Members of library staff and volunteers who are avid readers have put together these book recommendations. Where indicated the books are available in our digital library at https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/e-books/
The Woman Who Went To Bed For a Year by Sue Townsend
Eva is fed up. She has looked after her family, her husband and twins – now grown up, for years and she has finally had enough of their carelessness and ungratefulness. One day she gets back into bed and vows not to leave. Her husband is upset, who is going to give him his dinner and clean the house?
As her stay in bed continues word starts to get around and soon Eva is famous. She is received in different ways, some believe she is protesting and soon she has a following. Others start to take a more religious view of her and seek out images of her in food.
Eva did not mean for this to happen, she just wanted to make a point and not attract all the fuss. As she continues to stay in bed the family dynamic changes, they all begin to reconsider who and what has been taken for granted, new friends emerge and secrets are revealed.
If you are looking for an easy read that will make you laugh then this is the book for you. The eAudiobook is narrated by Caroline Quentin and she narrates it brilliantly.
Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
This is a tough book to read and deals with the topic of rape.
Emma O’Donovan is eighteen, she is a normal, happy teenager. It is the start of summer and she is going to a party. The next thing she knows she wakes up on the front porch of her house with little to no memory of the night before and she is in pain. She will soon know what happened that night, not from remembering, but from the explicit photos that show, in detail what Emma was doing.
This is a hard-hitting, difficult book to read and it is incredibly well written. Louise O’Neill is not afraid to write the painful topics. The reader is taken right into Emma’s headspace with her thoughts and confusion. She uses repetitive sentences to show how horrible the situation is and how Emma is dealing and coping with what happened to her.
This book left me emotional. It was a horrible, heart-breaking, painful, despairing and depressing read. But it was such an important and powerful book that is still needed today.
Available as an eAudiobook.
The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
This book is about Eva and Jim. It begins in 1958 where they have a chance encounter, Jim is walking down a country lane and Eva is cycling towards him and swerves to avoid a dog. Three different possible paths branch out from this chance encounter and you explore them throughout the book.
The book centres on these two characters and meanders through their lives, their families, through love and loss and wraps up with a satisfying ending.
The story really makes you wonder about all the thousands of choices we make in a day and what a difference just one day could make. The plots are complex and require some concentration to follow but once you get into the flow of the narrative it makes an easy to read. The author does manage to differentiate between the different versions by using different names for the children etc. but this is definitely a book to devour in as fewer sittings as possible so your memory is fresh of who is who.
Available as an eAudiobook.
Grace After Henry by Eithne Shortall
Grace sees Henry everywhere she goes – in the supermarket, on every street and even in the cemetery. Except it’s impossible. Henry was killed in a cycling accident just as he and Grace were on the verge of buying a house and starting their lives together. Grace is struggling to come to terms with losing the love of her life. Then she opens her front door one day to find a man who bears a haunting resemblance to Henry, who has some extraordinary revelations.
This is a beautiful tale of loss and grief, with some very interesting themes around missed opportunities, identity and how our upbringing can influence who we become. Grace is a very likeable character and it’s impossible not to get caught up in her story.
Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannah
Beth can’t resist when the opportunity to drive past her former best friend’s house presents itself. Her timing is good, and she sees Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, for the first time in 12 years – except something is very, very wrong. Thomas and Emily should be 12 years older than the last time Beth saw them, but the children getting out of the car are exactly the same age and haven’t aged at all. Beth decides to find out more, but soon finds herself involved in a deep and complex set of circumstances
This is a very interesting and unusual plot that will keep you guessing all the way to the end. It has a wide-ranging and interesting cast of characters, and Beth’s feisty teenage daughter is particularly memorable!
Half a World Away by Mike Gayle
Kerry and Noah live in the same city but inhabit very different worlds. Kerry is a single mum, a cleaner and the world’s biggest Mariah Carey fan. Noah is a barrister, living in exclusive Primrose Hill with his wife and daughter. On the surface they have nothing in common – but appearances can be deceptive and their worlds are about to change forever.
This novel is told from both Kerry and Noah’s viewpoints, which means as a reader we can follow the highs and lows of their emotions as they discover just how much they have in common. The characters are realistic, warm and likeable and you will be drawn deep into their emotionally-charged story.