for your consideration

My To-Be-Read (TBR) pile is so big that it’s not a pile at all, but several shelves in a downstairs bookcase. Here is part of it:

This is what happens when your ability to read is outstripped by a compulsion to acquire. I sometimes fantasise about redressing the balance, taking a few months off writing to just read and drink tea. There may come a point where I will justify this to myself as essential to my work, and get on and do it. In the meantime I usually read before bed, and at any other moments I can crowbar out of my day. It doesn’t amount to much – certainly not enough to make a serious dent in the TBR. So it’s especially silly, perhaps, that I sent out a general appeal on Twitter this week for people to recommend recently-published* books they had loved. I just hate the idea that I might miss something brilliant.

I can now say with confidence that this is unlikely to happen. I am comforting myself with the knowledge that, rather like chips taken from someone else’s plate, money spent on books doesn’t count.

CHiPS (I thank you)

Here’s what people recommended. I’ve linked them all to places where you can buy them**, just in case you want to steal chips too. I’m going to start with a few books which several people absolutely adored:

Lucy Wood’s short story collection Diving Belles was raved about by several tweeters. Carmen Haselup praised its ‘incredible writing.’ Jane Smith called the voice ‘brilliantly distinctive…When people ask me what “voice” means I’m going to point them to Diving Belles.’ ’Nuff said.

Lots of readers loved Harriet Lane’s Alys Always, an utterly gripping novel which I read in a day because I just could not bear to put it down. My own two favourite books of 2011 – Jane Harris’s Gillespie and I and Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers – attracted plenty of rave reviews, as did this year’s The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

All the following came with their own passionate advocates; I am reinforcing the bookshelves this weekend:


Adult Fiction

Hurry Up and Wait – Isabel Ashdown

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

Tell the Wolves I’m Home Carol Rifka Brunt

Heart-Shaped Bruise – Tanya Byrne

Canada – Richard Ford

The Memory of Love – Aminatta Forna

The White Lie – Andrea Gillies

The Raw Shark Texts – Steven Hall

Florence and Giles – John Harding

The Hollow Man – Oliver Harris

The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

The Blue Book – A. L. Kennedy

Please Look After Mother – Kyung-sook Shin

The Land of Decoration – Grace Mcclean

This Isn’t The Sort of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You – Jon McGregor

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

Night Waking – Sarah Moss

State of Wonder – Ann Patchett

The Breaking of Eggs – Jim Powell

Hawthorn and Child – Keith Ridgway

The Adult – Joe Stretch

The Beginner’s Goodbye – Anne Tyler


Young Adult Fiction

15 Days Without A Head – Dave Cousins

The Brides of Rollrock Island – Margo Lanagan



Life After Death – Damien Echols



Excisions – Clare Best






*I haven’t been unduly picky about this; it was a very rough rule of thumb. There are one or two I haven’t listed here, just because they’re more than a couple of years post-publication.

**Wherever possible I’ve linked to the Hive Network, which will involve your local independent bookshop in your online order. If you don’t like this other internet shops are, of course, available.



for your consideration

  • Advice
  • author photographs
  • Books
  • Britishness
  • Cover images
  • Events
  • Getting published
  • Jubilee
  • Monarchy
  • Music
  • Personal
  • Politics
  • Vigilante
  • Writing