As we head into the weekend, here is our selection of some super reading that will see you not just through the weekend, but the days that follow as well.
The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
Dan Brown’s Inferno might be setting sales records, but if you ask us for our favourite mystery around Dante’s amazing Divine Comedy, then we would vote for Pearl’s The Dante Club. Imagine the likes of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell, trying to catch a murderer to save the reputation of Dante (and their translation of his work)? Pearl handles it brilliantly and the result is a compulsively readable book.
The Yard by Alex Grecian
The first book of what we are being told is the Murder Squad series which will cover how twelve detectives in Scotland Yard tackled crime in Victorian England. A body is discovered in a trunk in 1889, and a badly-stretched detective squad gets to work trying to solve it. More bodies emerge, a child is kidnapped and what follows is one of the more compelling thrillers of recent times, with Grecian giving us perspectives of both the murderer and the team tracking him down. We are already waiting for book two!
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
For most people, Mark Twain was an author who was at his best when writing about children (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper). Alas, those unfortunates have not read books like A Connecticut Yankee…which places a twentieth century American in the court of King Arthur thanks to a spin through time. Yes, there are Merlin and Launcelot in attendance and yes, there is the politics of the court and yes, everyone is mystified by the newcomer, his clothing and accent. Read, laugh, and learn of the rise of…Sir Boss!
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
A young girl acting as a companion to a lady gets what she thinks is a dream proposition – the chance to marry a man with a title and estate to boot. But what is Max de Winter’s secret and why does he avoid talking about his deceased wife, Rebecca, whom everyone else seems to adore? Rebecca is not your run of the mill mystery but one that unwinds gently before moving up to warp speed, leaving you shaken and stirred by the end.
Cricket, Lovely Cricket? by Lawrence Booth
At a time when a part of the sport is under the microscope, thanks to bookies and betting, we really think people should read this book to rediscover the joy of cricket. Very anecdotal and divided into sections on different countries and their approach to the game, this is a magnificent, hilarious ride, which may not re-establish your faith in the game and those running it, but will certainly make you rediscover your love for it. No matter how cynical you are. A must for every cricket follower.
Four Kings by George Kimball
Boxing was blessed in the seventies and eighties to have four exceptional fighters, each of whom would have been a legend in any era – Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns. Not only were all four contemporaries, but they were all in the same weight division (s) and boxed each other over a period spanning a decade, with spectacular results. Each has a boxing style of his own and an approach to life to match. Kimball’s book looks at each of them and their rivalries and lives, and does so in brilliant detail. One of those volumes that are to be treasured as well as read.
Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
Maugham’s first major work remains for many, his best. A story of a club-footed young man who hobbles through life, surmounting challenges and trying to fit in, before finally finding true love, this is one of the most moving books you will ever read and shows Maugham at his narrative best. Don’t look for any hidden messages. Just sit back and live someone’s life, triumphs, tribulations and all- that’s what books are for.
Lust for Life by Irving Stone
Lust for Life tells us the story of one of the most talented and yet eccentric artists of the modern era, Vincent vs Gogh. It is all here – how he got into painting, his relationship with his brother Theo, his loves, and of course, the story of his cutting his ear off. All narrated in the best way possible – in the form of a story. Pretty much a must-read for any one who is interested in art. Or life, for that matter.
War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
A family caught up in the Second World War. Sounds routine? Not when it is narrated by a master like Herman Wouk. War and Remembrance is a massive book, spanning almost a thousand pages and yet we wager you will go through it within a few days, simply because it is so well-written. There are multiple perspectives – a German account of the war, life in a concentration camp, battle in the Pacific. All of which ensure that when you put down the book, you end up knowing as much about the conflict as the fictional family affected by it. Now, THIS is weaving fact and fiction at its unrivalled best.
Inside The Third Reich by Albert Speer
Himmler, Goebbels and Goering might have hogged the headlines more often, but few people in the Third Reich had the kind of access that Albert Speer had to Adolf Hitler. Perhaps his background in architecture made Hitler see him as an “artist” – whatever the reason, Speer’s book on life in the Third Reich is one of the most compelling images of Hitler and the people around him. Read it with a pinch of salt if you will, but do read it.