Book your place in literary history

WHAT is the Borders favourite book? According to the BBC, JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is the nation's most-loved read. But do we agree?

The Borders has a rich literary heritage and the number of book shops across the region testifies to our continued passion for the written word.

Over the next few months we will be compiling TheSouthern's own Borders big book chart.

Whether you enjoy high-brow texts, dark thrillers, timeless classics, magical fantasy or silly satire, we want to know.

To open the cover of our survey we have flicked through some of our own favourites.

And in the coming weeks and months we want you to join in our debate – and also vote for your three best books.

Fiona Scott – sports reporter: "Colin Bateman has become an absolute favourite since Davie Knox introduced me to his work earlier this year. Shooting Sean is my favourite so far. Bateman's droll Irish wit is ideal for this storyline in which hero Dan Starkey's biography of a maverick Hollywood star gives the writer and his family more than he bargained for. Hilarious.

I read Stephen King's The Green Mile a few years before the Hollywood hitmen got on to it and was gripped.

This story is set on death row in a Southern prison in 1935. Both touching and at times brutal The Green Mile tells of the unusual relationship between the cell block's head guard with one inmate who possesses a magical gift that is both mysterious and miraculous.

A Child Named It is the true story of American author Dave Pelzer. This book is a horrifying account of Pelzer's early years through which he was starved and tortured by his own mother. Makes you think."

Mark Entwistle – chief reporter: "My top three books are For Whom the Bell Tolls by Earnest Hemingway, The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, and Canary Row by John Steinbeck.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls is Hemingway's masterpiece of American adventurer, Robert Jordan's experiences during the Spanish Civil War, and it has never been bettered.

"No-one describes land-scapes better than Hemingway – certainly not Spanish ones.

"Hemingway's attention to detail and character is perfect and his short, clipped style influenced generations of writers.

"The Razor's Edge perfectly captures the mood and feeling of the immediate post First World War period.

John Steinbeck is one of America's finest authors and Canary Row is an engrossing and often hilarious study of the colourful figures inhabiting a once-booming, but now bust, Californian fishing port."

David Knox – staff reporter: "You can't beat the current crop of sharp satirists for a rollercoaster read during the holidays.

The racy novels of Christopher Brookmyre, Carl Hiaasen and Colin Bateman will never become classroom text books, but they are far more enjoyable than the stuffy collar classics we're forced to appreciate.

You need to be drunk to appreciate James Joyce and suicidal to make it through Primo Levi – I've been both many times and certainly enjoyed their company.

My top reads have to be – Colin Bateman's Empire State, James Joyce's The Dubliners and Primo Levi's If This is Man."

Willie Mack – editor: "Forget Dallas, ditch Dynasty; pulp Jackie Collins and Jeffrey Archer. When it comes to a rip-roaring read memorably populated by powerful men and even more powerful women, nothing quite matches I Claudius, by Robert Graves. Talk about dysfunctional families. I came to the book through the brilliant BBC dramatization, fearing I would be disappointed. But the book is better: it is a gripping parable of human frailty and heroic survival set in ancient Rome at a time when the empire lurched and stumbled between despotism and republicanism.

"The unforgettable narrator of the story – the stammering, slavering club-footed, painfully clumsy emperor, 'Claw Claw Claudius' is no idiot savant. And the malevolent matriarch of this masterpiece, the empress Livia – what a bitch.

"If travel broadens the mind, great travel books push the boundaries of our imaginative horizons. The book which encapsulates the wonder of travel is Laurie Lee's lyrical evocation of pre-civil war Spain, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. Powerful and poetic, it is a love poem to an age of innocence, which was about to be eclipsed by the storm clouds of internecine blood-letting

"However, if you need to retreat from the travails of quotidian existence and seek sanctuary in a little levity, turn to the master of humour, P.G.Wodehouse. Anything from his oeuvre, but a good introduction is the Penguin, Vintage Wodehouse. Try it with a good malt – what a pick-me-up."

Kevin Janiak – sports editor: "Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is absolutely fantastic. Pratchett's vision of a flat world soaring through space on the backs of four elephants is a true classic. Don't knock it until you try it – Pratchett's turn of phrase is simply hilarious.

Stephen King's The Dark Tower series is what I'm reading at the moment. I'm a big fan of King's work, and have read almost every one. He tends to be scoffed by so-called critics, but his ability to hook a reader from the first page is unsurpassed.

And finally, Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Yes, another cult classic. I read this first when I was at school and thought at the time it was one of the funniest books ever."

We will keep the debate going over the next couple of months culminating in a top 20 readers' book chart at the end of February.

You can email, fax to 01750 21239 or post your choices to Books, The Southern Reporter, The Hermitage, Selkirk.