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As you sit on the bus, tube, train or tram, which carries you to or from work or school, you are surrounded by people.

Many of us cocoon ourselves in a book, so that while our bodies are transported to our everyday destination, our minds can be transported elsewhere, to more thrilling locations.

There are a few things which instil in us a sense of kinship with a stranger - but this is my favourite. As you sit on the bus or train on a cold, damp night, weighed down with bags of shopping or perhaps on your way home from work, your mood is boosted by the sight of a total stranger tucking into one of your favourite books. You feel like going up to the person to eulogise about the story, discuss the characters or find out if they love it as much as you did.

While there may be many books you quite enjoyed, there are certain books for which is reserved that feeling of excitement and evangelism, and smile of recognition and fond memory. It’s reserved for those with which you have connected so strongly or into which you were once so absorbed that you almost can’t believe someone else is experiencing them. And realise the stranger is in that little world, the one which, last time you looked, was exclusively yours.

For me those books are:

  1. Anything by Rupert Thompson
    I bought one of his books by chance before he was even vaguely popular (which is what he is now – vaguely popular) in a 99p bin of a bargain bookstore, and it is one of the best books I’ve ever read (Air & Fire).
  2. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
    People tell you to read a particular book. Perhaps one of your friends buys it for you. Hence, you never read it, as you feel pressured to like it. Eventually you do and its every bit as good as its reputation. That’s The Master and Margarita
  3. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  4. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. Cried on District Line tube, Earls Court Station, over this book

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