Top 10 fiction
I have listed authors rather than particular novels, because most of the people on this list have written more than one brilliant novel. I do have my favourites, though.
1. Charles Dickens. Bleak House is fantastic, but they're all good. The first page of Hard Times is a masterpiece.
2. Jane Austen. Emma is the best, in my opinion.
3. Shirley Hazzard. Because I've just finished The Great Fire and her wonderful writing style is fresh in my mind. The Transit of Venus is a good place to start.
4. Patrick White. Voss
5. Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn, of course.
6. George Eliot. Silas Marner
7. The Brontes. Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights. Poor Anne's Agnes Grey is wimpy by comparison, although it's just as good as other books by her sister, such as The Professor and Villette.
8. DBC Pierre. Vernon God Little. Apparently his new one -- Ludmilla's Broken English -- is also excellent.
9. D.H. Lawrence. Definitely The Rainbow, followed by its sequel Women in Love. But Kangaroo is good, too.
10. Tim Winton. Dirt Music, but all his novels are magnificent.
Top 10 poets
Once again, listed by author rather than particular poems.
1. Geoffrey Chaucer. "Whan that Aprille with its shoures swoot..."
2. John Donne. "I wonder by my troth, what thou and I / Did, till we loved?"
3. William Shakespeare. "Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising / Haply I think on thee and then my state / (Like to the lark at break of day arising / from sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate."
4. T.S. Eliot. "We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time."
5. e e cummings. "you shall above all things be glad and young / For if you're young, whatever life you wear / it will become you; and if you are glad / whatever's living will yourself become."
6. Walt Whitman. "I celebrate myself."
7. Judith Wright. "This is the blood's wild tree that grows / the intricate and folded rose."
8. Les Murray. "There's a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can't stop him."
9. Kenneth Slessor. "Time that is moved by little fidget wheels / Is not my Time, the flood that does not flow."
10. John Shaw Nielson. "Let your song be delicate."
Top 10 children's books
These are all books I still love to read, as an adult.
1. C.S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the best after The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
2. Alan Garner. The Owl Service, Elidor, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath.
3. Tove Janssen. The Moomintroll books
4. Joyce Lankester-Brisley. Milly-Molly-Mandy
5. Roald Dahl. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, of course.
6. J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter series (since she hasn't written anything else. Will she ever, do you think?)
7. Patricia Wrightson. An Older Kind of Magic or I Own the Racecourse.
8. J.R.R. Tolkein. The Hobbit
9. Kenneth Grahame. The Wind in the Willows
10. Ethel Turner. Seven Little Australians