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More bang for your book
The Music Maker

More bang for your book

In the spirit of Malaga's book fair this week, columnist Peter Edgerton offers his top five reads, in no particular order, just for a bit of fun

Friday, 3 May 2024, 11:21

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The Malaga Book Fair is on until the fifth of May. By the time it closes, more than a hundred authors will have participated in scheduled book signings and thousands of members of the general public will have wandered along the Paseo del Parque, moving among myriad tomes admiring and - one would hope - buying a fair few of them.

In the spirit of book fair week, then, I thought I'd offer my top five reads, in no particular order, just for a bit of fun.

First, the disturbing tale of a beautiful young man who sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth - Cliff Richard's autobiography. Only kidding. The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde draws you into a murky world of hedonism and debauchery until you feel as if you're really in the opium dens of Victorian London accompanying the protagonist as he slides ever further down the road to ruin. Only his portrait in the attic becomes old and withered. The book also includes the original oft-quoted line 'Nowadays, people know the price of everything and the value of nothing'. Timeless.

If you liked the film Dead Poets Society, you'll love the 1934 book Goodbye Mr Chips by James Hilton. It's the tale of a widely loved, humorous, if somewhat anachronistic English teacher who outlasts all of his contemporaries, earning the respect of everyone who crosses his path along the way. If you're currently pondering whether or not to train to be a teacher, read this and you'll be signed up for the course by the following day.

For laugh-out-loud antics it has to be The Inimitable Jeeves by P G Wodehouse. Here we witness the hapless Bertie Wooster being consistently and unfailingly extricated from his often self-inflicted woes by his redoubtable butler Jeeves. It's not advisable to read this work in a public place if you wish to avoid being stared and pointed at by total strangers owing to your unbidden onslaught of uncontrollable snorts and guffaws. I know this from bitter experience and can never go back to that particular library.

The fourth book I'd recommend is Dracula by Bram Stoker. It took me ages to get round to this masterpiece because every film or series I'd ever seen about the fanged fiend bored me witless. Not so the original book. It's a brilliantly crafted work based upon the interwoven entries in two separate diaries and creates an atmosphere of dark tension that it's hard to shake long after you've put the book back on the shelf. Highly recommended, especially if you're indifferent about Dracula as a character. You won't be after this.

Finally, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I read it as a small boy and it still stands now as a shining example of where the human capacity for imagination can lead us. Relatable, if somewhat deliberately exaggerated, characters. Short-term frustrations leading to long-term justice - it offers hope for us all.

These are all magnificent books with little in common except that they have passed the test of time and can genuinely be called classics. There's a reason for that.

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