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Fill the gap in your reading list


Based on recent literary hits, we pick the next books to add to your shelf

If you loved...

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (£9.99, Fourth Estate)

In the sequel to Wolf Hall we find Thomas Cromwell engineering the divorce of Henry VIII from Anne Boleyn and delicately manoeuvring events to allow Henry to romance his latest muse, Jane Seymour. Mantel’s second Booker winner combines urgent, arresting prose with academic levels of research and detail, shrouding the novel in such authentic atmosphere you feel privy to the inner machinations of a breaking political scandal rather than one which is six centuries old.

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My Notorious Life by Madame X by Kate Manning, out 6 June (£12.99, Bloomsbury)

From the Irish immigrant slums of 1860s New York via Christian foster homes in the Mid-west to a world of back-room high society abortions, this new novel by Manning is both riveting and morally intriguing.

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, out 21 May (£18.99, Bloomsbury)

A multi-generational story starting in 1952 and centring a brother and sister. Journeying from Kabul and Paris to San Francisco and Greece, its epic sweep is both fascinating and moving.

The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller out 12 April (£7.99, Bloomsbury)

A retelling of The Iliad with entertaining and joyful exuberance (described by The Telegraph as "Brokeback Mountain by way of Troy"). You may know the story but you’ve never heard it told like this. A gem.

If you loved...

Game Of Thrones by George RR Martin (£8.99, Harper Voyager)

Do not dismiss George RR Martin’s series as geek fantasy. Admittedly there be dragons (plus shapeshifting sects and the walking dead) but the books are really The War Of The Roses re-enacted by some of literature’s most compelling characters (male and female). An endless parade of politics, sex, killings (most of them unexpected) set across three continents (at last count), they are, quite simply, beautifully written and intelligent escapism.

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The Gathering Dark / Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (£8.99, Indigo)

A New York Times bestseller, it’s like The Hunger Games meets Potter meets Twilight meets Lord Of The Rings meets Game Of Thrones; basically epic magical fantasy but completely for grown-ups.

The Iron King by Maurice Druon (£14.99, Harper Collins)

Re-released this year George RR Martin describes the series as, “Iron kings and strangled queens, the doom of a great dynasty.” If you know nothing about French history, you will be obsessed with it after this. That is a guarantee.

I, Claudius by Robert Graves (£9.99, Penguin Classics)

The madness and debauchery of ancient Rome is brought to shocking life by the compelling and clever Claudius (considered an idiot by his family because of his stammer and limp) in one of the must-read books of the 20th century.

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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (£6.29, Hesperus)

An hour before his 100th birthday party, Allan Karlsson escapes out the window of his nursing home. On the run, we learn about his remarkable life; he drank tequila with President Truman, saved the future wife of Mao Zedong and invented the atom bomb. If it all sounds a bit Forrest Gump, don’t be put off; it’s an original black comedy that you’ll finish in one go.

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The Unlikely Pilrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (£7.99, Black Swan)

After receiving a letter saying an old friend is dying, timid Harold Fry intends to post her a letter but ends up walking from Devon to Berwick-on-Tweed. This Booker long-lister is a poignant tale of loneliness and hope.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon (£7.99, Vintage)

Currently enjoying its West End incarnation, this book may have been released in 2004 but this story of a man dealing with autism is still one of the most brilliantly refreshing and clever reads around.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell (£16.35, Knopf Publishing Group)

Russell’s Swamplandia! was shortlisted for the Orange and Pulitzer prizes. This volume of short stories is equally laudable, diving into surreal situations including two vampires living on an Italian farm.

If you loved...

The Great Gatbsy by F Scott Fitzgerald (published by Vintage Classics in hardback, £14.99. Edition exclusively designed for Vintage Classics by Tiffany & Co.)

Thanks to the fifth silver screen adaptation of Fitzgerald’s most famous novel released this May, Gatsby has soared to the top of modern reading lists once again. And why not? A mysterious millionaire, a gripping love story, extreme wealth, fabulous fashion and one of the most romantic and exciting eras imaginable all combine to make this one of the most celebrated American novels of all time. And one classic you won’t have to pretend to like.

You'll want to read:

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (£1.99, Wordsworth Classics)

Not so much a novel, more of a freeform collection of thoughts and observations. The plot – essentially a family visiting the Isle of Skye over 10 years – is secondary to the abstract prose. Like being in someone else’s dream.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (£7.99, Arrow Classic)

The Sun Also Rises, while dealing with the fallout of war, asserts its straightforward masculinity with simple, brutal descriptions of bullfighting in Pamplona and the entangled relationships of the Twenties ‘lost generation’.

The Collected Stories by Katherine Mansfield (£14.99, Penguin Classics)

Mansfield was considered the best short story writer in the modern period, despite dying at just 34. Her moving, simple stories focus on relationships in well-to-do families; accessible and enduring.



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