The Guardian has made a comprehensive and very useful list of 100 books that have shaped our modern world. Now this might sound unbearably dry to some of you (as it did to me) and there are few beach reads here but the way this list is divided into sub-lists ensures that there’s something for everyone. Have a browse and be inspired. Thank you The Guardian!
Scottish novelist Ali Smith published this Man Booker Prize short-listed novel set in the autumn of 2016, in the very same year and season that it explores. Its punch and originality comes not only from Smith’s playful, poetic and non-linear writing style but also from its contemporaneous nature. Autumn is a novel that examines the here and now as Smith tries to make some sense out of a badly fractured post-Brexit Britain.
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‘Magic. Sorcerers. Freaks and weirdoes’. Just some of the dark delights in the tenth instalment of Derek Landy’s bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series. In this latest unholy adventure, Mr Skulduggery Pleasant takes on the daunting task of saving the world, a task that entails confronting the most malign forces of sorcery imaginable, along with the occasional impracticalities involved in being a skeleton.
Claudia Kincaid is 12-years-old, and a bit disgruntled. Bored with the ‘…sameness of each and every week’, she feels it’s time for a grand adventure. Something bold, original, and instructive (she is, after all, a Grade A student). How about running away to New York, to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art? With the Met offering celebratory tours to mark 50 years since publication, E.L Konigsburg’s American Classic deserves to be better known on this side of the Atlantic.
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En route to the Brazilian city of Manaus, a tiny passenger plane crash-lands in the Amazon jungle. Four children walk away from the smoking wreckage, and into the greatest adventure of their lives. In their bid to reach civilisation, the terrified children need to dig deep, to fight their personal demons, and find courage in a terrain where only the strong survive.
Cassandra and Judith Edwards are identical twins. Both brilliant and beautiful; one happily engaged to be married, the other severely depressed. This 1960s psychological drama is an intense read that will bring you into the psyche of both protagonists and show the devastating effects of depression not only on the depressed, but also those around. Brace yourself for something much darker and a great deal more profound than the title suggests.
Great pick this year by the Nobel committee. Author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro wins the highest accolade of all, and, unlike last year’s winner Bob Dylan, is excited about it! ‘Flabbergastingly flattering’ was his comment to the press. Of his eight novels, The Remains of the Day, which has become a modern classic, is probably the most enduring. Never Let Me Go, also made a profound impression on me when I read it years ago. I was less keen on his latest novel The Buried Giant, which came out in 2015 and is reviewed here. I would start with Remains of the Day if I were new to Ishiguro. And there are always the filmed versions of that and Never Let Me Go, both worth your while.
Books screaming out to be made into films
I’ve just been through one of the longest good book ‘droughts’ in my reading career. In the end I decided to reach for a classic, sometimes the only way out, and grabbed hold of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. It’s a short book that is more like a portrait of a community than a linear narrative, but within it are sublime little stories, descriptions of people, places and atmosphere that only an old hand like Steinbeck can conjure up.