My Reading List

A writer’s reading list

A voracious reader, I usually consume at least two books a week and always carry two with me wherever I go, in case of emergencies. If I accidentally leave the house without a book, I have to turn back and fetch one.

I also read New Scientist magazine every week. In a world where ‘alternative facts’ – in other words lies – are far too common, it’s the only reliable source of the truth about a huge range of subjects from economics, space travel and robotics to conservation, politics, climate change, AI, the human psyche and brain, quantum physics, computing, engineering, medicine, genomics… you name it.

2017 reading list – Here’s what I’ve read so far this year

  1. The Golden Hour by William Nicholson
  2. Frailty by Betsy Rawley
  3. War, Spies and Bobby Sox – A WW2 trilogy by Libby Hellmann
  4. All The Hopeful Lovers by William Nicholson
  5. Mad and Rich by William Nicholson
  6. The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life by William Nicholson
  7. Every Woman Knows a Secret by Rosie Thomas
  8. The Moment You Were Gone by Nicci Gerrard
  9. The Heat of Betrayal by Dougles Kennedy
  10. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
  11. The Fifth Summer by Titia Sutherland
  12. This Much I Know Is True by Wally Lamb
  13. Breaking the Trust by Lucy Clare
  14. Everything You Know by Zoe Heller
  15. The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle
  16. Porky by Deborah Moggach
  17. These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach
  18. The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell
  19. The Girls by Lisa Jewell
  20. The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell
  21. I Found You by Lisa Jewell
  22. The Summer of Secrets by Martina Reilly
  23. The Nick of Time by Francis King
  24. Mirage by Andrea Newman
  25. Summer Secrets by Jane Green
  26. Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
  27. Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant
  28. May We Be Forgiven by A. M Homes
  29. Turning Thirty by Mike Gayle
  30. Disclaimer by Renee Knight
  31. The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
  32. Under the Lake by Stuart Woods
  33. My Lover’s Lover by Maggie O’Farrell
  34. After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell
  35. This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
  36. Into The Water by Paula Hawkins
  37. The Twilight Hour by Nicci Gerrard
  38. A Burnt-Out Case by Graham Greene
  39. I Let You Go by Clare Macintosh
  40. Where They Found Her by Kimberley McCreight
  41. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  42. The War Between the Tates by Alison Lurie
  43. The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
  44. The Sundowners by Jon Cleary
  45. Family Pictures by Jane Green

2016 reading list

  1. Beneath the Skin by Nicci French
  2. The Unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett and Gray Joliffe
  3. The Book Club by Elizabeth Noble
  4. So Much for That by Lionel Shriver
  5. Missing Persons by Nicci Gerrard
  6. Solace by Nicci Gerrard
  7. The Winter House by Nicci Gerrard
  8. The Moment You Were Gone by Nicci Gerrard
  9. The Twilight Hour by Nicci Gerrard
  10. Things We Knew Were True by Nicci Gerrard
  11. Saving Grace by Jane Green
  12. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  13. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  14. Second Chance by Jane Green
  15. Family Pictures by Jane green
  16. Summer Secrets by Jane Green
  17. The Second Wife by Elizabeth Buchan
  18. Incendiary by Chris Cleve
  19. The Other Hand by Chris Cleve
  20. One Day by David Nicholls
  21. Natural Flights of the Human Mind by Clare Morrall
  22. The Language of Others by Clare Morrall
  23. Blue Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris
  24. Paperback Raita by William Rhode
  25. Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French
  26. Thursday’s Children by Nicci French
  27. Runaway by Lucy Irvine
  28. Eden Close by Anita Shreve
  29. Seesaw by Deborah Moggach
  30. Catch Me When I Fall by Nicci French
  31. Asking for Trouble by Ann Granger
  32. Keeping Bad Company by Ann Granger
  33. Running Scared by Ann Granger
  34. A Spanish Lover by Joanna Trollope
  35. Improvising Carla by Joanna Hines
  36. Seduction Theory by Thomas Beller
  37. Visitors by Anita Brookner
  38. Silence and Shadows by James Long
  39. The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
  40. Knowing Max by James Long
  41. The Balloonist by James Long
  42. Flowers Won’t Fax by Sarah Harrison
  43. The Lives She Left Behind by James Long
  44. The Sunlit Garden by Francis King
  45. Heart of the River by Carolyn Slaughter
  46. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
  47. The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn
  48. A Perfectly Good Family by Lionel Shriver
  49. Leaving the World by Douglas Kennedy
  50. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  51. K-Pax by Gene Brewer
  52. Involved by Kate O’Riordan
  53. The Other Family by Joanna Trollope
  54. Lovely by Frank Ronan
  55. Where They Found Her by Kimberley McCreight
  56. Hit and Run by Doug Johnstone
  57. A Novel on the Edge of the World by Tom Davis
  58. Crime novellas: And Then She Was Gone by J Daniel Sawyer, Code Blues by Melissa Yuan-Innes and Cold Call by Dean Wesley Smith
  59. Fatal Destiny by David DeLee
  60. A Fatal Twist of Lemon by Patrice Greenwood
  61. Playing with Matches by Julie Hyzy
  62. The Night and the Music by Lawrence Block
  63. The Job by Douglas Kennedy
  64. The Moment by Douglas Kennedy
  65. The Heat of Betrayal by Douglas Kennedy
  66. The Overlook by Michael Connelly
  67. Till We Meet Again by Lesley Pearce
  68. Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes
  69. You Against Me by Jenny Downham
  70. In the Dark by Mark Billingham
  71. Buried by Mark Billingham
  72. Dreamer by Peter James
  73. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
  74. The Chosen One by Sam Bourne
  75. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
  76. The Confession by John Grisham
  77. The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop
  78. Garnethill by Denise Mina
  79. The War Between the Tates by Alison Lurie
  80. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
  81. Callisto by Torsten Krol
  82. Wish I Was Here by Jackie Kay
  83. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  84. Disclaimer by Renee Knight
  85. The Ghost by Robert Harris
  86. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
  87. The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson
  88. The Sorrows of an American by Siri Hustvedt
  89. The Great Indoors by Sabine Durrant
  90. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  91. Privileges by Jonathan Dee
  92. Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
  93. One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
  94. Becoming Strangers by Louise Dean
  95. Twenty One Locks by Laura Barton
  96. Holes by Louis Sachar
  97. The Long Firm by Jake Arnott
  98. Things we Knew Were true by Nicci Gerrard
  99. Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
  100. Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt
  101. Long Time Coming by Edie Claire
  102. The Day You Saved my Life by Louise Candlish
  103. Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes
  104. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  105. Confessions of a Fallen Angel by Ronan O’Brien
  106. The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
  107. The House of Elliott by Jean Marsh
  108. Adam and Eve & Pinch Me by Ruth Rendell

2015 reading list

  1. The Little Book of Gemstones by Steve Bennett
  2. Walking in England – by the AA
  3. Landfall by Nevil Shute
  4. Marrying the Mistress by Joanna Trollope
  5. Confessions of a Psychopath by M E Thomas
  6. Next of Kin by Joanna Trollope
  7. Incendiary by Chris Cleve
  8. Night Train by Pascal Mercier
  9. Gold by Chris Cleve
  10. A Spanish Lover by Joanna Trollope
  11. Complicit by Nicci French
  12. What I loved by Siri Hustvedt
  13. Missing Persons by Nicci Gerrard
  14. Good Behaviour by Molly Keane
  15. The Petting Zoo by Brett Singer
  16. The Vacillations of Poppy Carew by Mary Wesley
  17. The Abortionist’s Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde
  18. Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute
  19. Free to Trade by Michael Ridpath
  20. Dad by William Wharton – for the Nth time, better every time
  21. Final Venture by Michael Ridpath
  22. Fatal Error by Michael Ridpath
  23. The Predator by Michael Ridpath
  24. On the Edge by Michael Ridpath
  25. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  26. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  27. The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru
  28. The Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card – Better every time, a masterpiece
  29. Toxicity by Libby Hellmann
  30. Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French
  31. I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh
  32. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  33. Treasure Box by Orson Scott Card
  34. Homebody by Orson Scott Card
  35. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
  36. The Doves of Venus by Olivia Manning
  37. The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway
  38. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
  39. Behind the scenes at the museum by Kate Atkinson
  40. Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick
  41. The Nut Hut by Kathleen Taylor
  42. She is not invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
  43. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Probably the best thriller I have ever read
  44. A Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
  45. The Whaleboat House by Mark Mills
  46. No Safe House by Linwood Barclay
  47. Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes
  48. What I loved by Siri Hustvedt – for the second time this year!
  49. Bread Alone by Judi Hendricks
  50. Stone Cradle by Louise Doughty
  51. The Testament by John Grisham
  52. Rooms by Lauren Oliver
  53. A Risk Worth Taking by Robin Pilcher
  54. The Stand-in by Deborah Moggach
  55. One Day by David Nicholls – Fantastic. I adored it
  56. The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
  57. The Incidental Spy by Libby Hellmann
  58. An Imaginative Experience by Mary Wesley
  59. Swimming Pool Sunday by Madeleine Wickham
  60. The Well by Catherine Chanter
  61. Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk
  62. Jules and Jim by Henri-Pierre Roche – Couldn’t bear the character Kate, what a silly woman
  63. A Dubious Legacy by Mary Wesley
  64. Charlotte’s Friends by Sarah Kennedy
  65. The Bhagavad Gita – Picked it up out of curiosity: fascinating yet frilly, far too dense and complex to get to grips with unless you’re into serious studying 
  66. The Tesseract by Alex Garland
  67. An English Murder by Louise Doughty
  68. Until it’s Over by Nicci French
  69. Jump Cut by my lovely client Libby Hellmann
  70. A Passionate Man by Joanna Trollope
  71. Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy
  72. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  73. The Wild by Esther Freud
  74. Deceit by Clare Francis
  75. A Dead Language by Peter Rushforth – gave up at page 40, far too heavy-going for me
  76. Intimate Friends by Charlotte Vale Allen
  77. Unforgotten by Clare Francis
  78. Red Crystal by Clare Francis
  79. Betrayal by Clare Francis
  80. Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French
  81. Gifted by Patrick Evans
  82. Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

2014 reading list

  1. Requiem to a Wren by Neville Shute – the very best in vintage British storytelling, splendid stuff, a fascinating tale of what ordinary people do when faced with personal and circumstantial adversity. Anachronistic, but charmingly so and the plot’s so good you forgive it. Still my favourite writer
  2. The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell – eerie, atmospheric, delicate and brutal, dreamlike and intriguing. And you won’t believe the ending… what a shock. A sure sign of a brilliant book
  3. The Shadow Man by John Katzenbach – a page-turning crime thriller with a sinister Nazi twist
  4. The Street Lawyer by John Grisham
  5. The Never List by Koethi Zan – just heavenly
  6. From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koonz – I love the author’s enthusiasm and bone-deep need to write, a blazing love of it, a beacon. Epic storytelling, huge fun
  7. My favourite Nevil Shute anthology, 924 pages of complete reading pleasure, for the tenth time. How I wish he hadn’t died so young. I would have loved to thank him
  8. Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives – edited by Sarah Weinman. Some excellent, others weak, but all entertaining. An insight into the dark side of the US’s shining, perfect-seeming, Doris Day-perky 1950s
  9. Land of the Living by Nicci French – the best crime writing team on the planet. I adore their books. My second favourite authors of all time
  10. The Potter’s House by Rosie Thomas – So good I’ve read it five times so far. I adore the spookiness, the dips in and out of time, the incredibly subtle hints that something’s badly wrong – so subtle it took me five goes before I fully understood. I’d been so busy racing through, enjoying the broader plot. Read it slowly!
  11. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Epic, beautiful, a masterpiece. I really didn’t want it to end. Thinking about it makes the hairs on my arms stand on end. I typed up a bunch of paragraphs about the painting in the title and sent them to my mum, who’s an artist. Tartt expressed a lot of the things she and I have talked about, art stuff, perfectly and eloquently. She summed up my thoughts, feelings and theories to a tee. Thank you
  12. The Night Circus by  Erin Morgenstern – thanks to lovely Jackie in Weymouth for the recommendation. What a delight, pure fantasy grown-up style, and reminiscent of Ray Bradbury in its delight in the strange. A deliciously rich imagination at work, and a quaint steampunk love story I’ll treasure
  13. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer – Jackie, you’ll love this one. I really did cry. Touching, sweet, horrific. Like a fragrant boiled sweet with a something awful and unexpected in the middle, all maggoty. Brilliant
  14. Trick of the Light – by Jill Dawson
  15. The Other Hand by Chris Cleave – Heartbreaking
  16. A Change of Climate by Hilary Mantel – it gets better each time
  17. What a Carve Up! By Jonathan Coe
  18. Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller – just as good the second time around
  19. And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – my third favourite author. Utterly, utterly brilliant. Another sign of a very special book: I’m still thinking about the fates of the characters, the shimmering strings that connect them, the pain, the sorrow, the joy, the loss, the waste of it, the missed opportunities. Shot through with painful, beautiful humanity in all its guises, from saintly to evil. Poignant, lovely, lovely, lovely… I’ll shut up now!
  20. Unexploded by Alison Macleod – Disliked the main female character so much I had to chuck it in the recycling.  Then fished it out again and fell completely head over heels on page 114. Fantastic
  21. Thursdays Children by Nicci French
  22. The Girl in a Swing by Richard Adams –  which I first read when it was published in 1980. It’s just as delightfully spooky and fey now
  23. The King of Torts by John Grisham – not his best,  far from it. The main character is a thoroughly unpleasant, selfish, greedy, thoughtless bugger and doesn’t redeem himself. His girlfriend is equally horrible. I wished them the worst and sadly it didn’t happen. The US legal system really is vile
  24. Paperback Raita by William Rhode – Totally brilliant
  25. I Have Waited and You Have Come by Martine McDonagh – Better every time I read it
  26. Love All by Elizabeth Jane Howard – Rather like Mary Wesley but nowhere near as good. Plus, one of the characters were so self-sacrificing I wanted to slap her, the other was selfish beyond belief.
  27. A Simple Life by Rosie Thomas
  28. The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway
  29. Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
  30. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  31. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier – beautiful and utterly brilliant, although I wish it had a happier ending!
  32. Blind Faith by Ben Elton – hilarious and profoundly disturbing at the same time. A wonderful horror of a book set in a dystopia I hope I never live to see.
  33. City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende – read a few pages, was confused by the lack of emotional depth then realised it’s a book for older children. Aha… that explains it! Fooled by the cover. Couldn’t finish it.
  34. Sycamore Row by John Grisham – I used to rip through Grisham novels, thrilled by the high octane plots. These days I find them hard work, more unpleasant than entertaining. His books highlight the USA’ so-called ‘justice’ system, which is a dysfunctional disgrace: greedy, immoral, amoral, and the ‘heroes’ tend to be downright unpleasant. It looks like I’ve outgrown Grisham, and I won’t be reading him again.
  35. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – Phew, that’s better… a beautiful book, beautifully written, populated by people of integrity and emotional depth whose lives are worth reading about. It puts John Grisham to shame.
  36. An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas – Started it but had to stop at page ten, didn’t like the style and language, too flippant and frilly.
  37. The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo.
  38. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – fabulous.
  39. The Troubles by J. G Farrell.
  40. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova – lost interest 3/4 of the way through because everything went far too Mills and Boon.
  41. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson – that’s more like it!
  42. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson.
  43. Nobody’s Child by Libby Fischer Hellmann – Very hard to put down, another excellent Georgia Davis adventure from Libby.
  44. Everything You Know by Zoe Heller – even better the second time around.
  45. The General by C S Forester – meticulous and dull, but I guess it would have been incendiary when first released in 1936, with WW1 a powerful memory and WW2 on the horizon.
  46. Franny and Zooey by J D Salinger – hateful characters, extreme pretentiousness, nothing happens, a million miles from Catcher in the Rye.
  47. This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff – brilliant.
  48. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrianian – By Marina Lewycka. As the Telegraph says, “mad and hilarious”. And as The Times says, “extremely funny”.
  49. The Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck – It’s far too long since I read Steinbeck’s work. Note to self: re-acquire the entire collection.
  50. The Believers by Zoe Heller – for the second time. Deliciously irreverent and rude.
  51. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson – The best crime novel I’ve read for ages. Real problems putting it down!
  52. Sea Glass by Anita Shreve – Even better the second time around.
  53. These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach.
  54. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson – breathtakingly good and highly complex. I’ll be reading it again next year to pin down the plot to perfection.
  55. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.
  56. A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve.
  57. The Next Room by Sarah Harrison.
  58. Meditation for Busy People by Dawn Groves – just to brush up my skills!
  59. In Between the Sheets by Ian McEwan
  60. The New House by Lettice Cooper – A fascinating glimpse into the 1930s when the old order was on the way out but the old one wasn’t quite dead.
  61. Falling by Elizabeth Jane Howard – For the umpteenth time, always an excellent read.
  62. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
  63. Winter in Madrid by C J Sansom
  64. Secret Smile by Nicci French – for the nth time!
  65. What to do When Someone Dies by Nicci French
  66. Under the Lake by Stuart Woods
  67. Voices of a Summer Day by Irwin Shaw
  68. The Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy

2013 reading list

  1. The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
  2. Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
  3. Dirt Music by Tim Winton
  4. The Far Country by Nevil Shute
  5. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller
  6. The Wild by Esther Freud
  7. The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville
  8. The Client by John Grisham
  9. Cold Snap by Francis King
  10. The Colour by Rose Tremain
  11. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  12. The Brief by John Grisham
  13. The Rain Maker by John Grisham
  14. The Information Officer by Mark Mills
  15. Final Demand by Deborah Moggach
  16. Missing Persons by Nicci Gerrard
  17. The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
  18. The Whaleboat House by Mark Mills
  19. Pronto by Elmore Leonard
  20. House of the Hanged by Mark Mills
  21. Fire in the Hole by Elmore Leonard
  22. The Beach by Alex Garland
  23. Diary of a Mad Housewife by Sue Kaufman
  24. Fractured by Karin Slaughter
  25. A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellmann
  26. Toxicity by Libby Fischer Hellmann
  27. Joby by Stan Barstow
  28. The Moronic Inferno (and other visits to America) by Martin Amis
  29. Necessary Rites by Janice Elliott
  30. The Woman Who Walked Into Walls by Roddy Doyle
  31. Disclosure by Michael Crighton
  32. A greyhound of a girl by Roddy Doyle
  33. Part of the furniture by Mary Wesley
  34. South of the Lights by Angela Huth
  35. Brother and Sister by Joanna Trollope
  36. The Rector’s Wife by Joanna Trollope
  37. Eureka Street by Robert Mcliam Wilson
  38. The Burden of Proof – by Scott Turow
  39. Ripley Bogle by Robert McLiam Wilson
  40. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
  41. In Darkness by Nick Lake
  42. A Shot to Die For by Libby Hellmann
  43. Killing Me Softly by Nicci French
  44. Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French
  45. Stonemouth by Iain Banks
  46. Havana Lost by Libby Hellmann
  47. Plus thirty or so more that fell off the bottom of this list for some unknown reason during 2014!