Sheila O’Reilly of the award-winning Village Books in Dulwich Village shares summer 2017’s top 10 reads, as chosen by her team of bookworms…
1 Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Both Sheila and Sophie are reading this debut novel and are enthralled by it. From the very first word this is a glorious read. Rooney describes the relationship between the four friends brilliantly – so much so that you feel you are watching the friendships develop and see them grow as adults. The sexual tension rises off the page. The scene where Nick takes the girls shopping is electric and as they sit by the lake having a picnic, you are holding your breath. Hardback, £14.99.
2 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Hazel is adoring this novel. Eleanor Oliphant has a normal job in an office 5 days a week – and a very abnormal home life at the weekend. She is a lonely misfit – until a chance event disrupts her ordered world with unexpected results. Eleanor’s voice is wonderful, and Gail Honeyman has written a superb debut novel that will make you laugh and cry. It’s Hazel’s favourite novel of the year – do read it. Special price £10 at Village Books in Dulwich Village.
3 Admissions by Henry Marsh
A new searing and heartfelt memoir as Marsh finds a new purpose in life following his retirement from the NHS. Continuing his incredible work abroad, he also looks back at the last 40 years and reflects on what the human brain has taught him, with a fresh understanding of what really matters to us all in the end. Hardback, £16.99.
4 See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Wonderfully descriptive novel based on a true story that engages you from the start and pulls you along at a pace. When a novel is based on a true story it really needs to engage you and See What Have I Done certainly does that. Sheila and Sophie both loved it. Published in hardback, signed copies available £12.99 at Village Books in Dulwich Village.
5 The Girls by Emma Cline
Tracey is reading and loving this coming of age debut novel. Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed. It’s the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewellery catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful. If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. Paperback, £7.99.
6 My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal
Sheila highly recommends Kit’s debut novel about nine-year-old Leon and his baby brother Jack have gone to live with Maureen while their mum is not feeling herself. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not. A heart-breaking story of love, identity and the fierce bond between siblings, evoking a Britain of the early 80s. Paperback, £8.99.
7 Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Sophie is reading Commonwealth which is regarded as one of Patchett’s best yet. A powerful and tender tale of family, betrayal and the far-reaching bonds of love and responsibility, it follows two families brought together by beauty and torn apart by tragedy. Paperback, £8.99.
8 The Return by Hisham Matar
Sheila is reading The Return and says Hisham Matar’s extraordinary memoir is the story of his search for his father and the return to a homeland he never thought he’d see again. It is at once a universal and an intensely personal tale of loss. It is an exquisite meditation on history, politics and art. Paperback, £8.99.
9 When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? This book focuses on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both. A hearbreaking but inspiring read that is now available in paperback for £8.99.
10 The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Gives us an account of the fundamental unit of heredity – and a vision of both humanity’s past and future. In this book, the story begins in an obscure Augustinian abbey in Moravia in 1856 where a monk stumbles on the idea of a ‘Unit of heredity’. It intersects with Darwin’s theory of evolution, and collides with the horrors of Nazi eugenics. Paperback, £8.99.