The 50 Best winter reads
Now the weather has turned colder, what could be better than curling up somewhere cosy with a good book? Sophie Morris presents the literary experts’ top choices
Friday 25 October 2013
Joanna de Guia - Owner of east London’s Victoria Park Books, victoriaparkbooks.co.uk
Cathy Moore - A director of the Cambridge Wordfest, taking place 1 Dec, cambridgewordfest.co.uk
Jonathan Ruppin - Web editor for Foyles, foyles.co.uk
Chris White - Fiction buyer at Waterstones, waterstones.com
“An orphaned peasant boy thrives when offered a new life by a French nobleman,” says Jonathan. “One for fans of Andrew Miller’s Ingenious Pain,” he adds.
Hamish Hamilton, £18.99
“Eggers turns his attention to social-media corporations, and, with a plot worthy of the greatest thriller, imagines a dystopian future where their power runs unchecked,” says Chris. “1984 for the dotcom generation.”
“In the bitter cold of a Polish winter, three German soldiers are despatched on a mission to round up Jewish prisoners,” explains Chris. “A masterpiece which explores the complicity of ordinary men in terrible evil.”
Little, Brown, £20
Recommended by both Chris and Cathy. “Tartt’s novel is one of towering ambition, which weaves its divergent strands across decades and continents, into a vibrant tapestry, leaving the reader absorbed from start to finish,” says Chris.
Pushkin Press, £12.99
“A woman trying come to terms with being dumped finds herself circumnavigating Iceland,” says Jonathan.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker. Crace looks back to a period that defines the way we live now, when enclosure caused the widespread collapse of communities.
Chatto & Windus, £14.99
“Three brothers, born in the 1960s, lead disparate lives, but all are haunted by the disappearance of their mother during childhood,” says Chris.
“This takes an unflinching look at obesity through the eyes of a family learning to cope with an overweight family member,” says Cathy.
Gilbert reminds readers she can do, and undo, narratives through impeccably observed and original stories.
Earlier this month, Catton won the Man Booker with this, her second novel. Says Jonathan: “She’s one of the finest writers of our time.”
“A childless couple adopt a young Nigerian boy whose mother had been convinced by an evangelical bishop that he was possessed by an evil wizard,” says Jonathan.
A retired actor, Buffy, tries to make a living running a ramshackle B&B in Wales. “This warm, funny and generous romp of a novel is a delight,” says Cathy.
Simon & Schuster, £12.99
“A poignant, and, at times, harrowing account of Somalia’s descent into civil war, that brings together a refugee girl, a widow and a female soldier,” says Jonathan.
The final instalment in Atwood’s satirical end-of-the-world trilogy returns to her odd collection of characters that are the offspring of scientific experimentation.
Harvill Secker, £16.99
“A bereaved literary professor and a boy from a South Pacific island are brought together in an extraordinary near-future adventure,” says Jonathan.
While American readers argue over its authenticity, British readers can sit back and relish this terrific slice of Southern Gothic.
The Lowland begins with two young brothers on the streets of Calcutta in 1967, and pursues them through the devastating political events of the time.
Melville House, £13.99
“There’s so much going on within the pages of this deceptively tricksy novella, it calls for an immediate re-read,” says Jonathan.
Faber & Faber, £12.99
“Owen Sheers should rightly take his place as the war poet of our generation with this small but powerful volume of verse drama,” says Cathy.
This book examines the cult of love and monogamy through the stories of a number of couples through the 1900s to the present day.
“A woman convicted of murder in 19th-century Iceland is billeted to a farm while she awaits her death sentence,” says Jonathan.
“In the dark world of Scandinavian crime, Jo Nesbo’s novels are darker than most,” says Chris. “Settle down with a glass of Akvavit and prepare for a long night.”
Pushkin Press, £12.99
“This intelligent serial-killer thriller, with a rare female murderer, is based on a real case in 19th-century Barcelona,” says Jonathan
“Harris’s gift for breathing life into historical characters is on full display in this brilliant fictionalisation of L’affair Dreyfus,” says Chris.
Jonathan Cape, £18.99
It takes a brave chap to assume the mantle of Ian Fleming’s Bond, but William Boyd is just the fellow. Bond tracks a warlord through a civil war in a fictional west African state.
“An FBI agent’s crisis of faith is turned upside down by a series of deaths that a deeply disturbed woman claims were committed using the power of prayer,” says Jonathan. “A thriller that ticks all the boxes.”
Harvill Secker, £12.99
“If you haven’t yet indulged in the joys of a Fred Vargas crime novel, you absolutely must,” says Cathy. “This latest outing for the offbeat Commissaire Adamsberg is her best.”
Michael Joseph, £18.99
Jonathan says: “Iggulden got the balance between action and authenticity just right in his previous Roman Empire series, and he does so again amid the Wars of the Roses.”
“Rebus is determinedly centre stage in Rankin’s finest novel for years,” says Chris. “A firstrate thriller but also a forensic examination of contemporary Scottish society.”
Hodder & Stoughton, £19.99
“Ever wondered what happened to Danny, the psychic son from The Shining? Doctor Sleep reunites us with him,” reveals Chris. “A sequel worthy of its predecessor.”
The first Queen Elizabeth is examined again in this revelatory book, which seeks out the private woman behind the public image.
John Murray, £25
“At last, the final volume of the Leigh Fermour trilogy has emerged,” enthuses Chris.
Hodder & Stoughton, £25
Chris says: “A fascinating insight into the mind of possibly the greatest manager of all time, which all fans of the game will wish to read.”
“An entertaining journey through the cock-ups of governments,” says Cathy.
Penguin Classics, £8.99
“Shrouded in secrecy, this could be the most anticipated book of the century,” says Chris. “His legions of fans will think so, anyway.”
Little, Brown, £20
Bluff your way through macroeconomics with this read. Harford explains the global impact of local events.
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £16.99
The Independent’s economics editor reassesses everything we assume about the country.
Granta Books £9.99
“This book introduces us to six North Koreans and what life is truly like living under one of the world’s most oppressive regimes,” says Cathy.
Allen Lane, £30
“A richly detailed history, which never shies away from questioning conventional moral assumptions about the Second World War,” says Chris.
“This lucid account of the death of Baha Mousa, at the hands of British Troops in Iraq, is a deserving winner of the Orwell Prize,” says Cathy.
“No hedgehog is an island, as Isaac discovers when he gets an apple stuck to his spines, and is forced to accept help to remove it,” says Joanna.
Flying Eye Books, £10
“Poor Bear, there he is, delivering everybody’s post, but there is never anything for him!” explains Joanna. “One day all that changes. Perfect for wintry evenings.”
Frances Lincoln, £11.99
“Gracie has a special star that shines outside her window,” says Joanna. “Karin Littlewood’s deceptively simple story is lit up with glorious illustrations.”
“This beautifully produced book for under-10s is the story of Ada Goth, who lives with her father, Lord Goth, and lots of ghosts,” says Joanna.
According to Joanna: “hopefully the first in a new series of whodunnits starring Sam Swann and his trusty hound Watson; this is set in the world of movie making.”
“Hilarious story of Oliver Crisp, who sets off to find his explorer parents when they disappear,” says Joanna.
David Fickling Books, £10.99
“What makes a monster? To her isolated and superstitious community, Rosa is a monster, but online she is whoever she wants to be,” says Joanna. “By turns chilling and moving.”
“Historical fiction with a gruesome twist, Sawbones is set among the resurrectionists and surgeons of the 18th century,” says Joanna.
“The final part of a trilogy about a vanishing,” says Joanna. “A very adult thriller written by an author with absolute control of her genre.”
Walker, £12.99, includes set and booklet
“A beautifully illustrated animation set, with all you need to make a video on your phone,” says Joanna.
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