Reading Group Collection List Updated May 2016


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Reading Group Collection List Updated May 2016

ADAMS, Ellie

It had to Be You

Lizzy Spellman has been dumped. On her birthday, in front of all her friends, by the man she thought was the one. Someone even filmed it, so now she's a YouTube hit too! When she thinks things can't get any worse, she meets the rudest and most cynical man in the world, and finds a new reason for living. To prove him wrong. Love does exist, and she's going to find it.

ADICHE, Chimamanda Ngozi

Half of a Yellow Sun

Set in Nigeria during the 1960s, this novel contains three main characters who get swept up in the violence during these turbulent years. It is about Africa, about the end of colonialism, about class and race, and the ways in which love can complicate these things.

ADICHE, Chimamanda Ngozi

Purple Hibiscus

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili's father, involved in mysterious ways with the unfolding political crisis, sends Kambili and her brother away to their aunt's. Here she discovers love and a life - dangerous and heathen - beyond the confines of her father's authority.


When Will There Be Good News

In rural Devon, six-year-old Joanna witnesses an appalling crime. 30 years later the man convicted of the crime gets out of prison. In Edinburgh, 16-year-old Reggie works as a nanny for a doctor. But Dr Hunter has gone missing & Reggie seems to be the only person who is worried.

ATWOOD, Margaret

The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin describes a risky affair in the turbulent thirties between a wealthy young woman and a man on the run. During their secret meetings in rented rooms, the lovers concoct a pulp fantasy set on Planet Zycron. As the invented story twists through love and sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real one; while events in both move closer to war and catastrophe. By turns lyrical, outrageous, formidable, compelling and funny, this is a novel filled with deep humour and dark drama.

ATWOOD, Margaret

The Penelopiad

The story of Odysseus' return to his home kingdom of Ithaca following an absence of 20 years is best known from Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus is said to have spent half of these years fighting the Trojan War and the other half wandering around the Aegean Sea, trying to get home. But what of his wife, Penelope?

ATWOOD, Margaret

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function - to breed. If she deviates, she will be killed. But even an oppressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.




Jane Austen's final completed work, 'Persuasion', is the story of Anne Elliot and her love for Frederick Wentworth. After being persuaded to break off the engagement, Anne resigns herself to living off her memories. However, years later she meets Wentworth once more, and she starts to believe in second chances.


The Picture Book

This is a family portrait captured in snapshots. First there is William, the factory lad who loses his life in Gallipoli, then his son Billy, a bicycle champion followed by his crippled son Will who becomes an Oxford academic and finally Will's daughter Billie, an artist in contemporary London.


My Animals and Other Family

Clare Balding grew up in a rather unusual household. Her father a champion trainer, she shared her life with more than 100 thoroughbred racehorses, mares, foals and ponies, as well as an ever-present pack of boxers and lurchers. Here, she describes how she learned some of life's toughest lessons through the animals.

BANKS, Lynne Reid

The L- Shaped Room

'Lynne Reid Banks' compassionate first novel examines the stigma of unmarried motherhood in pre-pill, pre-Abortion Act Britain - Pregnant by accident, kicked out of home by her father, 27-year-old Jane Graham goes to ground in the sort of place she feels she deserves - a bug-ridden boarding-house attic in Fulham. She thinks she wants to hide from the world, but finds out that even at the bottom of the heap, friends and love can still be found, and self-respect is still worth fighting for.

BARCLAY, Linwood

No Time For Goodbye

What could be worse than losing your entire family in a single night? 25 years later, Cynthia Archer is about to find out, in this psychological thriller of secrets, lies and obsessive love.

BARNES, Julian

The Sense of an Ending

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. They all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is in middle age and he is finding that memory is imperfect.


Straight on till Morning

The handsome stranger who almost runs Sally Matthews off the road is about to turn her life upside down. Until this date with destiny, she had a very busy and happy family life. She didn't really mean to fall in love.  

BAUER, Belinda


Patrick has been on the outside all his life. Thoughtful, but different, and infuriating even to his own mother, his life changes when he follows an obsession with death to study anatomy at university. When he uncovers a crime that everybody else was too close to see, he proves finally that he has been right all along: nothing is exactly as it seems, and that there have been many more lies closer to home.



The White Russian

Evie, a rebellious young American leaves New York in search of art and adventure in jazz-age Paris, where her grandmother lives. But on arrival, her grandmother's sudden death leaves Evie compelled to carry out her dying wish: to find a man from her past called Zhenya. The quest leads Evie deep into the heart of the Russian emigre community of Paris. With the world on the brink of war, she becomes embroiled in murder plots, conspiracies and illicit love affairs as White faces Red Russian and nothing is as it seems.

BIRCH, Carol

Jamrach’s Menagerie

Jaffy Brown is running through the London backstreets when he comes face to face with an escaped circus animal. His life is transformed by the encounter. Plucked from the jaws of death by Mr Jamrach, the two strike up a friendship. Before he knows it, Jaffy finds himself on board a ship bound for the South Seas.



Guernica' is a debut novel telling the story of two families set before and during the Spanish Civil War, revolving around the bombing of Guernica.. 'A heart-rending yet life-affirming story'

BOWEN, Elizabeth

Heat of the Day

Bowen's imaginative interpretation of the effect of war on the manners, morals and emotions of those not directly engaged in the fighting is drawn from an uncannily poignant recall of the wartime London scene.  

BOYD, William


What happens to your life when everything you thought you knew about your mother turns out to be an elaborate lie? Ruth Gilmartin discovers the strange and haunting truth about her mother, Sally, during the long hot summer of 1976.


The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

A story of innocence existing within the most terrible evil, this is the fictional tale of two young boys caught up in events beyond their control.



The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

This is the story of a woman's struggle for independence. Helen Huntingdon has returned to Wildfell Hall in flight from a disastrous marriage. Exiled to the desolate moorland mansion, she adopts an assumed name and earns her living as the painter, Mrs Graham.

BRUNT, Carol Rifka

Tell the Wolves I’m Home

There's only one person who has ever truly understood 14-year-old June Elbus, and that's her uncle, the renowned painter, Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her once inseparable older sister, June can only be herself in Finn's company; he is her godfather, confident, and best friend.


BUCHAN, Elizabeth

Sets 1 & 2

I Can’t Begin to Tell You

Denmark 1940. War has come and everyone must choose a side. For British-born Kay Eberstern, living on her husband Bror's country estate, the Nazi invasion and occupation of her adopted country is a time of terrible uncertainty and inner conflict. With Bror desperate to preserve the legacy of his family home, even if it means co-existing with the enemy, Kay knows she cannot do the same. Lured by British intelligence into a covert world of resistance and sabotage, her betrayal of Bror is complete as she puts her family in danger.Tasked with protecting an enigmatic SOE agent, a man who cannot even tell her his name, Kay learns the art of subterfuge. From this moment on, she must risk everything for the sake of a stranger - a stranger who becomes entangled in her world in ways she never expected. Caught on opposing sides of a war that has ripped apart a continent, will Kay and Brow ever find their way back to one another?


The Song Before it is Sung

On 20th July 1944 Adolf Hitler escaped death when an assassin's bomb failed to kill him. He found the main conspirators, had them hung from meat hooks & their executions filmed. Axel, Count von Gottberg, is one of those hanged. 60 years after his death, his old friend Elya Mendel leaves a legacy of papers & letters to former student Conrad Senior.



In Patagonia

In Patagonia is a quest of a wonder voyage. It is about wandering and exile. Chatwin travels to a remote country in search of a strange beast and, as he goes along, he describes his encounters with other people whose stories delay him.



MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLESWith impeccable timing Hercule Poirot, the renowned Belgian detective, makes his dramatic entrance on to the English crime stage.Recently, there had been some strange goings on at Styles St Mary. Evelyn, constant companion to old Mrs Inglethorp, had stormed out of the house muttering something about ‘a lot of sharks’. And with her, something indefinable had gone from the atmosphere. Her presence had spelt security; now the air seemed rife with suspicion and impending evil.



In a novel just as beautifully written and packing the same emotional punch as 'The Other Hand', two families meet when the daughter of one becomes friendly with the other's terminally ill son.



The Moonstone

When Rachel Verinder receives a gift of an astonishing yellow diamond from her bitter old uncle for her eighteenth birthday, she has no idea that the stone brings great danger with it. When the diamond goes missing during the night the ensuing investigations gradually bring to light the sinister history of the jewel and the passions and plots of those close to Rachel.


The Woman in White

"The Woman in White" is regarded as the first "Sensation Novel". Walter Hartright's mysterious midnight encounter with the woman in white draws him into a vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue.

DEFOE, Daniel


Robinson Crusoe

This perennially popular book was cited by Karl Marx in Das Kapital to illustrate economic theory, but it is readers of all ages over the last 280 years who have given Robinson Crusoe its abiding position as a classic tale of adventure.

DICKENS, Charles

Bleak House

Represents a city's underworld, and the laws of corruption and delay. This novel projects these things in a vision that embraces black comedy, cosmic farce, and tragic ruin.

DICKENS, Charles


Great Expectations

Traces the growth of the book's narrator, Philip Pirrip (Pip), from a boy of shallow dreams to a man with depth of character. As Pip unravels truth behind his own expectations in his quest to become a gentleman, the mysteries of past and the fate through a series of adventures steers him towards maturity and an important discovery.

DOERR, Anthony


All the Light We Cannot See

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father's life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in. Doerr's combination of soaring imagination and meticulous observation is electric.



It's Jack's birthday and he's excited about turning five. Jack lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures 11 feet by 11 feet. He loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real. Until the day Ma admits that there's a world outside.




Crime and Punishment

This classic, begun as a novel concerned with the psychology of a crime and the process of guilt, surpasses itself to take on the tragic force of myth.


The Seamstress

Sira Quiroga leave Madrid for love only to be left pregnant and penniless by her lover. She falls back on sewing and soon becomes aware of the gossip of women about their lovers and husbands, a position very valuable to the British secret service.



Rebecca is a tale of romantic suspense, written in the 1930s: ‘Mrs. de Winter narrates the haunting events surrounding her marriage to Maxim de Winter and her growing obsession with his first wife, the beautiful, now dead Rebecca.’



Jamaica Inn

Her mother's dying request takes Mary Yellan on a sad journey across the bleak moorland of Cornwall to reach Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. With the coachman's warning echoing in her memory, Mary arrives to find Patience a changed woman, cowering from her overbearing husband, Joss Merlyn.


House of Orphans

'House of Orphans' is a spellbinding story of love and loneliness, of the differences between change and revolution, and of the terrorism that lurks everywhere in times of change, even in our private midst.


Half Blood Blues

1940. In the aftermath of the fall of Paris, Hieronymus Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, is arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He is 20 years old. A German citizen. And he is black. 50 years later, Sid - Hiero's band mate and the only witness that day - is going back to Berlin, where they first met.


The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

It's 1964 and Dr David Henry finds himself delivering his wife's twins. Relieved, he sees that his son is born healthy, but recognises the signs of Down's Syndrome in his daughter's face. In a split-second decision that will haunt their family forever, he asks the nurse to take his daughter away.

( Welsh Language Fiction )

Mynd Adra’n Droednoeth
A lyrical and memorable novel which asks: what is the price of true happiness?

ELIOT, George

The Mill on the Floss

As Maggie Tulliver approaches maturity she enters into conflict with family and community over her desire to be more than just average. Eliot's exploration of Maggie's dilemma makes this novel as relevant today as it was in the 19th century.


The Forgotten Waltz

In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, in the winter of 2009, it has snowed. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for the love of her life.

EVANS, Penelope

My Perfect Silence

'I was four when I killed my baby brother'. Twenty years on and Rose is still haunted by the death of her baby brother. Her father grieved for the baby and for her, but her mother shuddered even at the sound of her name. Rose took a vow of silence and nothing has broken through.

EVANS, Penelope

Saving Grace

Reeling from her husband's betrayal and struggling to rebuild her marriage when he comes back to her, Grace finds her life is unravelling. Soon, however, she finds another being woven around her.

EVANS, Penelope

The Weight of Water

After her husband faces a traumatic event on the underground, Sara Ravenscroft finds herself moving to Devon to start a life away from the city. But it is here in the country that the haunting dream which has plagued her since childhood starts to creep into the everyday.


The Universe Versus Alex Woods

This is the story of 17-year-old Alex Woods, born to a clairvoyant mother and a phantom father, victim of an improbable childhood accident, who is stopped at Dover customs in possession of 113 grams of marijuana and the ashes of his best friend.


Alone in Berlin

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the nervous Frau Rosenthal, the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm, and the unassuming working-class couple Otto and Anna Quangel.

FAULKS, Sebastian


A Week in December

London, the week before Christmas, 2007. Over seven days we follow the lives of seven major characters: a hedge fund manager trying to bring off the biggest trade of his career; a professional footballer recently arrived from Poland; a young lawyer with little work and too much time to speculate; a student who has been led astray by Islamist theory; a hack book-reviewer; a schoolboy hooked on skunk and reality TV; and a Tube train driver whose Circle Line train joins these and countless other lives together in a daily loop. With daring skill, the novel pieces together the complex patterns and crossings of modern urban life. Greed, the dehumanising effects of the electronic age and the fragmentation of society are some of the themes dealt with in this savagely humorous book. The writing on the wall appears in letters ten feet high, but the characters refuse to see it and party on as though tomorrow is a dream. Sebastian Faulks probes not only the self-deceptions of this intensely realised group of people, but their hopes and loves as well. As the novel moves to its gripping climax, they are forced, one by one, to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit.


The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach. Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character.


Madame Bovary

Finding herself stifled by marriage, Emma Bovary throws herself into a desperate love affair and by doing so, sews the seeds of her own downfall

FLYNN, Gillian

Gone Girl

Nick Dunne's wife Amy suddenly disappears on the morning of their 5th anniversary. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. Then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

FORSTER, Margaret

Shadow Baby

This is a compelling, poignant novel about mothers and daughters, illegitimacy, abandonment and guilt, across three generations. It is written in the narrative tradition of her previous novel 'Lady's Maid'.

FOWLER, Karen Joy

The Jane Austen Book Club

In California's Sacramento Valley, six people meet once a month to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they meet marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and under the guiding eye of Jane Austen, some of them even fall in love.  

FOWLER, Karen Joy

We are all Completely Beside Ourselves

Rosemary's young, just at college, and she's decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we're not going to tell you too much either: you'll have to find out for yourselves. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone - vanished from her life. There's something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. So now she's telling her story: full of hilarious asides and brilliantly spiky lines, it's a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice.


Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Amos, Mississippi, is a quiet town. Silas Jones is its sole law enforcement officer. The last excitement here was nearly twenty years ago, when a teenage girl disappeared on a date with Larry Ott, Silas's one-time boyhood friend. The law couldn't prove Larry guilty, but the whole town has shunned him ever since. Then the town's peace is shattered when someone tries to kill the reclusive Ott, another young woman goes missing, and the town's drug dealer is murdered. Woven through the tautly written murder story is the unspoken secret that hangs over the lives of two men - one black, one white. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a masterful crime novel, sizzling with deep Southern menace, and distinguished by brilliant plotting and unforgettable characters.  


The Secret Place

The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago. The caption says, 'I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM'. Detective Stephen Moran hasn't seen Holly Mackey since she was a 9-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she's 16 and she's shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story. Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys' school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place - the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously - Holly found the card.

GASKELL, Elizabeth C.


Cranford and Other Stories

Contains six of her finest stories that have been selected to demonstrate the variety and accomplishment of her shorter fiction, and to trace the development of her art.

Mr Harrison’s Confessions; The doom of the Griffiths; Lois the Witch; Curious if True; Six weeks at Heppenheim; Cousin Phillis

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