1.

The Towers of Trebizond, by Rose Macaulay

Macaulay’s masterpiece may be the most eccentric English novel of the 20th century. Its famous opening sentence sets the tone (“‘Take my camel, dear,’ said my aunt Dot, climbing down from that animal on her return from high Mass”). Things only get odder from there as the lovelorn narrator, her eccentric aunt and an upper-class priest embark on their mission to convert the tribes of Anatolia to high-church Anglicanism.

2.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson

All Bryson’s books are magnificent, but this might be his best. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (named for the superhero Bryson imagined himself to be), an account of his childhood in the golden 1950s of the American Midwest, is laugh-out-loud hilarious, but fond and heartwarming too.

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