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Bookworm

Literature

Whether it’s a favourite paperback or a new release on Kindle, we all love a good read. Here’s what you’ve been enjoying recently:

We are all completely beside ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler

by Karen Joy Fowler (£7.99, Serpent’s Tail)

This book tells the story of Rosemary and her twin sister growing up in 1970s Indiana, and has one of the most unexpected plot twists I’ve ever read. The picture of American family life is so convincingly fleshed out, and Rosemary is a strange and puzzling character, with events around her often not making sense until all is revealed, about halfway through the book.

Audrey Mason, County Durham

Look Who's Back

Look Who's Back - Tim Vermes

by Timur Vermes (£8.99, Quercus)

What would happen if Adolf Hitler woke up and found himself in modern-day Berlin, where he was mistaken for a comedy lookalike? That’s the extraordinary premise of this rather brilliant satirical book, which, I’m told, was a big hit in Germany. I understand why some people of my generation may find this a controversial subject (should we really be laughing about such an evil man?), but I honestly didn’t find this story to be in poor taste. In fact, it was very well informed about history and designed to make its audience think hard, as well as laugh out loud.

Charles Robinson, Wiltshire

The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

by Jessie Burton (£7.99, Picador)

Set in 17th-century Amsterdam, this literary thriller tells the story of a lonely young woman who is given a doll’s house by her new husband (a man she barely knows) and finds the house itself begins to imitate her own life. Historical fiction has never appealed to me, but this book was so full of suspense, and painted such a vivid picture of Amsterdam – its art, food and religion – that I quickly found myself entranced. A complex, atmospheric story about class, obsession and love – with a brilliant twist at the end.

Wilma Norman, Norfolk

Daughter

Daughter - Jane Shemilt

by Jane Shemilt (£7.99, Penguin)

I must confess, I was worried that this story about a young girl who goes missing – told through her mother’s eyes – would be too depressing, but instead I found it absolutely gripping. The plot cleverly moves between two time periods and examines the lives of a ‘perfect’ middle-class family (mum is a doctor, dad is a surgeon), whose lives turn out to be anything but perfect. The characters were subtly drawn, believable people, and I was particularly pleased that the ending did not disappoint.

Carole Lytheman, Cornwall

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair - Joel Dicker

by Joël Dicker (£7.99, MacLehose Press)

A young writer with writer’s block goes to stay with his old college professor in Somerset, New Hampshire, hoping to find inspiration. He soon discovers there’s more to this small town than meets the eye, and begins to uncover the grizzly murder of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in 1975. There are so many twists and turns in this 700-page thriller, I was in total awe of its author, a young Swiss man. I was surprised to learn it was originally written in French as it has such an American feel. Its fast-paced wit and easy style reminded me of Raymond Chandler at his best. 

Frederick Williams, Cheshire

6 things you didn’t know about Stephen King

The King of Horror, 68, has sold more than 350 million books, has a career spanning four decades, and is fantastically wealthy... 

  1. The Disney film Bambi scared him as a child. ‘When that little deer got caught in a forest fire, I was terrified – but I was also exhilarated,’ he says. The idea that ‘fear could be fun’ stayed with him, no doubt fuelled by his love of horror comics such as The Crypt Of Terror, which he devoured as a child. 
  2. He used to be an English teacher and has a few pet writing hates. ‘I hate the phrases “many believe” or “some people say”,’ he says. ‘This sort of lazy attribution makes me want to kick something.’
  3. He allowed his sons Joe and Owen and his daughter Naomi to read his (very scary) books and watch his films when they were young. Both boys are now authors themselves, so it didn’t put them off reading – although his daughter is an ordained Unitarian minister…
  4. He withdrew his 1977 novel Rage (which he wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman) from print over fears that its story about a high-school shooting was too similar to real events. The novel was linked to four shooting incidents in the USA.
  5. He’s a big fan of JK Rowling and particularly liked her first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy. ‘The writing is better than in any of the Harry Potter books – it’s sharper, it’s nasty and I love it,’ he says.
  6. He has an estimated fortune of $400 million from book publishing and selling movie rights, and the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation awards $3-5 million every year in grants, but he insists that he doesn’t think about money. ‘I have two amazing things,’ he says. ‘I’m pain-free and I’m debt-free.'
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