Fantasy Book Picks for This Town

You know when you love a TV show so much that you want to recommend books for all the characters to read? You do, right, it’s not just me?

That’s what happened with BBC’s brand new drama series This Town, set in the West Midlands in 1981 as riots rage and a band forms, inspired by the 2Tone spirit and the Thatcherite shite going on around them. A bunch of youngsters and their families are embroiled in the politics of the day, largely Northern Ireland-related. And the soundtrack is a treat. Some singing along occurred.

So here come the V&Q book picks for almost all the main characters in This Town, with the exception of the ones I really disliked. I assume they don’t read books.

For songwriter and angsty teen Dante, it’s got to be a bit of metaphysical poetry, right? The Poems of John Donne, preferably a dog-eared second-hand copy with many pencil underlinings.

His cousin Bardon, top singer and guitarist, is such a big reggae lover that we’ve got him Marlon James’s excellent novel A Brief History of Seven Killings, re-imagining the attempted killing of Bob Marley. In paperback, stuffed into the pocket of his leather jacket.

Bardon’s mum Estella needs a good cry, and an empowering tale featuring a blues singer who steps up to a maternal role. What better than Alice Walker’s classic The Color Purple?

Fiona learns to play the bass just to join the band, and don’t you just love her for it? This one was easy: Viv Albertine’s punk-rock/parenting memoir Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys, about those three things and life as a woman in general.

Dante’s brother Virgil is rightly angry with the family’s situation. I reckon a bit of Audre Lorde would be right up his street, confronting injustices and changing the world in poetry and prose. Your Silence Will Not Protect You might even be a motto for his own life, who knows?

The brothers’ dad Deuce made me all melty inside. This is a man who knows how to love, but maybe bell hooks could still teach him a thing or two. And I think he’d appreciate the Christian sides to all about love as well.

Drummer Matty would want a first-edition copy of William Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch, purchased from an antiquarian bookseller in Moseley. Sharp-edged, loud and experimental – beat, baby, beat!

Ah, and now to Jeannie, our lovable skinhead girl, music writer and keyboardist. Who would of course absolutely love Birgit Weyhe’s graphic novel Rude Girl, translated by Priscilla Layne. Get your copy here from 29 April.