Tom Watson's Favourite ReadsBy Bloomsbury
Some books are best enjoyed when we know nothing at all about what’s coming. Others grow familiar and trusted with re-reading. Then there are certain rare and beguiling books that continue to surprise though you’ve been cover to cover ten times before. These are the books that I hold closest. Here are some that I recommend.
Samanta Schweblin£8.99 £8.54
A fragmentary tale told from a hospital bed, full of worms and horses and mysterious poisonings. This slippery book oozes with tension and dread. And underpinning everything is Schweblin’s notion of a rescue distance, a safety threshold that should never be broken. Just thinking about this book sets me on edge. I can’t shake myself free of it and I’m not sure I want to.
Marilynne Robinson£9.99 £9.49
While there may be no such thing as The Perfect Novel, for me this comes close. I’m resigned to the fact that this quietly disturbing story of two orphans growing up in the town of Fingerbone has crept into my subconscious and will live there forever. The depiction of a train hurtling from its tracks is without peer.
Jon McGregor£8.99 £8.54
A beautiful book that tracks events following a teenager’s disappearance with grace and simplicity. We’re asked to consider what happens to a small community when a mystery can’t be solved, and the result is mesmerising. McGregor challenges the idea of what a story is, and where — if at all — it should end.
Michel Faber£9.99 £9.49
I love a book that shifts and morphs and resists a singular interpretation, and this is up there with the best of them. Under the Skin is a mannequin of a book that will walk off wearing the clothes you showed up in. In terms of a primer, all you need to know is that there’s a woman out driving the back roads of Scotland and she’s looking for hitchhikers. Enjoy the ride.
Richard McGuire£25.00 £23.75
This graphic novel is the story of a single location — the corner of a room — through various points in time. It’s beautifully simple. But the effect is sublime, like gazing upon something from a different dimension. I had to ration my reading to a few pages per day, sensing that if I devoured it in one sitting, my brain would collapse. I have never stopped reading this book. And I can’t look at any room the same way ever again.