Stop reading now if you:
– like science fiction, fantasy – all those typically boy books that I wouldn’t read if you paid me
– read only the classics. We’d all like to think English teachers sit at home reading ‘Jane Eyre’ et al and having text chats about the genius of Shakespeare but it just isn’t true. Sorry to burst that bubble.
– don’t like nicely written chick lit or crime. Because that’s pretty much all I read.
– would want these to be my favourite books of all time, which would be a whole different list, and would consist mostly of Jeanette Winterson and Janice Galloway, before any of you judge my reading habits….
In no particular order:
1. Jojo Moyes, ‘The Ship of Brides.’ The woman can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. You might not love the slightly twee title, but I defy anyone to not love the story of the brides and their fates. If you’d prefer to sob into a tissue for the evening, try ‘Me Before You’ instead.
2. Lisa Jewell, ‘The House I Grew Up in.’ It’s tough to choose one, but the story of the frankly mental Lorelei and her assorted equally unhinged offspring is compelling. Her latest offering, ‘The Third Wife’ runs it a close second for characters you don’t want to let go of.
3. Diane Chamberlain, ‘Necessary Lies.’ Loved it. Based on real life cases of compulsory sterilisation in 1950s America, she does a brilliant job of creating sympathy for her poor, under-privileged characters whose choice to have children is removed from them. I love Diane Chamberlain, especially via her Facebook page, where she asks her readers research questions. I’m enough of a geek to feel quite thrilled about being involved in the writing of an actual book.
4. Laura Lippman, ‘Every Secret Thing.’ Two children decide to take a baby in a pram on their way home from a party- the story begins years later on their release from jail, and still no one knows the full story. Mesmerising.
5. Sophie Hannah, ‘Little Face.’ Before she started writing novels that I’ve read six times and still don’t understand what the hell happened, Sophie Hannah produced this amazingly clever psychological thriller.
6. Emma Donaghue, ‘Room.’ This book deserves to be all by itself because in terms of quality it’s a cut above everything else on this list. If before I’d read it you’d told me it was a book narrated by a five year old about abduction and abuse, I would have run for the hills. And I’m so glad I didn’t, because it is a work of art. There is no mother alive that could fail to be moved by the relationship between Jack and his mother, still only really a child herself.
7. Liane Moriarty, ‘Little Lies.’ Liane Moriarty gets better and better, and this is my favourite. You’ll recognise every mother in it (especially yourself) and it all gets a bit dark. That’s probably because school gate politics are dark. Really very dark.
8. Charity Norman, ‘The Son in Law.’ This writer is very JoJo Moyes-esque, and this is the best of her books. Like all the above writers, she manages to garner sympathy for all of her characters, even the ones on supposing opposite sides.
9. Louise Candlish, ‘Since I Don’t Have You.’ Much as I love this book, I also find it harrowing. A child dies. It’s narrated by her mother. You might well want to stop there.
10. Emily Barr, ‘Cuban Heels.’ The main character is, admittedly, a bit mad, and develops rapidly into a stalker, but this is a hugely enjoyable and entertaining read for all that.