Just what were readers from the area reading this decade?
We all love a list and we all love books. As we crawl into another decade, there are multitudes of ‘top or best books’ from this century floating around. Some such lists contain worthy books which may or may not have broader appeal. Wouldn’t it be good to have a book list recommended by RH readers?
And so, in true Family fortunes style we asked 100 RH bookworms to select their favourite reads of the decade.
In no particular order other than by date, we present the RH ‘best’ book list as selected by bookworms from Redhill, Reigate, Merstham Horley and a little bit beyond.
The list is eclectic reflecting the diverse tastes of all the readers who have contributed. It includes espionage, real life, crime, historical and all other genres. As the saying goes: A new year a new book.
Mr PENUMBRA’S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE
By Robin Sloan (2012)
Strange things are afoot at Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour book shop.
Old Knowledge (books) meets new tech in a coded mystery adventure set in San Fran. The mysterious old books lead to a 500-year-old secret society. A left field choice from Nadine Moore. Thank you for the heads up. Ever reliable and so many people have scurried to download this intriguing mystery very much rooted in the present and… the past.
LIFE AFTER LIFE
By Kate Atkinson (2013)
Wonderful. The story of a woman born in 1910 told over and over again through the multiple lives led by Ursula Todd. Strangled at birth, trapped in an awful marriage and meeting Adolph Hitler are just three of the paths that were possible trajectories. Joyful, sad, uplifting and full of humanity. Kate Atkinson is my favourite author of the past decade.
I AM PILGRIM
By Terry Hayes (2013)
An espionage thriller of the highest order. Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist! Full of twists and turns as befits any good spy story. It is difficult to put this book down. a true thrill a minute page turner which is exceptionally well written. Terry Hayes is taking his time in publishing his follow up novel and it will be worth the wait if it anything as good as this debut. Recommended by Redhill residents Deirdre and Jonny both of whom stated this book was’ head and shoulders’ above other books in this genre.
By Hannah Kent (2014)
At the time of publication, the Guardian hailed this book as “The Debut everyone’s talking about”. A dark novel, about an Icelandic woman, Agnes Magnusdottir, sentenced to death, alongside two others for murder. Based on real-life events from the 1830s. The first half focuses on Agnes placement with a local family prior to her execution, the second half on what led Agnes to commit her crime. Recommended by avid reader Caroline Parr, who found it ‘mesmerising and a story that stays with you a long time after finishing’.
By Kirsten Hannah (2015)
The story of two sisters living in Nazi occupied France and their struggles to survive and resist. A gripping emotional read detailing sibling love, friendship and loss. It is a tear jerker that is beautifully written.
A LITTLE LIFE
By Hanya Yanagihara (2015)
A surprise bestseller and a surprise choice some would say. This is a marmite book. A man’s life is blighted by childhood abuse and trauma but also enhanced by friendship and love as an adult. Some found this story exploitative whilst others couldn’t put it down and found it moving to the point of tears. Read for yourself and see.
A PLACE CALLED WINTER
By Patrick Gale (2016)
A Radio 2 Book Group choice and a firm favourite of local TA and Library Assistant Charlotte Stark. The book tells the story of Harry Cane, a shy, eligible gentleman of leisure who marries Winnie. They settle by the sea and have a daughter and marriage does not seem to change much at all. When a chance encounter awakens scandalous desires however, Harry is forced to forsake the land and people he loves for a harsh new life as a homesteader on the newly colonized Canadian prairies. Poignant and irresistible.
THIS IS GOING TO HURT
By Adam Kay (2018)
A huge hit, self- penned memoirs of his time working in the NHS as a junior doctor in the Obs and Gynae ward. The book is laugh out loud funny at times (the strange objects) but also a despairing read as you realise how stretched hospitals and the Doctors and staff who work in the NHS can be. Adam published a follow up in 2019: T’was the Nightshift before Christmas. Recommended by just about every reader in the borough. Karen, Paul and Michael in particular, all of whom are NHS workers in one form or another.
By Lissa Evans (2019) “Old Baggage” is set in north London in the 1920’s. Two women – former suffragettes Mattie Simpkin and Florrie Lee (“The Flea”) live together. Mattie and The Flea had been lon gtime battlers for womens’ rights and were now adjusting their goals of helping to better women’s and children’s places in post-war society.
A wise and witty novel. Recommended by education worker Katie.
By Alex North (2019)
A surprise hit. Dark, disturbing and heart breaking in places. Fluidly written with unseen twists and turns. Most definitely one to read if you love gritty crime and psychological fiction, but as avid bookworm Rachael points out, perhaps not at bedtime and perhaps not if you’re faint of heart. This was picked out as a Richard and Judy Book Group Read. What higher praise could there be!