Your favourite books

A bookshop in Kunming (大象) is asking various authors to list their favourite books. They then put all the books on a shelf for people to browse, and if you find them interesting you can scan the accompanying QR code and follow them on social media.

But there’s a catch, your book choices have to fit certain categories, which really irritated me at first but having done it I actually like this better. It makes you think.

So here are the questions:

The most important book(s) in your life?
A book for a beginner and another for an expert in your professional field?
If an alien visited earth, what one book would you give them?
What book changed your life/changed how you view the world?
What book would you give to your (romantic) partner?
What books are a refuge (make you happy and calm)?
Books on health and personal finance?
Three books by your favourite author?
A book for each season (spring, summer)?
Your favourite three films and albums?
Recommend books that came out in the last year?

It’s really hard!

Here are my answers (plus the Chinese editions, if available):

The most important book(s) in your life?

Anything by Mervyn Peake, but especially the Gormenghast books
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
Embers by Sándor Márai
《歌门鬼城四部曲》马尔文·皮克著
《间谍》约瑟夫·康拉德著
《亚历山大四重奏》劳伦斯·达雷尔著
《漂泊绅士》麦可·谢朋著

A book for a beginner and another for an expert in your professional field?

Making Comics by Scott McCloud (for beginner illustrators, doesn’t matter if you’re doing children’s illustration or editorial or whatever, and nothing to do with comics, this book is pure gold)
《制造漫画》斯科特·麦克劳德著

For those who’ve been at it a while:

Design and Form: The Basic Course at the Bauhaus by Johannes Itten
《设计与形态》约翰尼斯·伊顿著

If an alien visited earth, what one book would you give them?

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
《云图》大卫·米切尔著

What book would you give to your (romantic) partner?

Ali and Nino by Kurban Said
《阿里与尼诺》古尔班・萨义德著

What books are a refuge (make you happy and calm)?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
A Taste of Life by Wang Zengqi
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
《银河系漫游指南》道格拉斯·亚当斯著
《人间滋味》汪曾祺著
《魔法师的帽子》图·扬松著

Three books by your favourite author?

All the Pretty Horses, Suttree, and The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy
戈马克·麦卡锡的《天下骏马》、《沙崔》、《果园守门人》

A book for each season (spring, summer, autumn, winter)?

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Dune by Frank Herbert
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
《公主新娘》威廉·高德曼著
《沙丘》弗兰克·赫伯特著
《坏东西这样来》雷·布雷德伯里著
《黄金罗盘》(《北极光》)菲利普·普尔曼著

Your favourite three films and albums?

The New Dragon Gate Inn (新龙门客栈), Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Bladerunner

Half Mad Moon by The Damnations TX, Dust by The Screaming Trees, Rain Dogs by Tom Waits

Recommend books that came out in the last year?

Department of Mind-Blowing Theories by Tom Gauld

And here are my sister’s:

The most important book(s) in your life?

The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

A book for a beginner and another for an expert in your professional field?

Beginner – Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology by Mauseth
Professional – Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose

If an alien visited earth, what one book would you give them?

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

What book changed your life/changed how you view the world?

Imagined Worlds by Freeman Dyson

What book would you give to your (romantic) partner?

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

What books are a refuge (make you happy and calm)?

Asterix and Obelix
Any Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo
Anne of Green Gables by l. M. Montgomery

Books on health and personal finance?

Getting Things Done by David Allen
Pilates by Anna Selby and Alan Herman
Treat Your Own Back by Robin Mckenzie

Three books by your favourite author?

An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night, Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

A book for each season (spring, summer)?

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Overstory by Richard Powers
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Your favourite three films and albums?

Prince of Persia, Zootopia, Gladiator

Rockland by Katzenjammer, Made of Bricks by Kate Nash, Ten by Pearl jam

Recommend books that came out in the last year?

A Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

And my dad’s:

A book for a beginner and another for an expert in your professional field?

Beginner – The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering by Frederick Phillips Brooks (2013)
Expert – Writing Interactive Compilers and Interpreters by Peter J. Brown (Chichester: Wiley, 1985)

If an alien visited earth, what one book would you give them?

Moby Dick or The Whale by Herman Melville (1851)

What book changed your life/changed how you view the world?

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu, Gia-fu Geng (translation), Jane English (translation, photographs) (1974)

What book would you give to your (romantic) partner?

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1857)

What books are a refuge (make you happy and calm)?

Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (1926)
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)
The White Seal by Rudyard Kipling (1893)

Books on health and personal finance?

The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth About Healthy Eating by Anthony Warner (2017)

Three books by your favourite author?

The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974), and Malafrena (1979) by Ursula K. Le Guin

A book for each season (spring, summer)?

The Dragon in the Sea by Frank Herbert (1956)
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (1972)
Little, Big by John Crowley (1981)
South!: The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition 1914 – 1917 by Ernest Shackleton

Your favourite three films and albums?

The Bourne Identity (2002), The Fifth Element (1997), Doctor Zhivago (1965)

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