My top ten books, part two…
7. Rubbernecker- Belinda Bauer
A colleague thrust Rubbernecker in my hand a few years ago and I haven’t stopped recommending it since! It is fabulous. The main character, Patrick, is a lovable anatomy student with Aspergers who stumbles upon a potential murder. The book has everything you could ever want from a thriller- pace, intrigue and pitch black, laugh out loud humour. The story twists and turns to a truly explosive ending (the type of ending that leaves you shouting ‘no!’ to a character who hasn’t worked it out as fast as you!) Rubbernecker won the Theakstons Old Peculier crime novel of the year award in 2014. I went on to read her Exmoor trilogy/ Jonas series, which I also loved. I was lucky enough to meet Belinda in 2015 at a library Litfest event where she promoted her new book- The Shut Eye. She is exactly how you would imagine her to be, even managing to convince a room full of people to do the can-can around the library… I was thrilled to get my very own signed copy of Rubbernecker. Such a fangirl…
8. A man called Ove- Fredrik Backman
In September 2014 I encountered A man called Ove, an English translation of a Swedish novel by Fredrik Backman. I fell in love with Ove, the miserable old sod, straight from the offset. Hint: all isn’t as it seems. The book was beautiful, making me laugh and cry hysterically, often simultaneously. I have seen and enjoyed similar novels; such as Rachel Joyce’s the unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (this one so very nearly made my top ten- soooo worth a read) but Ove was just something else. In the end I put it forward for our staff training day (lost in translation) and it was the overwhelming winner. On the day we were lucky enough to meet the wonderful Daniel Hahn (author and translator) who opened our eyes to the art of translation. He explained how he had to not only preserve and respect the original voice, but also create a new voice in the translated language (definitely not just copying and pasting it into Google translate 😉 ). Fredrik Backman and Henning Koch, I tip my hat to you both.
9. Let me go- Chelsea Cain (Gretchen Lowell #6)
Now, Chelsea Cain is a dark, dark writer. I’ve always been fascinated by human behaviour- I love trying to figure out what makes people tick- so when I came across the Gretchen Lowell series I was intrugued. The story focuses on the relationship between Archie Sheridan- Detective- and Gretchen Lowell- serial killer. Before the series starts, Archie has been tracking Gretchen- penned by the press as the Beauty Killer- and ends up being captured by her, tortured and yet released. But why? Their messed up ‘relationship’ drives the series forward, but I love that each story is interesting in it’s own right. The stories are dark (yep, I realise now looking back at the list that that is clearly something I like…) and very, very graphic. Not something I would recommend to my Mum. However, I bloody love them. Let me go is the last in the series so far (and probably my favourite)… I just hope that she writes another. Please.
10. The lie tree- Frances Hardinge
I’ve just realised that I haven’t included many YA/ Teenage books in my list, which frankly is a travesty. This year, along with a colleague, I decided to read the Carnegie shortlist, following an excellent YLG event in Ely. The speaker was so enthusiastic about the awards and the impact the books had on young adults (even that they could ‘change their lives’, wow.) that I felt compelled to find out why. The first I read was great. The lie tree won the Costa Book of the Year 2015 and I wasn’t disappointed. The story is set in Victorian times, and focuses on Faith, a young girl on a quest to find out why her father has been murdered. It initially felt very much like a historical thriller, but it was in fact much deeper than this. There are a lot of themes- think evolution vs religion, men vs women, love etc- but it doesn’t get bogged down by it all. I’ve read two others, currently on number four, and so far it is my favourite. Amazing.
There are a few that didn’t quite make the list (because I read them before I started using Goodreads) but a couple need to be mentioned…
1. The complete Maus- Art Spiegelman
I had never read any graphic novels before I started working for libraries.In my eyes they were just like comics- think Superman or Batman. I was wrong. The complete Maus is two graphic novels by Art Spiegelman, a story of his relationship with his father (Vladek), and Vladek’s experiences of Auschwitz and the Second World War. Despite the cartoon nature- the Jews are depicted as mice and Nazis are cats- the story is powerful, honest, at times desperately sad (as you would expect) and very, very important. In fact, in 1992 it became the first graphic novel ever to win a Pulitzer prize. An excellent read.
2. Lost and found (the boy #2)- Oliver Jeffers
Yes, I realise this is a picture book. I am a firm believer that you can enjoy picture books as an adult (no, I don’t have children). They are pieces of art, often stunningly beautiful in fact, with stories that can speak to both children and adults. And I have read a lot of picture books over the years. This is one of my absolute favourites. It is the story of a penguin who turns up, supposedly lost, at the boy’s door. The boy makes it his mission to take him home, but is this what they really want? It is beautiful. Winning the Nestle Smarties book prize in 2005 and the Blue Peter book award in 2006, it was later turned into a short animated film in 2008 (also beautiful). I might have even bought myself a copy at the YLG conference in 2014… Good job Oliver 🙂
For part one click here…