It's Friday night. Some very old friends come over. They live miles and miles away, so we haven't seen them for years. We start reminiscing. We also start drinking. Quite a lot. Everyone's going to stay the night, so no one's got to rush home.
My teenaged daughter
, who is recovering from a cold, wanders into the kitchen to say hello. She is pressed into staying. She sits down.
Oh dear. I forget she's there.
"Who was there that weekend?" someone says, trying to remember a party years ago.
"Charlie was there," someone says. "I know Charlie was there because he set fire to the chairs."
The stories come thick and fast. All the terrible tales from our misspent youth – practical jokes that went wrong, walks to the pub in the pitch dark, arguments, reconciliations, celebrations.
These are the edited highlights.
We are laughing so much we can hardly breathe.
And then, when I look up, my daughter is staring at me with huge eyes.
"You're hearing all the worst bits," I say, desperately. "We weren't out partying every night. We were all working hard, of course. All through our twenties. Saving money. Making sure we did our jobs properly. You're just hearing about a few wild nights."
She nods slowly. I can see she doesn't believe a word of it.
Eventually she goes upstairs to bed. We stay up until the early hours.
In the morning, head thumping, I creep downstairs. On the table is a crowd of empty bottles. On top of them is a note from one of our friends who stayed the night but had to get up early.
It's addressed to my daughter. It reads: "Hope your cold is better. Sorry you had to learn the dreadful truth about your parents."
Oh, the shame. I pick up a J-cloth and start clearing up.
- The Enemy
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Enemy-Charlie-Higson/dp/0141325011/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1302104513&sr=8-1" target="_blank"><strong>The Enemy</strong></a> by Charlie Higson (Puffin, £6.99)<br />
There's a sickness creeping over London that affects only adults, turning them into deformed monsters with an insatiable appetite - for anyone under 14. There's a rumour of a safe place to hide - but the youngsters have to negotiate deserted buildings, dark alleys and dangerous underground stations to get there...</p>
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Holes-Louis-Sachar/dp/074754459X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302104541&sr=1-1" target="_blank"><strong>Holes</strong></a> by Louis Sachar (Bloomsbury, £6.99)<br />
Teenager Stanley Yelnats is sent to Camp Green Lake in the middle of scorching desert wasteland. It's a place where bad boys go to dig holes. But before long, Stanley starts digging for something greater - the truth about what the holes are for, and why Green Lake has disappeared.</p>
- The adventures of Tom Sawyer
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventures-Tom-Sawyer-Penguin-Classics/dp/0143039563/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302104578&sr=1-3" target="_blank"><strong>The Adventures of Tom Sawyer</strong></a> by Mark Twain (Penguin, £6.99)<br />
A classic and nostalgic tale set in nineteenth-century Mississippi that celebrates a young man's taste for adventure but also brings out the darkness of the adult world that surrounds him - superstition, slavery, murder and revenge.</p>
- Unhooking the moon
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unhooking-Moon-Gregory-Hughes/dp/1849162956/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302104614&sr=1-1" target="_blank"><strong>Unhooking the Moon</strong></a> by Gregory Hughes (Quercus, £6.99)<br />
Winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2010, this is the tale of two orphans who, after the death of their father, travel to New York to find their long-lost uncle. Football-loving Rat, who has premonitions of the future, is protected by her brother Bob as they negotiate strange friendships and terrible dangers.</p>
- The curious incident of the dog in the night time
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Curious-Incident-Dog-Night-time/dp/0099450259/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302104648&sr=1-1" target="_blank"><strong>The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time</strong></a> by Mark Haddon (Vintage, £7.99)<br />
Christopher, an unlikely and engaging hero, is intelligent and autistic and trying to make sense of the world around him - both a family break-up and the mysterious death of next door's dog. Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year in 2003.</p>
- My swordhand is singing
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Swordhand-Singing-Marcus-Sedgwick/dp/1842555588/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302104672&sr=1-1" target="_blank"><strong>My Swordhand is Singing</strong></a> by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion, £6.99)<br />
A classic Gothic vampire novel set in the seventeenth century. Tomas and his son arrive in a remote village and set up as woodcutters. Then a band of gypsies arrives and turn Peter's world upside-down...Winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2007.</p>
- The Radleys
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Radleys-Matt-Haig/dp/1406330280/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302104697&sr=1-2" target="_blank"><strong>The Radleys</strong></a> by Matt Haig (Canongate, £10)<br />
A family of vampires is living in respectable suburbia, just about managing to keep a lid on their terrible desires (teenagers Rowan and Clara don't even know why their parents are so resolutely vegetarian), when a gloriously bloodthirsty uncle arrives to shake everything up. A witty black comedy.</p>
- Boy's don't cry
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boys-Dont-Cry-Malorie-Blackman/dp/0552548626/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1302104732&sr=1-2" target="_blank"><strong>Boys Don't Cry</strong></a> by Malorie Blackman (Doubleday, £12.99 - Corgi paperback, £6.99, due out at the end of April)<br />
The interwoven story of two brothers - Dante, 17, and his younger brother Adam. Dante's ex-girlfriend turns up on the doorstep with a baby she says is his, forcing him to abandon his plans for the future. Meanwhile Adam's secret gay relationship goes disastrously wrong...</p>
- The catcher in the Rye
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Catcher-Rye-J-Salinger/dp/0241950430/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302104767&sr=1-2" target="_blank"><strong>The Catcher in the Rye</strong></a> by J. D. Salinger (Penguin, £8.99)<br />
A 1950s classic, written from the point of view of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, who is cynical, detached and altogether untrustworthy. The novel begins, 'If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like...and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.'</p>
<a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nineteen-Eighty-four-George-Orwell/dp/0141036141/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302104791&sr=1-1" target="_blank"><strong>1984</strong></a> by George Orwell (Penguin, £8.99)<br />
This where Big Brother started - and the original is much more frightening that anything that's been around since. Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth. Big Brother monitors every move, and the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston falls in love with Julia, and begins to question the Party, he has to face Room 101 ...A nightmarish vision of a totalitarian future.</p>