'The Rings of Saturn' by W G Sebald

In August 1992, when the dog days were drawing to an end, I set off to walk the county of Suffolk, in the hope of dispelling the emptiness that takes hold of me whenever I have completed a long stint of work. And in fact my hope was realized, up to a point; for I have seldom felt so carefree as I did then, walking for hours in the day through the thinly populated countryside, which stretches inland from the coast..... in retrospect I became preoccupied not only with unaccustomed sense of freedom but also with the paralysing horror that had come over me at various times when confronted with the traces of destruction, reaching far back into the past, that were evident even in that remote place. Perhaps it was because of that, a year to the day after I began my tour, I was taken into a hospital in Norwich in a state of almost total immobility.

'Travels With Charley' by John Steinbeck

My plan was clear, concise and reasonable, I think. For many years I have travelled in many parts of the world. In America I live in New York, or dip into Chicago or San Franscisco. But New York is no more America than Paris is France or London is England. Thus I discovered that I did not know my own country. I, an American writer, writing about America, was working from memory, and the memory is at best, a faulty, warpy reservoir. I had not heard the speech of America, smelled the grass and trees and sewage, seen its hills and water, its color and quality of light. I knew the changes only from books and newspapers.

'What, of this Goldfish, Would You Wish?' by Etgar Keret

Yonatan had a brilliant idea for a documentary. He’d knock on doors. Just him. No camera crew, no nonsense. Just Yonatan, on his own, a small camera in hand, asking, ‘If you found a talking goldfish that granted you three wishes, what would you wish for?’

People would give their answers, and Yoni would edit them down and make clips of the more surprising responses. Before every set of answers, you’d see the person standing stock-still in the entrance to his house. Onto this shot he’d superimpose the subject’s name, family situation, monthly income, and maybe even the party he’d voted for in the last election. All that, combined with the three wishes, and maybe he’d end up with a poignant piece of social commentary, a testament to the massive rift between our dreams and the often compromised reality in which we live.

'The Marrowbone Marble Company' by Glenn Taylor

The ground was the colour of rust. Holes the size of half-dollars were everywhere, some encircled by tiny mounds of dirt. This was hard earth, nearly frozen. Dried-up leaves and spruce needles turned brown. A hush had befallen the land, as still as the inside of a coffin. Such quiet recalled a time before timber had framed houses and a church, before pluming hooked in hot and cold, before electricity snaked conduit. The trees slept. The creek was iced over.