12 incredible books we love

We asked the National Book Tokens team to reveal the most cherished books on their shelves! Which books are close to your heart? Tell us in the comments below.

Modern Romance

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (chosen by Kara)

A book all about love, sort of. Aziz Ansari investigates dating and relationship in the modern age – everything from searching for your soul mate, online dating, romance in previous generations, romance in different cultures, break ups and ultimately, settling down. I love this book because it’s very well researched, funny and charming – the perfect book to pick up, whatever your relationship status.

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (chosen by Stacey)

Jane is one of my favourite literary heriones - independent, honest, blunt and dignified. I was rooting for her all the way. Charlotte Brontë's writing is beautiful and eloquent; I loved the way she developed the unconventional romance between Jane and Mr Rochester. Jane Eyre was a surprising novel to me in every way and I adored it.

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume (chosen by Denise)

A different kind of love story about two lonely outsiders finding each other – a man and his dog. It's completely wonderful and heartbreaking.

High Fidelity

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (chosen by Alex)

With some genius comic touches, Nick Hornby reveals the blissfully un-self-aware, list driven, cassette-making music nerd that possibly lurks in all men… at times the honesty is quite painful.

The Prisoner of Zenda

The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope (chosen by Pippa)

I love this short adventure novel because it’s crammed with old-fashioned romance and intrigue, mistaken identities, swashbuckling exploits and dashing villains. It's uncomplicated and delightful frippery.

The hand that first held mine

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell (chosen by Naomi)

I have loved everything Maggie O'Farrell has written and I think this is my favourite book of her's. Her characters are so real it’s startling. I read it in one intense sitting - she always leaves me feeling raw but alive!

Single, Carefree, Mellow

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny (chosen by Kara)

I enjoy reading short story collections and this one has to be one of my favourites. It’s about men and women, relationships, heartache, adultery and loss. Most of the characters are self-absorbed but it’s hard not to be sucked into their complex and secretive lives. I loved how unique the writing styles were, the different perspectives and narratives really flowed well with the themes.

The Time Traveller's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (chosen by Stacey)

One of my most frequently re-read novels. I love this beautiful and heartbreaking story of Clare the art student, and Henry the adventuresome librarian. I love watching their complicated relationship develop, right up until the devastating ending, becoming absorbed in Niffengger's lyrical prose. I first picked up this book up aged 16 and it's stayed with me ever since.

The Idea of Perfection

The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville (chosen by Denise)

I seek out books about lost and lonely people and this one is about two of them making an unlikely couple: plain Harley Savage and shy Douglas Cheeseman. It's beautifully written, funny and moving. The Australian backdrop is a winner.

White Tiger

White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (chosen by Alex)

A fantastic first novel that covers many themes, political and human. It is plot driven and narrated with its own bittersweet and at times funny voice….“See, the poor dream all their lives of getting enough to eat and looking like the rich. And what do the rich dream of? Losing weight and looking like the poor.”


Zadig by Voltaire (chosen by Pippa)

On a first reading, the exotic adventures of Zadig and his beloved Astarté seem like just a slightly quirkier version of the Arabian Nights. The joy for me lies in peeling off another layer of satire with every fresh reading: religion, politics, literature, science, human nature – all are exquisitely exposed and unmasked in turn.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (chosen by Naomi)

I have great affection for this classic novel. It's The Great Gatsby... you can’t not marvel at it! I first read it as a teenager (don't tell anyone, but I watched the film first and so Gatsby will always be Robert Redford to me!).

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