A couple of times a year we put together a shortlist of books and our (Women Aloud St Albans) members vote on the ones they’d like to read for our monthly book club. The list includes books suggested by our members and those that have been bestsellers, up for literary awards, recommended by other book clubs or popular picks on sites like goodreads.
Members of our Women Aloud St Albans group will be voting over the next week and we’ll let you know which ones top the list. If you’re local to St Albans and want to come along to our monthly book club you can reserve your place on meetup. If you can’t join us in person; we’ll post each time we’re reading a new book….and you’re very welcome to get involved from home by commenting on the blog to let us know what you thought of the book.
And if you’re not keen to be a book critic but you are looking for some inspiration on what to read next. Here’s our first shortlist of 2017…
1. Try Not to Breathe – Holly Seddon
Alex is sinking. She’s cut herself off from everything but drink. When she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, she meets Amy, who was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker never found. Since then, Amy’s as good as dead, her doctors aren’t sure how much she understands. As Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that left Amy in a coma…
2. I’m Travelling Alone – Samuel Bjork
When the body of a girl is found, the only clue is an airline tag around her neck. It reads ‘I’m travelling alone’. Police investigator Holger is in charge of the case and he wants his former partner, Mia – a brilliant but troubled detective – back on his team. Reviewing the case, Mia finds something new. She knows it’s only the beginning. To save other children, she must cast aside her own demons and stop the murderer. [Sunday Times Bestseller]
3. The Muse – Jessie Burton
Since arriving from Trinidad, Odelle Bastien has struggled to find her place, that is until she’s offered a job in a London gallery. Now her life is about to change when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery. The Muse is an exhilarating novel about aspiration and identity, love and obsession, authenticity and deception. [Sunday Times Number One Bestseller]
4. Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
Northern Iceland, 1829. A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover. A family forced to take her in. A priest tasked with absolving her. But all is not as it seems, and time is running out: winter is coming, and with it the execution date. Only she knows the truth. This is Agnes’s story. [Shortlisted for The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014]
5. The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver
Born in America and raised in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd starts work and inadvertently casts his lot with art and communism. A compulsive diarist, he records his colourful experiences of life in the midst of the Mexican revolution. A violent upheaval sends him back to America; but political winds continue to throw him into the unspeakable breach between truth and public presumption.
6. Exposure – Helen Dunmore
London, 1960: the Cold War is at its height. Spy fever fills the newspapers. When a highly sensitive file goes missing, Simon Callington is accused of passing information to the Soviets, and arrested. His wife, Lily, suspects that his imprisonment is part of a cover-up and that she too is in danger. But what she doesn’t know is that Simon has hidden truths of his own, and may be guilty of another crime that carries an even greater penalty.
7. The Secret of Nightingale Wood – Lucy Strange
1919. Mama is ill. Father has taken a job abroad. Nanny Jane is too busy to pay any attention to Henrietta and the things she sees in their new home, Hope House. Left to herself, Henrietta discovers that Hope House is full of strange secrets. One night she ventures into the darkness of Nightingale Wood. What she finds there will change her whole world…
8. The Time Keeper – Mitch Albom
Banished for centuries, as punishment for trying to measure time, the inventor of the world’s first clock is finally granted freedom, and a chance to redeem himself by teaching two people the true meaning of time. He embarks on a journey with a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, and a wealthy businessman who wants to live for ever. He must try to save them both. A story that inspires readers to reconsider their own notions of time and just how precious it is.
9. A Boy Made of Blocks – Keith Stuart
Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex . He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. Something has to change. Eight-year-old Sam is autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can’t solve . Playing Minecraft opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover themselves and each other…When life starts to tear this family apart, can they put themselves back together, one piece at a time.
10. The Forgetting Time – Sharon Guskin
Noah is a little boy who knows things he shouldn’t and remembers things he should have forgotten. As well as being a four-year-old called Noah, he remembers being a nine-year-old called Tommy. He remembers a house. His family. His mother. And now he wants to go home. Two boys. Two mothers. One unforgettable story…
11. Our Souls at Night – Kent Haruf
Addie’s husband died years ago, so did Louis’ wife. Both live alone in houses empty of family. The nights are terribly lonely. Then one evening Addie pays Louis an unexpected visit. Their adventures-their pleasures and their difficulties form the beating heart of this moving story about love and growing old gracefully.
12. The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett
Eva and Jim are students at Cambridge when their paths first cross. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives. We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart. A novel about the choices we make and how one small decision could change the rest of your life.
13. A Year of Marvellous Ways – Sarah Winman
Marvellous Ways is 89-years old and has lived alone nearly all her life. Lately she spends her days sitting by the creek with a telescope; waiting for something. Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the Second World War. When his promise to fulfil a dying man’s last wish sees him wash up in Marvellous’ creek, the old woman comes to his aid. A life-affirming story about the magic in everyday life; the healing powers of storytelling and sloe gin, love and death and how we carry on.
14. A Place Called Winter – Patrick Gale
Shy but privileged Harry has followed convention at every step. Even an illicit affair does little to shake the foundations of his muted existence – until the threat of arrest forces him to abandon his family and sign up for emigration to Canada. Remote and unforgiving, his new homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from Edwardian England. Yet it is here, isolated, under the threat of war and the mad fight for survival, that Harry finds an inner strength and capacity for love. [Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2015]
15. Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon
Bryony has OCD. It’s the snake in her brain that tells her the world is about to come crashing down: that her family might die if she doesn’t repeat a phrase, that she might have murdered someone and forgotten. It’s caused alopecia, bulimia, and drug dependency. And Bryony is sick of it. Keeping silent no more; here she shares her story with wit and honesty. [Sunday Times Number One Bestseller]
I hope there might be a book or two in this list which sparks your interest. And if you’ve read a good book recently, I’d love to know what it is [pop a comment on this post].
Happy reading. x