Odd, perhaps, to take Queen Mary on the beach, but one of this year’s funniest and most eccentric books is The Quest For Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy (Zuleika, £20), who, back in the 1950s, was the authorised biographer of our present Queen’s imperious grandmother.
Authorised Royal biographies tend to be fawning and long-winded – witness William Shawcross’s interminable biography of the late Queen Mother.
Pope-Hennessy’s Queen Mary was the exception, but he was still obliged to write it as though on tip-toe. This new book, brilliantly edited by Hugo Vickers, is Pope-Hennessy’s razor-sharp private journal of his research meetings with Royal grandees and old retainers.
Worth the price for his pen-portraits of the Duchess of Windsor (‘she is flat and angular, and could have been designed for a medieval playing-card’) and Prince Henry, King George VI’s younger brother, who complains of injuries suffered from excessive hand-shaking. ‘It broke my father’s hand once. AND the Duke of Windsor’s hand. Broke ’em.’
For those who find paperbacks handier on holiday, for a good strong classic I’d recommend Stefan Zweig’s nightmarish and comical Beware Of Pity (Pushkin, £8.99), which shows a man’s life spiralling out of control as the result of one tiny misapprehension.
And also pack anything by Jennifer Johnston, at 88 still our most unjustly overlooked novelist, and an unequalled chronicler of unexpected friendships and the buffeting of individuals by the forces of history.
By Craig Brown
1. ‘The Madonna of Bolton’ by Matt Cain (Unbound, £14.99)
On his ninth birthday, Charlie Matthews falls in love – with Madonna. His Bolton classmates are all obsessed with Michael Jackson but for Charlie, it’s all about Madge. Shades of Billy Elliot colour this sequined, unrepentantly Eighties tale of coming-of-age and finding your own voice
‘The Madonna of Bolton’ by Matt Cain and ‘The Librarian’ by Salley Vickers
2. ‘The Librarian’ by Salley Vickers (Viking, £16.99)
It’s 1959 and newly qualified children’s librarian Sylvia Blackwell sweeps into prim East Mole full of plans. But her idealistic interventions soon cause havoc – and that’s before she catches the eye of a handsome, married GP. A contemporary coda gives this irresistible, nostalgia-drenched story a campaigning kick.
3. ‘Promising Young Women’ by Caroline O’Donoghue (Virago, £16.99)
Depending on your age, you’ll either relate intensely to heroine Jane Peters or you’ll be really, really relieved to have waved your 20s goodbye. Either way, there’s drama aplenty in this plugged-in tale of workplace affairs, agony-aunt blogs and female friendship.
4. ‘Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling’ by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen (Michael Joseph, £12.99)
Country bumpkin Aisling carries this perky, big-hearted romcom. After seven years of waiting for her boyfriend to pop the question, she ups sticks and takes control of her own story. Watch out Dublin! Powered by cracking one-liners, it’ll have you chortling through any amount of airport delays.
‘Promising Young Women’ by Caroline O’Donoghue and ‘Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling’ by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
5. ‘Never Greener’ by Ruth Jones (Bantam Press, £12.99)
Is the grass ever truly greener? That’s what Kate and Callum have the chance to find out when they run into each other 17 years after their youthful affair ended in heartbreak. Callum is married and now Kate is too. And yet… A gripping, grown-up romance.
6. ‘Days Of Wonder’ by Keith Stuart (Sphere, £12.99)
Enchantment and heartbreak mingle in the lives of single dad Tom and his funny, wise, 15-year-old daughter, Hannah. Each year, he puts on a show just for her at the tiny local theatre he manages. But now that she’s older, she must come to terms with the reason for this fantastical annual production.
7. ‘Tomorrow’ by Damian Dibben (Michael Joseph, £12.99)
Tomorrow is the name of this novel’s star, and he’s a dog. A 217-year-old dog who’s been granted immortality and now must roam centuries and continents in search of his lost master. Golden Age Amsterdam, Versailles, the court of Charles I – it’s armchair travel with a unique companion.
‘Tomorrow’ by Damian Dibben and ‘Letters To Iris’ by Elizabeth Noble
8. ‘Letters To Iris’ by Elizabeth Noble (Michael Joseph, £12.99)
Prepare to be ensnared in a complex web of deeply satisfying secrets. Tess’s is going to turn her life upside down in nine months, but her grandmother and confidante, Iris, has kept hers hidden for decades – until Tess stumbles upon a suitcase of letters.
JEFFREY ARCHER’S TOP TIP FOR SUMMER
‘This Is Going To Hurt’ by Adam Kay (Picador, £8.99)
What I like about this is it’s not written by an old pro giving you his views after 30 years, but by a young man who faced all the problems of a modern NHS. Great fun, and a damn good read
9. ‘The Burning Chambers’ by Kate Mosse (Mantle, £20)
Can’t decide whether to pack a romance, a mystery, or a helping of historical derring-do? This novel combines all three, transporting readers to 16th-century Languedoc where, against a backdrop of simmering sectarian tensions, 19-year-old Minou receives a mysterious message at her father’s bookshop. Gripping, complex and intensely atmospheric.
10. ‘Lancelot’ by Giles Kristian (Bantam Press, £12.99)
Lancelot, friend and rival to King Arthur, is the most compelling and complicated of the Round Table’s knights. He began life as a refugee with just a hawk for company before being taken under the wing of Merlin and the Lady Nimue. The rest is – well, legend, and it springs lustily to life here
11. ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers (William Heinemann, £18.99)
The lives of nine characters inextricably bound up with trees – their beauty, history, science and destruction – converge across decades in this impressive paean to all things arboreal. Though its ecological themes are passionately expressed, the novel never becomes preachy, its message growing organically from its stories.
‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers
ANN CLEEVES’S TOP TIP FOR SUMMER
‘A Nest Of Vipers’ by Andrea Camilleri (Picador, £8.99)
Andrea Camilleri is the perfect author for a summer read. Even if you’re having a staycation and it’s pouring with rain, he’ll bring you the light and heat of Sicily, and the food and wine of the Mediterranean. The Inspector Montalbano books are a delight: witty and playful, but with a real sense of the corrupt politics of the island and the influence of the mafia
12. ‘The Only Story’ by Julian Barnes (Jonathan Cape, £16.99)
Paul is 19, Susan is married and 48. If that sounds like a scandalous beginning to an affair, try imagining how shocking it would have been in Fifties suburbia. From semi-retirement, Paul looks back on an unconventional love story that begs questions of the mind and the heart.
‘The Only Story’ by Julian Barnes and ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller
13. ‘Warlight’ by Michael Ondaatje (Jonathan Cape, £16.99)
In the immediate aftermath of WWII, 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister are left in the care of their parents’ lodger, who fills their home with colourful petty crooks and arcane experts, all of whom played vital roles in wartime intelligence – alongside their mother. An atmospheric tale of secrets and lies, it mesmerises from start to finish.
14. ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury, £16.99)
The first witch in Western literature sets Homer straight as she tells her life story, from her unhappy childhood to her lonely island exile. The woman who emerges is complex and sympathetic. A spellbinding tour de force of imagination.
‘The Female Persuasion’ by Meg Wolitzer and ‘Happiness’ by Aminatta Forna
15. ‘The Female Persuasion’ by Meg Wolitzer (Chatto & Windus, £14.99)
Witty, subtle and sparkling with intelligence, this feminist blockbuster is as entertaining as it is provocative. Its heroine, Greer Kadetsky, stumbles into a job working for a star of the women’s movement. But as she tries to make her own way in the world, she finds that the personal and the political don’t always move in harmony.
16. ‘Happiness’ by Aminatta Forna (Bloomsbury, £16.99)
When two strangers bump into each other on Waterloo Bridge a generous, thought-provoking love story is set in motion. Attila is an eminent Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean an American woman making a study of urban foxes, but the novel also paints a multi-layered portrait of 21st-century London.
MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT
17. ‘Coal Black Mornings’ by Brett Anderson (Little, Brown, £16.99)
Suede’s frontman tells the story of his unusual upbringing by his hardup, eccentric parents in a Sussex council house and of the formation of the band and their early struggles. It’s revealing, funny and moving
18. ‘Paul Simon: The Life’ by Robert Hilburn (Simon & Schuster, £20)
Music journalist Hilburn charts the highs and lows of Simon’s extraordinary career, including the frequently tempestuous musical partnership with Art Garfunkel that produced so many glorious hits
19. ‘Unmasked’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber (HarperCollins, £20)
It’s 500 pages long but this gossipy, hugely entertaining memoir only gets us up to The Phantom Of The Opera, which opened more than 30 years ago. No one would accuse Lloyd Webber of being humble, but then he’s the most successful composer of musicals ever
20. ‘Robin’ by Dave Itzkoff (Sidgwick & Jackson, £18.99)
Itzkoff explores the psychological makeup of comedian and actor Robin Williams, whose happiness was inextricably linked to his career and his ability to perform but who, despite his success, was insecure about both
21. ‘To Throw Away Unopened’ by Viv Albertine (Faber, £14.99)
The former Slits guitarist had a hit with her debut book, about life as a musician in the punk era, but learned as that memoir was launched that her mother was dying. This frank and fearless book is about what happened next – the unravelling of family myths
22. ‘On Michael Jackson’ by Margo Jefferson (Granta, £9.99)
Published ahead of what would have been the singer’s 60th birthday, this essay is a cultural critic’s attempt to understand the phenomenon of Michael Jackson rather than a straightforward life story
23. ‘All In The Downs’ by Shirley Collins (Strange Attractor, £16.99)
Folk music legend Shirley Collins sailed to America in her youth to record chain gang songs, flirted with Jimi Hendrix and lost her voice for decades before her triumphant comeback
24. ‘Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor’
by Dave Haslam (Constable, £20)
Haslam, the DJ at Manchester’s infamous Factory Records-run nightspot The Hacienda, recalls the club scene of the Eighties and Nineties… and cooking cauliflower cheese for Morrissey
25. ‘Room To Dream’
by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna (Canongate, £25)
The auteur behind Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive has become an adjective. ‘Lynchian’ suggests an atmosphere of menace, mystery, obscurity, sensuality and black humour. This entertaining biographymemoir traces the director’s development as an artist
26. ‘Bruce Lee: A Life’ by Matthew Polly (Simon & Schuster, £25)
The actor and martial artist died at the age of just 32, before the Kung Fu craze that he had started took hold. Polly interviewed more than 100 people while researching his compelling life story and devotes an entire chapter to the conspiracy theories about Lee’s premature death
27. ‘The 21 Escapes Of Lt Alastair Cram’ by David M Guss (Macmillan, £18.99)
The astonishing story of a Scottish officer in the Royal Artillery who jumped from trains, scaled walls and crawled through tunnels to escape from 12 different PoW camps, three Gestapo prisons and one asylum in WWII.
28. ‘Hearts And Minds’ by Jane Robinson (Doubleday, £20)
A fine and sometimes moving account of women’s struggle for suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th century.
29. ‘Left Bank’ by Agnès Poirier (Bloomsbury, £25)
How the intellectuals, artists and writers who poured back into Paris after the Second World War set about testing new ways of living and loving.
‘Operation Chaos’ by Matthew Sweet and ‘Medieval Bodies’ by Jack Hartnell
30. ‘Operation Chaos’ by Matthew Sweet (Picador, £20)
This tale of US military deserters who fled to Sweden during the Vietnam war is as weird and darkly comic a story about Vietnam as you’ll read.
31. ‘Medieval Bodies’ by Jack Hartnell (Wellcome Collection, £25)
Art historian Jack Hartnell explores the ways in which people in the Middle Ages thought about their bodies and considers what that tells us about the medieval worldview.
32. ‘The Deadly Trade’ by Iain Ballantyne (W&N, £25)
A brilliant deep dive into submarine warfare, from ancient Greek divers right up to our current nuclear fleet.
‘The Deadly Trade’ by Iain Ballantyne and ‘Arnhem’ by Antony Beevor
33. ‘Arnhem’ by Antony Beevor (Viking, £25)
Despite some extraordinary heroics, Operation Market Garden, the Allied push to capture nine bridges over the Rhine, was a disastrous failure. Beevor shows why.
34. The Imperial Tea Party by Frances Welch (Short Books, £12.99)
A fascinating account of the way in which the British Royal Family courted their Russian cousins in the run-up to WWI. Spoiler alert – it doesn’t end well for the Romanovs.
35. ‘The Odyssey’ translated by Emily Wilson (WW Norton, £30)
Not history as such but the inspiration for so much of Western literature and art that it might as well be. This – the first English translation of Homer’s epic poem by a woman – is vivid, fresh and a genuine page-turner.
36. ‘There’s A Boy Just Like Me’ by Frasier Cox (Little Tiger Press, £4.99) 2+
Ten-year-old Frasier Cox won a competition with this thought-provoking tale of two boys who share the same passions and dreams… except one is a refugee facing a much less certain future. Winningly illustrated by Alison Brown, Frasier’s story reminds us that deep down, we’re all the same. Available at thebookpeople.co.uk.
37. ‘Am I Yours?’ by Alex Latimer (Oxford, £6.99) 2+
Can T-rex, Triceratops and other prehistoric pals help a lost little egg home before the sun sets? A heart-warming story about belonging and community, and an ideal introduction to some of the oldest inhabitants of our planet.
‘There’s A Boy Just Like Me’ by Frasier Cox and ‘Am I Yours?’ by Alex Latimer
38. ‘Steve, Terror Of The Seas’ by Megan Brewis (Oxford, £6.99) 2+
Dive into this funny and informative tale about Steve, who can’t understand why all the ocean’s creatures are so frightened of him. With stylish illustrations and pages packed with facts about Steve and his special friend, it’s a total delight.
39. ‘My Colourful Chameleon’ by Leonie Roberts (QED, £5.99) 2+
Debut author Roberts’s rhyming text pairs perfectly with Mike Byrne’s illustrations in a charming story about a girl and her pet chameleon. Sure to be a hit with youngsters who will love trying to spot the creature on every page.
40. ‘Bee Boy’ by Tony De Saulles (Oxford, £6.99) 7+
Early independent readers should look no further than this life-affirming story about Melvin, a boy who is bullied at school by nasty Norman, but finds solace in the bees he keeps on the roof of his building. The book is abuzz with bee facts, and de Saulles’s yellow-and-black illustrations make it a joy.
‘Steve, Terror Of The Seas’ by Megan Brewis and ‘My Colourful Chameleon’ by Leonie Roberts
41. ‘The Boy Who Grew Dragons’ by Andy Shepherd (Piccadilly Press, £5.99) 7+
What if dragon fruits actually contained baby dragons? That’s the premise of Shepherd’s charming debut. Sara Ogilvie’s sublime illustrations help tell the story of Tomas, who is astonished to discover a dragon in his room after taking the fruit home.
42. ‘Kat Wolfe Investigates’ by Lauren St John (Macmillan, £6.99) 9+
The thrilling start to a new series following animal-mad Kat, who has just moved to the Dorset coast and set up a pet-sitting agency. When her parrot-owning client vanishes, it’s up to Kat and new friend Harper to solve the mystery.
43. ‘Embassy Of The Dead’ by Will Mabbitt (Orion, £6.99) 9+
Mabbitt’s irreverent wit comes to the fore in a spooky novel about Jake, whose opening of a box containing a severed finger summons a reaper to drag him to the Eternal Void. Soon he’s on the run for his life with a motley crew of ghostly pals. Huge fun with perfect pictures from Chris Mould.
‘Kat Wolfe Investigates’ by Lauren St John and ‘A Sky Painted Gold’ by Laura Wood
44. ‘A Thousand Perfect Notes’ by C G Drews (Orchard, £7.99) 14+
Domestic abuse lies at the heart of this shocking, but ultimately hopeful, tale. Beck’s mother was a piano prodigy until injury cut short her career. Now she spends her time forcing Beck to do what she cannot.
45. ‘A Sky Painted Gold’ by Laura Wood (Scholastic, £7.99) 14+
Wood’s YA debut is perfect for glamour-soaked summer escapism. Set in Twenties Cornwall, the novel follows Lou as she is swept up in an whirlwind of moonlit cocktail parties when the enigmatic young owners of the grand Cardew house arrive for the summer. But is their life all that it seems?
46. ‘Arlott, Swanton And The Soul Of English Cricket’
by Stephen Fay and David Kynaston (Bloomsbury, £20)
This interlocking biography of two very different cricket broadcasters, John Arlott and E W Swanton, is a wonderful account of the game in the second half of the 20th century, a period in which deference and tradition were swept aside by egalitarianism and money
47. ‘Tiger Woods’
by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Simon & Schuster, £20)
A scathing warts-and-all account of the life of a man who is a gifted golfer but also a deeply flawed human being – spoiled, self-obsessed, a serial philanderer and liar
48. ‘Red Card’ by Ken Bensinger (Profile, £16.99)
How FBI agents conducted a painstaking five-year investigation into corruption at world football authority Fifa – the biggest scandal in international sport. The sensational story reads like a thriller, complete with grotesque villains with gargantuan egos
49. ‘Girl, Balancing & Other Stories’
by Helen Dunmore (Hutchinson, £20)
Whether musing on a portrait of John Donne or a friendship between two widows, the late, much missed Dunmore always has something worth saying
50. ‘Property’ by Lionel Shriver (The Borough Press, £14.99)
Funny and unnerving, this collection probes our relationship with property, from the American in Belfast who feels she owns her adoptive city to the repossessed house that seems haunted by a previous owner
51. ‘Days Of Awe’ by A M Homes (Granta, £12.99)
A shopper finds himself a presidential nominee, a conference on genocide is the catalyst for a love story… These defiantly comic stories are like postcards from contemporary America
52. ‘Good Trouble’ by Joseph O’Neill (Fourth Estate, £12.99)
Facial hair, friendship and fertility clinics all feature in these quirky, well-crafted stories. The protagonists tend to be urbanites prone to social anxiety and simmering resentments
53. ‘Last Stories’ by William Trevor (Viking, £14.99)
Trevor’s final collection is a literary masterclass. From family tensions in the kitchen of an Irish farmhouse to the musical prodigy who’s a thief, they’re compassionate and hauntingly delicate
MEMOIR AND BIOGRAPHY
54. ‘Brave’ by Rose McGowan HQ, £20)
The actress who accused Harvey Weinstein of rape and prompted serious self-scrutiny in the film industry tells how she fought the Hollywood machine.
‘Brave’ by Rose McGowan and ‘Educated’ by Tara Westover
55. ‘The Reading Cure’ by Laura Freeman (W&N, £16.99)
Freeman fell prey to an eating disorder as a teenager and by 24 was a functioning anorexic. This is the uplifting story of how literature helped her to recover her appetite for life.
56. ‘I’ll Be Gone In The Dark’ by Michelle McNamara (Faber, £12.99)
Extraordinary true-crime story about the hunt for a notorious American serial killer. The author died before finishing the book, which was completed posthumously, with the case still unsolved.
57. ‘Educated’ by Tara Westover (Hutchinson, £14.99)
Westover grew up in a family of survivalists who thought the end of the world was nigh. She found a way out through education – and ended up at Cambridge.
58. ‘Meghan: A Hollywood Princess’ by Andrew Morton (Michael O’Mara, £20)
This brisk, highly readable biography of Meghan Markle, the American former actress who married Prince Harry and is now the Duchess of Sussex, is ‘an old-fashioned story of local girl makes good,’ according to the author
59. ‘Self & I’ by Matthew De Abaitua (Eye Books, £14.99)
An aspiring writer’s time as Will Self’s amanuensis, drinking, rolling ‘special cigarettes’ and swimming in the strangely warm sea around the Sizewell B nuclear reactor. An unusual and amusing read.
‘Self & I’ by Matthew De Abaitua and ‘I’ll Be Gone In The Dark’ by Michelle McNamara
60. ‘The Secret Barrister: Stories Of The Law And How It’s Broken’ (Macmillan, £16.99)
This insider’s account of a malfunctioning legal system close to breaking point would be funny if it weren’t so frightening.
61. ‘The Stopping Places’ by Damian Le Bas (Chatto & Windus, £14.99)
In this fascinating memoir about gypsy culture, Oxford-educated Le Bas takes to the road to explore his Romany heritage.
62. ‘The Language Of Kindness’ by Christie Watson (Chatto & Windus, £14.99)
Watson takes us through her 23-year nursing career, describing the many real lives and real tragedies that haunt our hospitals’ corridors. A dramatic and deeply moving memoir.
‘Brit(ish)’ by Afua Hirsch and ‘Calypso’ by David Sedaris
63. ‘Calypso’ by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, £16.99)
The American humourist’s latest collection of pieces, about life’s strange twists and turns, will have you shrieking with laughter and also, possibly, just shrieking.
64. ‘The Art Of Not Falling Apart’ by Christina Patterson (Atlantic, £14.99)
When journalist Patterson was sacked from the job she loved, she could have fallen apart. Instead she set about interviewing people who could have gone to pieces but didn’t and wrote a funny, uplifting memoir.
65. ‘Somebody I Used To Know’ by Wendy Mitchell (Bloomsbury, £16.99)
How does it feel to start to lose your memories, your identity? Mitchell, who discovered at the age of 58 that she had early-onset dementia, tells us in this remarkable book.
66. ‘Brit(ish)’ by Afua Hirsch (Jonathan Cape, £16.99)
What is it like to be made to feel uncomfortable in your own country? Hirsch argues that we need to talk about race in a personal investigation that has sparked much debate.
‘Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading’ by Lucy Mangan and ‘The Secret Barrister: Stories Of The Law And How It’s Broken’
67. ‘Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading’ by Lucy Mangan (Square Peg, £14.99)
Mangan’s charming account of growing up as a book-obsessed child is a love letter to literature and will make you look again at your favourite childhood books
68. ‘Lincoln In The Bardo’ by George Saunders (Bloomsbury, £8.99)
The winner of last year’s Man Booker prize is a strange but brilliant study of grief and bereavement as Abraham Lincoln mourns his 11-year-old son Willie.
69. ‘Conversations With Friends’ by Sally Rooney (Faber, £8.99)
A dazzling debut following student Frances and her ex-girlfriend Bobbi, who fall into an emotionally charged foursome with a charismatic older couple.
‘The Idiot’ by Elif Batuman and ‘Conversations With Friends’ by Sally Rooney
70. ‘The Idiot’ by Elif Batuman (Vintage, £8.99)
The New Yorker writer’s first novel is told through the eyes of gawky overthinker Selin, who embarks on her first year at Harvard and soon finds herself overwhelmed by the possibilities of life – and of language.
71. ‘Home Fire’ by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury, £8.99)
British Muslim Isma is studying in the US when her brother becomes trapped in a Raqqa jihadi camp. A timely reworking of the Greek myth Antigone, which scooped this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.
72. ‘The Songs’ by Charles Elton (Bloomsbury, £8.99)
Elton’s darkly funny second novel centres on the octogenarian folk-music legend Iz Herzl and his mysterious past.
‘Munich’ by Robert Harris and ‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman
73. ‘Munich’ by Robert Harris (Arrow, £8.99)
This agile thriller imagines a different outcome to the infamous 1938 meeting between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler, from the vantage point of two diplomats who try to avert the course of history as we know it.
74. ‘A State Of Freedom’ by Neel Mukherjee (Vintage, £8.99)
The stories of five different characters are loosely interwoven in Mukherjee’s masterful third novel to create a powerful yet disturbing tapestry of deprivation and vitality in modern-day India.
‘The Zoo’ by Christopher Wilson and ‘Home Fire’ by Kamila Shamsie
75. ‘The Explosion Chronicles’ by Yan Lianke (Vintage, £9.99)
In the latest of Lianke’s scathing satires about contemporary China, a fictional village undergoes a volcanic transformation from rural community to corrupt, sprawling metropolis.
76. ‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins, £8.99)
Honeyman’s best-selling debut is a tender account of socially awkward Eleanor, who endures a solitary existence until a chance act of kindness makes her rethink her uber-orderly approach to life.
77. ‘The Zoo’ by Christopher Wilson (Faber, £7.99)
Brain-damaged 12-year-old Yuri is the official foodtaster for a dying Josef Stalin in this darkly comic adventure set amid the power struggles of the final days of the Russian dictator.
78. ‘Air Force Blue’ by Patrick Bishop (William Collins, £9.99)
Bishop looks back at arguably the most dramatic period of the RAF’s history: the Second World War, in which the force transformed from ‘garage mechanics’ into our golden heroes.
79. ‘A Life Of My Own’ by Claire Tomalin (Penguin, £9.99)
The award-winning literary biographer turns her forensic eye on herself in this beautifully written memoir.
‘Air Force Blue’ by Patrick Bishop and ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ by Adam Kay
80. ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ by Adam Kay (Picador, £8.99)
The diaries of Kay’s six years in obstetrics and gynaecology as a junior doctor are both painfully funny – and seriously shocking.
81. ‘Adventures Of A Young Naturalist’ by David Attenborough (Two Roads, £8.99)
A beautiful new edition, with a fresh introduction, of our favourite naturalist’s account of his travels for the BBC and London Zoo in the Fifties.
82. ‘To Be A Machine’ by Mark O’Connell (Granta, £9.99)
What if the human body was just another device that technology could augment and improve? That’s what ‘transhumanists’ believe and O’Connell explores in this funny and thought-provoking book.
‘To Be A Machine’ by Mark O’Connell and ‘Ma’am Darling’ by Craig Brown
83. ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker (Penguin, £9.99)
An eye-opening look at shut-eye and why it’s ‘the elixir of life’. Don’t read it in bed.
84. ‘Ma’am Darling’ by Craig Brown (Fourth Estate, £9.99)
Every complicated aspect of the Queen’s colourful sister Margaret is on display in Brown’s hugely entertaining book.
MARIAN KEYES’S TOP TIP FOR SUMMER
‘Watching You’ by Lisa Jewell (Century, £12.99)
I was totally gripped by this excellently written psychological thriller. Set in Bristol, it opens with a dead body, then moves into the head of Joey, a newly married 27-year-old who gets a sudden crush on one of her new neighbours, which quickly becomes obsessive. Though not every character is exactly likeable, they’re engaging and interesting. Hugely enjoyable. ‘The Break’ by Marian Keyes is out now in paperback (Penguin, £7.99)
85. ‘M’ by Henry Hemming (Arrow, £9.99)
A jaw-dropping biography of Maxwell Knight, Fifties broadcaster, naturalist – and the best spy-runner in MI5.
86. ‘Gastrophysics’ by Charles Spence (Penguin, £9.99)
A feast of fascinating facts reveals the multisensory experience of eating. Did you know that if you hold your nose you’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference between red wine and cold coffee?
87. ‘Other Minds’ by Peter Godfrey- Smith (William Collins, £9.99)
Apparently, octopuses can solve puzzles and are capable of contempt – and playfulness. This fascinating book about their sly brainpower is packed with astonishing anecdotes
88. ‘The Drugs That Changed Our Minds’ by Lauren Slater (Simon & Schuster, £18.99)
How much do we really know about the drugs used to treat mental illness and the way in which they work? Worryingly little, suggests this book, the thought-provoking story of ten such drugs and substances, from lithium to LSD, Prozac to psilocybin.
89. ‘Beyond Weird’ by Philip Ball (Bodley Head, £17.99)
Get your head around the mind- mangling world of quantum mechanics, a notoriously difficult-to-understand but fundamental branch of physics. Science journalist Ball offers different ways of thinking about key concepts.
‘The Drugs That Changed Our Minds’ by Lauren Slater and ‘The Rise And Fall Of The Dinosaurs’ by Steve Brusatte
90. ‘Our Place’ by Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape, £18.99)
Naturalist Cocker asks if can we save Britain’s wildlife before it’s too late. Our natural environment is in real danger – for example, in the last century, almost all of our wildflower meadows have been destroyed – and there has been a drastic decline in the numbers of many birds. How did we get here and what can we do about it?
91. ‘The Inflamed Mind’ by Edward Bullmore (Short Books, £14.99)
Could depression be a physical rather than a mental ailment, caused by an overheating immune system? This Cambridge professor thinks in some instances it could and sets out the case for a radical new approach.
‘Our Place’ by Mark Cocker and ‘Beyond Weird’ by Philip Ball
IF YOU ONLY PACK ONE
92. ‘The Rise And Fall Of The Dinosaurs’ by Steve Brusatte (Macmillan, £20)
Brusatte is a palaeontologist who has discovered several new dinosaur species. This is about the dinosaurs that ruled the Earth for 150 million years and the scientists who have pieced together their story.
ANTONY BEEVOR TOP TIP FOR SUMMER
‘Educated’ by Tara Westover (Hutchinson, £14.99)
One of the most astonishing memoirs for many years. Westover was brought up by survivalist parents in Idaho. Denied a school education, abused by a brother and totally ignorant of the world outside, she eventually went to college and then to Cambridge University, where she received a PhD
93. ‘The Order Of Time’ by Carlo Rovelli (Allen Lane, £12.99)
The Italian theoretical physicist has been described as ‘the new Hawking’. This very brief history of time – the ‘greatest remaining mystery’ – is quickly read but takes longer to digest.
94. ‘Enlightenment Now’ by Steven Pinker (Allen Lane, £25)
What a time to be alive, argues the Harvard University psychology professor. Forget all the doom and gloom, science is going to sort everything out. A refreshing blast of optimism
95. ‘Body And Soul’ by John Harvey (William Heinemann, £14.99)
Said to be the excellent Harvey’s last crime novel. Retired copper Frank Elder is living the quiet life on the Cornish coast until his troubled daughter becomes a murder suspect.
96. ‘Green Sun’ by Kent Anderson (Mulholland, £14.99)
A brilliant and subtle cop novel in which Hanson, Anderson’s regular protagonist, tries to keep the peace on the mean streets of Oakland, California.
‘Green Sun’ by Kent Anderson and ‘Sticks And Stones’ by Jo Jakeman
97. ‘Sticks And Stones’ by Jo Jakeman (Harvill Secker, £12.99)
Imogen’s ex-husband Philip was a controlling bully. As this page-turning debut starts, he’s in a coffin and all three of his exes are in attendance – Ruby, the hippie who came first; narrator Imogen; and Naomi, the younger model he left her for. But which one killed him and which one locked him in their cellar? A twisting tale of revenge.
98. ‘Time Is A Killer’ by Michel Bussi (W&N, £12.99)
Clotilde was the only survivor of the car crash that killed her family. So when she receives a letter in her mother’s handwriting, suggesting she is still alive, the stage is set for another inventive mystery from the French author.
‘Time Is A Killer’ by Michel Bussi and ‘The Break Line’ by James Brabazon
99. ‘Careless Love’ by Peter Robinson (Hodder & Stoughton, £20)
The 25th DCI Banks novel sees the veteran policeman investigating two suspicious deaths. Robinson remains the master of the police procedural.
100. ‘The Break Line’ by James Brabazon (Michael Joseph, £12.99)
When Max McLean, British intelligence’s most feared hitman, discovers one of his comrades has been scared into madness, he’s determined to find out why. A gripping page-turner of a thriller