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Building Stories
(Hardback)
Chris Ware
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The Hunger Games
(Paperback)
Suzanne Collins
The idea of putting children in an enclosed space and having them fight for survival has long been a familiar trope in human entertainment, featured in works from Lord of the Flies to the movie Battle Royale. Suzanne Collins' series The Hunger Games subverts the format by promoting this juvenile blood-fest from a fringe pursuit, to an annual ritual central to the society in which it is held. Being the most recent work on this list, The Hunger Games embodies particularly modern concerns: the rise of reality television, the lust for fame, and the necessity for humans to be heavily armed when embarking on camping trips.

AKH48 . - 30/07/2013
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The Girl Who Circumnavigated ...
(Paperback)
Catherynne M. Valente
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Embellished: New Vintage
(Hardback)
Karen Nicol
 
This is a very new book, but already one of my favourites. Karen’s distinguished career has included working with designers, exhibiting her own textile art and teaching students. In this very modern and stylish book, she explains how thrifted finds and ancient sewing and embroidery techniques inform her work. It’s a stylish guide to the power and possibilities of textiles and has made me excited about sewing all over again.

Katie Allen - 04/10/2012
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Field Grey: A Bernie Gunther Novel
(Paperback)
Philip Kerr
 
I've been a fan of Bernie Gunther ever since the Berlin Trilogy. After a long gap, I caught up with him again in The One from the Other in 2006, and now I’m moving at a leisurely pace with, I think, still two more books in hand before the next one is published. Field Grey is set in a number of locations before and after the Second World War, but mostly it concerns events during the fall of France and the beginnings of the German occupation in 1940. In this, it mirrors the era of Suite Française, though it’s a completely different kind of story. Bernie Gunther is an ex-cop turned private eye, and his capacity for surviving tyrannical regimes whilst retaining most of his integrity is awe-inspiring! He's also a witty, wise-cracking PI, likely to make exactly the kind of remark that will earn him another twist of the thumbscrews. Philip Marlow takes on the Nazis.

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
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Tom-All-Alone's
(Paperback)
Lynn Shepherd
 
Reading The Solitary House will make you grateful for contemporary plumbing. In between these pages you’ll be right in the thick of all the grime and gristle of 1850s London with sleuth Charles Maddox. It isn’t often a pretty sight, but it is a captivating one. Referencing Dickens and Wilkie Collins, this novel a special treat for book nerds like me.

Sara Sheridan - 19/11/2014
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The Dinner
(Paperback)
Herman Koch
 
Yes, it’s about a dinner at a restaurant in Amsterdam, where two couples meet to discuss the behaviour of their teenage sons. I’ll say no more about the story, but it very quickly becomes a no-holds-barred compelling family drama, with flashes of humour and a number of unsettling revelations. It would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall at this dinner!

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
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Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop
(Paperback)
Bob Stanley
 
If Nik Cohn's book is 'Pop From The Beginning' then maybe Bob Stanley's work should be re-titled 'Pop At The End'. He valiantly attempts to encompass all developments and movements in Pop as captured during the age of the 7" 45RPM single. With the death of the singles chart as a national pastime Stanley seems to imply that some kind of Golden Age has come to an end. Reluctantly, I guess I kind of have to agree with him... you can prove me wrong if you like though.

Jarvis Cocker - 12/06/2014
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The Garden of Evening Mists
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(Paperback)
Tan Twan Eng
Booker shortlisted and my favourite to win (which it didn't). Somehow takes the final testament of a woman with very little time, once an inmate of a brutal prison camp, and turns it into a story of healing and redemption. At every turn it surprised me, and it never lost my attention. Unmissable.

Nick Harkaway - 25/01/2013
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MetaMAUS
(Hardback)
Art Spiegelman
 
I thought that my generation was doing pretty well following Art's example of how to make serious comic books for adults, but this book demonstrates just how pale and paltry our efforts have been; via interviews, documents, photographs and preparatory sketches (and an interactive DVD) it's clear that Art not only created the graphic novel, but that graphic novel may also never be bettered.

Chris Ware - 02/10/2012
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The Times Concise Atlas of the World:...
(Hardback)
Times Atlases
 
The reference book to which I always return, an Atlas proves indispensable during preparations for my global travels. Regardless of form of travel, it helps to ground me at my destination, to know something of the geography and topography of the area I am visiting.

David Levene - 02/09/2014
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The Orphan Master's Son
(Hardback)
Adam Johnson
 
I’ve just started this and it’s one of those books where you know you’ve found yourself in the hands of someone who can really tell a story, and is yet not naïve about the artificiality of stories. The conceit is fantastic: a narration partly told through the loud speakers of the North Korean regime.

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
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Freedom
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(Paperback)
Jonathan Franzen
 
Like Middlemarch inasmuch as this is a lengthy novel about love and marriage that is also deeply engaged with what the author considers the major political issues of the era (here the 'freedom loving' Bush years): the liberal burden in the age of American empire; planetary overpopulation; and the plight of a songbird called the cerulean warbler.

Tim Glencross - 13/05/2014
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Future Perfect: The Case for Progress...
(Paperback)
Steven Johnson
 
Besides mapping the ways our connected society will be both different and better, 'Future Perfect' makes a timely and aspirational case that progress is still possible.

Biz Stone - 16/06/2014
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A World on Fire: An Epic History of...
(Paperback)
Amanda Foreman
 
A hefty book about Anglo-American diplomacy during the American civil war. It sounds daunting, but is a brilliant piece of exposition and story-telling.

Bernard Cornwell - 26/09/2013
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A Foreign Country
(Paperback)
Charles Cumming
 
This is an espionage thriller that grips right from the start. Charles Cumming, author of five previous novels, has a keen sense of character and pacing, and he always brings something interesting and new to the genre. His 2011 novel, The Trinity Six, was an absorbing look at the Cambridge spy ring, and in this new novel the first female head of MI6 has disappeared six weeks before she is to take on the job, and a disgraced MI6 officer is given the chance to redeem himself by finding her. In the meantime, it is imperative that her disappearance remains a secret. Thrilling stuff.

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
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