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Five Golden Apples: Siobhan aka @thehalcyondaysofsummer, shares her Five Favourite Virago titles

Five Golden Apples: Siobhan

Five Golden Apples: Siobhan


As part of our fiftieth anniversary celebrations we have partnered with some ardent Virago fans – each of our six Golden Viragos has curated a list of five Virago titles they adore – five books they think every Virago should have on their shelves.

Our fourth curated reading list is from Siobhan aka @thehalcyondaysofsummer

Is there anything better than sharing the love of a wonderful story with a friend (or stranger) and knowing their life will be made a little more richer for that book? 

These are definitely five books I have pressed onto friends. Sometimes I’ll lend them from my library, other times I’ll give them as gifts. If you haven’t yet read these books, then do yourself the biggest kindness and pick them up!


Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

I’m not one for forewords, I normally miss them and skip straight to the story. But in this case, in Virago Press’s reissued edition, when the foreword is written by the author herself it’s worth the read. It is warm and funny and leads perfectly into her semi autobiographical work. Heartburn made me feel incensed, in love with the world and had me literally laughing out loud {a feat very rarely achieved}. It made me want to cook and revisit New York and watch the movie!

Here’s a snippet from the foreword: ‘Everyone always asks, was he mad at you for writing the book? and I have to say, Yes, yes, he was. He still is. It is one of the most fascinating things to me about the whole episode: he cheated on me, and then got to behave as if he was the one who had been wronged because I wrote about it! I mean, it’s not as if I wasn’t a writer. It’s not as if I hadn’t often written about myself. I’d even written about him. What did he think was going to happen? That I would take a vow of silence for the first time in my life?’ 


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

This memoir of Angelou’s early years is moving and heartbreaking but still full of joy and hope. Be prepared, this isn’t going to be an easy read, racism and child abuse are featured, but you need to have read this once in your life. It’s amazing to read how the power of her strength of character and a love of literature helped overcome the worst of events. 

Since 1983, it has been banned or publicly challenged 39 times – that’s how powerful her story of CHILDHOOD is. 

On a side note, I find it amazing that from this childhood, Angelou went on to write Phenomenal Woman, which is the pump up poem to my life. She truly embodied this poem.


Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery 

This must be one of the top books I’ve bought as gifts for people. The story of Anne Shirley, her adoption by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert at Green Gables and her subsequent scrapes and adventures is the most joyful reading experience. Bookish and wordy, the fiery tempered Anne will have you laughing, rolling your eyes and feeling a little bit broken as she grows up in Avonlea. 

And if you love this first book, I heartily recommend you read the whole series – it’s an utter delight.


84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanuff

84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff

Any lover of books is going to adore this! 

Through the twenty-year correspondence, we see a friendship evolve between the author Helen and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co antiquarian booksellers.  

Written in the form of their letters, it highlights how important a knowledgable and passionate bookseller can be. Funny and moving, I love this book wholeheartedly.


Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

‘Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’ What an opening line! I never fail to get the chills when I read these lines, which I have done multiple times.

This is the book that reignited my love of reading, I remember exactly where I was when I first picked this up in my early 20s and the impact it had. I could not put it down.

This gothic thriller follows the nameless narrator and her new husband, Maxim de Winter as they return after their honeymoon to Manderley, his home. There we meet Mrs Danvers, the sinister housekeeper and the oppressive presence of his first wife, Rebecca. The sense of unease just grows and grows and will leave you dreaming of this story and the characters long after you finish it.

Storytelling at its finest and one of my all time favourite books.


I hope this list gives you your next 5 star reading experience!

Now, if I had to pick one, a ‘Golden Apple’ that I could only ever read again, it would have to be Rebecca. I never tire of her spell-binding storytelling and as I read it at different stages in my life I get something new again and again.


Click here to shop Siobhan’s reading list. Plus, get 25% off when you use the discount code: