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The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren
(Paperback)
Iona Opie; Peter Opie; Marina Warner
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There Are Cats in This Book
(Paperback)
Viviane Schwarz
This is a recent favourite of mine, and another that falls into my ‘Why oh WHY couldn’t I have thought of this’ category. It’s clever from beginning to end. The illustrations are bright and friendly, but it’s Viviane Schwarz’s use of flaps that lifts it out of the ordinary. It’s truly interactive, and I know that kids love it as much as I do because when I opened it to write this piece I found it stuffed with pieces of tissue where a three year old visitor had ‘tucked’ the cats in at the end of the book with extra blankets.

Emily Gravett - 10/11/2011
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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of...
(Paperback)
J. K. Rowling
For me, this is the book where the Harry Potter series really took flight. There’s a confidence at work here that lifts the story, which is far darker and more ambitious than in the first two books in the series. The characters are familiar by now, and Rowling puts them through the emotional ringer as she deftly deals with time travel, escaped prisoners and the history of the terrible events at the heart of her story. It’s a beautiful novel that stands alone while also setting up the rest of the series, and a huge achievement.

Will Hill - 15/03/2012
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Butcher's Moon
(Paperback)
Lawrence Block
Perhaps the greatest of all the Parker books by this great crime writer.

John Banville - 18/06/2012
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Mary
(Hardback)
Vladimir Nabokov
Get it in the recently issued Penguin Classics hardback series.

John Banville - 18/06/2012
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A Moveable Feast
(Paperback)
Ernest Hemingway
The writer recalls his time in Paris in the 1920s, in the company of other expat writers such as F Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.

Barry Fantoni - 11/06/2012
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The Flashman: from the Flashman...
(Paperback)
George MacDonald Fraser
 
I think I read the first of these when I was about fourteen, reading the rest over the next decade or so. Compiling this list has made me concentrate on the elements that go to make up really good, memorable historical fiction. The absolute best of the genre – and ladies and gentlemen, this is that rare bird – combines a riotous adventure with a well-crafted period setting and most importantly of all, an unforgettable character. Flashman is the last, without a doubt: a Victorian coward, a rogue, a womaniser. Fraser’s genius is to have the reader wanting such an awful man to triumph against the odds, despite all his vices.

Conn Iggulden - 11/09/2013
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The Alienist
(Paperback)
Caleb Carr
 
Oh, the suspense! The Alienest by Caleb Carr is set in steamy and corrupt 1890s New York at a time when police investigations were beginning to make use of psychological research and new technologies. The nature of tackling crime is changing, and some proper analysis is required of the team on the case. This book is clever and absolutely compelling.

Sara Sheridan - 19/11/2014
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Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean,...
(Paperback)
Shawn Levy
As zippy and as zingy as one of Sammy Davies Jr's stage routines, full of extraordinary anecdotes. What great fun!

Dylan Jones - 24/07/2012
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The Painted Word
(Paperback)
Tom Wolfe
 
I read this when I was a student and it gave me permission to not take the art too seriously. Because of this book I don’t stand around in front of artworks waiting for it to happen.

Grayson Perry - 12/06/2014
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The Invention of Air: An Experiment, ...
(Paperback)
Stephen T. Johnson
 
I love the dramatic historical approach exploring and upsetting some fundamental assumptions about innovation and the way new ideas emerge and spread.

Biz Stone - 16/06/2014
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Metropole
(Paperback)
Ferenc Karinthy; George Szirtes
 
Ferenc Karinthy was a Hungarian author, poet, playwright, journalist and water polo champion. Metropole is the first of Karinthy’s novels to be translated into English. Budai is a linguist who steps off a plane which he incorrectly assumes has taken to Helsinki. In fact, he finds himself in a sprawling and densely populated metropolis whose residents speak an unknown and language. With no way home, and no way to explain his predicament to people, Budai sets about the futile task of unlocking the local language and finding a way home before his money runs out. I am proficient in every human language, even made up ones, such as Klingon, and Nadsat.

AKH48 . - 29/07/2013
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The Frightened Man
(Paperback)
Kenneth Cameron
 
Deepest, darkest, turn of the century London is the setting for Kenneth Cameron’s The Frightened Man and American Civil War veteran Denton finds himself deep in the middle of a Jack the Ripper style mystery. This novel is in the mould of a classic thriller with a twist and I couldn’t put it down.

Sara Sheridan - 19/11/2014
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Moving Pictures: (Discworld Novel 10)
(Paperback)
Terry Pratchett
There was about a decade when Terry Pratchett produced maybe a dozen of the finest comic novels ever written, in my humble opinion. Moving Pictures is one of the very best, when Pratchett was fully utilizing the Discworld’s potential to satirise our world. Here, he takes on the movie industry, with all of its egos, overnight stars, carpenters and special effects technicians, money-obsessed producers and small-town ingénues who want to see their name up in lights. Clever, moving, and laugh-out-loud funny, this is one of our finest novelists at the top of his game.

Will Hill - 15/03/2012
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Desperate Characters
(Paperback)
Paula Fox
 
A microscopic exploration of the fault-lines within the marriage of well-off, childless couple, the Bentwoods, in 1970s New York, detonated by a series of bizarre experiences that occur after the wife, Sophie Bentwood is bitten by a cat. Tense and claustrophobic, it is nevertheless packed with black humour and startlingly fresh dialogue, that shows all too well how both husband and wife have been numbed by marriage.

Niven Govinden - 06/06/2013
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Resurrection Man
(Paperback)
Eoin McNamee
 
There are two modern American masters who have captured my writing imagination like few others — Don DeLillo and Cormac McCarthy. In this dark and dangerous novel, Eoin McNamee fuses a similar respect for these two greats but adds something meaty and Irish of his own. Resurrection Man is a crime novel of sorts, a riveting, lean, disturbing tale of the violence wrought by UVF gang, the Shankill Butchers. They are led by the inimitable Victor Kelly, who prowls Belfast like a shark in his Ford Capri. This is a novel about the rhythms of sectarian violence: McNamee gives the Troubles a chilling, brutal relentlessness, while his Belfast is a hate-filled inferno. The writing is full of the oracular but it cuts to the bone.

Paul Lynch - 09/05/2013
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