Water for Elephants

Sara Gruen 

Water For Elephants tells the story of a young man in the depression era who inadvertently joins a traveling circus. The narrative moves along at a great pace and is filled with interesting historical detail and unexpected turns. Hard to put down!


The Road

Cormac McCarthy

A man and his young son travel the road in a desperate struggle for survival in post apocalyptic America. McCarthy's astonishing prose is savagely beautiful, terrifying and moving. This book divides opinion but if you like it you will love it.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Gaiman's highly anticipated first novel for adults since Anansi Boys. It is a kind of fairy tale and like most fairy tales it explores the strange, dangerous and terrifying world lurking beneath everyday reality. Gaiman begins the novel with Maurice Sendak's brilliant epigraph; " I remember my own childhood vividly...I knew terrible things. But I knew I musn't let adults know I knew. It would scare them." I read this in one sitting.

Never Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro

This extraordinary and unsettling novel imagines an alternate Britain during the late 90s where nothing is as it seems. The book, too, is not quite as it seems; part mystery, part science fiction, part social allegory and part love story, yet not really any of these. It is, though, a compelling, moving and alarming novel, told with Ishiguro's characteristic precision and understatement. Hard to put down or forget.

Half Broke Horses

Jeanette Walls

Half Broke Horses, a kind of prequel to The Glass Castle, tells the extraordinary story of Jeanette Walls resourceful and adventurous maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Born in a West Texas dirt dugout in 1910, Lily is a no nonsense irrepressible pioneer woman whose life is a series of dramatic adventures. The last section, which introduces Walls' young parents, helps to explain her 'unconventional' upbringing. A compelling and entertaining story from a great storyteller. 

Flaubert's Parrot

Julian Barnes

Almost impossible to categorize, Flaubert's Parrot is Julian Barnes' witty and brilliant homage to Gustave Flaubert. I found myself smiling through much of this book. Recently nominated in the New York Times Book Review as one of the top fifty novels of the past twenty five years.


Hillary Jordan

Set in the Mississippi delta in 1946, Hillary Jordan's impressive debut novel explores issues of endemic racism, hardship, love, mud, and more mud. This is a really well crafted, explosive and affecting novel and far better than I make it sound. Winner of the Bellwether prize for fiction.

Blood and Thunder

Hampton Sides

Blood and thunder is the epic, and sometimes shameful, story of how the West was really won. Sides' gripping account is brought to life by a cast of larger-than-life characters including Fremont, Kearny, Narbona and, of course, Kit Carson. This is great storytelling yet Sides never sugar-coats the unpleasantness of nineteenth century frontier life.

The Children of Hurin

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Children of Hurin is one of the greatest tales in Tolkien's epic invented history of Middle Earth. Set some 6,500 years before the events in The Lord of the Rings, it centers on the tragic tale of Turin Turambar, the flawed but multidimensional hero. Tolkien's vivid and gripping narrative balances thrilling battles with moments of introspection. With great original art by Alan Lee, this is a worthy addition to one of the most cherished mythologies in English literature.

Bad Science

Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre's book is a highly entertaining and scathing attack on pseudo-science and the enabling media that promotes 'the public misunderstanding of science.' He examines why otherwise intelligent people blithely accept 'sciency' sounding jargon and attempts to arm the reader with the weapons to detect Bad Science (BS). Some favorite BS targets include big pharma (including homeopathy), cosmetic manufacturers' biased scientific studies and bogus nutritionists. An extremely engaging book, funny and biting, but also informative.