No, the book is not called In Celebration of World Book Day (if there are any aspiring concept novelists out there, an idea to consider perhaps) but this is a collection of ‘one-line’ book recommendations from The Reader office in order to celebrate World Book Day. A diverse and intriguing collection of titles and comments, we hope that you will be able to find something in the collection that will inspire you to get reading.
Fantastic Night, Stefan Zweig
I love Zweig’s writing. This collection of short stories is both evocative of everyday life in the first half of the last century, and also gently reminds me of how the lives of superficially unremarkable people can be anything but ordinary. The humanity in these stories has something very timeless.
Recommended by Marion Leibl, Administrator
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Tolstoy thought David Copperfield the greatest achievement of the greatest of all novelists. Read it for the great pleasure it will give you.
Recommended by Angela Macmillan, assistant editor of The Reader and GIR project worker
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby
Imagine that the only part of your body you can move is your eyelid. Imagine that inside you are having the most emotional, creative and beautiful thoughts that you have ever had. Now imagine having the pertinacity to communicate those thoughts, letter by letter by painstakingly moving your eyelid . Wouldn’t you think that book would be worth reading?
Recommended by Wendy Kay, GIR project worker
Notes on a Scandal, Zoe Heller
The brooding atmosphere of this novel leaves you caught between feeling pity and scorn for the lonely, bitter woman at its centre. Her obsession with a young and beautiful colleague is unhealthy and unnerving. As the story unfolds you begin to realise there is no escape and both women are doomed.
Recommended by Katie Atherton, GIR training co-ordinator
Remember Me, Melvyn Bragg
Due out in April: a raw and brave account of how his protagonist can never get over what goes wrong in a marriage.
Recommended by Phil Davis, editor of The Reader
The Best Australian Stories, ed. Robert Drewe
This is the latest of several short story collections. I love reading them because it’s a taste of my home country. Some stories give a glimpse of colonial history, others give a taste of contemporary life and talk about my favourite streets and cafes. One story was set at the time when I was growing up and brought back fond childhood memories. The stories themselves are thoroughly enjoyable, and I love the short sharpness of reading a short story.
Recommended by Renee Hemmings, project manager – Shipping Lines Literary Festival
Picture This, Joseph Heller
Picture This is not one of Joseph Heller’s best novels, but I can forgive its faults because it contains observations such as this one: “On this point scholars agree: It is out of the question that [the Iliad and the Odyssey] could have been written entirely by one person, unless, of course, it was a person with the genius of Homer.”
Recommended by Chris Routledge, blogman
Once in a House on Fire, Andrea Ashworth
Unrelentingly realistic and unsentimental in its narration, chronicling the life story of a young girl trying to survive and overcome the tyrannies of a broken and abusive home life set against the dilapidated post-industrial landscape of Manchester, Once in a House on Fire is a truly beautiful book in its revelations of how the world of the imagination and the language of books can be accessed and appreciated and held on to as a source of inspiration for ordinary people in the bleakest of settings.
Recommended by Clare Williams, GIR project worker
Sons and Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
A hard-working, creative young man finds himself caught in a battle between his emotional and physical desires. As he struggles to make sense of his own life, his aspirations and his unerring dedication to his mother, Paul Morel discovers a conflict of loyalties that becomes his personal battleground.
Recommended by Jen Tomkins, PR, marketing and editorial assistant
The Garden of the Finzi Continis , Giorgio Bassani
One of the great modern Italian novels – set in the Jewish community of Ferrara in the late 1930s it is a beautiful and very moving act of memory, the novel itself being the breathing monument of those who were swallowed up by the death camps and left no trace, save in the memory of one who, like Ishmael, survived.
Recommended by John Scrivener, assistant editor of The Reader
The Prelude, William Wordsworth
In William Wordsworth’s book-sized poem The Prelude you will find the struggling and marvelling human spirit written down in solid and moving lines. If you want the company of a great soul, read the poem slowly and eagerly, as if for the main news of the day, until you discover, as he says, ‘a grandeur in the beatings of the heart’.
Recommended by Sarah Coley, deputy editor of The Reader
The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
One astonishing moment evokes sympathy and contempt throughout. A book for all.
Recommended by Chris Catterall, Business and Finance Intern
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
Read it and weep, contemporary writers: why can’t you do this you buck-makers? Stand back, see what we are, record it unflinchingly, make us change.
Recommended by Jane Davis, director of The Reader Organisation
Posted by Jen Tomkins