Fairy tales are as relevant today as ever, says Jack Zipes. They are a means of communicating about serious problems such as the abandonment of children (Hansel and Gretel) or the self-sacrifice expected of women (Beauty and the Beast). He picks the best books to help us reflect on the meaning and significance of fairy tales.
The historian and author plunges us deep into the world of walled-up skeletons, Vikings, poisoning, intrigue, witchcraft and rebellion. This is the best of British historical fiction – novels that never compromise on painstaking research.
Jane Eyre, 1984 and Anne Frank's diary all make it onto the author's list. On Black Beauty's underrated importance: 'People forget that William Wilberforce, who abolished the slave trade, also founded the RSPCA.'
When reading books, we often empathize with a main character and find redemption in our emotional response to their fate. But it's more important to think, says Bosnian novelist Aleksandar Hemon. Here, he picks the best books on 'man's inhumanity to man.'