My six best books
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, one of our busiest leading lawyers, found time to take on an extra workload on the the judging panel for this year's Orange Prize for Fiction. Since January she has read all 75 books in contention for Britain's most prestigous award for women writers. The winner is announced on June 8. Until then Baroness Kennedy has judicously decided that her six best books must remain a collection of her favourite classics.
Her own new, non fiction book Just Law (Chatto & Windus 20) is a penetrating analysis of the current state of Britain and the changing face of our justice system. "It's a book for everyone, not just lawyers," she said.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Penguin 3.99)
One of the greats - an extraordinary canvas of a book with all the human conditions laid bare. I first read it when I was 14 or 15, I re-reas it in my 30s and I am probably due for another go now. Very few people can match Dickens as a social commentator.
Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Vintage 6.99)
As apt as this title is, I didn't read this book until I was already a lawyer at the Bar. This probably made it a much more powerful narrative for me. One of the key books about justice.
Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Vintage 7.99)
This is partially the reason I decided to go into law. It's about a good man, a lawyer, who tried to do the best he can to achieve justice. It is about race, sex and community. He stands up for the rights of the downtrodden and is an inspiration. And now my work is often about protecting people with little voices in the legal system. My kids all loved this book as well.
One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Penguin 8.99)
One of the first books I read in the magic realism genre. I read it in my 20s and found it fascinating. Thinking of it still summons very powerful images in my mind.
Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen (Penguin 3.99)
I have read and re-read this book so many times. The last time was last year when my 16-year-old daughter started reading it and I wanted to refresh my memory so we could talk about it. There are such exceptionally rich descriptions of the social relations and surroundings that you get a real sense of the time - but also the universal themes which make the novel timeless.
Little Women by Louisa May Allcott (Penguin 7.99)
I adored this book as a child as I really identified with Jo - as every little girl does. She wanted to be independent, explore the world and not take the easy course in life - and so did I. It was an important influence on me growing up.