An idyllic snapshot of a boy’s childhood along the banks of the Mississippi River, Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the author’s work that comes closest to his boyhood experiences of growing up in Hannibal in the 1840s. Mischievous and full of energy, Tom enjoys childish pranks and pastimes with his friends, Huck Finn, the town outcast and Joe Harper, his best friend. However, at the town graveyard, Huck and Tom witness a murder, carried out by local vagabond Injun Joe. They vow never to tell a soul about what they have seen and so begins their journey into adulthood as Tom wrestles with his own morality, guilt and anxiety. A ‘coming of age’ tale, it is through Tom’s adventures and relationships with others that he becomes more responsible and more aware of his own inner conflict. Through the central characters of Tom and Huck, Twain satirises the moral rigidity of society and adult hypocrisy, whilst at the same time giving a nostalgic portrayal of a young boy’s journey into adulthood.
Yann Martel - Life of Pi
After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, one solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific.The crew of the surviving vessel consists of a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan, a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger and Pi - a 16-year-old Indian boy.The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary pieces of literary fiction of recent years. Yann Martel's Life of Pi is a transformative novel, a dazzling work of imagination that will delight and astound readers in equal measure. It is a triumph of storytelling and a tale that will, as one character puts it, make you believe in God.
Ian McEwan - Atonement
In this rich novel by the author of the Booker Prize-winning novel "Amsterdam", a young girl unwittingly tells a tale that turns her family upside down. Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class, "Atonement" is at its center a profound--and profoundly moving--exploration of shame and forgiveness, of atonement and the difficulty of absolution.
George R. R. Martin - A Dance with Dragons
Six years have passed since the time of events in "A Storm of Swords". Autumn is ending, with the realm in disarray. Tommen sits on the Iron Throne, but it is Cersei who rules, supported by Casterly Rock and Highgarden. Thanks to Dorne, the north has become a lawless wilderness.
George R. R. Martin - A Storm of Swords
The third volume of the high fantasy saga that began with A Game of Thrones and continued in A Clash of Kings is one of the more rewarding examples of gigantism in contemporary fantasy. As Martin's richly imagined world slides closer to its 10-year winter, both the weather and the warfare worsen. In the north, King Joffrey of House Lannister sits uneasily on the Iron Throne. With the aid of a peasant wench, Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, escapes from jail in Riverrun. Jaime goes to the other youthful ruler, Robb Stark, to secure the release of Joffrey's prisoners, Robb's sisters Arya and Sansa Stark. Meanwhile, in the south, Queen Daenarys tries to assert her claim to the various thrones with an army of eunuchs, but discovers that she must choose between conquering more and ruling well what she has already taken. The complexity of characters such as Daenarys, Arya and the Kingslayer will keep readers turning even the vast number of pages contained in this volume, for the author, like Tolkien or Jordan, makes us care about their fates. Those two fantasy greats are also evoked by Martin's ability to convey such sensual experiences as the heat of wildfire, the chill of ice, the smell of the sea and the sheer gargantuan indigestibility of the medieval banquet at its most excessive. Perhaps this saga doesn't go as far beyond the previous bounds of high fantasy as some claim, but for most readers it certainly goes far enough to command their attention.
George R. R. Martin - A Feast for Crows
Crows will fight over a dead man's flesh, and kill each other for his eyes. Bloodthirsty, teracherous and cunning, the Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne in the name of the boy-king Tommen. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life. The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow's Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.
Philippa Gregory - The White Queen
The first in historical novelist Philippa Gregory's latest series The Cousins' War, The White Queen plunges the reader into the late medieval England of the Wars of the Roses. It tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the beautiful, ambitious wife of Yorkist king Edward and mother of the two princes whose deaths in the Tower of London have never really been explained. This is historical fiction as pure entertainment and none the worse for it: Gregory draws heavily on Woodville's reputation as a witch and the family myth that she cast an enchantment over Edward. Despite all the hocus-pocus, though, Gregory also keeps her reader glued with well-researched accounts of courtly intrigue and the sense that in this period, suspicion and brutal death were everywhere. There are tacky moments, such as when Elizabeth foresees Richard, who becomes the ill-fated King Richard III, dying in accordance with the lines in Shakespeare's play but this is, nonetheless, rollicking, page-turning stuff.
Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book
When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him — after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod’s life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?
Suzanne Collins - Catching Fire
This is the second book in the ground-breaking "Hunger Games" trilogy. After winning the brutal Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta return to their district, hoping for a peaceful future. But their victory has caused rebellion to break out ...and the Capitol has decided that someone must pay. As Katniss and Peeta are forced to visit the districts on the Capitol's Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. Unless they can convince the world that they are still lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying. Then comes the cruelest twist: the contestants for the next Hunger Games are announced, and Katniss and Peeta are forced into the arena once more.
F. Scott Fitzgerald - Tales of the Jazz Age
Though most widely known for the novella The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald gained a major source of income as a professional writer from the sale of short stories. Over the course of his career, Fitzgerald published more than 160 stories in the period's most popular magazines. His second short fiction collection, Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), includes two masterpieces as well as several other stories from his earlier career. One, "May Day," depicts a party at a popular club in New York that becomes a night of revelry during which former soldiers and an affluent group of young people start an anti-Bolshevik demonstration that results in an attack on a leftist newspaper office. "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" is a fantastic satire of the selfishness endemic to the wealthy and their undying pursuit to preserve that way of life. All of these stories, like his best novels, meld Fitzgerald's fascination with wealth with an awareness of a larger world, creating a subtle social critique. With his discerning eye, Fitzgerald elucidates the interactions of the young people of post-World War I America who, cut off from traditions, sought their place in the modern world amid the general hysteria of the period that inaugurated the age of jazz. This new edition reproduces in full the original collection, stories that represent a clear movement in theme and character development toward what would become The Great Gatsby. In introducing each story, Fitzgerald offers accounts of its textual history, revealing decisions about which stories to include.
Nick Hornby - Slam
There was this time when everything seemed to have come together. And so obviously it was time to go and screw it all up.’ Sam is sixteen and a skater. Just so there are no terrible misunderstandings: skating = skateboarding. There’s no ice. Life is ticking along nicely for Sam: his mum’s got rid of her rubbish boyfriend, he’s thinking about college and he’s met someone. Alicia. Then a little accident happens. One with big consequences for someone just finding his way in life. Sam can’t run (let alone skate) away from this one. He’s a boy facing a man’s problems and the question is – has he got what it takes to confront them?
Nick Hornby - About a Boy
Will is a thirty-six but acts like a teenager. He reads the right magazines, goes to the right clubs and knows which trainers to wear. He's also discovered a great way to score with women - at single parent's groups, full of available mothers, all waiting for Mr Nice. That's where he meets Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old in the world. Marcus is a bit strange: he listens to Mozart, looks after his mum and he's never even owned a pair of trainers. Perhaps if Will can teach Marcus how to be a kid, Marcus can help Will grow up...
Ian McEwan - First Love, Last Rites
Ian McEwan's Somerset Maugham Award-winning collection First Love, Last Rites brought him instant recognition as one of the most influential voices writing in England today. Taut, brooding, and densely atmospheric, these stories show us the ways in which murder can arise out of boredom, perversity can result from adolescent curiosity, and sheer evil might be the solution to unbearable loneliness. These tales are as horrifying as anything written by Clive Barker or Stephen King, but they are crafted with a lyricism and intensity that compel us to confront our secret kinship with the horrifying.
Ian McEwan - The Comfort of Strangers
As their holiday unfolds, Colin and Mary are locked into their own intimacy. They groom themselves meticulously, as though there awaits someone who cares deeply about how they appear. When they meet a man with a disturbing story to tell they become drawn into a fantasy of violence and obsession.
Ian McEwan - Saturday
Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat. Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him. Towards the end of a day rich in incident and filled with Perowne's celebrations of life's pleasures, his family gathers for a reunion. But with the sudden appearance of Baxter, Perowne's earlier fears seem about to be realised.
Ian McEwan - Enduring Love
In one of the most striking opening scenes ever written, a bizarre ballooning accident and a chance meeting give birth to an obsession so powerful that an ordinary man is driven to the brink of madness and murder by another's delusions. Ian McEwan brings us an unforgettable story—dark, gripping, and brilliantly crafted—of how life can change in an instant.
Daniel Keyes - The Minds of Billy Milligan
Nominated by The Mystery Writers of America for the "Edgar Award" in the Best True Crime Category. Billy Milligan can be anyone he wants to be... except himself. Out of control of his own actions, Billy Milligan was a man tormented by twenty-four distinct personalities battling for supremacy over his body -- a battle that culminated when he awoke in jail, arrested for the kidnap and rape of three women. In a landmark trial, Billy was acquitted of his crimes by reason of insanity caused by multiple personality --the first such decision in history-- bringing to public light the most remarkable and harrowing case of multiple personality ever recorded. Twenty-four people live inside Billy Milligan. Philip, a petty criminal; Kevin, who dealt drugs and masterminded a drugstore robbery; April whose only ambition was to kill Billy's stepfather; Adalana, the shy, lonely, affection-starved lesbian who "used" Billy's body in the rapes that led to his arrest; David, the eight-year-old "keeper of pain"; Arthur, the Englishman; Ragen, the "keeper of Rage" who possessed incredible strength; Allen, the con man; Tommy, the escape-artist, and all of the others, including men, women, several children, both boys and girls, and the Teacher, the only one who can put them all together. Each of these "people" play a distinct role in this often shocking true story.
Ian McEwan - Black Dogs
Set in late 1980s Europe at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Black Dogs is the intimate story of the crumbling of a marriage, as witnessed by an outsider. Jeremy is the son-in-law of Bernard and June Tremaine, whose union and estrangement began almost simultaneously. Seeking to comprehend how their deep love could be defeated by ideological differences Bernard and June cannot reconcile, Jeremy undertakes writing June's memoirs, only to be led back again and again to one terrifying encouner forty years earlier--a moment that, for June, was as devastating and irreversible in its consequences as the changes sweeping Europe in Jeremy's own time. In a finely crafted, compelling examination of evil and grace, Ian McEwan weaves the sinister reality of civiliation's darkest moods--its black dogs--with the tensions that both create love and destroy it.
Ian McEwan - The Child in Time
Stephen Lewis, a successful writer of children's books, is confronted with the unthinkable: his only child, three-year-old Kate, is snatched from him in a supermarket. In one horrifying moment that replays itself over the years that follow, Stephen realizes his daughter is gone. With extraordinary tenderness and insight, Booker Prize-winning author Ian McEwan takes us into the dark territory of a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. Kate's absence sets Stephen and his wife, Julie, on diverging paths as they each struggle with a grief that only seems to intensify with the passage of time. Eloquent and passionate, the novel concludes in a triumphant scene of love and hope that gives full rein to the author's remarkable gifts. The winner of the Whitbread Prize, The Child in Time is an astonishing novel by one of the finest writers of his generation.
Ian McEwan - Amsterdam
On a chilly February day two old friends meet in the throng outside a crematorium to pay their last respects to Molly Lane. Both Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly's lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence, Clive as Britain's most successful modern composer, Vernon as editor of the quality broadsheet, The Judge. Gorgeous, feisty Molly had had other lovers too, notably Julian Garmony, Foreign Secretary, a notorious right-winger tipped to be the next prime minister. In the days that follow Molly's funeral Clive and Vernon will make a pact that will have consequences neither has foreseen. Each will make a disastrous moral decision, their friendship will be tested to its limits and Julian Garmony will be fighting for his political life. A contemporary morality tale that is as profound as it is witty, this short novel is perhaps the most purely enjoyable fiction Ian McEwan has ever written. And why Amsterdam? What happens there to Clive and Vernon is the most delicious shock in a novel brimming with surprises. Booker Prize winner (1998).