My selection for the long summer days
Island Song by Madeleine Bunting
In 1940, Helene, young, naive, and recently married, waves goodbye to her husband, who has enlisted in the British army. Her home, Guernsey, is soon invaded by the Germans, leaving her exposed to the hardships of occupation. Forty years later, her daughter, Roz, begins a search for the truth about her father, and stumbles into the secret history of her mother’s life. Written with emotional acuity and passionate intensity, Island Song speaks of the moral complexities of war-time allegiances, the psychological toll of living with the enemy and the messy reality of human relationships in a tightly knit community. As Roz discovers, truth is hard to pin down, and so are the rights and wrongs of those struggling to survive in the most difficult of circumstances.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Magician Ronnie, his assistant Evie, and the interference of others overshadows the successes at an end-of-the-pier theatre in Brighton, 1959 creating an obsession, an understanding and magic.
The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili. It is a novel of the highest order, a masterpiece – as rewarding a read as Anna Karenina.
This is the story of a Georgian family whose wisdom and wealth lies in a secret and dangerous chocolate recipe. The first story/life is Stasia who lives through the end of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Russian communist state. The eight life stories reflect the rise and glitter for some of the communist state, reaching too into the heart of the pograms that continue to this day.
Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi,
Who Am I by Lenny Henry
HOW DO YOU BEAT THE BULLIES AND THE BIGOTS? HERE’S HOW. The heart-breaking, inspirational (and very funny) story of the man who overcame so much, and won a very special place in a nation’s heart.
The Offing by Benjamin Myers (now in paperback). Set in the North East of England in the first summer after the Second World. Robert Appleyard stumbles upon Dulcie and her faithful dog Butler in her ramshackle dwelling, then there’s Romy. I was drawn to reading this novel because I know the area fairly well, my father was a miner’s son from Willington a pit village in Co Durham.
The Secret Starling by Judith Eagle
Clara has lived a life of solitude, homeschooled under her mean uncle’s strict regime …. until now! The day that her uncle abandon’s Clara, leaving her with nothing but a wedge of ‘guilt money’ and a half empty, crumblimg manor house ….
I’m currently reading A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs (proof copy). I’ve just finished A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry, (the sequel to Days Without End) and have also recently read This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay and Grown Ups by Marian Keyes – one of my favourite contemporary authors, whose warmth and wit come through in every chapter. I love The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy …. just gorgeous “A wonderful window into the human heart”.
Alun Ephraim (studying for a PhD at Bangor University)
Currently reading The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili
Recently read Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman (translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler), Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin (translated by Lisa C Hayden), and A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul.
Gwen Hunter I’ve just listened to Not a Diet Book: Lose Fat. Gain Confidence. Transform Your Life By James Smith
The staight talking PT will give you new perspectives not only on diet & exercise but, will give you the kick up the rear to reassess all aspectsof your life. Full of useful, useable information and dispelling the some of the myths in the fitness industry. A great, eye opening listen/read.
Some of Gwen’s favourite reads: Reaper Man, Nightwatch, The Wee Free Men all by Terry Pratchett, The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake, The Scottish World by Billy Kay, Cops and Robbers by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Natasha Savage (currently studying for an MA at Bangor University)
Recently read Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan and The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst Dairy Of A Bookseller by Shaun Bythell and The History Of Bees by Maja Lunde. Both amazing. I’ve recently enjoyed re-reading The Dark Tower:The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King and Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone by JK Rowling.
….and a few more of Our Favourite Books
Ros Ephraim The Dutch House by Ann Patchett,and Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann, Lori and Max by Catherine O’Flynn, Lanny by Max Porter, The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan, Desiree by Anne Marie Selinko, Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer, Blood Ties by Ben Crane, The Hidden Horticultralists by Fiona Davison, Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, The Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, The Familiars by Stacey Halls, The The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, Something of His Art by Horatio Clare, The Long Take by Robin Robertson, I Am Dynamite by Sue Prideaux, Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach, The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, The Box of Delights by John Masefield, The Lion, thee Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis, Craeft by Dr Alex Langlands, Winter by Ali Smith, 1947 by Elisabeth Asbrink, Exit West by Mohsin Hami, The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro; winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature, The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price, Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney, Client Earth by James Thornton and Martin Goodman, The Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore, Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, Persuasion by Jane Austen, January Man by Christopher Somerville, Where Poppies Blow by John Lewis Stempel, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.
Hilary Jones How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn, any of the Merrily Watkins title by Phil Rickman; The Trumpet Major by Thomas Hardy; Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte; The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough; On The Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
Heather Millar The Night Circus by by Erin Morgenstern, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, How they Met by David Levithan
Natasha Savage Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Return of The King by JRR Tolkien, Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.
‘Books are the carriers of civilisation. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.’
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)