Henri asks – what are your favourites?

As a writer I’m often asked what is my favourite book or favourite film which is almost impossible to answer. There are so many good books and good films to choose from, new as well as classics, but I’ve narrowed it down to the one book and the one film which have had the most profound influence on me.


The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J R R Tolkien. I fell in love with the story (and with Aragorn, a real hero!) when I was 13. Since then I’ve re-read it countless times, and always discover something new in it: a detailed description I may have read too lightly, the beauty of Tolkien’s poetry – something I’ll admit to skipping occasionally because it slows down the action. Or even a feeling I didn’t have last time I read it.

My favourite bit is when the Rohan princess Eowyn and the hobbit Merry slay the Witch-king of Angmar, the Lord of the Nazgul. I cry every time I read it, it’s just so desperate, a last-ditch attempt at saving a man they both have the deepest affection for, Theoden King. Sadly in the film adaptation they rather rushed this part and also skimmed over the important plot point that the Witch-king cannot be killed by a man. It takes the combination of a woman and a half-ling to bring him down. They’re not helpless despite not being big brawny blokes. I like that. All power to their elbow etc.


Casablanca, a beautiful love story and an excellent portrayal of a cynical, disillusioned man who comes good in the end and discovers that some things are worth fighting for. That he must choose sides and stop sitting on the fence. It’s a story about doing the right thing even if it means sacrificing what means most to you in the world. Rick gives up Ilsa because he loves her. choclit-blog-14-may-2012-casablanca1

She would willingly leave her husband for him, a good and honest man, but Rick knows she could never live with herself if she did, so he makes the decision to end their affair. He chooses not to sully their love with the taint of betrayal and instead treasure what they did have, saying, “We’ll always have Paris.” It’s both sad and uplifting.

And that last line, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”, just gets me every time!

So, what are your favourites?

22 thoughts on “Henri asks – what are your favourites?

  1. I agree about Lord of the Rings. Don’t have a favourite book (too many to choose) but it’s certainly up there. I always identified with Gimli, for whom memory isn’t enough, unlike those soppy elves. But I was in love with Farramir. I suppose I wrote sort of fan fic (very,very private)giving Farramir a better deal in the love affair department. And that started me writing romance. Up to then, I’d been into adventure with lots of sword fights.

    Movies: oh yes, Casablanca’s a keeper but I think my favourite has to be Some Like it Hot. Perfect script, perfect casting, and that ending makes me laugh just thinking about it, no matter how miserable I am. In fact, ‘Nobody’s perfect,’ could be my motto.

  2. I, too, love Casablanca. I’ve never been able to get on with Lord of the Rings, though.

    My favourites? Interesting question that. I shall have to think about it. It might be hard to answer as I have so many that I love, and that held a special meaning for me at the particular time that I read/saw them.

    Liz X

  3. My favourite film (EVER!) is “Star Wars”, but that has such a high exalted position now, my general favourite changes.

    My favourite book is “Boy’s Life” by Robert McCammon, a terrific horror writer taking a step back and using supernatural imagery to create an absolutely pitch-perfect evocation of a teenaged boy in a small town. Had me in tears in places. I read it in 1997 and haven’t gone back to it since, because it’s seared into my mind.

  4. Glad to hear you agree about the film. It’s difficult, though, to narrow it down to just one.

  5. Casablanca is a real rainy Sunday afternoon film. It never fails to bring a tear.

    And we must be twins where The Lord of The Rings is concerned! I was 13 when I read it for the first time too and I still have the old dog eared thing. In fact, forget dog eared, it’s practically in bits. I remember feeling so grown up after I had read such a big book! I really felt as if I could shut the real world out and escape to Middle Earth. I pretended I was Galadriel for a bit.

    The film as you say missed/changed so many things unnecessarily. Aragorn was done well though…just how I imagined him 🙂

  6. Snap, Mandy, we ARE twins! I’ve actually gone through several copies, that’s how many times I’ve read it. And now I have the hardback version with the wonderful Alan Lee illustrations, but will read the paperback in order not to ruin the hardback (lol!). Oh, and Viggo Mortensen was EXACTLY like the Aragorn in my head, so much so it’s kind of spooky! Hx

  7. My favourite book of all time is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I’ve read it more time than I care to remember, but it’s such a powerful love story with a wonderful heroine and an absolutely gorgeous hero. My favourite bit is the letter Captain Wentworth writes to Anne Elliot, particularly the line ‘You pierce my soul’ which gets me every time.

  8. Mark – Ooh, another “Star Wars” fan! Me too, and my favourite of the 3 original films (I don’t include the 3 later ones…) is “The Empire Strikes Back”. The scene where they freeze Han Solo in carbonite is really powerful. Not read the book you mention, but will look out for it. Hx

  9. I have different favourites, depending on which mood I’m in. So it’s LOTR for the Road Trip mood, I Capture the Castle if I’m feeling nostalgic for my teen years, The Eyre Affair if I need a laugh. Similar for films, but my all time favourite for all moods is ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’. And yes, I am one of those boring people that quotes it…

  10. Books: I have favourite books depending on which stage of life I’m at.
    Youth: The Folk of the Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton
    Parenthood: Love and Devotion – Erica James. This was the first book that made me cry.
    Since I’ve been writing: My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult. Second book to make me cry.
    I have two favourite films; The Sound of Music and Beaches (Bette Midler). Both films leave me wading for dry shores.
    I’ve just realised all of these stories revolve around children and family relationships and that is what I write about.
    Henri – your post has given me an epiphany moment – thank you.

  11. Jenny – I loved Faramir too, although not as much as Aragorn. He was much better in the book than the film, though, less keen on finding favour with his father than doing what was right. The love story with Eowyn – if I remember rightly it is elaborated in The Silmarillion, but it’s ages since I read that.

    “Some Like It Hot” is a close second for me. Another great last line, as you say.

  12. Jane – I feel that way about music, that some pieces stir certain emotions in me in specific situations. Eurythmics for when I’m feeling bolshie, Mozart to remind me of some people’s greatness, The Carpenters for nostalgia, and many others.

    And, Laura, I’ve just had an epiphany moment too – my chosen film and book are both about doing something for the greater good. Hadn’t even noticed that!

  13. So many books, so many films – but Casablanca is an anchor point, isn’t it? I’ve never got on with Tolkien, though. His great trilogy seems dessicated and strangely sexless – which is strange because otherwise I love fantasy and myth. Unicorns galumphing through the heavens, dragons breathing fire over their lunch, rainbows and crocks of gold, kings, once and future, the sound of the wind in the willows as the water goddess draws a golden ring out of the river……

  14. A lovely post, Henri! I have so many favourite books and films it’s impossible to choose. But my top ten would certainly feature LOTR 1 – 3, Gladiator, Rebecca (the book and the film), Great Expectations (just the book, all the film adaptations have been absolute ****), Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (for Mr Rickman’s star turn) and Amadeus Prince of Ring Tones.

  15. Oh yes, Casablanca….. the setting, the atmosphere…..the real life love of ….well – it’s all there, isn’t it?
    I’ll have to pass on Tolkein….many would consider me a Phillistine for not being into fantasy but…..it’s a yard too far for my imagination. A book that totally amazes me, though, is Perfume by Patrick Suskind…..so many ways to describe smell (and not all of them pleasant!)….and I was reading it in transltation which is a testament to the translator’s skill.

  16. Fennie – Glad to hear you agree about Casablanca, and I love your fantasy descriptions. You made me wish I write fantasy fiction 😀 Agree that there are practically no women in LOTR – I think the romance lies in the sense of comradeship and adventure, not so much romantic love. Which is probably why I focus a lot on the (few) scenes with Eowyn.

    Margaret – I’m reading (or re-reading) Rebecca at the moment, and also agree with you about Great Expectations. A fabulous book, although I must admit I really like the David Lean film adapation. There’s a wonderful atmosphere, and we see Alec Guinness in one of his early roles. Also love Amadeus.

    Linda – I’ve not read Perfume, but saw the film and was both amazed by the premise and horrified by the main character. Will probably read the book now (all in the same of research – lol!), because I do find describing smells quite difficult.

  17. I’ve never seen Casablanca and never will – I can spot a sad ending a mile away and life’s too short! Don’t want to watch anything that makes me cry. My favourite film is “Stargate”, it has everything I love in it – ancient treasure, history, romance, adventure … And “Young Frankestein” comes a close second, absolutely brilliant humour! (Although I’m with you on the Monty Python stuff, Jane, but my favourite is “Life of Brian”).
    As for books, my all time favourite is “Cotillion” by Georgette Heyer. No matter how many times I read it, it always makes me laugh. Close second is “Midnight is a Lonely Place” by Barbara Erskine I think, although I have so many favourites it’s hard to choose!

  18. Christina – Hm, if I say you’re predictable, you’ll say I’m predictable for saying so! We’ll have to disagree about Casablanca, then, although I’m definitely with you on Life of Brian and Midnight Is a Lonely Place. Cotillion is on my TBR pile, and Stargate is, well, a bit of light-hearted fun, I suppose. Nothing wrong with that 🙂 Hx

  19. I’ve been pondering on this since reading your post, Henri. I think (and I see Jane shares this one) it’s Dodie Smith’s ‘I Capture the Castle’ although if it was my only book I might get fed up with it. I’m another Casablanca fan, but I think my favourite film is ‘Blade Runner’; Ridley Scott, Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer’s poetic farewell to life – what’s not to love? Mind you, I’m quite fond of ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ too.

  20. Sorry I’m so late to this one Henri. Agree with Laura though re the different books for different ages – and The folk of the faraway tree was also my all time favourite childhood book. I loved Anya Seyton’s ‘Katherine’ (prob spelt wrong) and Mists of Avalon (Marian Taylor Bradford)when a young teen. Older teen – Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. Then as a maturer woman have to confess to rediscovering Pride and Prejudice. Cliche. But remember the first time I read it and suddenly found the humour that had eluded me whilst being made to study it at school. Now I mix such classics with authors such as J R Ward,Sherrilyn Kenyon and Lisa Kleypas(sorry to admit they are American) Believe the Colin Firth P&P film might also be up there under my favourite films. ALthough think my all time favourite film is ‘Truly Madly Deeply.’ Difficult one as I have a lot up there. How on earth did you manage to narrow it down to one of each H? Great post:) Now going to bed X

  21. Lovely post, Henri!
    Jane Austen ticks both boxes for me, as you might expect! But I did love the Lord of the Rings films because we went to watch them all as a family (along with Star Wars and the early Harry Potters).

  22. Julie – Persuasion is my favourite Jane Austen novel too, with P&P a close second. My least favourite is Mansfield Park, because I felt the author never gave Henry Crawford the chance to redeem himself. And Edmund is a drip, let’s face it!

    Chris – I love Blade Runner, and also read the Philip K Dick book it’s based on (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), which is quite different. Always had problems with figuring out the paper unicorn bit, until I saw the Director’s Cut. Then the penny dropped!

    Sarah – I just read Katherine a few weeks ago, after it came with recommendation from several people. Absolutely loved it! And Mists of Avalon too, which I’ve re-read a few times. You’re right, it was difficult to narrow it down to only two, but in the end I chose the book and the film which I feel have had the greatest impact on me, as a person and as a writer.

    Juliet – Thought you might say Jane Austen (lol!), but glad to hear you like the LOTR films. I did too even if the film makers skimmed over certain parts. It’s very difficult to dramatise such a long book, I suppose.

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