Sacred texts: Hay stars choose favourite books of all time
10 June 2016
The Hay Festival attracts some of the top names in literature, film, comedy and television to its 10 days of ideas, insight and inspiration. We put some of them on the spot to find out the title of their favourite EVER book. Watch the films to find out what makes these reads special...
The Fight by Norman Mailer
My favourite book is The Fight by Norman Mailer. For me it’s the kind of voice that you rarely hear. It’s a brilliant fiction writer, writing about a real event, which in this case is something I love – boxing. The famous Rumble in the Jungle...
Ben Miller at Hay
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy... was written by a sexy, liberal man talking about science, physics, and the future and philosophy, but also being incredibly funny with amazing characters and I was like that looks like a good job to have. I’d like that job. I was 12 at the time.
Caitlin Moran at Hay
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, or the trilogy. They’re my favourite books because of the amount of imagination, blending fantasy, sci-fi and real human themes and the idea of killing God in a kids’ book is pretty bold!
Charlotte Church at Hay
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
My favourite book is Noughts and crosses, which if you haven’t read it is one of the most challenging reads that you will have, so it keeps you engaged all the way through.
Moominvalley in November by Tove Jansson
My favourite book is Moominvalley in November by Tove Jansson. It’s a children’s book and it’s absolutely amazing. I love the Moomins full-stop because they tell us stuff about… ourselves.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
That is a very difficult question, almost impossible to answer at the moment. I just read a book called The Vegetarian by Han Kang, which won the Booker Prize this year. It was recommended to me and it’s still in my head, so right now I think that’s the greatest book I’ve ever read.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
My favourite book of all time is Wuthering Heights. Not particularly original but it was the first book I read that really turned me on to literature, and I just loved the romance and the mysticism and the spookiness of it. And I just think how evocative it was of the Yorkshire landscape.
Maxine Peake at Hay
Dubliners by James Joyce
My favourite book of all time would probably be Dubliners by James Joyce. It was the first time that I really loved a piece of literature. I was about 13 or 14 and I studied it at school, and it has stayed with me ever since.
Sam Mendes at Hay
Dear Fatty by Dawn French
My favourite book, probably, that I’ve read recently is Dear Fatty by Dawn French, which was a series of letters to her friends and family and it was brilliant!
Susan Calman at Hay
Life, A User’s Manual by Georges Perec
If I had to pick a favourite book of all time I’d probably pick Life, A User’s Manual by Georges Perec, which I’ve only read in translation. It tells the story of an apartment block and its history, but it’s constructed in the form of multiple games that you can or can’t work out. And it’s the most extraordinary system, rather than a book.