I have been a reader all my life. When I was young, the best present in the world was a book token. They came in multiples of 2/6 (two shillings and sixpence) which, by a happy coincidence, was exactly the price of one Armada paperback. Early on I loved fairy stories and fables. Then came Enid Blyton's 'Mystery' series and Malcolm Saville's 'Lone Pine' adventures. There was also anything by Noel Streatfield, Elinor M Brent-Dyer's Chalet School stories, the Dimsie books by Dorita Fairlie Bruce and the 'Drina Dances..' series from Jean Estoril.
Then, on a Girl Guide holiday, I was too unwell to go on a long hike so was left with the leader's friend for the day. "Do you read?" she asked, somewhat helplessly, and thus began my addiction to Georgette Heyer. Having graduated to 'grown-up' books, I discovered Mary Stewart and fell in love with her heroes and heroines. I also read my way through Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice is still the book I'd take to a desert island) and sampled other classics, but didn't find anyone else I liked nearly as much.
Turning to crime, I started with Agatha Christie and progressed (amongst others) to Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh , Emma Lathen and Ellis Peters.
I was in my early twenties before I baby-sat for my boss one day and picked an André Norton book from her shelf. Fantasy! A whole new genre to devour! I fell on it with glee, reading everyone from Anne McCaffery and her dragons to the sublime, wonderful Diana Wynne Jones (Fire and Hemlock is the other book I'd take to that desert island).
These days I also like historical novels - anything by Elizabeth Chadwick for example - children's and Young Adult books (which are frequently more ground-breaking than the adult market), and, of course, romantic comedy.
A list of my favourite books would fill several websites, but my all-time favourite books by my all-time favourite authors would go something like.................
Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion
Diana Wynne Jones - Fire & Hemlock, Hexwood, Deep Secret, Lives of Christopher Chant, Howl's Moving Castle, Year of the Griffin, The Spellcoats, Homeward Bounders
Georgette Heyer - The Grand Sophy, The Toll Gate, Reluctant Widow, Cotillion
Mary Stewart - My Brother Michael, Madam Will You Talk?, The Moonspinners, This Rough Magic, Touch Not The Cat
Dorothy L Sayers - Murder Must Advertise
Catherine Fox - The Benefits of Passion
Catherine Feeny - Making Do
Liz Young - A Girl's Best Friend
Katie Fforde - Paradise Fields
Christina Jones - Stealing the Show
Jill Mansell - Staying at Daisy's
Elizabeth Chadwick - The Champion, Lords of the White Castle
Terry Pratchett - Night Watch, The Truth
Anne McCaffery - Dragonflight, Dragonsinger
Roger Zelazny - Nine Princes in Amber
Ngaio Marsh - Opening Night, Light Thickens
Emma Lathen - Banking On Death, When In Greece
Ellis Peters - One Corpse Too Many
Anne Fine - The Book of the Banshee, Bill's New Frock
Tamora Pierce - Alanna, Wild Magic, First Test, The Magic in the Weaving
Arthur Ransome - Swallows and Amazons, We Didn't Mean to Go To Sea
Elizabeth Goudge - The Little White Horse
JK Rowling - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Jean Estoril - Drina Goes on Tour
Patricia C Wrede - The Raven Ring
Garth Nix - Sabriel, Lyrael, Abhorsen
Malcolm Saville - Not Scarlet But Gold
Noel Streatfield - Ballet Shoes
Jacqueline Wilson - The Suitcase Kid
Geoffrey Trease - Crown of Violet