Circe, the first witch in Western literature, is a bit-part player in Homer’s Odyssey but here she takes centre stage to tell her life story and explain her dealings with foolish mortals and cruel gods. A spellbinding story about love, myth and magic.
2. Now We Shall Be Entirely Free
Captain John Lacroix, haunted by his experiences in the Peninsular War, sets out for Scotland, but a vicious British Army assassin is in pursuit. Miller’s beautiful sentences are a joy to read and this is as suspenseful as any thriller.
Circe by Madeline Miller; Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller
When widower John Cyrus Bellman reads of the discovery of huge bones in a Kentucky swamp, he decides to leave his small Pennsylvania mule farm to search for the monsters that some believe might still be alive. This stark and utterly mesmerising novel conveys a strange kind of wonder.
4. Jeeves And The King Of Clubs
Pastiches of P G Wodehouse are difficult to pull off but it’s hard not to warm to Schott’s hugely entertaining homage to The Master as he brings Bertie Wooster and his valet, Jeeves, back to life in a madcap adventure full of high jinks, entanglements and Wodehousian wordplay.
5. Clock Dance
Willa Drake is in her early 60s and has ended up on a path laid out for her by others until she receives a phone call telling her that her son’s ex-girlfriend has been shot and needs her help. A thought-provoking story that resonates with emotional depth.
6. An American Marriage
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream, but as they settle into the routine of their life together they are torn apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Jones sheds a haunting light on the all-encompassing nature of racial injustice.
Old Baggage by Lissa Evans; Jeeves And The King Of Clubs by Ben Schott
7. Bitter Orange
The tumultuous events of a long, hot summer rippling down the decades is a familiar device in fiction but feels fresh in Fuller’s book. On her deathbed, Frances Jellico recalls the summer of ’69 she spent at a decaying manor house with Cara and Peter, a bohemian couple with secrets.
8. Old Baggage
Black Swan £8.99
As a young suffragette, Mattie Simpkin was imprisoned and force-fed. Now middle-aged, she decides to start a club for disadvantaged girls – the Amazons – to train them in mind and body. This brilliant comic novel is already in development for TV.
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
9. Mrs Whistler
Borough Press £8.99
The flamboyant painter James ‘Jimmy’ Whistler is convinced of his own greatness, as is his muse and lover, Maud Franklin. But Jimmy leads a rackety life and can be hard work. When Maud becomes pregnant, she is forced to make a difficult choice.
10. The Shepherd’s Hut
When his bullying father is accidentally killed, troubled teenager Jaxie Clackton knows he will be blamed and flees into the unforgiving bush of Western Australia, ill-equipped for survival. Winton’s novel is layered, lyrical and thrilling.
11. The Five
Historians have hitherto concentrated on Jack the Ripper rather than his victims. Rubenhold shifts the focus to the women he murdered and, stripping away the myths, tells the story of their lives rather than their deaths.
12. Appeasing Hitler
Bodley Head £20
Why did the British government do its best to avoid conflict with Hitler despite all the warnings about the true nature of the Nazi project? This is a gripping account of the wishful thinking that led us to the precipice.
Twiggy in the 1960s. How Was It For You? by Virginia Nicholson explores the lives of 40 women who lived through the decade of free love and revolution
The Making Of Poetry by Adam Nicolson; The Man Who Was Saturday by Patrick Bishop
13. The Making Of Poetry
William Collins £25
Nicolson follows in the footsteps of Wordsworth and Coleridge during the year they lived in Somerset. An immersive and original biography, crackling with life.
14. How Was It For You?
Were the Sixties really all free love, groovy clothes and great music? It depends on who you talk to, and historian Nicholson has talked to more than 40 women who were there for this fascinating account.
Author Gareth Russell explores the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic both as a human reality and a metaphor for the end of the Edwardian era (see below)
15. The Darksome Bounds Of A Failing World
William Collins £25
Russell explores the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic both as a human reality and a metaphor for the end of the Edwardian era. He uses the stories of six first-class passengers to sketch the world beyond the ship in this engrossing history.
16. What Blest Genius?
Andrew McConnell Stott
W W Norton £16.99
In 1769 the burghers of Stratford-upon-Avon held a jubilee commemorating the birth of the town’s most famous son. It was a stunt that, Stott argues in this lively account, revived Shakespeare’s reputation.
Appeasing Hitler by Tim Bouverie is a gripping account of the wishful thinking that led us to the precipice of war
17. The Man Who Was Saturday
William Collins £20
Biography of the first British officer to escape from Colditz, after which Airey Neave was put in charge of smuggling Allied prisoners out of occupied Europe.
18. Last Witnesses
Penguin Classics £12.99
In the Seventies, Alexievich, the Nobel prize-winning journalist, interviewed Soviets who had lived through WWII as children. Now their testimonies – horrifying, powerful, startling – have been translated into English for the first time.
The Adventures Of Maud West by Susannah Stapleton
19. The Adventures Of Maud West
Maud West ran a private detective agency from 1905 to 1939, and billed herself as ‘London’s only lady detective’. Stapleton investigates the investigator.
20. Antisemitism: Here And Now
Historian Lipstadt is best known for her court battle against Holocaust denier David Irving. Here she analyses the current state of anti-Semitic discourse.
21. Commander In Cheat
Reilly’s thesis is that Donald Trump’s approach to golf tells us everything we need to know about his approach to the presidency. A round of golf with ‘The Donald’ reveals him to be a liar, a cheat, a snob, a fraud, a hypocrite and a bully.
22. The Great Romantic
Hodder & Stoughton £20
A biography of Neville Cardus, the ‘laureate of cricket’. Cardus invented modern cricket writing and transformed sports writing as a whole, introducing lyricism and vivid description into what had previously been dry and dusty reports.
23. A Field Of Tents And Waving Colours
Safe Haven £14.99
Delve further into the legacy of Neville Cardus (see 22) with this collection of his finest pieces.
Commander In Cheat by Rick Reilly; The Great Romantic by Duncan Hamilton
24. High Performance
In 1964, a Mini Cooper won the Monte Carlo Rally, Lotus and BRM dominated F1, and British cars won seven out of ten Grands Prix. Yet within ten years, the British car industry was a laughing stock. Grimsdale looks at the glory years of the Fifties and Sixties and the chancers, spivs and mavericks who made them great.
Unbreakable by Richard Askwith
Yellow Jersey £16.99
The Czech Republic’s Grand Pardubice is a gruelling, terrifying horse race, the world’s most dangerous. The only woman ever to have won ‘the Devil’s Race’ was Lata Brandisova in 1937, at the age of 42, and her hard-fought victory over several Nazi riders made her a national heroine. A rousing story about a remarkable woman.
26. The Club
Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg
John Murray £20
Two Washington Post journalists explain how the Premier League transformed English football from a shabby sport played in squalid, dilapidated grounds during the Seventies, into a slick, high-powered business.
In 1964, a Mini Cooper won the Monte Carlo Rally, Lotus and BRM dominated F1, and British cars won seven out of ten Grands Prix. Yet within ten years, the British car industry was a laughing stock. Peter Grimsdale looks at the glory years of the Fifties and Sixties and the chancers, spivs and mavericks who made them great
William Collins £9.99
The historian turns his eye on the Vietnam War, which he covered as a reporter, in this exhaustive but brilliantly readable book featuring the testimonies of everyone from warlords to peasants.
The historian Max Hastings turns his eye on the Vietnam War, which he covered as a reporter, in this exhaustive but brilliantly readable book
It was the worst nuclear disaster in history. Plokhy draws on new sources to tell the dramatic stories of the firefighters, scientists, and soldiers who extinguished the nuclear inferno.
29. Unnatural Causes
Dr Richard Shepherd
Forensic pathologist Shepherd has spent a lifetime uncovering the secrets of the dead. This is an unputdownable record of an extraordinary life.
Chernobyl by Serhii Plokhy; Our Uninvited Guests by Julie Summers
30. The Language Of Kindness
Watson takes us through her 23-year nursing career, describing the real lives and real tragedies that haunt our hospital corridors.
31. In Your Defence
Black Swan £8.99
Langford describes 11 cases that reveal what goes on in our criminal and family courts, showing how our attitudes can shape the outcome of the case.
The Rise And Fall Of The Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow-dwellers to the array of species every child memorises today
32. The Story Of Britain
Classic popular history telling the story of Britain from the very earliest recorded Celtic times to the present day.
The novelist charts a Fifties upper-middle-class childhood blighted by a chilly, envious mother.
34. In Byron’s Wake
Seymour reveals the ways in which Byron, long after his death, continued to shape the lives of both his wife and his daughter.
35. The Rise And Fall Of The Dinosaurs
Traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow-dwellers to the array of species every child memorises today.
36. Our Uninvited Guests
An astonishing narrative set against the dark days of WWII, from one the country’s foremost social historians.
Michael Joseph £18.99
The Newsnight presenter’s memoir about her professional life features some funny behind-the-scenes accounts of her encounters with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama among others. She also offers her thoughts on more serious stuff such as journalistic ethics and foreign assignments, including her coverage of the Bataclan massacre.
Airhead by Emily Maitlis; Everybody Died So I Got A Dog by Emily Dean
38. Everybody Died So I Got A Dog
Hodder & Stoughton £16.99
Dean is Frank Skinner’s sidekick on his Absolute Radio show. When a series of deaths leave her utterly bereft, she tries to comfort herself by getting a pet dog. She manages to write affectingly, yet wittily, about unspeakable grief. This is a book that will leave you smiling but with a lump in your throat.
39. Double Crossed
Eye-opening memoir by a decorated soldier that focuses on the aftermath of his deployment to Iraq, when he was deeply troubled by what he had seen and done. His post-traumatic stress was made worse by the decade-long hounding by lawyers who pressed the false claims of Iraqi clients hoping to win compensation.
War Doctor by David Nott; Double Crossed by Brian Wood
Some Kids I Taught And What They Taught Me by Kate Clanchy; Where The Hornbeam Grows by Beth Lynch
40. How To Catch A Mole
Harvill Secker £12.99
Hamer is one of 300 registered mole-catchers in Britain and was once the only one in South Wales. His book is a beguiling mixture of autobiography, practical handbook and philosophical treatise, and is packed with mole facts. It turns out the life of the ‘little gentlemen in velvet’ is less Wind In The Willows, more Psycho meets The Hunger Games.
41. Some Kids I Taught And What They Taught Me
‘I still want to change the world and think that school is an excellent place to do it,’ writes poet Clanchy, who has been a teacher for 30 years. Her celebration of an undervalued profession will make you wish ‘Miss Clanchy’ had been your English teacher.
42. War Doctor
Surgeon David Nott has worked as a volunteer in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones, from Sierra Leone to Syria. His extraordinary stories from the front line are shocking, terrifying and uncomfortably vivid. This is a powerful, thought-provoking book. Often graphic in detail, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
43. What Dementia Teaches Us About Love
Allen Lane £16.99
Having witnessed the slow death of her father, thriller writer Nicci Gerrard has spent years talking to carers, sufferers and scientists to find out how to cope with the disease we fear most. A moving and evocative book, part memoir, part journalism, part help manual.
Bret Easton Ellis
A collection of bracing essays in which the fabulously grumpy novelist takes aim at everything from millennial snowflakes through helicopter parents to political correctness and the perils of Twitter – despite the fact that he’s an enthusiastic tweeter himself.
45. Where The Hornbeam Grows
When Lynch moves to Switzerland she feels isolated and takes refuge in her love of gardening. In the process she reconnects with the garden of her Seventies Sussex childhood. A lyrical, charming account of how having green fingers can soothe your soul.
Science and Nature
46. Humble Pi
Allen Lane £20
Matt Parker is a professional science communicator and comedian. His aim to make maths both comprehensible and fun is fulfilled in this jauntily provocative book about the often serious real-life consequences of mathematical errors.
Incredible Journeys by David Barrie is a compelling investigation of navigation in the animal kingdom. Dung beetles steer by the stars. Dragonflies hitch a lift on monsoon winds. And it seems that ants might measure how far they’ve travelled by counting their steps
Incredible Journeys by David Barrie; Humble Pi by Matt Parker
47. The Pandemic Century
A key theme of Honigsbaum’s book is that human interference with ‘nature’ has made outbreaks of deadly infections virtually inevitable – it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’. He dissects the history of recent pandemics such as Ebola, Sars and the Zika virus and reminds us that the eradication of disease is a ‘mirage’; nature will always strike back.
48. Invisible Women
Caroline Criado Perez
Chatto & Windus £16.99
This is a man’s world: much of it, Criado Perez points out – cars, phones, office temperatures, for example – has been designed specifically for men with the result that women are disadvantaged, sometimes dangerously, as in the case of cars, where they are much more likely to be seriously hurt in crashes.
Hamish Hamilton £20
Macfarlane explores caves, tunnels and underground facilities all over the world, including the catacombs beneath Paris, a nuclear waste vault in Finland, and a dark matter research laboratory in the deepest mine in England in this surprising and often brilliant book.
Bodley Head £20
Earth has existed for more than four-and-a-half billion years, but all of human history has been compressed into a tiny window since the end of the last Ice Age, 11,700 years ago. Origins shows how geographical, planetary and even cosmic factors have shaped every step of our development.
51. Incredible Journeys
Hodder & Stoughton £25
A compelling investigation of navigation in the animal kingdom. Dung beetles steer by the stars. Dragonflies hitch a lift on monsoon winds. And it seems that ants might measure how far they’ve travelled by counting their steps. Who knew?
52. The Way To The Sea
Crampton spent much of her childhood on the family boat, navigating the silty landscape that runs between London and the sea. Mixing memoir, anthropology and nature writing, she paints a moving portrait of a part of Britain usually ignored.
53. The Way We Eat Now
Fourth Estate £12.99
Why do people in wealthier countries have worse diets than those in less developed nations? Why are one in five British children overweight? An exploration of our strange, dysfunctional relationship with food.
Harvill Secker £14.99
Three famous Victorians carry this sparkling historical novel: Sir Henry Irving, the great actor-manager; Ellen Terry, his leading lady; and Bram Stoker, the young Irishman who worked for Irving as a theatre manager before writing Dracula. From their entangled lives Joseph O’Connor weaves a story of love and loyalty, rich in wit and imagination.
Ian McEwan’s sublimely playful new novel Machines Like Me transports you back to the Eighties but with some major changes, including eerily life-like robots
Lost And Wanted by Nell Freudenberger; Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor
55. Late In The Day
Jonathan Cape £16.99
If it’s elegance you’re after, you won’t do better than Tessa Hadley’s restrained study of marriage. Christine and Alex, Lydia and Zachary are a tight foursome with 30 years of shared history, but when Zachary drops dead, their equilibrium is thrown off-kilter; past loyalties are questioned and passions fizz anew.
56. Machines Like Me
Jonathan Cape £18.99
Ian McEwan’s sublimely playful new novel transports you back to the Eighties but with some major changes, including eerily life-like robots. Flaky hero Charlie Friend splurges on one, hoping to intrigue Miranda, the neighbour with whom he’s besotted. Dark and slyly funny, it’ll also give your brain a workout.
57. The Ghost Factory
Fourth Estate £12.99
This darkly humorous reflection on what it was like to live through Northern Ireland’s Troubles centres on Jacky, still coming to terms with his father’s death when his best friend is attacked. After the vigilantes come for Jacky himself, he leaves for London, but even there, the ghosts call him back.
58. Reasons To Be Cheerful
A riotous read, as 18-year-old Lizzie Vogel trades her village home for the bright lights of Leicester circa 1980, where she’s landed a job as a dental nurse. Never less than hilarious.
This idiosyncratic novel offers an escape into another realm. It revolves around a missing boy named Lanny, whose mother is a crime writer, and Dead Papa Toothwort, a spirit. Haunting and shot through with moments of pathos, it’s a poised mystery steeped in folklore.
Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan
60. Lost And Wanted
Narrator Helen Clapp is a physics professor and solo mum; nerdy and rational to a fault, she most definitely does not believe in ghosts. So how to account for the missed calls and texts she starts receiving from her dead friend Charlie? A rueful, original tale.
Hamish Hamilton £16.99
Two life-changing, convergent journeys anchor a tour de force that combines humour, lyricism and hope. Richard, a TV producer mourning the loss of his closest friend, is heading to Scotland to end it all, while Brittany, a security guard at a detention centre for illegal immigrants, finds herself on a train with a gifted 12-year-old girl searching for her mother. As rewarding as it is challenging.
62. Daisy Jones And The Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Music buffs will hear echoes of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac in the tale of LA ‘It’ girl and aspiring songwriter Daisy Jones, who’s brought in to record an album with The Six. A love affair promptly ignites between Daisy and The Six’s troubled frontman, Billy. It’s a rollercoaster trip through the heady Seventies.
63. Fleishman Is In Trouble
This first-time author is being hailed as the female Philip Roth. Her story of Toby Fleishman, newly free to indulge in the smorgasbord that is Tinder when his ex suddenly vanishes, leaving him with the kids, will have you believing the hype.
Music and entertainment
64. I Like To Watch
Random House £25
Is Sex And The City’s Carrie the female Tony Soprano? Why is True Detective ‘macho nonsense’? Which 1997 show completely changed Emily Nussbaum’s life? This collection of provocative, funny essays from The New Yorker magazine’s TV critic is a must-read for anyone who loves watching the box.
I Talk Too Much by Francis Rossi is a highly entertaining romp covering the joys of playing Butlins in Minehead and being led astray by the Small Faces
I Like To Watch by Emily Nussbaum; A Fabulous Creation by David Hepworth
65. A Fabulous Creation
Bantam Press £20
Hepworth contends that the notion of an album being ‘something more than just a bunch of songs’ began in 1967 with The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper and ended in 1982 with Thriller by Michael Jackson. This was the golden age of the LP and Hepworth captures it all with insight, affection and perspicacity.
66. Then It Fell Apart
This flits between the musician’s dysfunctional childhood and the period after his album Play, which had made him a superstar and friend of David Bowie but didn’t bring him happiness. The account of his ‘relationship’ with Natalie Portman has proved controversial.
67. I Talk Too Much
Status Quo’s frontman on sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and er… hair transplants. Rossi’s highly entertaining romp covers the joys of playing Butlins in Minehead and being led astray by the Small Faces.
68. Another Planet
The singer-songwriter on her teenage years growing up in a nondescript commuter town in the Seventies. She quotes from her diaries of the period, and some of this is very funny, but she also reflects on what she left out of her journals – the bullying she suffered and her anxieties.
69. Sweet Sorrow
Hodder & Stoughton £20
A tragicomedy about a life-changing summer, centring on unremarkable school-leaver Charlie. When he meets Fran, he knows he’ll follow her anywhere – even into an am-dram Shakespeare production.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams; The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd
70. The Carer
Tinder Press £16.99
When retired physicist James starts needing help, his kids hire Mandy. She soon has James delighting in uncharacteristic activities. This brilliant drama packs in secrets, rivalries and a major plot twist.
71. Vintage 1954
Gallic Books £8.99
Who could resist a fine vintage Beaujolais? Certainly not antiques restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien or Airbnb guest Bob, all residents of the same Parisian building. Little do they know they’re about to be transported back to 1954…
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
72. The Flatshare
The protagonists of this rom-com share a flat – and a bed – yet have never met. Living in shifts is ideal for cash-strapped Tiffy and night-worker Leon, but their lives gradually intertwine.
73. The First Time Lauren Pailing Died
Lauren Pailing is fated to die again and again, but with the end of each life, she slips into another that’s subtly yet profoundly different.
A grown-up, honest take on the minefield that female camaraderie can become, this is packed with talking points.
75. Something To Live For
Andrew has the perfect wife and 2.4 kids. Except that he doesn’t – it’s just a fib, so when a friendship threatens to become a real relationship, he faces a dilemma. ‘Up-lit’ doesn’t come more uplifting.
Queenie’s newly single heroine is trying to make her way as a journalist. So far, so Bridget Jones? Yes, except that Queenie also happens to be a Jamaican-Brit with some decidedly millennial issues.
77. Death And Other Happy Endings
Bantam Press £12.99
Cantor strikes plenty of witty, hopeful notes in her tale of divorcee Jennifer Cole, who’s been given just 90 days to live. She decides to confront her life’s one regret: unsatisfactory relationships.
78. Nightingale Point
Disaster engulfs tower block Nightingale Point, leaving its inhabitants irrevocably changed. Pacey and powerful.
79. The Curse Of The School Rabbit
HarperCollins £12.99 5+
Kerr’s last is the charming story of a rabbit who seems to bring bad luck.
The Runaway Pea by Kjartan Poskitt and Alex Willmore. Fun, rhyming story of a pea in search of excitement
80. The Time Travel Diaries
Piccadilly Press £6.99 9+
Action-packed tale following Alex who travels to Roman London in search of a girl with a knife.
81. The Runaway Pea
Kjartan Poskitt, Alex Willmore
S&S £6.99 2+
Fun, rhyming story of a pea in search of excitement.
82. Where The River Runs Gold
Orion £6.99 9+
Children must hand-pollinate crops in this dystopian fantasy.
The Curse Of The School Rabbit by Judith Kerr; Jemima Small Versus The Universe by Tamsin Winter
83. The Adventures of Harry Stevenson
S&S £5.99 5+
Riotous adventures of a ginger guinea pig.
84. Jemima Small Versus The Universe
Usborne £7.99 12+
Big-hearted story of a girl whose dream of appearing on Brainiacs fades when she is made to join the school ‘Fat Club’.
85. The Dinosaur Department Store
Lily Murray, Richard Merritt
Buster £6.99 2+
Mr Magisaurus helps Eliza Jane find a new pet in this flamboyant dino-packed yarn.
86. Look Up!
Nathan Bryon, Dapo Adeola
Puffin £6.99 2+
Fact-filled adventures of a space-mad girl called Rocket, who longs to be an astronaut.
87. Slow Samson
Templar £6.99 2+
A smile-raising story about a sloth who is always late.
88. Rose Interrupted
Hodder £7.99 12+
Coming-of-age drama about teens who have recently escaped a religious sect.
89. Joe Country
John Murray £14.99
Our Slough House heroes are led by a rogue CIA agent and a royal scandal into snowy west Wales, where death or frostbite lurk.
90. November Road
A New Orleans gangster hits the road to avoid winding up dead in the aftermath of JFK’s assassination. What he hasn’t bargained for is falling in love along the way.
It’s up to DI Alexandra Cupidi to pull together disparate threads when a drug dealer is shot dead in a scrapyard and a severed arm shows up in an exhibit at Margate’s Turner Gallery.
92. A Long Night In Paris
MacLehose Press £18.99
A thrilling tale charting one night in the City of Light during which Israeli spies and Chinese gangsters face off while French detectives race to solve the case.
93. The Wych Elm
An attack leaves Toby brain-damaged. As he recovers at the family pile, questions arise when a skull is found in the garden. Could he be the killer?
In rural Australia, a priest opens fire on his own congregation. Then a year later, the bodies of two backpackers are discovered in the scrublands. Could there be a connection?
95. White Hot Silence
When aid worker Anastasia is kidnapped by the Mafia in Italy, it’s up to her old flame, ex-MI6 agent Paul, to save the day.
Deadland by William Shaw; The Wych Elm by Tana French
96. The Body In The Castle Well
A rich art student is found dead at the bottom of a Dordogne chateau well, and local cop Bruno must work with the FBI to solve the case.
97. Fade To Grey
No Exit Press £12.99
When a faded film star offers private detective Gethin Grey a substantial sum to look into the case of a notorious convicted killer, he finds himself drawn into Bristol’s murky underworld.
The Body In The Castle Well by Martin Walker
98. The Reunion
Novelist Thomas has spent 25 years wondering what became of Vinca, his high-school crush who vanished into thin air. Now a school reunion may reveal her fate…
99. A Fatal Game
A lot is riding on Jake Winter’s new mole within the terrorist cell, Rashid. But whose side is Rashid really on?
100. Big Sky
PI Jackson Brodie is on the trail of a paedophile ring. As always, Atkinson blends an intricate plot with wry humour.