No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
This is it. The place for the greatest writing: stories that transcend all other ‘genres’. Literary fiction goes above and beyond any specific genre in order to deliver stories that strike at the heart of what it means to be human.
I have completely and irretrievably fallen in love with this book. I entered thinking one thing, and left feeling so, so much more. Billy at over one hundred years old, decides to look back over the loves of his life. Richard Lumsden has created a wonderfully rounded and appealing main character, surrounded by an equally gorgeous supporting cast. I slipped into the pages and just wanted to remain there, the past calls and cajoles, intriguing suggestions form and grow, before the present enters once again. There were times when my heart broke, each piece forming a collection of love just for Billy. The Six Loves Of Billy Binns is a beautifully readable and emotional tale, full of laughter and tears you really couldn’t ask for much more, highly recommended.
Uplifting and dazzlingly unique, this coming-of-age treasure explores identity and sexuality with an emboldening message to remember that “you have the right to be you”. As a young Barbie-loving boy, mixed race Michael wonders if he’s “only half” of everything, to which his mother poignantly replies: “Don’t let anyone tell you/that you are half-black/and half-white. Half-Cypriot/ and half-Jamaican./ You are a full human being.” But he doesn’t feel like a whole human being. Dubbed a “queerdo and weirdo” by bullies and subjected to “batty bwoy” taunts through his teenage years, he leaves London for Brighton University with hope in his heart. But even here Michael feels “like Goldilocks; trying to find a group of people/the perfect fit for me”. He doesn’t feel black enough for the Caribbean Society, or Greek enough for Hellenic Society, or queer enough for the LBGT Society. Then Michael finally finds a fit at Drag Society where he becomes The Black Flamingo, “someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on.” Michael’s journey is complex, moving and told with a raw vitality that makes the soul soar and the heart sing, with Anshika Khullar’s magnificent illustrations and the smart design adding further depth, prompting the reader to pause for thought as his story requires.
A sweary, sexy, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining tale set in a Welsh town. A homeless man sits just off centre stage, though this is actually very much an ensemble piece. Individual stories, each able to exist on their own, combine to become a complete and oh so fabulous community tale. The chapter headings serve as a siren like call to read. Crystal Jeans has created fascinating and unique snapshots, some made me shout with laughter, while in others I flinched. There are some very human attributes and an awful lot of feeling to be found and explored along the way. I particularly enjoyed the apparently randomness of the time line, which zig-zags and throws thoughts skywards. The Homeless Heart-Throb is clever, different, and it just roars along as it fans the provocative flames - loved it!.
When Levi and Charlotte McAllister’s mother dies, she suffers the post-death fate experienced by many a McAllister woman. After cremation, she re-appears and bursts into flame on the lawn. Fearing his sister is headed for the same end, Levi swears to “bury her whole and still and cold”, which prompts Charlotte to flee southward “towards the bottom of the earth”. What follows is a cleverly twisting story that crackles with intrigue and invention as the lives of an assortment of compelling characters collide. There’s the wildly eccentric coffin maker Levi commissions to make Charlotte’s casket, and the hard-drinking female detective he employs to track her down. There’s the wombat-farmer slipping into insanity, and the young woman who works for him and changes Charlotte’s life. Raw and real, yet also suffused in otherworldly magic, the author has conjured an elemental mythological landscape alongside the true-world Tasmanian setting. I raced through these blistering pages, but this is a book I shall undoubtedly return to.
Sparked by the author’s reading about a real reform school in Florida, this deeply affecting novel centres around the unforgettable Ellwood Curtis. “Raised strict” by his grandmother, Ellwood was “intelligent and hardworking and a credit to his race”, and driven by the wisdom of Martin Luther King: “We must believe in our souls that we are somebody, that we are significant, that we are worthful, and we must walk the streets of life every day with this sense of dignity.” At high school - where the books were defaced by racist slurs written by white students who knew where their old books were headed - Ellwood thrives under a teacher who lets him know of an opportunity to go to the local black college. But Ellwood never got to go. One mistake sees him sent to Nickel Academy where he’s “swiftly appalled” by the low level of education. “I am stuck here, but I’ll make the best of it,” he resolves, invoking Dr King for strength. It’s not long before Ellwood realises that rather than being a place that seeks to transform boys into “honorable and honest men”, the school is fuelled by violent abuse - “Nickel was racist as hell - half the people who worked here probably dressed up like the Klan on weekends” - and many kids disappear from this horrendous environment. While Elwood grasps onto Dr King’s “Do to us what you will and we will still love you” mantra, his friend Turner subscribes to the notion that survival is dependent on them adopting their tyrants’ cruelties. Like Ellwood himself, this novel has a steady, direct tone, underpinned by resolve and dignity in the face of inhumane abuse. Traversing timeframes, and with a stop-you-in-your-tracks ending, this stunning book from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad exposes oft-hidden historical horrors with poised humanity, and shows-up the ricocheting, inter-generational resonance of institutional racism and abuse.
With the intrigue dial immediately spun to its furthest setting, this is a startling, and unexpectedly sophisticated novel. Secretary Dany Longo drops her boss and his family at the airport in his Thunderbird, rather than returning the car, she decides to keep driving. En route to the South of France people say they recognise her, and talk about meeting Dany the previous day, however she was at work in Paris, they couldn’t possibly have seen her! First published in the 1960’s this is still as readable and on point today, time has not caused it to wither or shrink, but to take on a rich deep tone. Author Sebastien Japrisot has a Graham Greene like reputation in France. Journalist and literary critic Christian House has written an introduction, and one that truly does introduce. The first page sent an icy shockwave through me, immediately creating an intense energy. The story was so curious, so different, I actually just stayed in the moment and didn’t spend too much time in speculation. The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun is so very readable, it cajoles and leads thoughts astray before settling at the end with a contented and knowing smile.
A lovely, heartfelt, oh so readable and occasionally quirky story containing huge empathy and thoughtfulness. Two teenagers, refugees without their parents, set off from Syria in the hopes of reaching the UK. I am a huge fan of Gavin Extence, as he has the ability to write with an incredibly light touch while exploring hugely provocative topics. His books often contain a waft of magic, not hocus pocus exactly, but something that makes you stop and think. The story here is told by 19-year-old Zain, older brother to 14-year-old Mohammed, and we meet them as they begin the swim from Turkey to Greece. Simply told, the words hit my thoughts with hammer-hard intensity, and yet there were smiles on hand too. There is a gentle compassion to be found in Zain, and as I read, I took him, and his football-loving brother to my heart. All I will say about the third absolutely fabulous character in this tale is that I won’t forget him! ‘The End of Time’ doesn’t preach, it lets you discover thoughts and feelings for yourself, it just exists, as it is, as the most wonderfully compelling and beautiful story. I have chosen ‘The End of Time’ as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month - it has a massive tick in the 'fabulous read' box from me. Gavin Extence is our author in the picture for July 2019, do take a look at the photos he chose in answer to our questions. Read our Putting Authors in the Picture blog post with Gavin.
If ever there was a book to fall completely in love with, this is it. Grace Atherton keeps certain parts of her deeply buried from everyone, yet it is the revelation of a joint secret that causes her life as she knows it to stop, how can she possibly restart it again? The first few sentences told me I was in for a real treat, I was intrigued, delighted in the style of writing, and then the end of first chapter… it was completely unexpected and caused my stomach to squirm. While this is a book to read with joy, it isn’t a gooey ride, it made me flinch, question and delve into thoughts. Anstey Harris has conjured such beautiful descriptions, they created a fully realised and vivid picture in my mind. Music and friendship pay a hugely important part in this book, the joy of each deeply embedded in the page, the words releasing themselves into my soul. I will admit to knowing next to nothing about cellos and violins, yet somehow I felt as though I did, I understood, I felt, I loved each instrument. I absolutely adore The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, it is completely magical and I suspect that each time I read it (it is a book to return to), a slightly different story will await me. Highly recommended.
Places to Visit on the Way There is a collection of 25 short stories, each with their own prologue to set them in context. In genre, they range from social commentary to science fiction to horror, with many having a religious undertone and some defying categorisation altogether. It would not be possible to write about each story individually, so I have chosen four that I particularly enjoyed reading. 'Paying the Price' is a Faustian tale with a twist and a very hard body blow at the end, which, for all that it is predictable, nevertheless has great impact. This is the first story in the book, with keenly observed characterisations, so it's off to a great start. 'Best Friend' tells the tale of an elderly man, who, just in time, regains hope after bereavement has robbed him of everything that made his life worth living. It is a fact that more of us than ever before live alone so it's vital that, as a society, we ensure that 'alone' doesn't equate with 'lonely'. A heart-rending but at the end very joyful story. 'Wish' is the story of Myron Schlumberger, one of life's unfortunates, until, like Aladdin, he gets an offer he can't refuse. Whilst reading 99% of it, the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end, only for me to explode in laughter at the end. Mr Schlumberger should most definitely have adhered to the old adage, 'be careful what you wish for!' Finally, 'Seeing it All (Again and Again and Again)' is another lost soul tale, though this time not because of a pact with the Devil but rather a misplacement between passing over and being brought back again. For this is the story of Lazarus, who, without a soul, is destined to live forever, never growing old, like Dorian Gray, and knowing everything that is going to happen. Whilst this might sound like an ideal situation to be in, Lazarus soon finds that, although making money is never going to be a problem, making relationships is a different matter altogether. Again, a very well-written observation of human nature. I should also like to mention two further stories that I didn't enjoy reading, not because there was anything wrong with them, but because they made me feel very uncomfortable, as I suspect there may be more than a grain of truth lurking there. 'Failing the Test: Again' describes the inhospitable and compassion- lacking reception meted out to Jesus on his return to an American midwest town and 'Papering over the Cracks' details the lengths the powers behind the thrones would be prepared to go to prevent ordinary people learning what is really going to happen to the planet when the forces of nature get out of control. The author is already working on 'Places to Visit on the Way Back', which will see the reappearance of some of the characters from this book. I know which ones I should like to meet again but, whichever ones they are, I very much look forward to reading their new stories. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
A beautifully constructed, absolute dream of a read. Three women (including the wickedly wonderful Emily from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’) join forces when one of them is set up, publicly discarded and viciously humiliated by her husband. Emily, Miriam and Karolina live what may appear to be a charmed jet-setting, party-licious life, however there is a very long way to fall when the knives are out. I absolutely adore Lauren Weisberger’s novels, they read as a master class in setting the scene and creating an eloquently enjoyable and pointedly wicked read. Each chapter focuses on one of the women, so perfectly describing their life I could not only picture myself there, I was there. My eye-popping disbelief mounted at the tactics, the lifestyle, and I seethed away, joining ranks, willing them on. A quick note, just in case you’ve already hunted this down and read it, ‘The Wives’ was published in the USA as ‘When Life Gives you Lululemons’. ‘The Wives’ is a hugely entertaining, read in one sitting, smoking-hot loaded gun of a read - and I highly recommend it.
This unique, incisive novel is an emotionally engrossing road-trip reinvention of Moby Dick with female characters, and a gripping mystery about what main protagonist Dinah is running from to find her place to call home. Seventeen-year-old Dinah has lived her whole life on a commune and now feels compelled to flee everything she’s ever known. After being home-schooled, a recent period in mainstream schooling has turned her world upside-down, as has turbulent upheavals at home, and then there’s the mystery of what happened between Dinah and new friend Queenie. She shaves off her hair, adopts a new name and flees, illegally driving a VW campervan (her version of Moby Dick’s Pequod ship) with a cantankerous one-legged neighbour for company. While driving, Dinah confronts her many demons, most of which stem from her confusing sense of identity. She’s mixed race, but feels neither black nor white, and she’s attracted to boys and girls. The road is bumpy, with many revelations and confrontations along the way. Eventually, though, Dinah realises that “the road that took you away has led you all the way back home”. This is a smartly-crafted novel with real resonance, a story that honestly and empathetically imparts an uplifting message to “Always be yourself first…find yourself and be yourself”.
A cherished home, a circle of friends and a summer that will change everything... Linston End has been the summer holiday home for three families for many years. A rambling thatched house nestled on the water's edge on the Norfolk Broads, it's a haven of long, lazy picnics on the river, gin and tonics in the garden; a place to spend time together. But this year, the friends are rocked by unexpected news, and it seems that Linston End will never be the same again. For some, this summer feels like the end. For others, it might just be the beginning. . .
Literary fiction is a bit of a “catch-all” phrase. Some call it “Serious Fiction” but we prefer to think of it as all of the greatest stories ever told, all in one place. This is where you will find literary classics from literary masters past and present.
Why not have a look at our monthly featured titles for inspiration? Revisit old friends? Discover new ones? Or finally read that book that your friends have been banging on about for ages? Whatever your reasons, settle down with your favourite tipple, unwind and open your mind with the home-spun brilliance of authors like Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, David Nicholls and Zadie Smith; or those from further afield: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Ben Okri, Jostein Gaarder and so many more. There are obviously so many to choose from, you could get lost in the Sea of Choices.