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The Lowland
(Hardback)
Jhumpa Lahiri
 
I made the mistake of reading some Lahiri when I was writing my new book and it made me want to give up entirely. I don’t know why anyone else even bothers to write when there is talent like this in the world – she is lucid in a way that is completely impossible to dissect. And this book comes close to poetry in places. Hope it wins the Booker.

Sathnam Sanghera - 26/09/2013
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The Peregrine: The Hill of Summer &...
(Paperback)
J. A. Baker; Mark Cocker; John Fanshawe
The best edition is the 2010 one from Harper Collins, edited by Mark Cocker and John Fanshawe, which also contains Baker’s wonderful Hill of Summer and some interesting extracts from his diaries. Baker draws on both close observation and literary imagination to fashion his startling metaphors and extraordinary prose and has an almost shamanistic identification with the wildlife he responds to so sensitively.

Jeremy Mynott - 13/03/2012
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The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin
(Hardback)
Archie Burnett; Philip Larkin
We already knew Larkin was - is! - a great poet, but this huge volume shows us that he was also far more productive than we thought. Indispensable.

John Banville - 18/06/2012
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Modernity Britain: Book One: Opening...
(Hardback)
David Kynaston
 
I've enjoyed all David Kynaston's forays into the recent past, and this is no exception. It's not just a history of the politics of the Macmillan era, but a social history full of detail and colour, anecdotes and revealing vignettes, of a time when Britain was changing rapidly, when Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told the assembled members of his Conservative party, 'Most of our people have never had it so good.'

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
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The Wisdom of Birds: An Illustrated...
(Paperback)
Tim Birkhead
A superb piece of scientific popularization. As a leading ornithologist the author is committed to the importance of disciplined and testable scientific research on bird behaviour and ecology, but is also (and much more unusually) a real expert at conveying its significance and excitement to a large lay audience. The book is a very engaging and well-written blend of science, history and personal experience. His new book, Bird Sense, has all the same virtues.

Jeremy Mynott - 13/03/2012
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The Complaints
(Paperback)
Ian Rankin
'The Complaints' is the second Ian Rankin novel since John Rebus, his police hero, retired in 'Exit Music', and Inspector Malcolm Fox, the hero of "The Complaints", shares Rebus's integrity and a dogged determination to get the job done. 'The Complaints' is the colloquial name for the section dedicated to detecting the most serious police offences and this Fox does with honesty and persistence, accepting that to work in The Complaints can make you a pariah to your colleagues. Rankin is a master at the integration of setting, plot, characters and the theme, which, for Rankin, is the moral dimension never far from his writing.

P D James - 16/06/2014
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The Disreputable History of Frankie...
(Paperback)
E. Lockhart
 
Frankie is a smart, prickly heroine, angry at being underestimated simply because she’s a pretty girl, and the lengths she goes to in order to prove herself – a series of escalating pranks – are both funny and satisfying. The more times I read this book, the more resonant it becomes. It’s as much a meditation on gender and power as it is a hilarious revenge tale.

Gayle Forman - 26/01/2015
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This Is How You Lose Her
(Paperback)
Junot Diaz
 
I’ve been obsessed with Junot Diaz ever since I picked up The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I think he is the most original voice to have appeared in the last decade. As it happens, I was initially wary of this collection of short stories just because it was so slim. It seemed cheeky to charge so much for so few words. But it totally blew my mind. Funny and moving and incredibly modern – the last story was so good that, as soon as I finished, I read it again.

Sathnam Sanghera - 26/09/2013
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Pulphead: Notes from the Other Side ...
(Paperback)
John Jeremiah Sullivan
 
I was totally blown away by this collection of the new new new journalism, or however many "news" we’re up to these days. I think I like it as much – at times, even more – than Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never do Again. And that, for me, is saying a lot.

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
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An English Affair: Sex, Class and...
(Paperback)
Richard Davenport-Hines
 
The Profumo affair fascinated just about every adolescent boy in the UK back in the early 60s, and I doubt that many of us forget the risqué photographs of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies that were splashed all over the place. This is a thorough and comprehensive look at the affair from all sides, and a fascinating view of the times. It makes for compelling reading.

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
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The Garden of Evening Mists
Foyalty72Special Offer
(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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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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Kiss Me First
(Hardback)
Lottie Moggach
 
Lottie is a good friend, but I only got to read this when it was at proof stage, and it was a very strange experience. I understood where a lot of the references came from, and what the story was inspired by, but I still couldn’t get my head around the fact that Lottie had written it. Leila, the first person narrator, is just so utterly convincing and real. And the story is totally fresh and creepy and brilliant. Debut of the year.

Sathnam Sanghera - 26/09/2013
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The Small Hours
(Paperback)
Susie Boyt
 
This book is only 200 pages long, and I read it all in one go on a transatlantic flight, but it felt like I had devoured 500 pages worth of material. The heroine, Harriet, is such a brilliantly drawn character, properly three dimensional, full of dark and shade and light and contradictions. I don’t know how Boyt did it.

Sathnam Sanghera - 26/09/2013
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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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Where Good Ideas Come from: The Seven...
(Paperback)
Steven Johnson
 
A fresh perspective on the importance of timing, collaboration, and the right setting for ideas - challenging the time honored 'Eureka!' moment of the lone inventor.

Biz Stone - 16/06/2014
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