1. Ordinary People by Diana Evans
A marriage falls apart in London with a supernatural twist. Every sentence is a jewel. Evans could write about a trip to a supermarket and make it gripping.
2. Negative Capability by Michèle Roberts
A year in the life of an established author whose latest work is repeatedly turned down by her publisher and agent. If you’re feeling beaten down by the world, this will be good company.
3. Circe by Madeleine Miller
Better, if that’s possible, than Miller’s first masterpiece The Song of Achilles, this tells the story of the sorceress Circe who is banished to a Greek island for being too much of a badass. How do I apply?
4. Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
The third of the dazzlingly brilliant American comedian Samantha Irby’s brutally honest introspective memoirs: it will grab your attention from the first sentence and not let you go.
5. We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet
I was astonished that this book didn’t hit the bestseller lists; it’s a magnificent tale of a little girl found on a bus after an air raid during WWII. The period detail is outstanding and transporting.
6. Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
A few authors have had a go at telling the story of Truman Capote and his doomed friendship with the Fifth Avenue socialite “swans” who included Jackie O’s sister Lee Radziwill, but this is the book that nails it.
7. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
This engrossing domestic mini-drama may suck you in to Anne Tyler’s compelling, gentle oeuvre about family lives in Baltimore. If you like this, read The Accidental Tourist next.
8. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Everyone raves about this book with good reason; not only is this a timely, wry look at race in America, it’s a can’t-put-downer and an incredibly modern comedy of manners.
9. French Exit by Patrick deWitt
A mother and son go to Paris for one last hurrah before all the money runs out; this is quirky and incredibly stylish from ultimate style-master deWitt, who also wrote The Sisters Brothers.
10. Manhunt by Peter Bergen
The absolutely fascinating story of the search for and the capture of Osama Bin Laden, with the breakthrough work done by female CIA agents. It sounds unlikely but trust me, this is an escapist page-turner.
By Esther Coren, On The Spike