Once upon a time, a long time ago, I wouldn’t have let anyone who wasn’t my English teacher tell me what I had to read. Suggestions, recommendations, gifts, yes – but outright direction, no. But then I moved to London, and in search of a friends, I joined a book club that some people I knew on twitter were setting up. And thus did four years pass, and London Book Club became a monthly bedrock of my social life. And every month other people participated in a democratic(ish) process to choose at least one of the books I will read for me.
We’ve read quite a lot of books in that period of time. I’ve not read all of the books in this table. When I miss a month, I decide whether or not I fancy it (sometimes yes, Art of Fielding, and sometimes no We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves). The whole list is below, but here are my top ten (in no particular order) of the books we have read – that I had not read before.
(I had read The Handmaid’s Tale before, and it remains one of the most important books of my still-young life).
- Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel
- Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
- Girl at War – Sara Novic
- Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal – Jeanette Winterson
- The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer
- Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain
- The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
- The Art of Fielding – Chad Harbach
- In the Light of What We Know – Zia Haider Rahman
- High Rise – JG Ballard
You should read any or all of the above, and many more of the others. Personally I would recommend steering well clear of Idiopathy and The Accidental Apprentice, and regard Fates and Furies and Outline as thoroughly overrated.