Some of my favourites…
Thomas Hardy was very much a local writer here in Dorset, and all his books have great individuality, but you couldn’t call them quirky. Except, that is, for The Well-Beloved. Now that is an odd book, with its curious (and perhaps impossible) elongation and contraction of time, in which its hero entangles himself in relationships with three generations of women from a local family. It isn’t the great man’s best book but undoubtedly one of the strangest. Then again, it is set on the Isle of Portland – renamed by Hardy as the Isle of Slingers – and it certainly captures some of the timeless and other-worldly atmosphere of that place. Well worth a read if you’re a fan of the slightly weird.
As with many classics, you can read it for nothing on your Kindle. The Well-Beloved
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
I’m old enough to remember Douglas Adams’ now classic book’s origins as a radio series, and to remember nearly falling out of bed laughing at it, too. It evokes the puzzles of modern life (as they were in the 1970s) perfectly: bewildering modern technology in juxtaposition to the minor irritations of the everyday world. It still resonates today, asking big questions about the universe (it’s full of grumpy, bureaucratic beings, obviously) and small ones about the desirability of digital watches. It’s definitely my kind of humour and my writing is frequently under its peculiar influence. If you’ve never read it prepare to be amazed. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
You want quirky characters? Then take yourself off and find a book by Dickens. Pretty much any of them will provide a rich vein. Dickens created so many – think of Miss Havisham, Uriah Heep, Ebenezer Scrooge – and shed-loads of lesser, walk-on characters, all picked out for their idiosyncrasies. Exaggerated? Yes, they often are. But there are glimpses in each of the essential person, warped or damaged by life as they might be. They are nothing if not memorable. As classics, once again, you can read any of them for nothing, or very little, on your Kindle. Dickens classics