... and Here Are More Top Tips from Britain's Best-Read Book Worms

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), June 30, 2013 | Go to article overview

... and Here Are More Top Tips from Britain's Best-Read Book Worms


LEE CHILD Recently published And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander (HarperCollins, [pounds sterling]13.95) OK, not so recent and Tasha is my sister-in-law, but I was a huge fan before my brother laid eyes on her. The first of her Victorian historical novels features a tough-but-elegant heroine, exciting period stories, and spot-on research.

Classic A transatlantic plane crashes on the polar icecap, and immediately we're into a deepfrozen version of a classic locked-room mystery. Alistair MacLean was the daddy of British thriller authors, and the greatest of cold-weather writers - as Night Without End displays. If the British summer ever warms up, this book is better than air conditioning.

JOANNE HARRIS Recently published Maggie And Me by Damian Barr (Bloomsbury, [pounds sterling]14.99) A new memoir about being gay in the Thatcher era. A real storyline, touching and personal, and I found myself laughing.

Classic I recently reread Victor Hugo's Les Miserables for the first time in years: it was one of the great books from my childhood, and it's an even better read than I remember - the sign of a truly great book.

VINCE CABLE Recently published A Delicate Truth by John le Carre (Viking, [pounds sterling]18.99) I've read everything le Carre has written, and I'd recommend this latest, set against a counterterrorist operation in Gibraltar. One of our greatest writers.

Classic Thomas Hardy's Mayor Of Casterbridge is my favourite. A touching drama about love and hope, betrayal and tragedy, vanity and folly.

ANTONY BEEVOR Recently published The Guns At Last Light by Rick Atkinson (Little, Brown, [pounds sterling]35) For history buffs or anyone interested in how men react in extremis. Atkinson ends his 'Liberation Trilogy', taking the US Army from Normandy to the war's end. Top storytelling. Classic Never has the world of secret intelligence, and human betrayal, been more meticulously observed than by Javier Marias, in his three-volume intellectual thriller Your Face Tomorrow.

TRACY CHEVALIER Recently published Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty (Faber and Faber, [pounds sterling]12.99) I inhaled this like the affair it describes, in a mad gulp. A smart psychological thriller that will keep you batting away family on the beach so you can finish it.

Classic I read The Go-Between by LP Hartley when my son got it in school and fell under its spell. Poor 13-year-old Leo has to grow up fast as he shuttles between posh girl and workingclass farmer during a long, hot summer in Norfolk. Read it in the long grass while a tractor harvests oats in the distance.

DEBORAH ROSS Recently published Life After Life, Kate Atkinson (Doubleday, [pounds sterling]18.99) What if life doesn't go right, and you could do things differently, over and over? Could have been a mess but gels wonderfully.

Classic Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi. First published in 1994,

and set in Portugal in 1938, this concerns the political awakening of Pereira, a fat widower who edits the culture section of a Lisbon newspaper. Not my thing as a rule, but so darkly funny and touching I couldn't put it down.

CHRIS EVANS Recently published The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen (John Murray, [pounds sterling]25) By two guys right at the top of Google. They see a future where iPads are replaced by holograms following us around, and where cars are ordered online, then printed out in your garage. Classic Always take a book you know you can finish. At 80 pages, Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man And The Sea does it for me. Frighteningly and effortlessly (it seems) well written, and a bijou page-turner that addresses one man's lifelong quest to secure the ultimate prize.

ANDREW MARR Recently published NW by Zadie Smith (Penguin, [pounds sterling]7.99) I'm currently racing through Zadie Smith's latest novel. I enjoyed her debut, White Teeth, and this is up there. A fantastic ear for dialogue.

Classic I'm not in any way religious but I'm lapping up The Poems Of George Herbert, a collection of the 17th-century Anglican priest's verse. He's one of our most underrated poets.

KATE MOSSE Recently published May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes (Granta, [pounds sterling]8.99) This year's Women's Prize for Fiction winner. A searing critique of the American Dream, and of how people are dismissed as misfits, and how no one is ever as they seem.

Classic King Solomon's Mines was written by H Rider Haggard in response to a bet by one of his brothers that he couldn't write a better adventure story than Treasure Island. His classic 'lost world' adventure remains the gold standard for the genre.

TERRY DEARY Recently published The Corpse On The Court by Simon Brett (Creme de la Crime, [pounds sterling]11.99) The Fethering mysteries are addictive with two amateur women detectives whose relationship is as intriguing as the murders they solve.

Classic The Napoleon Of Notting Hill by GK Chesterton. Written in 1904, set 80 years in the future, it was the original 1984. It explored the spiritual exhilaration of war. Of course it was written before World War One made that unfashionable, but that book made me a writer.

ALAN JOHNSON Recently published Ancient Light by John Banville (Penguin, [pounds sterling]8.99) A tale of youth and seduction by a craftsman. A superb evocation of Ireland, weaving together two stories from different eras.

Classic Since leaving ministerial office, I've succeeded in reading one Dickens novel a year, and Bleak House was a revelation. Much darker than his others and a murder mystery with the marvellous Inspector Bucket.

IAN RANKIN Recently published The Honey Guide by Richard Crompton (W&N, [pounds sterling]12.99) A compulsive whodunit set in Kenya, where tribal politics can get you killed.

Classic For a short, enchanting, thought-provoking summer read you can't go wrong with Muriel Spark's The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie. Serious and laugh-outloud funny.

CRAIG BROWN Recently published The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (Fourth Estate, [pounds sterling]8.99) Or his previous novel, Middlesex. Both are wonderful stories, told with great wit and intelligence. Classic Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Rollicking, exciting and beguiling, with every paragraph as fresh as the day it was written.

MICHAEL GOVE Recently published A Delicate Truth by John le Carre (Viking, [pounds sterling]18.99) Permeated with Lefty politics but written with verve and pace - a thriller reminiscent of Eric Ambler - a 1930s writer who also leaned Left but produced gripping spy stories of innocents caught up in intrigue.

Classic One of Penguin's beautiful reissued Amblers. Start with Cause For Alarm - dastardly Mussolini-era Italians, suave Yugoslav colonels and heroic Soviets. Mix with a Negroni and a plate of prosciutto for a perfect summer evening.

MARIELLA FROSTRUP Recently published Transatlantic by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury Publishing [pounds sterling]18.99) A symphonic feat of swooping back and forth across the Atlantic and over two centuries combining the lives of great men with the hidden stories of even better women!

Classic Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West. Superb novella about a rookie journalist who is given the job of Agony Aunt.

RACHEL JOHNSON Recently published Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Phoenix, [pounds sterling]7.99) The compulsive novel of the year, which sold in millions. Expect more dark marital thrillers. Classic I always take PG Wodehouse with me on holiday although I am banned from reading them in bed as I laugh out loud several times a page.

FRANCIS WHEEN Recently published The Authors XI by various (Bloomsbury, [pounds sterling]16.99) Even cricket-sceptics should enjoy a witty and bucolic account of a year in a team including Sebastian Faulks and ex-Downton star Dan Stevens. Classic Flashman's Lady by George MacDonald Fraser, which starts at an English cricket match but then whooshes off to the jungles of Borneo. A thrilling and hilarious adventure.

TOBY YOUNG Recently published The Black Box by Michael Connelly (Orion, [pounds sterling]12.99) I'm a fan of police procedurals and one of the books I enjoyed the most this year was this latest Harry Bosch novel. Classic I love Cold War thrillers and my favourite is probably Kolymsky Heights by the sadly neglected Lionel Davidson, an English spy novelist.

ANTONIA FRASER Recently published Life After Life by Kate Atkinson ([pounds sterling]18.99 Doubleday) A sort of Groundhog Day, from the early years of the last century on. So intricate yet engagingly written, the rain could pelt down and the reader wouldn't notice. Classic I plan to read the six Trollope 'political' novels every five years. If I have to pick one out of the five, it would be Can You Forgive Her? BORIS JOHNSON Recently published The United Nations Environment Programme: by Stanley P Johnson (unep.org/pdf 40thbook.pdf, free download) A sensational page-turner. Classic I recommend another scorcher: Henry James's Portrait Of A Lady.

CAPTION(S):

well read: Radio 4 Open Book presenter Mariella Frostrup recommends the classic Miss Lonelyhearts

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