Expert’s view

Jane Garvey: my five best books

The broadcaster and co-founder of the Fortunately podcast chooses her favourite books

Jane Garvey will be taking part in the Stratford Literary Festival on 12 November.

We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea by Arthur Ransome (1940) 

I’ve no idea why I loved this book so much, but I know I did. It’s one of the Swallows and Amazons series, and involves an accidental trip to Belgium. I found it absolutely hair-raising – I’m not exactly intrepid myself so it probably petrified me. 

Red Fox £7.99; The Week Bookshop £5.99

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (1933)

I have a very clear memory of reading this in the toilet at a party when I was a teenager. I went through a phase of reading everything George Orwell had ever written. I used to find enjoying myself quite difficult, I think, and imagine old George was probably the same.

Penguin £9.99; The Week Bookshop £7.99

Frost in May by Antonia White (1933)

This is a 1930s novel reissued by Virago in the late 1970s, and another teenage favourite of mine. I wasn’t a Catholic, but I was absolutely intrigued by the descriptions of a convent education. It’s a feminist classic in any number of ways but I’m not sure I knew it at the time.

Virago £8.99; The Week Bookshop £7.99

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (2001)

This series of books by Malorie Blackman turned my eldest daughter into a reader. She picked up the first one on a family holiday and barely spoke for three days; she was so engrossed. I’ve loved reading all my life: I grew up with my maternal grandmother, lost in Catherine Cookson.

Penguin £7.99; The Week Bookshop £5.99

Brave Bitsy and the Bear by Angela McAllister and Tiphanie Beeke (2004)

Some books my children liked when they were young were, to say the least, somewhat wearing. But this is a sweet story of a toy rabbit abandoned in a forest and rescued by a passing bear. It has a happy ending, thank goodness.

Out of print

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