I think everyone who knows me knows that I am a little bit book-mad. My gran taught me to read at the ridiculous age of two, and I really haven’t looked back since. The best present anyone can ever buy me is a book they think I will enjoy, and I generally carry a book with me everywhere I go….just in case. Comes in super handy when you suddenly find yourself in a queue at the bank or with five minutes to spare between meetings. So choosing four books for day seven of this challenge is more than a little difficult for me!

Besides the Meg the Hen, Jip the Cat type books we read at school, the earliest book I remember truly loving, in a life-changing kind of way, was The Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren – I don’t know why but there was something about this book, a kind of escapism, that I absolutely adored! I think I bought it for my niece one year for her birthday as well, just to share the joy. Maybe she’ll let me borrow it so I can read it again. But I digress. These are my four favourite (I think) books:

1. I’m a HUGE Patricia Cornwell fan (well, I love any well-written thriller, but hers are the best), and her Kay Scarpetta series is my favourite. Since it would be cheating to list the umpteen books in the series, I’ll just put the first Kay Scarpetta novel on the list, Postmortem. It’s brilliant, and it certainly sets the scene for all the incredible books to follow.

2. White Oleander by Janet Fitch is another of my all-time favourites. And no, do NOT watch the movie. People who haven’t read the book seemed to enjoy the movie, but I thought it was horrendous (as the movie version so often is). To be fair, there was just no way that a two hour movie was going to be able to capture the complex characters and plot twists that make up this book. The writing is disturbing, as are the characters, and it is just one of those stories that sucks you in. I started reading a friend’s copy just before I moved to Ireland, didn’t manage to finish it in time, and had to buy another copy so I could read to the end – I had to know what happened! Then, I loaned that copy to an ex (he was current at the time) and he never returned it. Thank goodness one of my lovely friends bought me a replacement copy for a subsequent birthday. It’s a staple in my little home library.

3. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is possibly the most beautiful book I’ve ever read. It tells the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and is at times incredibly sad. I try to get everyone to read this book – it’s what writing should be like. It’s descriptive without being overly so and taking away too much of the imagination’s work, emotive and compelling, and although it’s quite long, it’s such an easy read because you just get completely wrapped up in the story. I could read it over and over and over.

4. I really struggled with what to have as my final selection. There are just so many books I love, for so many different reasons. Ultimately, it has to go to Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson. I think it’s because this book came as a complete surprise to me. James Patterson normally writes the kind of thrillers I love to love, but this is a complete departure from that, and really shows that he is so much more than a genre writer. I don’t want to give too much away, because the book is full of twists, but I will say that it’s incredibly sad. I cried my eyes out the first time I read it….and then made the mistake of reading it again in Charles de Gaulle airport while I was waiting for a flight, and could not stop myself from doing the big girl cry right there in the departure lounge! Luckily people expect you to cry at airports!