This is a short book which contains several essays Achebe delivered as public lectures late on in his life at Harvard. Chinua Achebe is Africa's most prominent writer. His fiction and poetry burn with a passionate commitment to political justice, bringing to life not only Africa's troubled encounters with Europe but also the dark side of contemporary African political life. This book can be highly recommended to anyone interested in African literature, the history of imperialism and the way in which power corrupts and extends its influence.
Catherine Alliott: Wish You Were Here
When Flora, James and their two teenage daughters are offered the holiday of a lifetime in a chateau in the south of France. This is a middle class family from London. Big secrets are revealed, relationships are pushed to breaking point. The holiday soon becomes a life altering turning point for this dysfunctional family. Secrets, mystery and romance also characterise this book.
Allan Bisset: Boyracers
The story of male teenagers growing up in Falkirk in Scotland. 16 year old Alvin organizes car racing around the town with his slightly older friends. He spends a lot of time trying to gain attention of a girl Tyra. Alvin struggles with dilemma of going to university or staying in his hometown and enjoy his social life. It is the debut novel of Allan Bisset, Scottish writer.
James Brabazon: My Friend the Mercenary
Author shows a brilliant portrait of the chaos that tore West Africa apart. It is a brutally honest book about what it takes to be a journalist, survivor and friend. James Brabazon tells about nations run by warlords and kleptocrats, rebels fighting to displace them, ordinary people caught in the crossfire.
M. R. Carey: Girl with all the gifts
Melanie is a very special girl. She waits in her cell to be collected on the wheelchair for class every morning. Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people help her to move. She thinks they don't like her and jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh. It is heartbreaking and shocking story. It will keep you guessing up to the very last scene.
Rachel Cohn: Dash and Lily’s book of dares
Very nice book for Christmas. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges and waited for the right guy to come along and accept its dares. Is Dash that right guy? Are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook? You must read to find out…
Gil Courtemanche: A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
The book is based on true events and the stories of people who were there, fictionalised and told mostly from the perspective of a Québécois journalist, Bernard Valcourt. He was invited to the country to help get a national TV station up and running. A group of a journalist, upper class Rwandans, immigrants and prostitutes are surrounding a pool in a hotel in Rwanda. They are removed from what is happening in the city which is rape, violence and murder. It's 1994 and civil war begun between the Hutu and the Tutsi population. A country is divided by ethnicity and ignorance, massacres and brutality. A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is a moving, passionate love story set amid the turmoil and terror of Rwanda’s genocide.
Charles Dickens: Great Expectations
In this novel, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman. One day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of "great expectations." This is gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward, the compelling characters include Magwitch, the fearful and fearsome convict; Estella, whose beauty is excelled only by her haughtiness; and the embittered Miss Havisham, an eccentric jilted bride. You must read it!
Michel Faber: The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps
Sian, tired of nightmares, in which she meets a grisly end, decides she needs to get out more and joins an archaeological dig at Whitby. What she finds is a mystery involving a long-hidden murder. Part historical thriller, part gothic romance, part ghost story, it is further confirmation that its author is a singular talent with a unique perception of the universe. The book is recommended to anyone looking for a quick, interesting read!
John Fante: The Brotherhood of the Grape
Author writes with great passion and power about family relationships. Elderly parents of Henry Molise, a fifty year old, successful writer want to divorce. He returns to the family home to help with this drama. Henry's tyrannical father, Nick, though weak and alcoholic, can still strike fear into the hearts of his sons. His mother, though ill and devout to her Catholicism, still has the power to comfort and confuse her children. This is typical of Fante's novels, it's autobiographical, and brimming with love, death, violence and religion.
Nathan Filer: Shock of the fall
A compelling story of grief, madness and loss. It is an extraordinary tragic portrait of one man's descent into mental illness, someone living with schizophrenia. It is winner of the Costa Book of the year 2013, winner of the Specsavers popular fiction book of the year 2014, winner of the Betty Trask Prize 2014.
C. J. Flood: Infinite sky
A truly beautiful book about the summer that changed one girl's life. Her mum leaves home, her older brother goes off the rails, travellers set up camp in the family's field and she falls in love for the very first time. This book is winner of the Branford Boase award 2014
Nina George: The Little Paris Bookshop
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened. After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. This book is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people's lives. You fall in love with this book…
Heide Goody and Iain Grant: Clovenhoof
The book begins as satirical and funny series of misadventures. Based on the premise that Heaven and Hell are run like an office and the Satan isn't hitting his targets of torment. Satan is made redundant, banished and forced to live on earth and deal with modern life.
Helen Grant: Silent Saturday: Forbidden spaces trilogy: book 1
This book tells a story of seventeen-year-old Veerle who is frustrated with life in suburban Brussels. But a chance encounter with a hidden society, whose members illegally break into unoccupied buildings around the city, soon opens up a whole new world of excitement and danger. When one of the society's founding members disappears, Veerle suspects foul play. But nothing can prepare her for the horror that is about to unfold when an old foe emerges from the shadows... Helen Grant is also an author of “The Vanishing of Katharina Linden”.
Philippa Gregory: White queen
This is historical tale, thrilling and fast moving. It explores one of the biggest mysteries of history. It begins with the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. The author gives an unforgettable voice to an extraordinary woman at the heart of a devastating conflict. Highly recommended to read.
Jens Christian Grondahl: Silence in October
A lovely and introspective novel. A man wakes to find that his wife of eighteen years is leaving him with no explanation. Alone in his Copenhagen apartment, he tries to make sense of his enigmatic marriage and life. Memories of driving a cab, quiet walks in the snow, and intense sojourns in Paris and New York pass through his mind in fleeting images. The more he thinks of his wife the more mysterious she becomes to him. Slowly he realizes that two people can live together for years without ever really knowing each other…
Kate Grenville: Searching For The Secret River
“Searching for the Secret River” is a memoir about the writing of Kate Grenville's international bestseller “The Secret River”. “Searching for the Secret River” has become a classic for book groups, students and writers looking for guidance. This book is a wonderful and encouraging story about the journey towards a novel. It took Kate Grenville five years to write “The Secret River”. “Searching for The Secret River” describes what happened in those five years. “The Secret River” wasn't going to be a novel at all in the beginning, but a memoir. But slowly things begin to change and evolve…
It is one of those rare novels that will be read and re-read, discussed and enjoyed for many years, by old and young readers. Jacob Jankowski, just days from the final exams at Cornell University that would have attached the respectable ‘Dr of Veterinary medicine’ forever to his name, had his world forever altered when his parents were killed in an auto accident. Alone, frightened and penniless, jumps a freight train in the dark. It transforms his future. He never intended to “run away with the circus”… This is lovely life story of the young circus vet, to the elderly, nursing home resident that pulls the reader into this fictional world and never lets go.
Laurie Gunst: Born Fi' Dead
The United States in the early 1980's. Among the ethnic gangs that rule America's inner cities, none has had the impact of the Jamaican possess. A truly remarkable classics of the genre...The versatility of Laurie Gunst’s writing, whether from a personal, analytical, historical, creative or academic point of view, is simply outstanding, as is the depth of her research... It is a highly recommended read.
Daniel Handler: Why we broke up
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up. Min is writing a letter and giving Ed a box. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of an intimate and heartbreaking relationship. All these things inside the box is about why they broke up.
Blaine Harden: Escape from Camp 14
A New York Times bestseller. The shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison who escaped and survived. It is a mixture of 1984, Animal Farm and the Nazi Dachau concentration camp. In this prison in North Korea people were born, lived their whole life and died in a vast camp where fear rules through hunger and brutality. In this dystopian novel one man, only one, escaped and this is his story…
The book was a bestseller in France and winner of Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award. Typically Japanese with lovely lyrical descriptions. A very charming and touching story of how a little cat brought meaning to the lives of a young couple who work from home, live in a tiny cottage on the edge of a larger estate in a quiet part of Tokyo. The estate has a beautiful old traditional Japanese garden which they are allowed to use by the old couple living in the big house. One day a stray cat is adopted by their neighbours who named her Chibi, meaning 'little one'… This is a beautiful little book.
A. M. Homes: May we be forgiven
It is a book about 21st century domestic life, about adultery, accidents, divorce, and death. It is terrifying and inspiring book about modern family that comes together
to re-form itself.
Shirley Jackson: Lottery and other stories
A collection of unusual, often shocking, short stories.
P.D. James: Death Comes to Pemberley
A sequel to Pride and Prejudice set in 1803 when Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years and murder invades the family …
Claire Kendal: Book of you
Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there. This book is a terrifying psychological thriller about obsession and power, perfect for fans of
Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep.
Misery is a thriller about a writer who finds himself at the mercy of his greatest fan after a serious road accident. Also try Bag of Bones, about the long-term impact of his wife’s death on author Mike Noonan
Lynda La Plante: Prime Suspect
Prime Suspect is the novelization of the 1991 British TV mini-series of the same name featuring the great Helen Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison. She is an extremely competent investigator in a male dominated police force and nearly everyone is rooting for her to fail…
Ian McEwan: Sweet Tooth
Serena Frome is in her final year at Cambridge and is sent on a secret mission, Operation Sweet Tooth. It is 1972; the Cold War is far from over…
Solar tells the story of Michael Beard, a once-renowned physicist now down on his luck both professionally and in his personal life; The Child In Time deals with the devastation felt by Stephen and Julie Lewis whose daughter, Kate, disappears suddenly and without trace during a routine shopping trip; in Amsterdam the relationship of two lifelong friends will change forever after momentous decisions which both have to make; Atonement, a beautifully-written and haunting novel nominated for the 2001 Booker prize , tells how a brother’s return changes the lives of two girls forever; Enduring Love is a tale of obsession and madness; Saturday, reports a day in the life of a doctor as protests against the war in Iraq take place outside his London home; On Chesil Beach is a short novel detailing a honeymoon wrecked by sexual tension. McEwan’s books are all hard to put down. His attention to detail is remarkable and his novels are very powerful. Highly recommended.
James Meek: Heart broke in
It is novel of social, cultural, philosophical and scientific ideas. It addresses big, serious issues. Bec Shepherd is a scientist struggling to lead a good life Ritchie, her brother, is a TV star with skeletons in his closet Alex wants a family if he could only meet the right woman...One man has the information to destroy them all.
Herman Melville:Moby-Dick; or,The Whale
This book is more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopaedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author's lifelong meditation on America. Moby-Dick is as mammoth, mysterious and elusive as the enormous white whale that gives the book its name. It’s an adventure tale about a man who’s driven to hunt down the beast who maimed him, but it is also a treatise on whales and the whaling industry, a sharp look at class and culture… Beautifully written with humour.
Emily Murdoch: If you find me
A beautiful book about survival, identity, family, love and so much more, It is uplifting shocking thriller about the healing power of love… Fans of Jodi Picoult will love this book. This is an extraordinary debut novel.
In 1592, Donata is a noble girl living in a palazzo on the Grand Canal. She receives no education and rarely leave the palazzo. In a noble family, only one daughter and one son will be allowed to marry. What is the world beyond her balcony? She dresses as a boy and escapes the palazzo on the Grand Canal to see the world before she is shut away…
Michael Paterniti: Telling room
In the medieval small Castilian village of Guzman, villagers have gathered in the 'telling room' to share stories and drink the local wine. It was here, in the summer of 2000, where Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a compelling tale about a cheese made from an ancient family recipe that was reputed to be among the finest in the world. Great book for all who think of Spain as magical country, who consider cheese as the gift of love, who love stories of revenge, redemption, betrayal and despair.
James Patterson: Cross
Alex Cross was a rising star in the Washington, DC, Police Department when an unknown shooter gunned down his wife, Maria, in front of him. Alex's need for vengeance was placed on hold as he faced another huge challenge-raising his children without their mother. There are also other good books of this author: Midnight club; I, Michael Bennett; Bloody valentine or Run For Your Life
Albert Sanchez Pinol: Cold skin
This is one of the best horror books that deals with basic forms of human behaviour. Shortly after World War I, a troubled man accepts a solitary assignment as a "weather official" on a tiny, remote island on the edges of the Antarctic. When he arrives, the predecessor he is meant to replace is missing and a stranger is barricaded in a heavily fortified lighthouse… It is one of those stories that you will enjoy most if you know very little about it.
Erich, Maria Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front
In 1914, a room full of German schoolboys are guided by their schoolmaster to troop off to the 'glorious war'. It is the story of six German youths and their grim experiences during World War I. Powerful novel..
Curtis Sittenfeld: Sisterland
This is a book with a great sense of humour that brilliantly evokes small-town Eighties adolescence. Identical twins, Kate and Violet share a hidden gift. But after Kate inadvertently reveals their secret when they are thirteen years old, their lives are set on diverging paths. Twenty years later Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. Violet is single, and lives a much more flamboyant and eccentric existence. Then one day Violet ignites a media storm by predicting a major earthquake in the St Louis area where they live. Read the book to find out what happens later…
You can also read American wife, the book reflecting on class and marriage. In the year 2000, Alice Blackwell's husband becomes president of the United States. Their time in the White House proves to be heady, tumultuous, and controversial…
Marcus Sedwick: She is not visible
Laureth Peak's is blind. Her father taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers. When he goes missing while researching coincidence for a new book, Laureth and her younger brother fly from London to New York and must unravel a series of cryptic messages to find him.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch
Ordinary day in the life of a prisoner in Stalin's Gulag. It is based on his own experiences.
Muriel Spark: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The story of the relationships between an unconventional teacher and her pupils at a girls-only school in Edinburgh in the 1930s.
Linda Strachan: Don’t judge me
The novel begins when half-drunk Suzie, a rebel in foster care, catching a baby tumbling from one of the burning flats on the estate. Then another fire blazes in the home of Jenna and her loving Indian family. We read about four or five protagonists, each of whom could have set the fire, but the plot takes one twist after another, making the reader suspend judgement until they have heard each part of the story
Louise Welsh: Tamburlaine Must Die
The story begins in May 1593 when playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe is summoned from the home of his patron to appear before the Privy Council immediately. He is accused of being an atheist and recruiting others to his cause. His play Tamburlaine is known as an atheistic and somebody called Tamburlaine is using references to the play in posters, bills and other materials scattered around London. Marlowe must find the mysterious Tamburlaine and prove own innocence…
Lance Weller: Wilderness
Abel Truman found himself on the wrong side in the Battle of the Wilderness during American Civil War. Its aftermath took him to the edge of the continent, the coast of Washington State, where he has made his home in a driftwood shack with his beloved dog, waiting for the scars of war to heal. This book is deeply affecting and emotional…
Will Wiles: Care of wooden floors
Funny novel how things can go spectacularly wrong from small beginnings. Oskar is a minimalist, obsessively clean, tidy composer. He lives with his wife and two cats in an unnamed Eastern European city. When he goes to LA he asks an old university friend to look after his flat. There is an expensive piano, expensive books, a shiny kitchen, an expensive leather sofa and most of all a massively expensive wooden floor which is Oskar's pride and joy. The friend puts a glass on the floor and leaves a small stain. Then life just spirals out of control…
Carlos Ruis Zafon: Shadow of the Wind
When a young lad, Daniel, selects ‘Shadow of the Wind’ from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, he becomes obsessed by its author, Julian Carax. Someone seems to be burning Carax’s books and as Daniel tries to find out why, he puts himself in danger. Set in Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War, this is a memorable and complex book.
Markus Zusak: The Book Thief
A book about death, told from the viewpoint of Leisel and set in Germany in the late 1930s. -------------------------------------------------
OTHER SUGGESTIONS: Scottish interest (author / setting): Kate Atkinson, Iain Banks, Anne Donovan, Peter May, Maggie O’Farrell, Ian Rankin, James Robertson
General interest: Jay Asher, Margaret Atwood, William Boyd, Kevin Brooks, Sebastian Faulks, John Fowles, Robert Harris, Khaled Hosseini, Kazuo Ishiguro, Stieg Larsson, Andrea Levy, Cormac McCarthy, Bernard Schlink, Sarah Waters
Short Stories: Sarah Hall, Shirley Jackson, Kelly Link, Alice Munro, Edgar Allan Poe, E. Annie Proulx
TV/Film tie-in: Yann Martel - Life of Pi; Kate Mosse – Labyrinth; Lionel Shriver - We Need To Talk About Kevin; James Dashner - The Maze Runner; Veronica Roth – Insurgent ; Divergent and Allegiant ; Tom Rob Smith – Child 44; John Green – Paper towns; Mary Shelley – Frankenstein; Emma Donoghue – Room