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Because I am a bookcrosser. My top five books ever.

1984 - George Orwell. Everyone knows what it is, and it is the single book that most shaped my adult reading life.

Time's Arrow - Martin Amis. This is the story of a German doctor told backwards. We move from his life of old age and obscurity in the US, back through middle age, back to Europe and back to the concentration camps. Amis tells this from the point of view of a forwards observer seeing things done backwards. So we get backwards toiletry and eating (a bit juvenile) and backwards medical care and even a backwards holocaust (the Germans have a whip round to find enough gold to put in the teeth of the Jews that they are about to bring back to life). It's a weird thing, but I love it.

What Matters Most is How Well You walk Through the Fire - Charles Bukwoski. Modern, gritty poems collected from the shabby life of a man who drank too much, gambled too often and slept with plenty of unsuitable ladies. Or at least that's the impression you get from the book. Imagine if Father Jack (drink! fek! girls!) had the poetical ability of Ted Hughes and you are just about there. Buy it. Love it.

Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson. His new one about science is pretty good too, but tails off about half way through. His early travel writing has a freshness that makes it stand out though,

Winning - Sir Clive Woodward. A business book with rugby bits in. Very inspirational, very well written, full of examples from various business gurus and worth while buying if you are a manager of anything.