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The continent of Asia is of course a HUGE area containing some stunningly beautiful and diverse countries. We know there are numerous books that we could have included, these are just some of our favourites. Oh, and just to let you know, this collection doesn’t cover books set in Russia or the Middle East.
The books you will find here have been written by authors from around the globe, a few may not have been born or reside in the country they are writing about but all have an undeniable connection. These books contain at least a mention of Asia, they could just be passing through, or they may be set in their entirety in the country concerned. Some take place in a bygone time, or revolve around a crime or mystery… while in others you could even find yourself exploring a very curious world indeed.
One thing is for sure, these are books that entice and intrigue, seduce and challenge, and they contain a siren call to read them.
If you want to travel to Japan then we recommend trying Murakami, and if you are a lover of all things books then there’s no better place to start than The Strange Library. It is indeed a wonderfully strange yet charming little novel which also contains some vibrant photos, drawings and photos. Sheep and doughnuts have been known to crop up in his books! Murakami has won numerous awards around the world and he is highly regarded, we adore his books at LoveReading, you may just need to set reality aside on occasion though (which can be deliciously entertaining).
The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee is set in Hong Kong, the mix of East and West sit as a vibrant backdrop to the story of three expatriate women. There is a balance to this fascinating story, and it has been developed into a television series, which is set to premiere on Amazon.
If you enjoy crime novels, then Abir Mukherjee’s Wyndham & Banerjee novels come highly recommend by our team. Starting with A Rising Man set in 1919, Captain Wyndham arrives from England for a post in Calcutta’s police force and works with a certain Sergeant Banerjee. This was the winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Endeavour Dagger for Best Historical Novel in 2017.
An intimate yet sweeping tale that details some turbulent times in Taiwan’s history is The Stolen Bicycle, a very special book indeed. A bicycle sits centre stage in this novel by award winning novelist Wu Ming-Yi. He has the ability to transport you through time and space and we love the way he paints with words.
If you enjoy historical relationship tales then we just adore Dinah Jeffries. She has written various novels set in Asia, and you can start anywhere. A couple of books do contain characters from other novels, so you might want to read in publication order. The Silk Merchant’s Daughter is set in 1950’s Vietnam and as usual Dinah encourages you to feel, smell, touch and taste the words as she brings her vibrant world to life.
We hope you see some old favourites here and meet some new friends within this list. Do let us know what novels you would have included.
Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 A darkly mesmerising and fascinating epic of a tale based in India, one that is all-consuming and fiercely beautiful. A family descends into a hellish nightmare when power, greed, and corruption begin to prowl through their lives. After his mother dies, Jivan returns home to his family and arrives to chaos. The first paragraph gently took hold of my thoughts, setting the departing view in my minds eye, setting my feet on the journey to India. I sank quickly and deeply into the page, Preti Taneja allows the words to sing, to explain, to show the world that Jivan is entering. I remained on edge, apprehensive, sometimes having to peek between my fingers as love and hate began a heady, swirling, burning dance, wrapping around one another until they became one. As a retelling of King Lear, it stands resolutely on its on merit and I almost didn’t want to mention the connection. ‘We That Are Young’ shocks, provokes, pushes and pulls at thoughts and feelings, it is also a ravishingly descriptive work of art. Featured in Episode 4 of the LoveReading Podcast
This is a strange little book indeed; soulful, sorrowful and yet curiously engaging and charming. Translated from Japanese and including wonderful illustrations, drawings and photos, this quirky tale draws you into it’s deep dark secrets from the moment you turn the very first page. The illustrations have been beautifully considered and hold hands with the tale as it slinks and skulks along. Even though this is narrated by a schoolboy, with fairly simple language, this is anything but simplistic and childish. Sheep and doughnuts have appeared before in this author’s works - make of that what you will! As a word of warning, reading this may leave you wanting to run in the opposite direction from any little old men who happen to approach you in the library, especially if it has a basement, but it’s well worth that particular affliction.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A remarkably touching and quite, quite beautiful read. Set in Hong Kong, the prologue is teeming with people making their way to this remarkable city. Margaret, Mercy and Hilary are three expatriate women learning to survive heartache in a different and sometimes difficult world. Three distinct lives, at first separate, step closer to each other, then the links between the three women tighten, almost to choking point. Janice Y. K. Lee writes with an exquisite, startling intensity, she provokes thoughts and feelings into exploring identity, grief and a fluttering of possibilities. Hong Kong is breathtaking, with the mix of East and West acting as a vibrant backdrop to the intimate story of these women. There is a real depth and energy to the writing, yet the thread of compassion that weaves through the pages ensures a delicate balance. ‘The Expatriates’ is wonderfully fascinating, compelling and profound, and I absolutely loved it. ~ Liz Robinson
November 2017 Book of the Month A beautifully written, rather special novel, detailing the highly personal journey of a family through turbulent times in Taiwan’s history. A stolen bicycle sits centre stage in this story, in fact the bicycles of Taiwan are hugely important, which sounds rather quirky, but as I read, the more I understood, and it felt… just right. The first few sentences spoke to me, the beauty of the thoughts and the description immediately shone through, by the end of the first chapter though, a chill settled over me. I felt as though I was wandering through a mind of treasured memories, some harsh, upsetting, others light as a breeze. Wu Ming-Yi is an award winning novelist, and I can see why for this is a story that meanders, transporting you through time and place. He quite literally paints with words. The translation is seamless, I felt connected, yet completely aware of the differences in front of me. ‘The Stolen Bicycle’ is an intimate tale that sweeps through history, it’s a truly fascinating, unusual read that I adored - highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson
Set in modern India, this remarkable novel lays bare potent – and harrowing – universal truths about toxic masculinity and the physical and psychological abuse of women that’s often silenced, ignored or unnoticed. “I am the woman who asked for tenderness and was raped in return. I am the woman who has done her sentence. I am the woman who still believes, broken-heartedly in love”, so states the unnamed protagonist, an educated young woman whose every freedom is curtailed when she marries a university professor. Her silencing begins immediately, when they move to “a strange town that does not speak any of her mother tongues” and he begins to control every aspect of her life. “Come off Facebook”, he orders. When she dares question him, the punch line is dealt: if she loves him, she will do as he asks. Soon after, he takes control of her email account too, and she makes herself blank, plain, for plainness “will prevent arguments”. She tells her parents, but the shame of a broken marriage must be avoided above all else, even though he rapes to disable her, even though her abuse and isolation is all consuming. But, while he ridicules her writing, and accuses her of being mad, she writes in secret as an act of defiance, and she has a hidden weapon in her arsenal. Stylistically, at times this put me in mind of the brilliant Jean Rhys. The writing is precise, intense, brutally honest, and analytical, and the unforgettable narrator reveals truths that need to be told, gives voice to thousands of women who need to be heard. Courageous and clever, this offers incomparably powerful insights into the manifold means by which men abuse women, and the complex dynamics of abusive relationships. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
Skilfull and delicate writing where the commonplace is described in such a way, you feel as though you are seeing it for the first time. Chaudhuri takes a peek at an everyday normality and describes it with such simplicity, compassion and beauty that it becomes a little shaft of pure sunlight. It almost feels as though you have stepped into someone's mind and danced through their innermost thoughts as they whimsically drift from Oxford to India. It is perhaps India that stands out as a highlight, with it’s exotic yet homely reflections creating memories to live for. A quite lovely and enchanting little book. ~ Liz Robinson
One of our Books of the Year 2015. August 2015 Debut of the Month. Prepare to be completely and utterly charmed in this whimsical and touching tale that enfolds you in the mystery of India. Inspector Chopra (retired), is likable, dependable and steadfast; in his case, once a policeman, always a policeman rings very true. Vaseem Khan writes with an undeniably light touch, yet he doesn't shy away from the more sinister side of life in the city of Mumbai. A vibrantly colourful India sings and on occasion bellows from the pages. While a suspicious death leads Chopra to begin an investigation, it’s the descriptions of everyday life that really bring this fascinating novel to life. The baby elephant Ganesha is a star in the making and ‘The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra’ is a delightfully engaging start to a new series. ~ Liz Robinson
April 2017 Debut of the Month. An emotional, heart-stopping, and mesmerising debut novel. 34 year old retired banker and burgeoning artist Barry from New York, and 28 year old just-married Parisian architect Sophie, are the sole survivors of a plane crash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Stranded on a small uninhabited island, with only themselves and a small survival kit for company, can they withstand the trials that nature and the universe hurls at them? Chapter one was an unexpected and intriguing start, setting questions hovering in my mind, before I was propelled straight into the middle of a boiling, seething mass of water. Dane Huckelbridge’s clear, strong writing planted me firmly on the island, I witnessed shock, awe, and fear, laughter blurted out of me, I looked up at the sky, discovered joy, counted the days, felt hearts flutter. ‘Castle of Water’ is a gorgeous, captivating, surprising novel, one that storms your senses, yet encourages whispers of thoughts to escape your mind, and I absolutely loved it. ~ Liz Robinson
September 2015 Book of the Month. Chosen as a Richard and Judy Book Club selection Autumn 2015. An exotically intense, vibrant and memorable tale, set in Ceylon from 1925 and covering a period of eleven years. Nineteen year old Gwen discovers an unfamiliar world both physically and emotionally when she leaves England to be with her new husband. Gwen enters a testing arena, conflict comes in many forms and destructive secrets convulse corrosively just out of reach. Dinah Jefferies opens up Ceylon for our viewing, tasting and touching pleasure, she describes this vivid land and customs quite beautifully, while settling the story gently within its midst. The characters are portrayed realistically, mistakes are made and hidden, guilt and suspicion become damaging companions. Written with true eloquence and compassion The Tea Planter’s Wife is a profoundly moving and engaging novel. ~ Liz Robinson
November 2017 Book of the Month A chilling ghostly tale set in 1935 on Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas. Five men attempt to climb to the summit of the worlds third highest mountain, they take the same path as a failed climb in 1907 and soon find local superstitions and eerie sightings affect their thoughts and nerves. Michelle Paver embeds a sense of complete reality, Dr Stephen Pearce tells the story and it feels as though it could be a documented historic account. Yet as I read, small unnerving suggestions began to affect my reasoning. Thoughts and feelings, trapped and hemmed in by fear, transferred from the pages. Michelle Paver explains at the end of the book that in reality, the actual peak of the mountain remained untouched until 1980, so as not to upset ‘whatever’ lived up there. Was the altitude affecting the climb in the novel, or a more supernatural presence? ‘Thin Air’, set in a world unknown to most, is an unsettling, gripping, and oh so readable tale. ~ liz Robinson
August 2016 Debut of the Month. Warmly amusing, gorgeously transportive and eye opening, this is a novel that subtly and quietly creeps under your skin. When a risqué dance troupe arrives in a remote Himalayan village in India, it quite literally appears to be the answer to Rabindra’s prayers. Rabindra has been dreaming of England, his brother trained there as a Doctor, returning full of dazzling information, and so second son Rabindra asked the gods for help. Robin Mukherjee brings the village of Pushkara and it’s colourful inhabitants to vibrant, glorious life. With imagined conversations, misunderstandings and miscommunication taking place, I chortled and smirked as human nature asserted itself on the other side of the world. Robin Mukherjee’s writing is bright and bold, yet a skilful eloquence ensures a thought provoking bite. ‘Hillstation’ surprised me, it delivered so much more than I was expecting, it’s a quirky, quite delightful read and I adored it. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'I remember first opening Hillstation on my train journey home from work one day, it had been a long day and I was tired and, in all honestly, didn't really fancy reading anything. Within a few paragraphs Robin Mukjerjee's delightful, charming prose had me smitten. I chuckled at the dry humour that permeates the pages as I became fascinated by the local Indian village and its inhabitants: their personalities, their spirituality, and their response to the comical chaos that disrupts their normal, conservative way of life. Before long, I had fallen in love with this unique novel and its endearing protagonist, Rabindra. If you want a book that will make you laugh, enlighten you about culture, ask questions about our aspirations (and whether what we think we aspire to is really what we want) and ultimately leave you with a big grin on your face, Hillstation is the book for you.' - Clare Quinlivan, Editorial and Rights Executive, Oldcastle Books
May 2017 Book of the Month. A captivating, fiendishly puzzling crime drama with an exotic, fascinating backdrop. Martial, Liane, and their daughter Sopha are on holiday on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, then Liane disappears and Martial finds himself the only suspect. The main pair in the investigating team are simply fabulous characters, in particular Christos, who would rather sit back with a glass of rum than work for a living. Michel Bussi has the wonderful ability to take you on a completely different journey with each book he writes, yet each is a compelling, high-octane, outstanding read. I found my thoughts tumbling over each other as Bussi took me into the minds of the characters. The daughter Sopha talks in the the first person, creating incredibly intimate and powerful moments in time. Translations of certain local words sit waiting for you, allowing a discovery of the place and people. ‘Don’t Let Go’ twists and writhes, constantly moving forward, tension escalates until the final heart-stopping moments. ~ Liz Robinson
This debut collection of fourteen fascinating and diverse stories plays out in different countries around the world. At the centre of each story sits the very nature of what it is to be an expatriate or migrant in a different country, and the sense of torn values and feelings between cultures. Author Elaine Chiew was born in Malaysia, graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a lawyer in New York before studying in London. She now lives in Singapore. Her writing ranges from thoughtful to provocative, pithy and vibrant observations bring these short stories to life. She has the ability to transfer emotions from the page, straight into my heart and mind. You can either throw yourself in from the beginning or take a pick and mix approach. The Heartsick Diaspora is a wonderful, thought provoking collection of stories, I can highly recommend.
Stolen childhoods and harrowing memories haunt lives in this moving and fascinating novel. Written with tremendous compassion and eloquence, the author reveals two tales, two time frames, two tragedies and two guilt-ridden women seeking redemption. The different time frames work perfectly alongside each other, each tale is anchored by the heartrending secrets that have been hidden for years.You are taken on a journey through time and across seas to the inconceivable world of a Japanese Internment Camp during the Second World War. Wolff discloses the unbelievable horrors that terrorised the inhabitants, simply yet vividly bringing to life a different world. Closer to home, the breathtaking Cornish coast has harboured another childhood sorrow. Guilt has been a distressing yet accepted companion for these two women, can reliving the past lay to rest the ghosts that have besieged them? Compelling and convincing, this poignant tale deserves to be heard. ~ Liz Robinson
March 2014 Book of the Month. An intriguing and beguiling read, told with great eloquence and understanding. Burma and the USA are unlikely bedfellows as a setting, however this juxtaposition helps focus on the different characters and their yearning for compassion and love. Part of the novel is set within a period of civil war, the hardships accentuate the spiritual and friendly nature of the community caught in this internal conflict and you feel that the author has a great love for Burma and its people. His lightness of touch, when dealing with heartache and sorrow, emphasise the intensity of feelings within the main characters. There is no discord or disharmony between the different stories being told and by the end the tales fit enchantingly together like two sides of the same jigsaw. Although this is a much anticipated sequel, you do not have to have read the award winning The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. This book stands resolutely in its own right, however there are suggestive hints, that if you haven't yet done so, will encourage you to explore the story of Julias father, the man who could hear heartbeats. ~ Liz Robinson In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for A Well Tempered Heart a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'A beautifully written book about a beautiful country and culture. If you love a sensitive thoughtful book then this is the one for you.' Sarah Musk Scroll down to read more reviews. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... Normally publishers are wary of sequels but Jan-Philipp Sendker’s follow up to the smash hit Art of Hearing Heartbeats does not disappoint. Everything is there: the mix of East and West, the pain of lives pulled apart by the bitter conflict of war and, most of all, the emotional pull of love, loss and forgiveness. All infused with Jan-Philipp’s spellbinding story-telling; you won’t be able to put it down.' - Neville Moir, Editor, Polygon Books
A stark, fierce, and fascinating start to what promises to be a rewarding trilogy. The Swords of Silence is set in Japan during 1626 as the Shogun slams shut the door to outside influences. If Father Joaquim Martinez and the village he tends, fail to renounce their religion, they face a hideous death. It took a little time for me to settle into the names, the time, the land, however I was soon gripped by the story on offer. The dedication at the beginning states that between 1614 and 1643 the Shogun executed almost 5,000 Christians. Shaun Curry writes with a simplicity that to be quite honest, feels necessary in the bloodshed that follows. He doesn’t revel in the gore, instead quite matter-of-factly describes incidents that somehow feel all the more real. I have to say that I have rather fallen for Master Watanabe and do hope that he makes a reappearance in the trilogy! Exploring a time and place from long ago, The Swords of Silence took me with picture sharp clarity into a compelling story.
Voted 2nd in the Books of the Decade by Lovereading readers. Voted as the Penguin/Orange Reading Group Book of the Year 2006 and 2007. This book seemed to come out of nowhere. It was the first Afghan novel to be written in English and it became a word-of-mouth bestseller in no time at all. Telling a tragic story of childhood jealousy and fear, it covers a bitter part of Afghan history in a painful tale that truly pulls at the heartstrings. A brilliant book. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Richard Charkin, Executive Director of Publisher Bloomsbury, said: “We’re delighted that The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini has been selected by Lovereading as the number two title of the last Decade. We’re so pleased it continues to resonate with today’s readers and hope it will continue to do so for many decades to come.”
One of the most beautiful tales of friendship I have ever read, Kim is often described as Kipling’s love letter to India. At its centre is Kim, a young white boy, an orphan, and his friend and mentor the Tibetan Lama who takes Kim from the streets of Lahore to be educated at a public school in England and on to adventures. Set in an imperialistic world; a world strikingly masculine, dominated by travel, trade and adventure, a world in which there is no question of the division between white and non-white. The book is a celebration of their friendship in a beautiful but often hostile environment and Kim captures the opulence of India's exotic landscape, overlaid by the uneasy presence of the British Raj. This book is just unforgettable. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Breathtaking in it’s intensity and exquisitely written, find yourself transported to a reimagined China during the decline of the Song Dynasty. The way the author writes is unmistakable, yet again he’s delivered a masterpiece combining lyrical subtlety and heartrending beauty. The purposeful principal cast, with their faults, their flaws, are sometimes outshone by the splendid secondary characters and the vivid yet small inconsequential stories that highlight the choices, decisions, pathways that pepper and alter lives. You will find yourself wanting to race ahead to discover what’s around the next corner, and simultaneously take a slow stroll through the poetic pages to enable you to savour every delicious word.
Breathtaking in its scope, unforgettable in its descriptions, this is a masterpiece which is extraordinary in every way.
One of the most inspiring and positive, yet also one of the most painfully difficult and uncomfortable reads of the year. Hillenbrand, the author of ‘Seabiscuit’ has written the life story of Louis Zamperini; mischief maker, Olympian, bombardier, hero… and what an incredibly moving story it is. Hillenbrand writes so cleverly, you feel that you are listening to Zamperini himself, he literally springs from the pages. The pictures of Zamperini, his family and his comrades from the Second World War are wonderful and help to cement the man in your memory. There are parts to this novel that kick and pummel your consciousness and literally cause a physical ache, if this were a work of fiction, you’d think it fantastical, the fact that this is a true story, quite simply blows your mind. The film version of Unbroken is released in UK cinemas on Friday 26 December 2014. Click below to view the trailer.
A fabulous and award-winning historical crime series set in India, starring Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee. Discover richly vivid, wonderful interplay between the characters and thought provoking storylines. This is a series to stick on the top of your to-be-read pile. Books in The Sam Wyndham Series: 1. A Rising Man 2. A Necessary Evil 3. Smoke and Ashes 4. Death in the East Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
Another intensely vivid and expressive tale from Dinah Jefferies, on this occasion set in 1930’s Ceylon. All of Dinah’s books can be read as standalone novels, however ‘The Sapphire Widow’ is visited by characters from ‘The Tea Planter’s Wife’ so perhaps start there (though you certainly don’t have to). Louisa Reeve has her life torn apart after the unexpected death of her husband, as she tries to understand the hidden part of the man she loved, she finds a potential new life opening up before her. Dinah has the ability to create beauty and pain with the written word, to evoke feelings and to open minds. The pages waft scent, flavour, sound, I could almost stop, breathe in, and let the words settle around me. The story flows allowing you unfettered access, unease skittered across my awareness, heightening my anticipation and concern. ‘The Sapphire Widow’ is a gorgeous captivating tale full of emotion, and it took me outside of myself into a different world. ~ Liz Robinson
‘Green Island’ is a breathtaking novel, it’s emotional, thought-provoking and absolutely fascinating. Set in Taiwan and the USA between 1947 and 2003, the novel focuses on one family, yet the story is presented on an epic scale. This is a work of fiction, however elements are based on fact, and the tale weaves its way through shocking, brutal times. Shawnee Yang Ryan sets the tale in motion using an unnamed narrator, she is the youngest daughter of the family set in the novel, and as the narrator she adds an intensity and greater connection to the story. There is a perceptive understanding of human nature portrayed in this tale and it all feels so very very real. The writing is expressive, vibrant and able to touch feelings with a raw intensity, yet it can also hold a moment of beauty with delicate empathy. ‘Green Island’ is a novel that encouraged me to look further into this time in Taiwan’s history, it is also, quite simply, a beautifully touching read.
Thirty-year-old Shalini has lived a privileged life, but one beset by uncertainty. She was her erratic mother’s “little beast” and is struggling to come to terms with her tragic death. Adrift from work and the wider world, Shalini journeys to find Bashir, a travelling salesman she and her mother befriended through her childhood, tentatively hoping this will provide some understanding of her mother’s death. As Shalini’s journey unfolds in the present, a second narrative reveals her past with raw poignancy. On the road, Shalini’s faltering need to belong somewhere is revealed through her romantic imaginings of being part of a stranger’s family. And then, in Bashir’s remote Himalayan village, she becomes caught in a complex political situation, with the tangled conflict between her heart and conscience made powerfully palpable. While she feels “I had chosen this place, these people, this life, with its secrets and its violence, it’s hardness and its beauty”, Shalini recognises that she’s thrown Bashir’s family “into disarray with my invasion and my probing questions”. The writing is so exquisitely magnetic that I struggled to draw myself away from it, especially as Shalini’s story rose to an unexpected, pulse-quickening climax. This is the rare kind of novel that lingers long in the heart and mind, like a dream one feels compelled to return to.
Oh my, this is intense, shocking, and an absolute winner. Jemma is on an island in the Maldives, her husband of just one week is missing, is he alive, or has the unthinkable happened? Tina Seskis encourages an almost unbearable tension to strum across the pages. I found myself questioning everything, suspecting everyone. Jemma tells her story in the present, while the background of the last seven years is gradually revealed. Provocative, yet subtle, the balance between compassion and misgiving is kept on a razor sharp edge. I found myself completely ensnared, wanting to read faster and faster, yet not wanting the story to end. I will admit to moments of smugness, before the story slapped me quite severely, for being so sure of myself. Thrilling and entertaining ‘The Honeymoon’ is a jaw-dropping, truly fabulous read. ~ Liz Robinson
Dinah Jefferies has presented another beautifully told and vividly stunning tale, this time set in 1950’s Vietnam. The story revolves around 18 year old Nicole, half French and half Vietnamese, Nicole finds herself torn as war between the ruling French and indigenous population prowls ever closer. Nicole hovers between two men, both from opposing worlds, both with their own journey to take. It feels as though you are watching a wide framed view of history, from the personal perspective of Nicole, her disorientation and heartfelt feelings clamour and writhe from the pages. It is the moments of quiet that really set this story apart, the descriptions of the surroundings, of the small and simple but oh so important things that shape, colour and bring this world to such vibrant life. The colours, smells and heat are all within touching distance, allowing Vietnam to sit beguilingly in the background, adding depth and flavour to the story of Nicole. Visually and emotionally powerful, ’The Silk Merchant’s Daughter' is quite simply a gorgeous read.
The novel was written in the 1870’s when newspapers were full of stories about the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the USA, the opening of the Suez Canal and the ability to cross India by rail. Phileas Fogg having seen this news has a bet with the members of his club that he can travel around the world in 80 daysand sets off with his valet Passepartout from London on a rainy day. A fast moving adventure that is still relevant to today’s traveller. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Ten books down the line and suddenly the critics are taking note of this exceptional writer. Surreal, highly imaginative and gloriously inventive, this follows the very strange journeys of two remarkable characters. You’ve got to read him to appreciate there is little I can say except … you’ve got to read him.Comparison: Audrey Niffenegger, David Mitchell, Yann Martel.Similar this month: None but try Terry Pratchett.
It’s no secret that I am a fan of Dinah Jefferies and this is as beautifully and vividly readable as one would expect. Slip back into history and join Belle Hatton who travels to Burma in 1936 to become a nightclub singer, accompanying her is a newspaper clipping suggesting her parents left Ragoon 25 years previously in mysterious circumstances. Two time frames sit side by side, in 1921 we meet Belle’s mother, lost and traumatised, while in 1936 Belle finds her life increasingly in danger. I adore the descriptive detailing, you can almost close your eyes and take in a deep breath of a bygone era. The colour of the place and people just pops with intensity. Belle begins a relationship with a man, yet it doesn’t take centre stage, it is important but certainly not the be all and end all of this particular story. There is one unforgettable moment, using an event from history that is shockingly dramatic and provocative, I saw with Belle’s eyes, felt the pain and fear. I feel as though I could pick up a Dinah Jefferies book without knowing the author and would instinctively know it was hers, each book is completely individual yet the style of the author remains. The Missing Sister is richly and expressively eye-catching, it swept me up into the pages, releasing me only at the very satisfying ending.
A 2016 World Book Night selection. ‘Whispering Shadows’ may be classed as a murder mystery, however it is one with true heart and soul, and is a sincerely beautiful read. The first in a trilogy, Jan-Philipp Sendker has departed from the format of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and A Well-Tempered Heart, yet the enticing mix of East and West again weaves its magic touch. Paul Leibovitz has spent 30 years living in Hong Kong, he has experienced tragedy and has cut himself off from the rest of the world; a chance meeting sets him on a collision course with his feelings, his past and a possible future. Sendker obviously has a profound connection with China, his writing not only allows you to open your eyes in a different land, but also to feel, to touch, to think with consideration and compassion. Ranging from delicate and thoughtful to commanding and persuasive ensures this a convincing and fascinating read. ~ Liz Robinson
A darkly captivating, tense, and beautifully written tale, that explores fear and the innermost thoughts and feelings of hearts and minds. This is the second in the ‘China’ series, and I really do recommend starting with the wonderful ‘Whispering Shadows’. Paul Leibovitz finds himself on an emotional collision course as he battles for justice in China. His girlfriend Christine, is connected to China in a way that, even with all of his knowledge of the East, Paul can not understand, and their two stories, twist around each other, separated, yet together. The prologue surprised me, it is a tormented and heartbreaking lament, the voice reappears during the novel, absolutely haunting in it’s intensity. I found myself connecting to characters who are just a whisper on the page, feeling their pain and confusion. Jan-Philipp Sendker paints a vividly striking picture of a different world, yet he doesn't pass judgement, instead allowing you to watch, listen and learn. ‘Dragon Games’ hovers on a honed knife edge of tension, it’s a deeply moving story, and slowly seeped into my soul. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2002. Pi’s family is moving their zoo when the boat sinks and 16-year old Pi is left afloat in a lifeboat with four animals that includes a tiger. Up to that point the book is slow to get into but persevere for this unique work is stunning. It’s brutal, hopeful, humorous, philosophical, almost implausible and yet strangely believable. A tale that will remain with you for a very long time and deserves another read. Comparison: Mark Haddon (The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time), Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife), Aravind Adiga (The White Tiger). The Life of Pi is now a major motion picture from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee and opens in the UK on 20 December 2012.
This may be a small book in size, but it is mighty of heart and contains 226 pages of delight. I think it would make the most wonderful gift, if not for yourself, then perhaps for someone who would appreciate a smile or hug in book form. This wonderful little treasure contains a myriad of short stories, sitting in sections that range from kindness to poignancy, and from school life to meeting in lifts. There are also some decidedly witty amuse-bouche stories (in cartoon strip form with illustrations by Iain McIntosh) to be found between the pages. It is no secret that I adore Alexander McCall Smith’s writing. He has the ability in a few sentences, to make me stop and think, or splutter and chortle. Every word counts, and each joins to create the most wonderful journey as you travel the world and through time. You can either dip in and out, or binge read like I did as I snickered and smiled my way through the pages. Short and sharp, yet bountiful and considerate, Tiny Tales really is the most fabulous book. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
June 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A book to put a great big beaming (and somewhat tearful) smile on your face. ‘Finding Gobi’ documents the quite amazing story of one man’s quest to find the little dog who had stolen his heart. Dion Leonard was a serious ultra marathon competitor in a race through the Gobi Desert, when a little street dog joined him, running by his side. We hear about Dion’s childhood, why he started running, what it takes to be an ultra competitor, and we meet Gobi, the dog with eyes that appear to see into your soul. You may already be aware of this story, as it took social media by storm, if like me, you weren’t, then the prologue sets your mind at ease before you start this simply sensational story. ‘Finding Gobi’ joins man and dog in a story to warm the cockles of your heart, I absolutely adored it. It is worth noting that a children’s version of the story is also available. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
June 2014 Debut of the Month. A big sweeping saga of plantation life in Malaya in the 1950s, of isolation, infidelity, deceit and manipulation. Then came the Civil War and families were torn apart. The one we follow has so much mistrust and sadness at its heart that even back in England life remains full of pain. The author spent her formative years in Malaya and the colour and richness of that life shines through in this, her first novel.
Written in Singlish - “a tossed salad of the different languages and Chinese dialects that the country’s multiethnic population speaks” - this exhilarating novel follows brazen Jazzy’s mission to marry a wealthy “ang moh” (white) man. Almost 27, she warns her friends that ”if we don’t get married, engaged or even nail down a boyfriend soon—my god, we might as well go ahead and book a room at Singapore Casket… But luckily for us, we still have one big hope: ang moh guys”, because “if you wear a tight tight dress or short short skirt, these ang mohs will still steam over you”. To this end, Jazzy’s life is an intense cycle of spending her days working for a newspaper editor who likes to “rubba rubba” his employees, followed by long nights at fancy clubs. Through her predatory attitude and enduring of a whole lot of objectification, this novel is razor-sharp on male entitlement, inequality, racial stereotypes and global capitalism. Indeed, Jazzy wasn’t always a Sarong Party Girl herself: “I would see women who are so obviously going after guys just for status and really look down on them. What kind of woman is so pathetic to chase after a husband just for the kind of handbag, car or condo they can buy them?” And then one night, it seems that enough is enough. Jazzy has an epiphany at dawn after a one hell of a wake-up call night out. What a fresh, funny and wildly acerbic treat this is. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
A first novel, so in some ways one must forgive the author for a little flagging in the middle. Having said that I do most earnestly recommend it. As an insight into the extraordinary culture, it is flawless.
A beautiful new limited edition paperback of Eat Pray Love, published as part of the Bloomsbury Modern Classics listTo travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. Newly divorced journalist Elizabeth Gilbert is struggling to carve out an authentic identity in New York. Desperate to reinvigorate her life and connect with the world around her, she embarks on a modern-day pilgrimage. With warmth and humour, Gilbert chronicles a journey from Italy to India and, finally, to Bali. Each country serves as a vivid backdrop for self-exploration as she comes to terms with the choices that have hitherto defined her life, and begins to rediscover herself. The Bloomsbury Modern Classic Series Restless by William Boyd Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
A clever, cutting, addictive read that kicks impulsive to the ground, and stomps all over spontaneity. Two strangers meet on their travels in China, and impetuously decide to travel together on the Trans-Siberian Express, never have the words act in haste, repent at leisure been more appropriate. The synopsis grabbed me: “…as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel - because one of these women is not who she claims to be”. The prologue made me wince, the words thrust themselves into my mind and sharpened my focus. As the first few chapters uncoiled, whispers of uncertainty started. S. J. I. Holliday excels in almost quietly, yet throughly provoking feelings, allowing tension to build to an almost unbearable level. Out on the wild open plains I felt claustrophobic and uncomfortable, and yet the story called and clamoured to be finished. Violet is a fabulously unsettling ride, once you climb aboard it won’t let you off, so make sure your ‘do not disturb sign’ is on display.
A gorgeously expressive and captivating novel, set in 1930’s India at the height of the struggle for independence against British rule. 28 year old photographer Eliza agrees to document the royal family and subjects of one of the princely states. Eliza spends time with Jay, brother of the prince, and as they become closer they open their minds to new ideas, however their relationship comes under scrutiny. Dinah Jefferies always transports thoughts, feelings, and senses, not only to the place, but also the time, so completely, it’s a shock when you look up from page and come back to reality. For me, there was an additional quality to this novel, the land is important, the descriptions are striking, and the history of this time absolutely fascinating; yet the relationship here feels vital, pronounced, and completely essential to the storyline. It is the relationship, with the different customs and cultures, and how it affects the people surrounding Eliza and Jay, that really provoked my feelings. With the issues affecting women taking centre stage, ‘Before the Rains’ is a beautiful novel, subtle yet striking, full of impact, and full of love.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Debut of the Month Surprising, vivid, and eloquent, this is a truly beautiful debut. Joan Ashby is a talented, award winning writer, and while marriage and family press pause in the story of her career, words demand access to the page. Author Cherise Wolas paints a vibrant and personal picture of Joan using a variety of methods including magazine articles and short stories. My mind was immediately captivated by the strength and purity of the writing, and I fell in love with this tale. The fictional world within fictional world caused my thoughts to fracture and reconnect, and asked my consciousness to think in a different way, to stop and consider. ‘The Resurrection of Joan Ashby’ displays life in all its wonderful confusing glory, the hidden, the echoes, the hurt and love. If I had to choose to be a book, to live within the pages, this is one that I’d most certainly pick. A wonderful debut and highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson
A Town Like Alice is a book that I have regularly reread since a teen. I absolutely adore it. Nevil Shute has written the most heart-rending, beautiful, and simple love story, and it makes me cry every single time I read it. He really does paint a strikingly vivid picture with words, both Jean and Joe are dear to me, and Alice simply sings. In my opinion, this is a must-read.
A thrilling journey to the dark side of Everest, it follows 18-year-old Ryan Hart, on a gap year adventure working for a charity in Nepal. Dark forces are at play on the lethal slopes of the highest peak in the world, and Ryan sets out to solve it all. Mount Everest remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for its unpredictability. In the month that this is published in 2014, a large number of sherpas perished on the mountain, so this novel is incredibly timely. The Everest Files Series: 1. The Everest Files 2. North Face 3. Killer Storm Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
An adventurous rescue attempt out on the north face of Everest, sits alongside the tale of a Tibetan family as they flee for their lives. ‘North Face’ is the second in ‘The Everest Files Series’ with 18 year old Ryan Hart finding himself once more fully immersed in the culture of his surroundings. The two separate stories blend into each other until they beat with one heart. Everest sits brooding, occasionally rumbling and roaring, ever present, ever mysterious. This is a fascinating story, all the more so, due to Matt Dickinson’s background, he has climbed Everest and he’s spent time with the local people, consequently Tashi’s tale in particular rings with truth. With evocative chapter heading illustrations, this is a simply told, yet dark tale that doesn't shy away from desperate deeds. Encouraging further research into the region, ‘North Face’ is not only thought provoking, it is also a completely captivating read.
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008 Winner of the Galaxy Author of the Year award 2009. Aravind Adiga's winning debut novel The White Tiger is described as a ‘compelling, angry and darkly humorous' novel about a man's journey from Indian village life to entrepreneurial success. It was described by one reviewer as an ‘unadorned portrait' of India seen ‘from the bottom of the heap'.
Oh my, what an absolute treasure this is. Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book was first published in 1894 and now, over 120 years later, it’s still capturing imaginations. This collectable, clothbound edition is not only complete and unabridged but has the addition of stunning interactive illustrations by London design studio MinaLima. The attention to detail is breath-taking and as you wander through Kipling’s wonderful prose and verse, you’ll discover page after page of treasures including detailed maps, pull out figures and a spinning dial of the elephant dance. This is a truly wonderful edition that will be a delight for friends of the stories old and new. It is a book to read, to explore and to simply hold and admire the beautiful illustrations inspired by this timeless story that continues to bring generations together. Click here to visit the special Jungle Book category on our sister site Lovereading4kids. Click here to visit our Jungle Book section where you can view some related titles.
The first in the breathtaking trilogy on the history of the opium wars. This starts just before in a time of colonial upheaval, the 1830s. Full of minutiae, strong characters and vivid images, this sweeps you through a fascinating period peopled with some very alive characters indeed, a motley bunch on an old slaving ship, the Ibis. Some Indian, some European, rich, poor, needy and independent with plenty of stories to tell, plenty of lives to become entangled in and totally bewitching. A rich and absorbing novel which has developed in to an addictive, moving trilogy not to be missed. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008. The Ibis Trilogy:1. Sea of Poppies2. River of Smoke3. Flood of Fire
You really should read the first in this trilogy, The Sea of Poppies, before embarking upon this huge, sprawling epic history for, although not all the characters of that first book are followed here, you will appreciate this so much more if you have an idea of who is whom. It covers the opium trade when Hong Kong was empty and Mauritius prosperous, when rich British and American merchants put profit above everything else and opium smuggling in Canton was rife. It is a full of fascinating detail and rich in history. Dense and totally absorbing, it is a must read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst The Ibis Trilogy:1. Sea of Poppies2. River of Smoke3. Flood of Fire
June 2015 Book of the Month. A thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve. It is difficult to know if this huge, sprawling novel would have quite the same appeal if you had not read the first two but I suspect you could probably dive into this as a complex historical adventure of India and China in the middle of the 19th century when the East India Company had great power. It mostly revolves round opium. Here four main characters relate the tale in different voices creating their own individual atmosphere, for the fans let me tell you they are Bhyro Singh’s secretary, his wife, his assistant and a soldier, Kesri Singh. The story jumps from one strand to another for the first half of the book with some truly lovely cameo pieces, a joy. It is also a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story - the bestselling Ibis trilogy from the author of Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies - it is nothing short of a masterpiece. ~ Sarah BroadhurstThe Ibis Trilogy:1. Sea of Poppies2. River of Smoke3. Flood of Fire
Violet is half-American, half-Chinese, and in the turn of the century Shanghai, as the revolution looms, she is separated from her mother and becomes a courtesan. We follow both women through turbulent lives. Amy Tan is an expert at recreating the period, the tension, the colour, and the fear. It’s a wonderful insight into the world of the courtesan, a long, absorbing book of love and survival.
A masterful novel as one would expect from the author of The Joy Luck Club. 11 Americans on an art expedition in Burma disappear and through twists of fate, curses and just plain human error find themselves lost and deep in the jungle where they encounter a tribe awaiting the return of their leader. Her storytelling will seduce you into the world of the jungle, of Buddhist illusions, of magic tricks and of morality. Comparison: Barbara Kingsolver, David Guterson.