Nic Bottomly (Mr B) is a book lover and owner of Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath.
Mr B’s Fallout 5:
1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: Not only does it remain one of my favourite books of all-time, more than twenty years after I first read it, but it’s also the ultimate story of how the human spirit can triumph over any adversity. If the penniless Joad family can put up with leaving their home and its fields rendered barren by the dustbowl to embark on a trip littered with false hopes and broken dreams, then I can put up with hunkering in my bunker re-reading my five books. Plus; it’s long. (Buy from Hive)
2. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin: .It’s one of my great regrets that music collector and critic extraordinaire Colin Larkin has said that since the 2007 text there won’t be further editions of this fantastic and highly entertaining reference book. Alphabetically he tackles every major recording artist in Western pop/rock and all the genres that feed into it (folk, blues, jazz etc). A short career biography with cross-referencing to other artists is followed by a complete album list with star ratings. What makes it work is how deeply, and often scathingly, opinionated Colin is about his ratings. You can go for pages without coming across a 5-star album. It’ll be tough not being able to go and buy the music after reading about it, but it’ll be fun trying to remember the tunes. I’ll take the 1 volume “concise” edition to keep within the rules! By the way, I think it’s when we’re all in our bunkers that we may come to regret the publishing industry’s move away from paper encyclopedias and reference books. Unless there’s wi-fi. (Currently out of print)
3. Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon: One of the finest American travelogues ever written. If I can never go on another road trip then I want to relive one of the purest and most elegantly recorded ones again and again. Heat-Moon had just come out of divorce and redundancy when he and his ancient truck hit the backroads of America to seek out the places off the highways and to talk to the people there. (Buy from Hive)
4. The Moth by Various: The Moth is a storytelling project that gets people from all walks of life onto the stage to tell an amazing true tale from their life. The book has 50 tales from 50 different narrators and together it represents all of human life and emotion – joy, tragedy, comedy, coincidence, drama, love – it’s all here. I think it would make the bunker feel like it was filled with life. (Buy from Hive)
5. Horton Hears a Who by Dr Seuss: I would have to have a children’s book to transport me back to pre-apocalyptic bedtime story reading with my kids. This is a short one to choose given I might have to re-read it for eternity, but it would keep my hand in at bad accents (particularly when narrating the few lines of the black-bottomed bird “Vlad Vladikoff”) and I can’t imagine ever tiring of the increasingly frenetic rhyming patter. (Buy from Hive)
You Suddenly have to run from the bunker, you can only save one book, which do you rescue?
I surprise myself at only having one straight novel on there. That isn’t reflective of my reading but I figure if I have 30 odd Shakespeare plays to read as well then I’m all set for storytelling that stands being re-read. What an odd selection; if you asked me again tomorrow I think four of them would change. The first would never change and I’d be grabbing for The Grapes of Wrath in that emergency dash – I could never not have a novel near to hand and I’d always be content to have Tom Joad as my only wing-man in a time of crisis.
The website for Mr B’s Emporium is currently undergoing some changes, therefore the books in this blog are available to buy through Hive – a website which allows you to buy online and support your high street.