My favourite reads: Alan Griffin

Here are five books that reflect different times in my life, from childhood to university and beyond

1984 by George Orwell (1949)
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The fear factor in being asked to reveal your favourite books is immense, as it feels like it reflects who you are or even want to be. These books represent different times in my life and associated feelings, from childhood to carefree days at university and beyond.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (1930)

Childhood adventures set in one of my favourite places on Earth, the Lake District in Northern England. I must have read this book 30 times when I was younger. I grew up with older siblings and friends, and we would play in the same woods and on the same shores, even camp on the same island as the book – so it’s pure magical nostalgia.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1962)

An extraordinary presentation of life in a Soviet Gulag, it is harrowing but also an inspiring read of life against adversity. Comparatively short, it was the staple of many of my university friends – a must-read if you wanted to give the impression of intellectual credibility and it just stopped me from turning to fake glasses and a pipe.

Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

An adventure tale that is one of the best science-fiction books written. The film was truly awful and featured a poor cameo from Sting, but Herbert’s imagination to portray future worlds and civilisations with an edge of mysticism was inspiring. The idea of riding giant worms into battle could only come from the 1960s. It’s a great escapist read with fascinating characters.

One Day by David Nicholls (2009)

This just pulls all the heart strings. Romance, love, lust, idiocy and tragedy all rolled into one easy read. You are taken on a roller coaster journey that at first delivers hope, humour and joy to then be thrown into despair and fear. A tear-jerker that is easy to read and very relatable, I read this on holiday and could not put it down, causing consternation and complaints from all my family.

1984 by George Orwell (1949)

The world of the future is painted as perpetual war, surveillance and propaganda, where people just about survive, where love and kindness have been eradicated and where the party in charge is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-important. This could now play out in several countries around the world, which is terrifying.

Alan Griffin is the head of digital strategy at The National