Calling all readers: what’s your favourite book of all time?

I’m delighted to be joining a stellar line-up of authors for North Ayrshire Libraries Readers’ Day on the 26th October. Here’s what’s happening:

“There are four of the best authors in Scotland for you to meet and talk with about what they write and what they read – Douglas JacksonDoug JohnstoneShari Low and Marianne Wheelaghan.  Author Keith Charters will host the event and quiz the authors about their reading and writing methods.” 

Shirley_Jackson_Portrait In preparation for the day’s talks, I had to pick a favourite book to discuss.  This wasn’t easy.  There are so many very good books out there, how was I going to pick just one? However, after much humming and hawing, a clear winner emerged:  “We have Always Lived in The Castle” by Shirley Jackson.

I first came across Shirley Jackson when I read  The Lottery, a brilliantly rendered and very unsettling short story  about lynch-mob mentality. I then read  Jackson’s We Have Always lived in The Castle,  which was the last novel Jackson wrote before she died. We Have Always Lived in The Castle is incredibly suspenseful, full of weird and wonderful characters and strange and gripping and totally unpredictable. The first paragraph has to be one of the best first paragraphs of a book ever:

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

FileWeHaveAlwaysLivedInTheCastle Joyce Carol Oates once said that Shirley Jackson was “quirkily original”.  I agree. I love the unexpected in a story and Shirley Jackson’s stories never disappoint. Has my writing been influenced by her? I’m not sure, but, certainly, I find her writing inspiring. I’ll be discussing  this and much more on the 26th and am really looking forward to it.

If you like reading books and live in or around North Ayrshire, do check the programme out – it will be an excellent day and great value 🙂

And, finally, if you had to pick a favourite book of all time, what would it be?


20080409-dougj-hp5-016cropNorth Ayrshire Libraries, Greenwood Conference doug Centre, Dreghorn KA11 4GZ. Tickets £8.50 (includes lunch) from any North Ayrshire Library or telephone 01294 212716…


Saturday 26th October, 2013: 9.30am to 3.30pm. 



“The seventh North Ayrshire Libraries Readers’ Day is back in it the usual venue, the newly-refurbished Greenwood Conference Centre, so you are guaranteed good food and a huge car park!”url 

Download the Readers’ Day information leaflet here 
(Word, 2.3Mb). 
This includes an application form and lots more information on what is sure to be a great day.



This entry was posted in For everyone and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Calling all readers: what’s your favourite book of all time?

  1. Wendy Clarke says:

    Room by Emma Donoghue – just wish I’d thought of the idea first. Also love The Magus by John Fowles and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier.

  2. Katie says:

    Hi Marianne.

    Hope you are well.. Wow pick one book now that’s hard but I think if it was me it would be….Keeper Of Moon Haven by Ciara Gold. Because I found it an inspiring book and one I’ve read a lot of times.

    I like the sound of the book you picked… Good luck at the reading.

    Take care.

    • I think you may like We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Katie. It’s sort of gothic-cum-horror. Keeper of the Moon Haven sounds very positive and uplifting! Thanks for good wishes. I’m not often asked to talk about books I like to read, so it will be a lovely change 🙂

  3. Ruth Hunt says:

    Hi Marinne,
    A very interesting post! If you’re asking about favourite writers and books, I will not say the obvious, David Foster Wallace, but instead will mention my latest find – House of Leaves by Mark Z Danieleswski. It’s one of the most inventive books I’ve read this year and well worth a read.
    Enjoy your time discussing writers, and favourite books, I like Shirley Jackson too, another super writer. Have a great time, Marianne, wish I could be there! Is there going to be an audio recording?

    • Yes, David Foster Wallace, of course. Not heard of mark Z Danieleswski and House of Leaves, so will look that up ( just did – wow, looks great!)

      Thanks for good wishes for the day. I don’t know if there will be an audio recording but what a good idea! Hmmm … I may investigate the possibility. Thanks again, Ruth 🙂

  4. Pingback: How long does it take to write a novel? | Marianne Wheelaghan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Anti-spam: complete the taskWordPress CAPTCHA