Taking a summer break and looking for a right good read? We’ve got some suggestions – based on best-sellers lists, personal recommendations and what Kirklees’ library borrowers enjoy.
It would seem that it’s difficult to beat thrillers and crime novels for page-turning, even stomach-churning entertainment. In the past year, the number one most-borrowed book (for adults) in Kirklees libraries was
Ian Rankin’s new Rebus novel, Even Dogs in the Wild. Following the adventures of an Edinburgh detective (20th in the series), it’s a gritty read and has a leading character who is intensely flawed yet fascinating.
The Kirklees top ten is packed with more of the same – NYPD Red from James Patterson, another cop thriller, but this time with a New York backdrop - comes in at number 2, and the same author is also featured with Alert (yet more New York detective fiction) and 15th Affair (murder mystery with a female detective).
Want to read about a Canadian detective instead? Try Abbatoir Blues by Peter Robinson, the Kirklees number 4 book. Or a murder mystery in the Outer Hebrides? Look no further than Coffin Road by Peter May, the Kirklees number 9.
Also in the top ten are The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben; and Jeffrey Archer’s Cometh the Hour. Mr Archer’s book is the only title that can’t be fitted into the thriller/murder category and is, instead, the sixth book in a family dynasty series.
The Kirklees children’s most-read titles are dominated by Harry Potter books and Roald Dahl classics, with two recent Jeff Kinney titles in his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
Both Waterstones and WH Smith’s best-sellers lists are also heavy with adult thrillers (and books with the word ‘girl’ in the title). We’ve picked out half a dozen top performers, including a couple of novels for young people/children.
Before You Go by Clare Swatman: The author’s debut novel is a love story with a twist. Newly weds Ed and Zoe are together at the beginning of the story but after Ed dies in an accident, Zoe must face quite a different life from the one she had mapped out. It’s a tale of love and loss and has been described as an easy read and in the same mould as the The Time Traveller’s Wife and Me Before You.
The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse: A well-researched historical mystery story for teen readers set in occupied Amsterdam during WWII. A Dutch girl is making a living delivering black market goods when she is asked to help find a missing Jewish girl. Based on the work of a real-life resistance group, it’s a tale of courage that captures the atmosphere of wartime occupation.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena: A new mother and her husband accept an invitation to dinner at a neighbour’s house, leaving their infant at home with a baby monitor running. When they return, the unthinkable has happened and baby Cora has gone. Suspicion starts to fall on those around them as the nightmare unfolds. Perhaps the strength of this novel is that there have been real-life high profile cases just like this in recent years.
The Boys in The Boat by Daniel James Brown: The true story of the US rowing team’s victory in Hitler’s 1936 Olympics told through poor-boy-made-good Joe Rantz, who faced enormous difficulties to become a sporting hero. Set in the Great Depression, this is a tale of success against all the odds, painstakingly pieced together from interviews, journals and logs. It’s being made into a film.
Wintersong by S Jae-Jones: A fantasy novel for young readers set in a world where a Goblin King rules an underground realm and offers his hand in marriage to a musical prodigy Liesl in return for releasing her sister. There’s mystery, magic and plenty of hidden secrets for Liesl to discover as she learns to live in the Goblin realm.
The Crossing, Michael Connelly: Number seven in the Kirklees readers’ top ten, this crime fiction ‘stars’ former Los Angeles Police Department cop Harry Bosch, who is suing his former employers for forcing him out of a job while simultaneously helping to build a defence case in a murder trial. It’s a murder mystery with complications.
* Recommended read for children.
Huddersfield poet and children’s author Gez Walsh says every family going on holiday should pack a copy of The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, the first of four books that introduced the world to feisty Tiffany Aching, the nine-year-old “with the cunning and temperament of an 80-year-old woman”.
He writes: “She has to save her brother – not because she loves him, in fact she doesn’t care for him all that much – but, he belongs to her and she always takes back what’s hers. Where other girls might sit and cry for the help of their parents, Tiffany gets angry.
“Pratchett never tried to patronise young readers, he writes with panache and intelligence and takes the reader on a journey where they easily identify with some characters instantly and realise who other characters are based on as they journey through life.” Gez has written several children’s books, published by The King’s England Press.
* Recommended read for adults.
Honley drama teacher and director of the Dick & Lottie Theatre Company John Cotgrave says he will be re-reading Maya Angelou’s 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings on holiday this summer. It is the earliest of several autobiographies by the American poet and civil rights activist.
He explains: “I first read the book 19 years ago when I was 16 and didn’t fully appreciate the story it was telling me. I thought it was time to read it again. It’s always been one of those books that everyone, I think, should read, along with To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple and Catcher in the Rye.
“It charts the early years of Maya Angelou; a roller-coaster of events in such a young life, including the traumatic moment her innocence is violently taken from her. She charts the tender and amusing relationship she has with her brother, and the loss and rejections by both parents.”