In this month's Bookshelf we chat with Cherry Denman about whose bookshelf she'd love to raid, the one book she fakes having read, and which book changed her life.

The books on my shelf have the most sentimental value to me are the ones my children still pull out on rainy Sunday afternoons.

The bookshelf in Beijing I would most like a peek at is [Penguin Random House North Asia Managing Director] Jo Lusby’s … all those old, crunchy Penguins.

If you only ever read one book about China, make it Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser.

The book I pretend to have read, but haven’t really is anything Russian, particularly Anna Karenina. Never got more than half way without throwing it across the room. She is an exasperating miserable idiot.

My bathroom reading is cheap, waterproof thrillers, authors like Jo Nesbo and Lee Child.

My subway reading is also Anna Karenina. I like to feel that someone is having a worse time than I am.

I didn’t hide any books before you arrived. All my friends know I have a mind like a garbage truck.

My favorite book from childhood is The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goodge.

The book I’m saving for old age is … nothing. Books are like chocolate cake, I have no will power.

The book that changed my life is Diana Henry’s Cook Simple. I put on 15 kilos.

The character in a book I would have liked to meet would have to be Kinky Friedman: he is a character in, as well as the author of a series of hilarious, irreverent detective stories set in New York. However, I should like to be [Harry Potter’s] Professor McGonagall or [101 Dalmatians’] Cruella de Vil.

The characters in books I’ve had a crush on include Sherlock Holmes, Peter Wimsey, Albert Campion, basically any detective who wears tweed.

The last book I read was The Incarnations by Susan Barker. Loved it.

The last book I bought was a reprint of How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen, by Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake. The expression “eat your greasy bloater” is now a family war cry.

The book I wish I had written is the Harry Potter series. Has to be. It is every book I read as a child rolled into one story.

The book with the best ending is The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. I just have to read “Daddy, oh my Daddy” and I start to sob. In fact I’m welling up now just writing it.

The book with the best beginning is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” So accurate … you’ll never believe where I am typing this.

The book I wish I hadn’t read is Atomised by Michel Houellebecq. The worst book you can possibly imagine. Everyone is unpleasant, the sex is unpleasant, and the writing is unpleasant. Really … if you see it … run.

The book that surprised me most is Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy.

The book you’d like to see adapted as a film/play/ TV show is The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, with Timothy Spall playing pensioner Lowrie and a young Billie Piper playing Meg Finn.

A good book to read during turbulence is Holidays in Hell by P.J. O’Rourke.

The fictional “world” I would you most like to be part of is Harry Potter. I want to be the first headmistress of Hogwarts.

My favorite quote from a book is “I had the liver twice that day,” from Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth.

What came first, the way or the dog? The dog. I am still looking for the way.

Way of Dog is available at The Bookworm and from

More stories by this author here.

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