1. Elmore Leonardy Freaky Deaky
What a perfect book. Beautifully crafted, unpretentious. It may be genre, but is at least ten times better than those Booker winners.
2. Holmes Dr Johnson and Mr Savage
A clever biographical sketch of the friendship between the young Dr Johnson and the poet Savage. Brilliant evocations of the pair's nightwalks through London.
3. Erving Goffman The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
Purports to be social psychology, but really that is just an excuse for people-watching. The kind of book that changes the way you see the world.
4. Joyce Carol Oates On Boxing
I prefer this to her novels. It is one of the best pieces of writing on boxing, which is saying something as boxing of all sports seems to produce the best writing. She communicates the fascinating and occasional horror of watching boxing.
5. Raymond Queneau Exercises in Style
The same banal story told in a series of styles. Sometimes absurd. Why isn't this book better known?
6. Oliver Sacks The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat
The master of case studies. Better than most short stories.
7. Ray Monk Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius
Still by far the best biography of a philosopher around. Helped by Wittgenstein's uncompromising character, mental torment and quirkiness as a philosopher.
8. Jonathon Glover Causing Death and Saving Lives
No other work on applied ethics has come close to this one.
9. Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene
Like Sacks, Dawkins shows that difficult subject matter can be explained clearly and with style.
10. Siri Hustvedt Mysteries of the Rectangle
Essays on works of art by someone who really cares about them.