WBN-The Books… BookElf Rants Again

Twenty five books, but which to pick? Well, I’ve done mine, AR’s done her’s. The more Leeds’ Readers we have applying to be givers, the greater chance of us having a cracking night in April with shed loads of Arcadians finding the book that will make them a reader…
1) look at the list of books below, try not to make my massive ranting cloud your judgement.
2) choose your top three
3) go to the World Book Night website and register yourself as a giver.
4) join me and some other book lovers, as well as the regulars and not-so-regulars of my local, Arcadia, on the 23 April to a celebration of reading for pleasure!

The Books
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Persuasion is better. However, this is one of my favourite books, and has been since I was 12 so if you fancy being submerged in Darcy, could this be in your three?
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
I’ve never read it but am reassured it is extraordinary. SF fans didn’t really get a look-in last year, unless you count Cloud Atlas, so this could be a popular choice.
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham
Never read. Never even heard of. Bad BookElf. No points for you. *requests from library immediately*.
Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
Hilarious book, part of Bill Bryson’s series of travel books. Like Nigel Slater’s Toast from last year, though, I suspect (and I know this is massively judgemental and stereotypical of me) this may be ‘one for the Dad’s’… (actually, Toast was given out last year! And was snapped up! But my dad also read and enjoyed it so I stand by original point).
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
One of them ‘this book changes your life’ ones, I read this when I was about 18 and cannot remember one thing about it. Must have left a massive impression then… This one is going to be really popular as I’ve had loads of conversations with women at work over the years about how this is one of their favourites. We’ve got four copies at work, so I have a feeling they’d be hard to shift…
The Take by Martina Cole
I’ve read one Martina Cole and it scared the living crap out of me. Tulisa Contostavlos’ favourite author, FYI. If she ends up as a WBN giver I will change profession as My Work Here Is Done, as everyone flocks to read crime cos it’s cool, yeah?
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell
Last year there was so much historical fiction you might have been forgiven for thinking I chose the longlist. So this year they’ve toned it down by only including this one, which seems a really strange choice. Cornwell is amazing, but this isn’t him at his best. It’s the start of a series, so like Dissolution did last year will probably get more people reading the author, but I’d have far sooner preferred to see The Winter King, or Stonehenge here instead.
Someone Like You by Roald Dahl
Now this is clever. Everyone loved Roald Dahl as a kid, and the whole ‘shed’ controversy has been in the news recently, so this is an excellent time to plug his writing for adults. This collection of short stories shows the craft of writing at full tilt. My favourite is the one with the leg of lamb, but this is going to be a popular choice. I really hope they choose a better front cover on the night thought as the one they’ve got is flipping horrible!

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

What do you mean you haven’t read every single classic ever written ever? You utter utter utter thickie. Here, have a free book. A free, long, tiny fonted book. Thickie.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Again, I don’t get this one. Surely ever person who has access to a train station with a WHSmith in it owns a copy of this by now? It was in the top ten for longer than I Will Always Love You FFS. And WHY is this so popular? BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT SOMETHING HORRIBLE. But it’s got a fancy cover and was nominated for a shit load of prizes so it’s acceptable on your shelves. Put a picture of a crying child on a stark white cover and rename it ‘Daddy’s Little Secret’ with a hand-written font and see it do half as well as it has.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Stunning book. Excellent choice. I’d stick it in my top three but I know at least two other people who have. Not that giving out 64 copies of Rebecca and nothing else would be That Bad A Thing…

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Incredible book, and one of my top three. I’ve chosen it because it isn’t clearly defined as appealing to either “gender”, its well written, poignant, and I was having a conversation about it at my last book swap, in a cafe, with a bloke who hadn’t read it, who then did. And seeing as I’m going to be doing this in a pub it made sense to do it again.

Misery by Stephen King

I’m currently ploughing my way through Under The Dome (keep getting distracted by romantic fiction…) but the more I read by him the more I realise how good a writer Stephen King really is. I’ve never read this one, but I kind of wish they’d have chosen Different Seasons, as it’s got three film adaptations to it’s name, so would be a lot easier to plug.

The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Genius choice. There are so many things you could do with this book. Maybe not in the pub, but good luck to the health care workers doing their rounds, giving a copy of this to each of their service users.

Small Island by Andrea Levy

Again, great choice, really enjoyed this book.

Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Loved it, and ranted heavily about it. However, I wouldn’t feel massively comfortable about handing this book out willy nilly on the street. Part of the subject matter could be quite uncomfortable, and considering how alcoholism is a major theme, I’m not sure how well it would go down with the regulars. However, it is so well written, and so current, and so I’d def have this as my fourth. Just donate with caution, that’s all I’d say!

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

My second choice, which I know is an odd one for me given my usual ‘give me accessible writing or give me death’ policy. However, this story is something that is very ‘now’; the world is collapsing around us, people are choosing between heating and food, and this story of a man and his son’s survival in a post-apocalyptic world is so moving, and has so much potential for marketing as a ‘warning tale’ that I think it would work. Plus, I loved it.

The Time Travellor’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Blah. Going to be massive. Choose away. You know you want to.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

I LOVE O’Farrell, but this isn’t After You’d Gone, the book that made me (and continues to make me) cry more than any other book ever written ever. I’m really quite glad they chose this one then, and not After You’d Gone, because I’d have had a hard time choosing, tbh.

The Damned Utd by David Peace

Leeds! Leeds! LEEDS! I reeeeeeally hope someone chooses this, as would be ace to be giving out a Leeds-based book. David Peace should also come over and do some promotion of this at Elland Road as that would be incredible.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

I love Pratchett. I love Gaiman. A book a piece next year, who could ask for anything more, who could ask for anything more?

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

I take back completely what I said about no YA. Meg Rosoff is reeeeeally popular at work, although I’m not her biggest fan. This book is freaky as hell, but gets people reading, so hey ho.

Touching The Void by Joe Simpson

I’m not saying ANYTHING. I’ll let our book club analysis do the talking… Have to say though, this is the sort of thing that gets people reading, so I do hope it gets picked.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

Know what, I’m just going to re-read this and have a proper swoon later. Hearts. So many hearts.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Everyone loves it apart from me. I HAVE NO SOOOOOUUUUUL!!!!

So there you go. I know my top three. What are yours?


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