Ruth Jones is best known for her outstanding and award-winning television writing — here, she shares the books that have shaped her life.
“My name is Ruth Jones. I’m 53 and Welsh. I’m an actress, a screenwriter and novelist, a massive fan of The Archers, I’d love to run again and do yoga but I have a dodgy knee. I’ve always got a book on the go — I love it when people recommend books, my sister and I are always swapping novels. I am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying Three Women by Lisa Taddeo which I avoided reading when writing Us Three because I thought it might be similar. It’s not! Here are some of my favourite books that have made me.”
The book I loved as a child
Well, I know it’s become very trendy now and it may sound like I’m jumping on the bandwagon since the film is out — but I loved the Louisa May Alcott books, especially Little Women. I have a copy that my mum gave me in 1976, which she wrote in saying ‘Happy Easter, love from Mummy’.
The book that makes me laugh
There are so many — Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the Bridget Jones diaries and more recently, This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. It’s not a genre that makes me laugh, but the way humour can be woven into a story in unexpected, but effective, ways. I think the best laughs come from out of the blue.
The book that always makes me cry
Generally speaking, I cry at anything Jojo Moyes writes. She is a master of tugging at the heart strings until you’re awash with tears. The first book of hers I read was Last Letter from Your Lover — it had me in pieces, as did Me After You. If you give me one of her books, I guarantee I’ll be blubbing in minutes.
The book that changed my life
Never Greener by me. And that’s because it was my first novel and it made me a novelist — I never dreamt in a million years that I would ever be one! So it’s a very special book to me for that reason.
The book that inspires me
It has to be Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. I listened to the audio version because there was something so magical about hearing her tell her own incredible story, the journey she has been on. I met her once at a function in Downing Street. She was like the girl in class that everyone wanted to be friends with.
The book I always go back to
It has to be Thomas Hardy’s Mayor of Casterbridge. I first read it when I was eighteen for A level English, and I’ve re-read it several times since. Superb observation of the human condition, and the way we are with each other — and the hair-pulling, scream-inducing frustration of Fate getting in the way of an easy life. Michael Henchard is one of the most brilliantly written, agonizingly depicted characters ever created. I think Thomas Hardy is a literary genius.