Calling all book and film nerds…

First up, I need to warn you that this blog post has absolutely zilch to do with photography. Yes, this is a photography blog, but it’s also somewhere I get to share things that are important to me, and I thought I’d kick off the year with two things that are exactly that…. BOOKS AND FILMS!!!

So 2011 is upon us and my thoughts turned to what will be new for me this year. It’s never long before my thoughts turn to books, as besides people and cameras they are pretty much my favourite thing in the world. Before being a photographer, I studied English Literature and then taught it in secondary school, and although I no longer teach, literature is still an enormous and very important part of my life. My mum is an even bigger book obsessive than I am, and a love of reading is something that has always been a big thing in our family, and I’m so grateful to her for helping me to love it too. Thankfully Joe is also already head over heels with reading books, and it’s one of our favourite things to do together, so I hope I’ve managed to do for him what my mum did for me.

I’ve always bought and read books compulsively, but a year or two ago I made the very hard decision to…. lord forbid (it was a difficult day)… stop buying them! There were (and still are) piles upon piles of books in the house and I was running out of space to store them all. Realising that there were loads I hadn’t yet read, I promised myself I wouldn’t buy another book until I’d read every single book I own. It’s taken almost two years to do this but finally I’m nearly there and will be able to get my mitts on some lovely new books! The end is in sight and good lord Amazon you’re about to wonder what hit you.

The problem is, where do I start? So many books to choose from! So I decided to ask around my friends and twitter buddies for their recommendations. I know there are plenty of websites with critics’ favourites on them which are really useful, but I think there’s nothing like getting personal recommendations from people you know and like. Although not quite to the same degree as my love affair with books, I also really love watching films and my LoveFilm list needed updating so I thought I’d ask for film recommendations while I was at it. Loads of people kindly chipped in, which was wonderful, and lots of people asked if I wouldn’t mind sending the list to them once it was complete… hence writing this blog post to share it with you all! Since lots of people helped me out by suggesting their own favourites, I thought it was only fair to share my own back too, so I’ve started off with my own favourite books and films, then afterwards I’ve listed all the other titles people sent me. Quite a few people included TV series as well as films, so I’ve added a list of these too at the bottom. Since I love making lists almost as much as I love reading books this little project has been an absolute geeky pleasure.

So, first up, here are my own recommendations, the books and films I personally have loved the most. Many of them are quite old classics that most people have probably already read or seen, but I enjoyed them so much I couldn’t leave them out!


Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie) – probably my favourite book ever
In Cold Blood (Truman Capote)
Papillon (Henri Charriere)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
Against Nature (Joris-Karl Huysmans)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)
A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
Carter Beats The Devil (Glen David Gold)
The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell)
No Logo (Naomi Klein)
The Algebra of Infinite Justice (Arundhati Roy)
Birdsong (Sebastian Faulks)
Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Patrick Suskind)
The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)
Atonement (Ian McEwan)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-time (Mark Haddon)
Girl With A Pearl Earring (Tracy Chevalier)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
V for Vendetta (Alan Moore and David Lloyd) – this and Watchmen are graphic novels, LOVE them
Watchmen (Alan Moore and David Lloyd)
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D Salinger)
The Wasp Factory (Iain Banks)
The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)
The Death of Vishnu (Manil Suri)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
The Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
The Help (Kathryn Stockett)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)
Lord of the Rings Trilogy (JRR Tolkien)
Money (Martin Amis)
Quarantine (Jim Crace)
Pretty much anything by Roald Dahl (Favourite? Probably The Twits. I read these to Joe and think I enjoy them more than he does…)

FILMS (am aware I’ve got quite blokey taste in films, sorry ladies if they’re a bit one-sided!)

Nuts in May
Life of Brian
Man on Wire
This is England
Donnie Darko
True Romance
Apocalypse Now
All About My Mother
Let The Right One In
2001: A Space Odyssey
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Life is Sweet
The Shawshank Redemption
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Shining
Pretty much any James Bond Film
Dead Man’s Shoes (amazing but VERY harrowing – felt it needed a warning!)
Paris, Texas
The Godfather
Withnail and I
Don’t Look Now
American History X
The Big Lebowski
Buffalo 66
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The Virgin Suicides
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI
La Haine
Requiem for a Dream
City of God
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Sin City
No Country for Old Men
The Departed

And now for other books and films that my friends, family and twitter buddies have kindly recommended as their favourites. I’ve read/seen a fair few of them, but am really looking forward to working my way through them as there are loads below that I haven’t got round to tackling yet, and a fair few I’d not heard of at all, so thank you so much for taking the time to send these over, what a treat!


One Day (David Nicholls)
Shantaram (Gregory David Roberts)
A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole)
About the Author (John Colapinto)
A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (David Foster Wallace)
Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
Tandia (Bryce Courtenay)
Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow (Detmar Blow and Tom Sykes)
American Gods (Neil Gaiman)
The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins)
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Two Caravans (Marina Lewycka)
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Marina Lewycka)
The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)
The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
Veronika Decides to Die (Paulo Coelho)
The Outlander (Gil Adamson)
The Moonstone (Wilkie Collins)
Cold Mountain (Charles Frasier)
The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
A Man Without a Country (Kurt Vonnegut)
Catch 22 (Joseph Heller)
The End of Mr Y (Scarlett Thomas)
Small Island (Andrea Levy)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne)
Underworld (Don de Lillo)
Sophie’s World (Jostein Gaarder)
Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys)
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax (Liz Jensen)
The State of the Art (Iain M Banks)
Skinny Dip (Carl Hiaasen)
The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Lucia Graves)
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Louis de Bernieres)
Child 44 (Tom Rob Smith)
The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)
The End of Time (Julian Barbour)
Stuart: A life backwards (Alexander Masters)
Steal you Away (Niccolo Ammaniti)
Vernon God Little (DBC Pierre)
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami and Jay Rubin)
Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood)
The Secret History (Donna Tartt)
The Way I Found Her (Rose Tremain)
The Colour (Rose Tremain)
Unweaving the Rainbow (Richard Dawkins)
Fingersmith (Sarah Waters)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Jean-Dominique Bauby)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
An Artist of the Floating World (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Bunker 13 (Aniruddha Bahal)
Disgrace (JM Coetzee)
On Beauty (Zadie Smith)
Notes on a Scandal (Zoe Heller)
Shadow Of The Sun (Ryszard Kapuściński)
The Secret (Rhonda Byrne)
White Noise (Don de Lillo)
The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment (Isabel Losada)
Men! (Isabel Losada)
Last Orders (Graham Swift)
The Inheritance of Loss (Kiran Desai)
Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer)
Beloved (Toni Morrison)
The Summer Book (Tove Jansson)
His Dark Materials trilogy (Philip Pullman)
The Mermaid and the Drunks (Ben Richards)
Eat Pray Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)
The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)
Random Acts of Heroic Love (Danny Scheinmann)
Mother Tongue (Bill Bryson)
Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller)


The Secret In Their Eyes
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Dancer in the Dark
Infernal Affairs
28 Grams
500 Days of Summer
The Royal Tenenbaums
Hurt Locker
Sherlock Holmes
Shutter Island
Into the Wild
Life Aquatic
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
A Single Man
Spirited Away
Scott Pilgrim
Battle Royale
Mary and Max
Cinema Paradiso
Inglourious Basterds
Little Miss Sunshine
Fight Club
Schindler’s List
The Bourne Trilogy
Slumdog Millionaire
Somers Town
Burn After Reading
The Illusionist
The Host
Casino Royale
The Prestige
Dark Days
O brother where art thou
Four Lions
Kick Ass
Alice Creed
The Road
The Town
44 Inch Chest
Nowhere Boy
Up In The Air
Children of Men
Son of Paleface
A prophet
Sin Nombre
Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll
The Hangover
The King of Kong


Breaking Bad
Six Feet Under
Black Books
Eastbound and Down
Battlestar Galactica
The Wire
Arrested Development
How Not To Live Your Life
Mad Men
The Middle
The IT Crowd

So there we are! Hopefully lots of fodder for future book/film/TV enjoyment for you all, I know there definitely is for me. Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to send me their recommendations, and if you are reading this and want to add any of your own then please do add them in to the comments section below, the more the better!

Right I’m off for a cuppa and a good read of my book on the sofa (incidentally ‘Stuart: a life backwards’ – very good so far!), aaaahhhh bliss……. Happy new year everyone!

“A room without books is like a body without a soul” – Cicero
“There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love.” – Christopher Morley



  1. Funmi Omotade-Tan

    Thanks anna, off to update my LoveFilm rental lists and start Library visits again with “A short history of Tractors in Ukrainian” – I’ve been meaning to read that for ages…

  2. Gemma

    That’ll keep us happy for 2011! There’s a lot of our faves in there but there are also a lot of new things for us to try. Thanks for blogging this! x

  3. Gemma

    Edited to add: Just read your film list to my other half. He said: “She has outstanding taste in films – we’ll have something to talk about!” Hee hee x

  4. Carl

    Bloody hell women! Your a (fantastic) photographer who works till 2-3am whilst raising a child, moving house, being married and working through a book list that would scare a scholar and a film list that would impress Tarantino!

    Please tell me you live on Amphetamines?? 🙂

    P.S I recommend Shadow Of The Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński

  5. Kate

    What a brilliant post Anna and I can’t believe ur words about dead mans shoes. That’s exactly what I said about it but what an amazing film. If u want a good love story film then settle back for 44 inch chest and the genius that is mr ray Winston. Also, we just watched nowhere boy again tonight, brilliantly shot/directed by sam Taylor wood (I love her photographs). Nick recommend’s Lola the book and film and if u can read thru the American-ness of it then the secret (Rhonda Byrne) had a massive impact on me a few years ago x hope new house is fabulous xx

  6. Lucy

    What a fabuloust idea! I really admire your dedication to your own collection, I only keep books we’ve read but I want to re-read them to work out whether we really need to keep them (small house = every object in our house has to earn and re-earn its place). One I’d recommend is Shantaram (Gregory David Roberts) – a fantastic story about India, it really moved me and its based on a true story.

    Ooh given you and I share similar film tastes, I think you’d like Up in the Air – excellent story and great cinematography xxx

  7. Stacey

    I highly recommend the film ‘Children of Men’. Some of the scenes in that film are amazing!!

  8. Nick Tucker Photography

    About the Author is by John Colapinto. Not John Lapinto, you gonk… 😉

    I really recommend it if you want a really clever page-turner.

    I see someone’s recommended Underworld by Don DeLillo. For my money DeLillo’s best book is White Noise. It’s practically note perfect.


  9. Anna

    Thanks Nick, not sure why I didn’t fancy using the ‘co’… have amended it in the post! I’ve read White Noise come to think of it but it was years ago and I can remember almost nothing about it other than him being professor of Hitler studies and having a crazy family! Will give it a re-read.

    Have just added new titles to the friends’ list, the ones in these comments (thanks everyone!), and a few more I’ve had via facebook over the last few days.

    And Carl – thanks so much for the lovely comment!

  10. Lisa

    Love that you have added Into the Wild to the books section. It is one of my favourite books. I may have a couple of the books on my shelf if you want me to send them to you? I have far too many books on my shelves and I would rather they went to a good home.

    Can’t believe that alongside being a fantastic photographer and mum you have the time to read. Also, love that you added such a personal post to the blog.

  11. Anna

    Thanks Lisa it really means a lot that you enjoyed the post. It was on your recommendation that I added Into The Wild, will definitely read it now! Loved the film and am sure will love the book even more. That’s such a kind offer to send a book thank you so much! Will happily do a swap if there’s anything you fancy x



  1. Anna Hardy » Blog Archive » April 2011: 365 project - [...] They are the first 5 books from the recommendations friends kindly gave me when I put together my book…
  2. Anna Hardy » Blog Archive » July 2011: 365 project - [...] reading my book, About The Author by John Colapinto, recommended by Nick Tucker when I did my book and film…
  3. Anna Hardy » Blog Archive » September 2011: 365 project - [...] mentioned before that I am a complete book nerd (see book & film blog post here). My friend Becky…

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