What is your single favourite novel?


Well-Known Member
Sep 9, 2016
Cumbria UK
Hard question to choose The One!

The Mote in God's Eye

(It would be so simple to do a list ...
fave crime novel
fave sci fi book
fave spy thriller etc)


Feb 13, 2011
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Things change depending on my mood and the 'theme' of my life at any current moment, and I don't feel like this is a sophie's choice deciding because - well, if it changes later, what does it matter to me (or you all, for that matter ;) )

I have three that change, but anyone who has read my wafflings here over the years know there is a special place in my heart for Michael McDowell's The Elementals.

I've loved Stephen King's stories since I was 9 but it was Michael McDowell's story of Southern Gothic 80's horror that really made me want to write. It's a mass-produced pulp novel and only around 270 pages long but seems to cram in a much larger playworld. I know people who have said it "terrified" them, some who never finished it for that reason, and then people like me who love the humour, the incredibly witty and authentically reproduced Southern Condition, and think the horror element is 'cool' rather than scary (mind you, reading horror since age 9 has probably inured me to being scared).

Super-original idea, super-atmospheric, it's a study in effect use of Omniscient POV, and the inspiration for my own ten-years-in-the-making WIP. I'd label it Saga Horror, as opposed to gothic horror if that didn't evoke a mental image of geriatric holidays from hell.

@TheDustyZebra mentioned Beach Music as her favourite and I have an anecdote about that. A few years Christmases ago, she kindly sent me Pat Conroy's Beach Music (and Prince of Tides) because of my love of the Southern Way (I'm using that as if it's even a term, so I hope it makes sense). The family in Beach Music really reminds me of this family saga ambience that The Elementals has. Even though I'm only halfway through Beach Music it's made me wish I had more personal experience of the South so I could write my own The Elementals.

So yeah, read it: What Jaws did for water, The Elementals will do for sand.



Well-Known Member
May 5, 2015
Flowers for Algernon.
Brilliant choice. Not many books move me in a personal way but I couldn't stop thinking about this novel for weeks after I read it. Not many books make me cry with sadness and anger - let alone at the same time! Really good choice and I think this is a book everyone should read and I think the themes transcend the genre.

I have this on my shelf and never seen anyone talk about it. I might put this into my TBR soon pile.

So I have given this some thought and decided that.... I need to give it some more thought!


Sep 21, 2011
North Scotland
For me it's a no brainer. Mist Over Pendle by Robert Neill. A book published in 1949 about a young woman who is saved from a god awful marriage to a divine by an eccentric uncle in Lancashire. She becomes embroiled in the story of the Pendle witches. It breaks all of the "writing rules" but I really, really don't care. The characters are loveable but in theory a tad 2D, it starts with several pages of back story, the history is sumptuous and detailed but ignores the real story and it's littered with adverbs. I bought it in 1989 after an awful trek down Pendle hill at a bad time in my life.

The story is warm, colourful and engaging. It has an intelligent and strong teen female character whose romantic feelings are secondary to the main story. I was thirteen at the time, and my life had gone from normal middle-class to disaster ridden in a short space of time. A very kind friend has recently bought me the same edition to replace the one I have that's falling apart. Thirty years on, I read it whenever I am down and it still transports me away from my life.

Mist Over Pendle Cover.PNG


Man of Artistic Fingers
Jun 14, 2016
Phoenix, Arizona
When I get the time I think I'll go back over this thread and study the favorites mentioned and put some (or most) of them in my wish list.

Being an unpublished author I find it's a bit daunting as well as nervy on my part to compete with all these great writers. On the other hand it's also inspiring and educational.


Druss enthusiast!
May 23, 2018
Shogun - James Clavell.

First time I read it I swear I was learning to understand how to speak Japanese. The way Anjin becomes immersed, as do we, into the culture, learning to embrace it and seeing the faults of both his own as well as this pretty new thing, remains one of the most remarkable things I've ever read. Keep going back to it over again and never bored. Such scale and scope as well as intricate beauty. Amazing!!

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2008
I tend to waver between:

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
Count Zero by William Gibson
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
Homunculus by James P Blaylock
The Lady in the Lake or Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler.

Today, I'm going to go for Count Zero.

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