THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt Abacus, £9.99
Ihave a son who is 13, like the protagonist when his mother dies. My son also has a flamboyant Russian friend, as the character does, so I felt an affinity with the book. For swathes of it, you’re in a state of tension and I liked the depiction of New York life.
A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Karl Ove Knausgaard Vintage, £8.99
A Norwegian author who chronicled every detail of his life. It could easily be intensely boring and sections seem like a parody, where he talks about the sound of cereal in the bowl, but it becomes strangely compelling.
SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Harari Vintage, £9.99
A brief history of humankind. It’s so intense that you have to read a bit then have a rest. It has brilliant passages, such as where he argues humans became enslaved by agriculture. Vivid and invigorating.
THE MALAY ARCHIPELAGO by Alfred Russel Wallace Penguin, £8.99
Wallace’s chronicles from the 1850s-60s. I travel a lot in Indonesia and this book is a wonderful companion. I discovered Wallace years ago when on a birding trip in an area called Wallacea, which is crammed with different species, and I wanted to know why it was called that. I have a first edition.
OPEN: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Andre Agassi Simon & Schuster, £9.99
Self-deprecating and honest. The admission that he hated tennis is extraordinary. I’ve played competition tennis and one of the greatest sporting moments I’ve witnessed was watching Agassi play Mark Philippoussis at Wimbledon.
OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W Somerset Maugham Vintage, £9.99
I like Maugham’s dry, witty style and he captures the contradictions of human nature. From a constrained upbringing, he wanted to get out and see the world and that rings a loud bell with me. It’s about finding his way in the city, searching for love, and you root for him.