Curious Incident. The most popular choice for WBN 2011 (and also our most asked for book in prisons) and other than books by Ms Rowling and Mr Brown the bestselling book of the century thus far. It is so individual and distinctive it is difficult to compare it to anything else. And if you haven’t read it please, please do, it is beautiful, touching and eye opening as well as having a genuinely gripping plot.
If you’re interested in other novels that deal with children with autism or other special conditions try: Daniel isn’t Talking Anymore by Marti Leimbach, Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson, The Selected Works of TS Spivet by Reif Larsen
If you’re looking for another unusual detective story try: The Earth hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan,
Other books that are a little more futuristic but explore similar themes: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, K-Pax by Gene Brewer
And this weeks off the wall suggestions are:
Started Early... Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres
The Dog who came in from the Cold by Alexander McCall Smith
The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov
Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt
The Last Family in England by Matt Haig
Lorelei’s Secret by Carolyn Parkhurst
As a bookseller you get used to the frequently asked question ‘what’s your favourite book?’ or ‘if I should read just one book what would it be?’ – slightly more complicated ways of saying ‘I never know what to read and you should be able to help me’. For all that they were frequent questions they were still always surprisingly difficult to answer, there’s no one book cure all and even my favourite (The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford since you’re asking) I wouldn’t prescribe for all occasions. And even the act of telling someone your favourite book can be a surprisingly intimate thing to do, like admitting some secret crush on someone embarrassing. I know people who refuse to acknowledge a single favourite, others for whom it changes with their mood or the weather and some whose mind just goes blank when put on the spot like that.
For the first World Book Night booksellers, librarians, publishers and agents were asked to submit their favourite 25 books and an editorial committee of 25 people whittled it down to the final list. I both submitted my favourite 25 (which was so much harder than I expected) and was one of the editorial committee (which made picking my favourite 25 look like a walk in the park).
For the second World Book Night we wanted to get as many passionate readers involved in the choosing process as possible, but asking people to pick their 25 favourite books seemed a little too much. So we settled on asking for top 10s – the books you most like to read, share and give.
But when I came to choose my top 10 I really, really struggled whittling my favourite books down to just 10 and suddenly last autumn’s choosing process seemed like a ball. So we’ve devised a process that allows you to change your list as often as you want (believe me, I will be doing so constantly), you can drag and drop to re-order or just remove and add to your heart’s content*. All the top 10s will be compiled into a top 100 which ultimately help to inform the choice of this year’s editorial committee in choosing the 25 WBN titles.
And because I can, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my 25 favourite books. I’ll be constantly re-ordering these over the summer to make up my final top 10 (though the top 3 will probably remain pretty constant)
The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, Elizabeth Smart
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O’Farrell
Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
Carter Beats the Devil, Glenn David Gold
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Damage, Josephine Hart
Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
Heat & Dust, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
Passing, Nella Larsen
26a, Diane Evans
Atonement, Ian McEwan
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
The Pursuit of Happiness, Douglas Kennedy
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
God of Small Things, Arundahti Roy
LA Confidential – James Ellroy
* We’re going to be taking a snapshot of people’s lists at midnight on August 31, so you’ve got till then to be sure.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, pattern and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered, he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.