Book club suggestions
Need some help deciding what your book club should read next? Here are some of our suggestions but don't forget we love to help with recommendations in store as well!
(Although we don't run any book clubs through the shop, if you are interested in buying a set of books for your book club, we will happily order them in for you and, depending on the quantity, can arrange discounts for multiple copies. Please note that many of our suppliers will take approximately two weeks to fill orders, so if you'd like us to supply you with copies for a group, you'll need to plan ahead so that the books arrive in plenty of time for even your slowest readers to get them read before you meet!)
If you can't find what you are after, please contact us via our enquiries page.
The North Water
1859, A ship sets sail with a killer on board. A man joins a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Having left the British Army with his reputation in tatters, Patrick Sumner has little option but to accept the position of ship's surgeon on this ill-fated voyage. But when, deep into the journey, a cabin boy is discovered brutally killed, Sumner finds himself forced to act. Soon he will face an evil even greater than he had encountered at the siege of Delhi, in the shape of Henry Drax: harpooner, murderer, monster.
Longlisted for the Man Booker 2016.
The Midnight Watch
Based on the true story of the SS Californian, the ship that saw the Titanic's distress rockets and yet, unfathomably, did nothing. As the Titanic was sinking slowly in the wretchedly cold North Atlantic, she could see the lights of another ship on the horizon. She called for help by Morse lamp and the new Marconi telegraph machine, but there was no response. Why not? When the story of the disaster begins to emerge, it's a question that Boston American reporter John Steadman cannot let go. So begins his strange journey towards the truth.
Two women arrive in a Spanish village - a dreamlike place caught between the desert and the ocean - seeking medical advice and salvation. One of the strangers suffers from a mysterious illness. The other, her daughter Sofia, has spent years playing the reluctant detective in this mystery, struggling to understand her mother's illness. Surrounded by the oppressive desert heat and the mesmerising figures who move through it, Sofia waits while her mother undergoes the strange programme of treatments invented by Dr Gomez. Searching for a cure to a defiant and quite possibly imagined disease, ever more entangled in the seductive, mercurial games of those around her, Sofia finally comes to confront and reconcile the disparate fragments of her identity.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker 2016.
This well-researched and dazzling novel ingeniously entwines Jane Eyre's iconic love story with Tasmania's Sir John Franklin's great tale of exploration and empire. A brilliant and historically accurate depiction of Van Diemen's Land society in the 1800s, as well as a vivid portrayal of the human cost of colonisation, Wild Island shows us that fiction and history are not so different after all.
J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in post-war America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Hillbilly Elegy is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Music and Freedom
Alice Murray learns to play the piano aged three on an orange orchard in rural Australia. Recognising her daughter's gift, her mother sends Alice to boarding school in the bleak north of England, and there Alice stays for the rest of her childhood. Then she's offered a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, and on a summer school in Oxford she meets Edward, an economics professor who sweeps her off her feet. Alice soon finds that Edwards is damaged, and she's trapped. She clings to her playing and to her dream of becoming a concert pianist, until disaster strikes. Increasingly isolated as the years unravel, eventually Alice can't find it in herself to carry on. Then she hears the most beautiful music from the walls of her house. This novel explores the dark terrain of violence and the transformative powers of music and love.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing
In Canada in 1990, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her name is Ai-Ming. As her relationship with Marie deepens, Ai-Ming tells the story of her family in revolutionary China, from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao's ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989. It is a history of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians, the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai struggle during China's relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to. Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a gripping evocation of the persuasive power of revolution and its effects on personal and national identity, and an unforgettable meditation on China today.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016.
The Summer that Melted Everything
Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: The year a heatwave scorched the small town of Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil. When local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss publishes an invitation to the devil to come to the country town of Breathed, Ohio, nobody quite expects that he will turn up. They especially don't expect him to turn up as a tattered and bruised thirteen-year-old boy. The Blisses believe the boy, who calls himself Sal, is a runaway from a nearby farm town. Then, as a series of strange incidents implicate Sal, and riled by the feverish heat wave baking the town from the inside out, there are some around town who start to believe that maybe Sal is exactly who he claims to be. But whether he's a traumatised child or the devil incarnate, Sal is certainly one strange fruit: he talks in riddles, his uncanny knowledge and understanding reaches far outside the realm of a normal child, and ultimately his eerily affecting stories of Heaven, Hell, and earth will mesmerise and enflame the entire town.
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
Australian writer Dominic Smith brilliantly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the Golden Age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated Australian art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth. In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted to the Guild of St. Luke in Holland as a master painter, the first woman to be so honoured. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain - a haunting winter scene, which hangs over the Manhattan bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner. An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the landscape, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she's curating an exhibition of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive. As the three threads intersect with increasing and exquisite suspense, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerises while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present.
The Guest Cat
A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again. The Guest Cat is an exceptionally moving and beautiful novel and was the winner of Japan's Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, and was a bestseller in France and America. This is great read for nature lovers and those interested in the mind of the writer.
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