I don’t normally compile lists.  A list is like a manure spreader:  driven by one person and full of crap.  I also find them vague, unfulfilling and pointless.

Having said that, here is a list I’ve put together from my completely scientific research carried out in this local demographic.  Don’t argue.  It’s binding.

In no particular order …

Books I’ve seen on every bookshelf in southeast London:

-Life of Pi

-War Horse

-The Kite Runner


These four are a given.  If I see them missing from any home I assume they’ve been loaned out to someone who doesn’t own a library card.

-The Mysterious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

-Wolf Hall

-Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography

-Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

Is authorized and exclusive the same thing?  I suppose it’s possible to be exclusive but not authorized and vice versa.  I was once authorized to go backstage at a KT Tunstall concert but soon found out I was not exclusively granted access.  Damn fan clubs.

-Something in a Brontë  (There are so many titles from so many Brontës, it’s hardly surprising.)

-Pride and Prejudice

-Catch 22

-We Need to Talk About Kevin  (Let me tell you something, Kevin.  Everyone’s already talked about you and now you’re gathering dust between the bosomy paginations of the Brontë sisters.)

-Norwegian Wood

-Either High Fidelity, About a Boy or Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (… but not in a house in which lives a Tottenham Hotspur supporter.  They’ve banned all things Hornby and his Gunner-loving ways.)

-Any book about or by the Rolling Stones

-My Booky Wook

-Margrave of the Marshes

-Anything by Zadie Smith  (I don’t think she’s ever written anything called Anything, I’m just referring to anything she may have written.)

-One of Obama’s books  (That’s Barack.  I’ve never spotted books by Floyd Obama.)

-The Rough Guides to Italy, Morocco and Barcelona.  (Clearly everyone’s been there.)

-Ian Banks and Ian M. Banks.  I just found out they were the same person.

By the way, I haven’t seen a single copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Kudos to my clients for having standards.   And there are more people reading Proust than I would ever have imagined.

For Younger Readers:

 -Someone called Harry Potter  (I thought he was the colonel on M*A*S*H.)

-Everything Jacqueline Wilson has ever written

-The Very Hungry Caterpillar (This title, to be fair, is normally found on the floor next to a pile of crumbs or jammed into a DVD player.)

-And you know the rest.  Your kids all have them.

And in kitchens:

-Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals

-Ottolenghi’s Plenty

-Nigella Express


-Mary Berry’s Baking Bible

So we’re all eating the same stuff, which explains why my favourite ingredients are always missing from the shelves of my local mega-supermarket.

There it is then.  The official southeast London bookshelf stock list.  If you don’t like it you can make your own list.  Did I mention I don’t like lists?