What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”:: Since 1966-67, when we read Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford in English class at school, I've always thought that no-one but my fellow students had ever heard of it. Shows how much I know: the TV series is now screening on English telly. I so loved this book, even after wading through it in school, and I've always owned a copy.
:: I'm always surprised when I get a strange querying look in response to mention of the short stories of Saki, the pen name of H.H. Munro. A boyfriend introduced me to Saki in the 1970s, and he's been in my collection ever since. These are brilliant, witty and often acerbic pieces, many of them satirising Edwardian life. They're full of eccentricities, bizarre happenings and weird characters — I just love them. Munro died aged 45 in 1916.
:: I'm going to take this opportunity to mention Rhubarb, by Craig Silvey — an absolute jewel of a book that hardy anyone outside of Western Australia will have ever heard of. It's a big-hearted story — a love story, in fact — about a traumatised blind girl, her seeing-eye dog, and an agoraphobic cello player.
Had this book been written anywhere else but in Perth, or set so firmly in Fremantle, Perth's port city on the Indian Ocean, it would have been a worldwide hit. I'm cheered to see amazon.com lists it — can I persuade some of you to try it?