Monday, 19 August 2013

The Big Read 2013 - Let's Make Our Own!

Two weeks ago, I blogged about the first part of The Big Read (TBR) 2003, a decade on. Today I'm talking about those books which would have made the grade, were we to have a TBR 2013. Since the BBC haven't obliged, I thought I'd make my own, although I am not going to go for the whole 100 books! But I'd love you to add those you think I've missed!
I suppose really it boils down to great books since 2003. Well, that and which books have been 'popular' since then.

So, let's start with those which almost certainly would have made it on, whether rightly or wrongly, simply because of their popularity.
Well, the first four of J K Rowling's Harry Potter books were on the original The Big Read - so it stands to reason that the other three would have featured too.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The Twilight series - Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn (for those who haven't read the Stephanie Meyer books, good luck with New Moon - it seriously drags and is one book where the film is far better)

The Hunger Games - Hunger Games, Mockingjay, Catching Fire  -more than that I can't tell you, as I haven't read them, but I realise I am one of the few!
I think generally series did better in the 21st century, so there are probably more of that ilk, but I can't think of any right now, except for the Stieg Larsson books - a shame he died so young - the trilogy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,  The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - he modernised what other Swedish crime writers like Henning Mankell had been successfully doing for years, took the world by storm and deservedly so.

If 50 SOG made the top 100 books, I would weep into my Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc - no, I haven't read it, nor will I. Overhyped books aren't my glass of wine!

Now to those books which I personally think should be there from the past decade.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Shadow of the Wind - now, I've included this although it was originally published in 2001, as a) I think it's a travesty it's not on the original list and b) I suspect it hadn't been properly launched before the 2003 list was compiled c) not enough people had yet read it to put it on their favourites - can't think of another reason why it wouldn't have been on there, as it's an amazing book. For those who love mystery, Barcelona, the Spanish civil war and books, you need this book in your life. (there are future books related to this: The Angels Game and The Prisoner of Heaven

Alice Sebold - The Lovely Bones - as above, released 2002 - needs to be on the list. I don't like sad books usually, but this book was exceptional, told from the viewpoint of a murdered girl, trying to reveal her killer to her family

Now, the next book, The Historian, qualifies on all counts. Not released until 2005 - I cannot give this book away, cannot be parted from it. Elizabeth Kostova's novel about a search for the truth and the real story of Dracula, is unlike anything I have ever read or will read again.

I'm going to cheat and actually drag something up from the '70s, because I had no idea it was this old until I was creating this post and I cannot recommend it highly enough - The Food of Love by
Anthony Capella. OK, it helps that I love both food and Italy, but seriously you will not be disappointed if you pick this book up.  On researching this post, I just realised he has three other novels which I haven't read - how did that happen? Right, off to add to my To Read list - back in a sec...

Two Khaled Hosseini novels would make the list in my opinion (who knows of his new release), but A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner, both set in Afghanistan. ATSS deals chiefly with the oppression of women, whilst TKR deals with the life of  young boy and his role in the wealthy family he is attached to.

Another duo, The Island and The Return by Victoria Hislop, are to my mind, worthy of being in the new top 100. The Island deals with a Greek leper colony whilst The Return is based around Spanish flamenco (OK, again, I have a particular interest in Spain and books set there, but I defy anyone not to enjoy this book). The author's prose is fabulous and you will be able to envisage everything she relates with ease, and empathise.

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld, which features a Freud cameo and a sector set in Austria, is an unusual mystery published in 2006, followed up by The Death Instinct a few years later. Maybe not so many people read this book, but it's their loss!

Life of Pi - Yann Martell - what an unusual and special book - a boy's journey with Richard Parker, on a boat, but who or what is Richard Parker? You may be very surprised. Not surprising, given the December 2012 release of the corresponding movie (fab, by the way), that it's now in the top 300 on Amazon and well-deserved.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon - a book related by a young autistic boy - who saw that coming? I read it by moonlight on a Scottish lochside - I kid you not. I couldn't stop reading it, despite the company of my poor boyfriend, lots of wine and fine food. Fortunately he read it next and agreed with my summation that it was a most singular and compelling book.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - The Second World War narrated by Death. Through the life of 9 year old Liesel and the residents of Himmel St, we learn just how difficult life was back then. A very emotional book - I simply can't describe it, except to say it made me laugh and cry - most unexpectedly

Do you know what? I could go on and on and on and on. There are so many, but I won't. I'm going to simply mention a few more deserving of inclusion and leave it to you to trust me and check them out.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Light on Snow by Anita Shreve
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom

See you back here in 2 weeks for the next book related post - I'm still deciding between three topics, so it will very much be a surprise! Happy reading! Sooz


  1. Of that list, I've read the John Boyne one (of course) - marvellous, and The Five People you meet in Heaven - read it some years ago and can't remember much about it but I remember that it was very good. Have hardly read any of the others you mentioned - only the H Potter's, I think, and I've seen the films of The Life of Pi, and We Need to Talk About Kevin - does that count???!!! Both were excellent, by the way!!

    1. Dammmmm!!! Accidental superfluous apostrophe alert!!! H Potters - slap my wrist!

    2. Get the books read missus! Movie of Life of Pi brill - still need to see movie of WNTTAK, but both books amazing. I've read a few other Mitch Albom ones too. Make you reflect.

  2. Haven't read any Harry Potter,Twilight or Hunger Games (and definitely not 50SoG) but otherwise pretty much read everything on the list..and to my mind they're all so good I'd read them again.
    Of these,Carlos Ruis Zafon floats my boat best of all..

    1. have to say, June, I'm with you on Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Went to see him at the Edinburgh Book Festival 3 years ago I think. Was lovely, down-to-earth guy. Love his books. Have also read some of his children's books. Can recommend also.

  3. I love a list! I would add Roxana Robinson's SPARTA and Sebastian Junger's WAR. For the newest best, THE PANOPTICON by Jenni Fagan.
    I'm crazy about books.