechery and crashing snobbery, but he was a natural writer of people, places and politics. Penned during a time when the bad behaviour of a politician was either ignored or dismissed.
The Diary of Samuel Pepys
The diary of the 17th century naval administrator is perhaps the most famous of them all. Pepys’s writings reveal how life under the bubonic plague mirrors our own pandemic, including similarities in how people responded to the crisis.
Sean Borodale (2012)
This poem-journal chronicles the life of the hive, from the collection of a small nucleus to the capture of a swarm two years later. As an amateur beekeeper, I’ve found it to be something of a bible.
Roger Deakin (2009)
Notes from Walnut Tree Farm
A journal of sorts, but more a medley of musings, feelings and observations about the natural world of rural Suffolk. Deakin had a unique way of painting the humblest of scenes with the richest of prose.
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