Because we were too poor to own a radio, when I was younger reading was the only way to escape. Here's a list of ten books that saved my life in roughly chronological order:
1 The William Books. Timeless humour pierced the deepest gloom.
2 Guys And Dolls. Grown up humour for kids.
3 Animal Farm. Hm. It's an allegory isn't it?
4 Hurry On Down. Unreadable now but it hinted at a way out.
5 The Great Gatsby. Peerless. Hopelessly romantic but written by the hand of an angel. I wanted to write like that.
6 Scoop. More grown-up humour and beautifully written.
7 A Farewell To Arms. My only reservation about this book was the fear that maybe Hemingway was better than Fitzgerald. He wasn't.
8 Goodbye To All That. How to survive a war. Which is what you're trying to do at sixteen.
9 Dubliners. Startingly good writing and accessible too.
10 An American Dream. Notable mainly because it was the last book I read before going up to University when the world changed forever.