Any Human Heart by William Boyd
I have talked about this in interviews before, but it’s so good that I couldn’t not mention it again here. In fact, I think it’s probably my favourite book of all time. It’s a fictional compilation of a guy’s diary from throughout his whole life. The style develops through the book as you would expect it to with a person writing their diaries. So, he starts off writing it at school and it’s all very schoolboyish. Then it focuses more on his dreams as he becomes a man and starts to go off and do things with his life. And then he gets much more cynical and becomes an alcoholic. But it’s just such a human story about a normal guy being buffeted around by strokes of fate. There are high points and lighthearted points, but also some incredibly dark and sad passages.
It’s one of those books that really makes you think about your own life – that anything could happen at any moment that could send your life on a complete tangent. This guy starts off as a schoolboy in South America and then he ends up in London, then he’s a prisoner of war in Germany, then he goes off to New York for a bit, before heading to Africa. And I think he eventually ends up in the South of France. I can’t quite remember. I’m making a point of not reading it again for a while, so that I can really get back into it when I do. I don’t read books twice very often – in fact, almost never – but this one is just so, so good. If I had to recommend one book to anyone, it would be Any Human Heart.
For more info on William Boyd, click here to visit his official website.