World Book Night and My Top Ten Adult Books

Top 10 Adult Books

World Book Night and My Top Ten Adult Books

I love reading book lists and I have just discovered 15 new recommendations on the World Book Night website. I’ll certainly be purchasing one or two of these to begin on Saturday, which is World Book Night.

World Book Night 2016When there’s so much choice (but also so much terrible writing) out there it’s always good to have recommendations.

Here is my top ten. It’s a challenge to select just ten but I have managed to whittle it down to these:

The Olive Farm series by Carol Drinkwater
Easy feel-good reading with plenty of sunshine and quirky characters – lovely!

Eric Ravilious, Imagined Realities by Alan Powers
When I was a student I chose Eric Ravilious, as the subject for my dissertation. After so much research into this artist, who was a designer, watercolourist and finally a war artist (he went missing in action) I feel a close affection for him. I was even privileged enough to read letters between him and his wife from the Imperial War Museum archives. This book gives a fantastic resume of his work.

Desert Flower by Waris Dirie
This story is so incredible it’s hard to believe it’s not fiction. This inspirational lady shows how it’s possible to achieve amazing things against all the odds.

Dairy Diary
Of course! Juggling three children, running a home and working full-time, I couldn’t live without my trusty planning tool.

Dairy Book of Home Cookery
If I need to make a white sauce, bake a few scones or whisk up a dressing, I know that the recipe will be in here. It’s the kitchen bible that every household needs.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
So full of complexities, characters and sub-plots it’s difficult to describe this book in just a couple of sentences. Just READ IT – it’s incredible.

The Other Side of the Dale (The Dale Series) by Gervais Phinn
Describing his life as a school inspector, the books in this series with their stories of school children in rural Yorkshire are wonderful. Every page makes you smile.

Michael Palin Diaries
If I could choose one dinner party guest it would be Michael Palin. His life has been crammed full of laughter and adventure and despite his fame he seems really grounded and ‘a thoroughly nice chap’! I’ve been fascinated by each one of his diaries (though they do make your arms ache in bed!)

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
How such as harrowing plot can be so beautifully written is astonishing. Despite the macabre subject, this book doesn’t feel dark, but full of light. I loved it.

Fantastic Food for Less
This is my favourite of all the cookbooks we have produced. The recipes are simple but a bit different, use low-cost but good quality ingredients and most importantly – taste amazing. We make the Spiced Cottage Pie (see below) almost every week.


How to organise books

The most satisfying method for organising your books ever!

Not so long ago I spent a whole evening reorganising my books. Yes I know, I DO need to get out more. But wow, how satisfying! By sorting all my books into colours and displaying them in colour blocks rather than by author, they look so pretty! As we don’t own a library, I think this unorthodox classification method is okay (I just need to buy a few more purple ones!)


Spiced Cottage Pie

Spiced Cottage Pie

  • Servings: 50
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Calories 737 per portion
Fat 25g (10.8g sat) per portion
Suitable for freezing


  • Sunflower oil 1 tbsp
  • Minced beef 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • Onion 1, peeled and chopped
  • Medium hot curry powder 2 tbsp
  • Carrot 150g (5oz), diced
  • Red lentils 150g (5oz)
  • Beef stock 600ml (1 pint)
  • Tomato purée 1 tbsp
  • Sultanas 50g (2oz)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Potatoes 680g (1½lb), peeled and cut into chunks
  • Butter 50g (2oz) Milk 4 tbsp
  • Ground turmeric ¼ tsp
  • Cooked frozen peas to serve (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the mince and onion, stirring and breaking up the mince, for about 5 minutes until it is evenly browned.
  2. Stir in the curry powder and carrot, cook 1 minute and then mix in the lentils. Pour in the stock, tomato purée, sultanas and seasoning and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, put the potatoes into a saucepan with just enough lightly salted water to cover them. Cover with the lid and bring the water to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan with half the butter and the milk and turmeric and season with salt and pepper. Mash well, adding the milk as needed to make a soft spoonable mash.
  5. Preheat the grill to hot. Spoon the mince mixture into an ovenproof dish, cover with the potato and fork the mash into an even layer. Dot the remaining butter over the top and grill for 5–10 minutes until browned. Serve with peas, if you like.

Cook’s tip
Leftover lentils can be used to make a delicious, filling soup. Cook 110g (4oz) lentils with 1 chopped potato, carrot, onion and parsnip (or any other leftover veg you fancy) and 900ml (1½ pints) stock very gently for 1 hour. Purée with a stick blender before you serve.



Dairy Book of Home Cookery


Order your copy of Fantastic Food for Less
or the Dairy Book of Home Cookery.

Order now







What are your top ten books?
I would love some new suggestions!






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