Waterstones can always be relied on for some good picks in their Book Club.
Launched last month, the current selection has been described as “our most eclectic and exciting selection to date”, and includes the likes of Michael Frayn, Simon Armitage and Nell Freudenberger.
Each title features on a promotion for a week, and includes extras such as essays from the authors on their inspiration and materials to help reading groups. But, without further ado, I introduce this year’s selection for the Waterstones Book Club…
Skios by Michael Frayn
I’ve spoken about Skios before (here) when it was longlisted for the Man Booker prize 2012. Now in paperback, Frayn’s novel is set on the Greek island of Skios, where the Fred Toppler Foundation’s annual lecture is to be given by Dr Norman Wilfred, the world-famous authority on the scientific organisation of science. He turns out to be surprisingly young and charming and the Foundation’s guests are soon eating out of his hand. Meanwhile, in a remote village at the other end of the island, is a balding old gent called Dr Norman Wilfred, who has lost his whereabouts, his luggage, his temper and increasingly all normal sense of reality…
The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger
Nell Freudenberger is described as “one of America’s most dazzling talents”, and her latest novel is a cross-continental love story… Amina Mazid, a 24-year-old from Bangladesh, moves to Rochester, New York to be with her new husband George Stillman, who she met online. This 21st Century romance reflects the ancient tradition of arranged marriages of her homes country, and George falls for her because she doesn’t “play games”, though they both end up hiding parts of themselves from each other.
Dear Lupin by Roger and Charlie Mortimer
Spanning nearly 25 years, Dear Lupin is a tale told in the correspondence between a father and his only son. Anecdotes and observations, analogies and plenty of understanding, many readers will draw parallels between their own relationships with their parents. Roger Mortimer, a racing journalist, wrote more than 150 letters to his son over the years, and this book makes for a touching memoir. Dear Lupin also includes a four page Q&A with the author, talking about his relationship with his father and the responses to his book.
Ancient Light by John Banville
This is the story of obsessive love and grief. In 1950s Ireland, a 15-year-old boy conducts an illicit, hasty affair with the 35-year-old mother of his best friend. Obsessed and tormented by this first love, and grieving for the loss of his daughter half a century later, the actor Alexander Cleave recalls the affair, and from it tries to make sense of the boy he used to be, and the needs of the human heart.
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain
Daniel Mercier is dining alone in a Parisian brasserie, when President Francois Mitterrand sits down to eat at the table next to him. Even after the presidential party has gone, Daniel cannot shake the thrill of being so close to the President. When he discovers Mitterrand’s black felt hat, he decides to keep the hat as a souvenir. But as he dons it – a perfect fit – to leave, Daniel starts to feel different…
Walking Home by Simon Armitage
In the summer of 2010 Simon Armitage decided to walk the Pennine Way. This 256-mile route is normally travelled from south to north – from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm on the other side of the Scottish border – Armitage decides to do it the other way around. That way, he would be walking home. He walked as a “modern troubadour”, without a penny on him, stopping along the way to give poetry readings. In village halls, churches, pubs and living rooms, his audiences ranged from indifferent to enthused. This is a story about Britain’s overlooked landscapes, emotional and physical challenges, and human nature.
May We Be Forgiven by A M Homes
Meet Harry, a Richard Nixon scholar, whose quiet, regular life is irrevocably disturbed by George. Meet George – Harry’s high-flying TV producer brother, whose murderous temper has created an uneasy rivalry between them since childhood, and which propels Harry into an entirely new life. Homes does dark comedy and May We Be Forgiven is an exploration of 21st Century domestic life, in all its glory. Penetrating to the heart of contemporary America, the modern family and the power of personal transformation, Homes has written a terrifying and inspiring tale, spiked with sharp wit.
The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott
In 1941 Larry Zagorski was a naive science fiction writer. And seventy years later, he reflects on his place in history – a history that spans (and connects) the Second World War, the Space Age, London, Cuba, and Southern California, and implicates Ian Fleming in a conspiracy with Rudolf Hess. But what is real and what is not? Spies, propaganda, dreamers, fanatics and the heartbroken and the conned form a secret history of the 20th Century. But the real secret is who to believe.
In the Kingdom of Men by Kim Barnes
When Gin McPhee’s husband takes a job at the Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia, the glamour is a world away from their Oklahoma beginnings. Private clubs, dinner parties and even their own houseboy, all within the confines of the compound. But therein lies the problem. When Gin gets bored with cocktails and an absent husband, the illusion of freedom is washed away – leaving in its place boredom, and curiosity about what is beyond those gates. But danger and corruption is out there, and when a young woman is found dead in the bay, and the finger points to Mason, Gin finds the one person she could put her trust in has disappeared.
Hawthorn and Child by Keith Ridgway
Tasked with finding significance in scattered facts, Hawthorn and Child are mid-ranking detectives that appear and disappear alongside a ghost car, a crime boss, a pickpocket, a dead racing driver and a pack of wolves. Mysteries abound, and so does our mysterious compulsion to solve them. Only one thing is for certain though – you have probably misunderstood everything.
Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike by William Fotheringham
Eddy Merckx was the best cycling has ever seen. His 445 victories and his tireless, remorseless determination dominated the sport. Nicknamed “The Cannibal” for his insatiable appetite for victory, Merckx’s story is not just that of triumph. A man who was handsome, sensitive and anxious, his tale also includes horrific injury, doping controversy and tragedy. William Fotheringham, Britain’s leading cycling writer, speaks to those who were there at the time and those who knew Merckx in this story of one of the greatest legends to ever live.
Burying the Typewriter by Carmen
Carmen Bugan returned from school one afternoon to find the secret police in her living room. At 2am that morning, on 10th March 1983, her father had left the family home alone. His protest against the regime had changed her life forever. This is Carmen’s story.
Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham
This is DC Fiona Griffiths’ first murder case – and she’s in the deep end. A woman and her six-year-old daughter are found brutally murdered in a dingy flat, and the only clue is the platinum bank card of a long-dead tycoon. Griffiths has already proved herself more than capable, but has her own secret – amongst the two-year gap her CV, her inability to cry and a familiarity with corpses, Fiona desperately tries to put the past behind her; but as the killings continue, she is forced to face another dead girl, waiting to be found in the recesses of her memories.
Heft by Liz Moore
Arthur Opp, a former academic, weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his Brooklyn home in a decade. In Yonkers, twenty miles away, seventeen-year-old Kel Kellen pins his hopes on a promising sporting career, whilst battling the stigma of being the poor kid in a rich school and untangling himself from family drama. Kel’s mother Charlene, a former student of Arthur’s, becomes the catalyst for this unlikely pairing when she comes to Arthur with a plea for help.
What do you think of the Book Club picks?
Will you read any of them? Have you already any of them?