Gran Needs Your Book Thoughts…

Before ‘Granny Savidge Reads’, or just Gran as she likes to be called, answers your questions later in the week (you still have today to go here and leave one or two) she has a favour to ask of you. As the year draws to a close one of the book groups that my Gran is in get to vote for the books for next year. This is one of the U3A groups not the MAD Book Group (which is named because they are in the Matlock and District… not because they are all mad, on the whole) which she founded.  There is a list of books and the members vote for favourite twelve from the list.

Gran and I thought it would be nice, as well as interesting, if you could help recommend which ones you think would be great for the group and which ones you would avoid. I have naturally already thrown in my tuppence worth, so now over to you. The ones in italics are the ones Gran has already read, but do recommend them more if you think fit.

  • The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga
  • The Yacoubian Building – Alaa Al Aswany
  • Black Diamonds – Catherine Bailey
  • Border Crossing – Pat Barker
  • Villette – Charlotte Bronte
  • Restless – William Boyd
  • Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey
  • The Short Stories – Anton Chekhov
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
  • The Shieling – David Constantine  
  • The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
  • Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens
  • Alicia’s Gift – Jennifer Duchen
  • Last Train from Liguria – Christine Dwyer Hickey
  • Engleby – Sebastian Faulks
  • Human Traces – Sebastian Faulks
  • Is There Anything You Want – Margaret Forster
  • The Man in the Wooden Hat – Jane Gardam
  • Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
  • Peeling The Onion – Gunther Grass
  • The Believers – Zoe Heller
  • The Beacon – Susan Hill
  • The Quiet Girl – Peter Hoeg
  • The True Deceiver – Tove Jansson
  • Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow – Jerome K Jerome
  • The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Other Side of the Bridge – Mary Lawson
  • La’s Orchestra Saves the World – Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  • Great Fortunes – Olivia Manning
  • The Glass Room – Simon Mawer
  • Things My Mother Never Told Me – Blake Morrison
  • The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
  • The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
  • Tales from a Travellers Life – John Simpson
  • Glassblower of Murano – Marianne Siorato
  • The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Kate Summerscale
  • Love and Summer – William Trevor
  • Miss Garnetts Angel – Salley Vickers
  • The Night Watch – Sarah Waters
  • They Were Sisters – Dorothy Whipple
  • Proust and the Squid – Marianne Wolf

So that’s the lot. I haven’t put any pictures in today’s post as you might be swayed. I know I was when I saw some of the covers of the books that I had never heard of. Gran and I are very much looking forward to all your thoughts, so do get responding.


Filed under Alexander McCall Smith, Aravind Adiga, Barbara Kingsolver, Bernhard Schink, Book Group, Book Thoughts, Cormac McCarthy, Salley Vickers, Sarah Waters, Susan Hill, William Trevor

20 responses to “Gran Needs Your Book Thoughts…

  1. novelinsights

    Well I’ve just started The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and am LOVING it already and I do think it would be good for a book group. The only other I’ve read that she hasn’t is The Believers, which is good and might create an interesting discussion (

  2. The Glassblower of Murano is a fun book and probably one of the best of the dual historical/contemporary linked ancestors crop, especially if you like pretty things. Mostly I want to say get everyone to read ‘Cold Comfort Farm’, surely your Gran could do with a reread of it (I think I could too).

  3. I would recommend Border Crossing, and They were sisters. Has your Gran read any Persephone books? You must convert her!

  4. I recommend – They Were Sisters and The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher. I haven’t read the Man in the Wooden Hat but an e-friend who’s about your gran’s age absolutely loved it so I’ll recommend that too. It’s on its way to me so I hope to read it myself.

    I’d avoid Jonathan Strange like the plague.

  5. Without a doubt in my mind, Shadow of the Wind. It will be in my top 10 books read this year, and is almost universally loved. I also very much enjoyed The Night Watch and The White Tiger.

  6. They Were Sisters I would highly recommend, as well as The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and The Shadow of the Wind. The Shadow of the Wind was absolutely superb – kept me up until 3am until I had finished it as I couldn’t bear not to know the end!

  7. LizF

    Just read ‘Love and Summer’ and can recommend it as vintage William Trevor – all Anglo Irish melancholy, gentle and atmospheric.
    I read The Glass Room when it was on the Booker Shortlist and really enjoyed it and I think that it would make a very good book club read as it deals with the pre-WW2 period from another angle.
    I wanted to like Shadow of the Wind but I really couldn’t get into it despite three attempts – I think it may be a problem I have with Spanish novels – and I’m afraid that Jonathan Strange is a similar failure – it started out very well and then lost me completely!
    I have read Great Fortunes by Olivia Manning but so long ago that I can’t remember much about it. Having said that I read most of her books and I can’t remember disliking any of them.

  8. I’d recommend They Were Sisters, The Glass Room and Proust and the Squid; I’ve read the first two and have the third lined up but think they would all generate good discussion and non-fiction for a book group is always an interesting choice especially a bookish non-fiction book. The Road would also be a great one for discussing, from the ones she has read.

  9. Since I just discovered Dorothy Whipple this year (with Someone at a Distance), I’ll add another vote for They Were Sisters.

  10. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is delightful, but it’s massive and if you don’t like it about three chapters in, it’s likely you won’t like it at all. Though I really enjoyed it. I add another vote for The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, also.

  11. I’d definitely recommend The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Kate Summerscale. I haven’t read any of the others except I have heard that The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon is very good.

  12. I haven’t read all these by any means but I’d have no hesitation in recommending either Oscar and Lucinda or The Night Watch — both truly superb books. I did not like Mr Whicher or Strange and Morell. And Engleby is an awful book, IMO.

  13. I’ve heard that the Road is very violent, but well written. If it won’t give Gran and her friends nightmares, they might consider it.

    I haven’t read it. I don’t dare. …yet.

  14. Curzon Tussaud

    Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a “sheep/goats” book: you either love it greatly, or simply loathe it. There seems to be no middle ground, and it is hugely long. The Shadow of the Wind starts brilliantly, but tails off, and ends disappointingly. Where are good editors when you need them?
    Black Diamonds is about the Wentworth family, their fortune (based on coal), and Wentworth Woodhouse, the house with the longest facade in England. Wonderfully well written, and a great story. Go with that, the Whipple, and Cold Comfort Farm (I feel a Gibbons revival coming on…..)

  15. One of my favourite reads of this year has been The Glass Room so I would definitely recommend that one. I loved Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell when I read it ages ago (even though it is not normally the type of book I would enjoy at all) but it is a very long book so if people aren’t enjoying it it might be a bit of a struggle.

  16. Based only on those that your Gran hasn’t read, I’d pick for her book group: The Glass Room, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, They Were Sisters, Proust and the Squid, and The Believers. I haven’t read any of these, though, but I really want to!! 😀

  17. I love Tove Jansson, and The True Deceiver is the best of her books for a discussion, I think – so many interesting issue and question to pick up on. I’d definitely recommend that (reviewed it a while ago).

    We did Cold Comfort Farm at our book group – I love this book, but it’s difficult to do a comic book because some people just don’t get it (true with any type of comedy, I suspect) and the discussion then more or less left them out.

    The Beacon would also be a great choice, lots to discuss, and a very effective book.

    My book group did The Road – I didn’t read it, but general consensus was that they hated it…

  18. A really HUGE thank you for all your comments. Myself and Gran wanted to comment and thank you individually. As we have had a bit of a manic schedule while Grans been in London so I just wanted to pop and say thanks from both of us. It’s helped Gran to whittle down the books she is voting for and she is very very grateful.

  19. Pingback: Savidge Reads Grills… Dorothy Savidge « Savidge Reads

  20. Any of the lesser known Anthony Trollopes: The Three Clerks, Vicar of Bullhampton, The American senator, the Belton Estate – there are so many of his that are worth reading other than the Pallisers or the Barcheter series, wonderful though they both are.

    Resistance – Agnes Humbert
    Ekateringburg – Helen rappaport
    Any of the Dorothy Whipple books published again by Persephone – Someone at a Distance quite wonderful
    Little Boy Lost – Marghanita Laski (Persephone again)
    Making of a Marchioness and the Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Persephone again!)
    and my most favourite Persephone of all – the Homemaker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
    Kisses on a Postcard – Terence Frisby – sheer delight from start to finish

    and I had better stop now…

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