Book group collections

Borrow up to fifteen copies of a particular book for your book group to use for 6 weeks. It’s so easy, and even better, it’s all free!

  • Choose a person from your bookgroup to join as a Library Book Group member.
  • Get a Book Group ticket at your nearest library.
  • Choose the book you’d like to read – take your pick from the titles listed below.You can download the list as a customisable spreadsheet or a printable pdf
  • Call 0131 242 8046 or email annie.bell@edinburgh.gov.uk to book the collection.
  • Pick up and return collections to your nearest library.

If you already have a library card you can still use it for your own personal reading. The book group ticket is an extra card for borrowing multiple copies of the same book.

There are currently over 200 titles to choose from but if you’d like to suggest a title to add to the list please do so using this form.

Share your thoughts with other library members by posting your book reviews on the library catalogue.

Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe
Okonowo is the greatest warrior alive. His fame has spread like bushfire in West Africa and he’s one of the most powerful men of his clan. Fiery tempered, determined not to be like his father, he refuses to show weakness to anyone – even if the only way he can master his feelings is with his fists. When outsiders threaten the traditions of his clan, Okonowo takes violent action. Will the great man’s dangerous pride eventually destroy him?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The most useful advice ever given, Don’t Panic, can be found on the cover of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The day aliens demolish the Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass is the day when Arthur Dent realises the futility of such advice. 
Also available as Audiobook

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Set in Nigeria during the 1960s, this novel contains three main characters who get swept up in the violence during these turbulent years. It is about Africa, about the end of colonialism, about class and race, and the ways in which love can complicate these things. 

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A powerful story of love, race and identity. As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race.

The Moon Field by Judith Allnatt
Hidden in a soldier’s tin box are a painting, a pocket watch, and a dance card – keepsakes of three lives. It is 1914. George Farrell cycles through the tranquil Cumberland fells to deliver a letter, unaware that it will change his life. George has fallen for the rich and beautiful daughter at the Manor House, Miss Violet, but when she lets slip the contents of the letter George is heartbroken to find that she is already promised to another man. George escapes his heartbreak by joining the patriotic rush to war, but his past is not so easily avoided. His rite of passage into adulthood leaves him believing that no woman will be able to love the man he has become.
Also available as eBook

Seeing stars by Simon Armitage
Simon Armitage’s ‘Seeing Stars’, a funny and thought-provoking collection of ‘flash fiction’, is sure to intrigue, featuring such oddities as a speech from a sperm whale (The Christening) to a miracle in the dishwasher (Upon unloading the dishwasher).

One good turn by Kate Atkinson
It is summer, it is the Edinburgh Festival. People queuing for a lunchtime show witness a road-rage incident – an incident which changes the lives of everyone involved. Jackson Brodie, ex-army, ex-police, ex-private detective, is also an innocent bystander – until he becomes a suspect. 

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
Started Early, Took My Dog’ is the fourth novel in the bestselling sequence that started with ‘Case Histories’. It again features the beguiling former detective Jackson Brodie, who was also seen in ‘One Good Turn’ and ‘When Will There Be Good News?’ 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function – to breed. If she deviates, she will be killed. But even an oppressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. 
Also available as Audiobook

Pride and Predjudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is one of the best-loved and most intimately known of Jane Austen’s novels. Her sense of comedy and satire makes this an enduring classic.  A love story between one of the wealthiest men in England and Elizabeth Bennett.
Also available as eBook and Audiobook

Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge
This Beryl Bainbridge novel is a double murder mystery and a bittersweet masterpiece of the kind with which she has made her reputation.
Also available as Audiobook

The twin by Gerbrand Bakker
When his twin brother dies in a car accident, Helmer is obliged to return to the small family farm. He resigns himself to taking over his brother’s role and spending the rest of his days with his head under a cow. Then Riet appears, the woman once engaged to marry his twin. Could Riet and her son live with him for a while?

Transition by Iain Banks
A world that hangs suspended between triumph & catastrophe, between the dismantling of the Wall & the fall of the Twin Towers, frozen in the shadow of suicide terrorism & global financial collapse, such a world requires a firm hand & a guiding light. But does it need the Concern? 
Also available as Audiobook

The elegance of the hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Renée is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. But beneath this façade lies the real Renée: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. 
Also available as eBook and Audiobook

Toby’s Room by Pat Barker
Toby and Elinor, brother and sister, friends and confidants, are sharers of a dark secret, carried from the summer of 1912 into the battlefields of France and wartime London in 1917.  A ‘must read’ from the author of the ‘Regeneration’ trilogy.

Maggie and Me by Damian Barr
It is 12 October 1984. An IRA bomb blows apart the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Miraculously, Maggie Thatcher survives. In small-town Scotland, eight-year-old Damian Barr watches in horror as his mum rips her wedding ring off and packs their bags. He knows he, too, must survive. Damian, his sister and his Catholic mum move in with her sinister new boyfriend while his Protestant dad shacks up with the glamorous Mary the Canary. Divided by sectarian suspicion, the community is held together by the sprawling Ravenscraig Steelworks
Also available as eBook

The secret scripture by Sebastian Barry
Nearing her 100th birthday, Roseanne faces an uncertain future, as the mental hospital where she’s spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr Grene. This relationship intensifies as he mourns the death of his wife.
Also available as Audiobook

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
A memoir about her mother – a voracious reader, a music lover, a passionate amateur actor. A woman, unhappily married to a gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood… and who stopped kissing her daughter goodnight, for ever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf, in graphic novel form.  

Alex’s adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos
Exploding the myth that maths is best left to the geeks, Alex Bellos covers subjects from adding to algebra, from set theory to statistics and from logarithms to logical paradoxes. In doing so, he explains how mathematical ideas underpin just about everything in our lives. 
Also available as eBook

The Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun
In 1971, disaffected student Salim took part in a failed coup to oust King Hassan II of Morocco.  With 60 others he was incarcerated in a secret prison complex in the Moroccan desert; there to remain there for nearly 20 years.  Translated from the French.

Ordinary thunderstorms by William Boyd
What is the devastating effect on your life when, through no fault of your own, you lose everything – home, family, friends, job, reputation, passport, money, credit cards, mobile phone – and you can never get them back? This book tells the story of a young man called Adam Kindred.
Also available as eBook and Audiobook

Restless by William Boyd
What happens to your life when everything you thought you knew about your mother turns out to be an elaborate lie? Ruth Gilmartin discovers the strange and haunting truth about her mother, Sally, during the long hot summer of 1976. 
Also available as eBook

The Congress of Rough Riders by John Boyne
From the author of the much-loved ‘Boy in the striped pyjamas’, ‘The Congress of Rough Riders’ flits between modern-day London and frontier fantasy Wild West. Challenged to recreate distant relative Buffalo Bill’s famed stage show by his father, protagonist William Cody faces a dilemma… 

A tale etched in blood and hard black pencil by Christopher Brookmyre
Does knowing someone since childhood enable one to know who is capable of killing in adulthood? Or is there some nugget in their shared experience which explains the murder scene in the hills outside Glasgow? 

The life and times of the thunderbolt kid by Bill Bryson
Some say that the first hint that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came when his mother sent him to school in lime-green Capri pants. Others think it all started with his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. In his funny memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was. 
Also available as Audiobook

We need new names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Whenever foreigners visit Paradise they always ask Darling and her friends to smile for the camera. Here are some of the things Darling and her friends have to smile about: stealing guavas, gifts from NGOs, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices. But they all want to go to the real paradise in America or Britain.
Also available as Audiobook

The secret garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
After the death of her parents, 9-year-old Mary is brought back from India to live in Misselthwaite Manor. Wandering in the grounds, she finds a buried key & unlocks a door in the garden wall to find a garden that has been hidden away for many years. 
Also available as eBook and Audiobook

The storm: the world economic crisis and what it means by Vincent Cable
Vincent Cable’s bestseller on the credit crunch explains how the recent crisis came about and gives some solutions as to how to we can climb out of recession, while responding to the challenges it brings.  He argues that although the downturn is global, British complacency towards the huge ‘bubble’ in property prices and high levels of personal debt, combined with increasingly exotic and opaque trading within the financial markets, has left Britain badly exposed. He argues that policy makers must keep their faith in liberal markets if the remarkable advances in living standards, which are now being extended to the world’s poorer countries, are to be maintained. 
Also available as Audiobook

This is where I am by Karen Campbell
So we walked in the freezing night air, my daughter weeping into my neck, and me trying to shelter her inside my own thin coat. Glasgow. A city of colour and contrast. A place where two worlds collide, and are changed forever when the Scottish Refugee Council assigns Deborah Maxwell to act as Somali refugee Abdi’s new mentor.
Also available as Audiobook

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
Olivier is a French aristocrat, the traumatized child of survivors of the Revolution. Parrot, the son of an itinerant printer who always wanted to be an artist, but has ended up a servant. Born on different sides of history, their lives will be brought together by their travels in America. 
Also available as Audiobook

Other People’s Money by Justin Cartwright
The upper-crust, family owned bank of Tubal & Co, in the City of London, is in trouble. It’s not the first time in its 340 year history, but it may be the last. A secret sale is under way, and a number of facts need to be kept hidden from the regulators and major clients.
Also available as eBook

Carry a Poem
A treat for Poetry Lovers.  Join in the City of Literature’s ‘One Edinburgh’ campaign and read a collection of poems which features Scots from all walks of life talking about the poems they carry with them, and why they mean so much. 

Chatter and Verse Poetry Collection (1)
Various contemporary poets. Nine collections for you to read and share

Chatter and Verse Poetry Collection (2)
Various contemporary poets shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize 2013. Ten collections for you to read and share.

The Waiting by Regi Claire
How far can you go to get what you want?  It is a few weeks before Christmas and Rachel, a messed-up young student from Switzerland doing a PhD on Calvinism, doesn’t baulk at drugging Lizzie Fairbairn, the elderly widow whose Edinburgh home she invades, then stealing what she thinks belongs to her by rights. 

The sky’s dark labyrinth by Stuart Clark
At the dawn of the 17th century everyone believed that the sun revolved around the Earth. Yet some men knew that the heavens did not move as they should. This is the story of Kepler and Galileo, two men whose struggle with themselves, with the evidence and with the forces of reaction changed not simply themselves but our world.
Also available as eBook

The other hand by Chris Cleave
‘The Other Hand’ is a novel by Chris Cleave, the author of ‘Incendiary’. Deeply moving, yet light in touch, it explores the nature of loss, hope, love and identity with atrocity as its backdrop. 

Mr Two-Bomb by William Coles
Set amidst the apocalyptic background of post A-bomb Japan, Mr Two-Bomb guides the reader through age-old arguments of love and luck and depicts the recovery of Japan and its people following the 1945 atrocity. Inspired by a true story. 
Also available as eBook

A Foreign Country by Charles Cumming
Six months before she’s due to take up her position as the first female head of MI6, Amelia Levene vanishes without a trace.  Former MI6 officer Thomas Kell is called out of retirement and ordered to find her. With only days before the story leaks to the press, Kell must begin to piece together Levene’s final movements. Winner of the CWA best thriller award 2012.  

The God delusion by Richard Dawkins
While Europe is secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, divides opinion around the world. This work attacks God in various forms. 
Also available as eBook

Status anxiety by Alain de Botton
We all worry about what others think of us. We all long to succeed and fear failure. We all suffer – to a greater or lesser degree, usually privately and with embarrassment – from status anxiety. For the first time, Alain de Botton gives a name to this universal condition and sets out to investigate both its origins and possible solutions. He looks at history, philosophy, economics, art and politics – and reveals the many ingenious ways that great minds have overcome their worries. This book is not only entertaining and thought-provoking, but genuinely wise and helpful as well. 
Also available as eBook

And then forever by Christine De Luca
Katherine Maitland has always wondered what happened to her Shetland grandfather when he emigrated to Winnipeg around 1900; why his life turned out the way it did. She sets out on a journey of discovery, based on the slimmest of evidence, and in the process, her own life takes a new and unforeseen turn.

The Hare with Amber Eyes: a Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal
This globe spanning memoir tells the turbulent story of De Wahl’s Jewish ancestors, triggered by his inheritance of some surprisingly sturdy family heirlooms. 
Also available as Audiobook

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick de Witt
From the author of ‘Ablutions’, ‘The Sisters Brothers’ is an offbeat Western about a reluctant assassin and his murderous brother who are on the trail of a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. On the way, the brothers have a series of unsettling and violent experiences in the Darwinian landscape of Gold Rush America.

The red tent by Anita Diamant
An epic celebration of womanhood, written for women everywhere. Dinah, like the majority of women in the Old Testament, merits only a passing mention. It’s the men in Dinah’s life that history has remembered: her famous father Jacob, his dozen sons and her brother, Joseph, and his technicolour dreamcoat. A meticulously researched and hugely fascinating picture of everyday life as an early Jewish woman, this novel is compelling for its female take on the grand themes that transcend time – birth, death, love, hate, betrayal and forgiveness. 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Dickens’ story of Pip’s progress from rags to riches deals with the pervasive themes of greed, desire, money and the nature of capitalism. 
Also available as eBook

My epileptic lurcher by Des Dillon
Manny Riley is a recovering alcoholic and struggling scriptwriter with a serious anger management problem. Lately, though, things have started to change for the better. A happy marriage, a move away from Glasgow to an idyllic seaside village and the adoption of Bailey, a lurcher with epilepsy. 

Room by Emma Donoghue
Shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, ‘Room’ is the story of five year old Jack, whose world is confined to one room which he shares with his mother. Innovatively written from his perspective, ‘Room’ is sinister and challenging, but ultimately compelling. 

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home
Cal McGill, a part-time PhD oceanography student with a macabre interest in floating corpses, comes across a young woman in dirty clothes with scabs and cracked lips. She explains how her friend died three years ago and was fished out of the sea. This isn’t the only unexplained death haunting McGill however.
Also available as eBook

The seamstress by Maria Duenas
Aged 12, Sira Quiroga was apprenticed to a Madrid dressmaker. As she masters the seamstress’ art, her life seems clearly mapped out – until she falls passionately in love and flees with her seductive lover. But betrayed in Morocco and left penniless, Sira finds that she cannot return to Civil war Spain and so turns to her one true skill. 

The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy
The Bees is a collection of poetry from the pen of our current Poet Laureate. Weaving through the book is its presiding spirit, the bee, symbolizing what we have left of grace in the world and what is most precious for us to protect.

The siege by Helen Dunmore
Leningrad, September 1941. German tanks surround the city, imprisoning those who live there. The besieged people of Leningrad face shells, starvation, and the Russian winter. Interweaving two love affairs in two generations, ‘The Siege’ draws us deep into the Levin’s family struggle to stay alive during this terrible winter. It is a story about war and the wounds it inflicts on people’s lives. It is also a lyrical and deeply moving celebration of love, life and survival. 
Also available as eBook

Wild Abandon by Joe Dunthorne
Kate and Albert, are not yet the last two human beings on Earth, but Albert is hopeful. The secluded communal farm they grew up on is disintegrating, taking their parents’ marriage with it. They both try to escape: Kate, at 17, to a suburbia she reads about, and Albert, 11, into preparations for the end of the world. 
Also available as Audiobook

A Visit from the Goon Squad 
by Jennifer Egan
This novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters. 
Also available as eBook

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
It’s snowing in Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin in the winter of 2009. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for the love of her life.

Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck
Its physical slightness belies this novel’s weighty themes, revolving around a grandiose Brandenburg lake house whose history and occupants weave through the 20th century’s turbulent history. 

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Born twice, as a baby girl, and as a teenage boy, Calliope, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, travel from a tiny village in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Point, Michigan. Trying to understand why she’s not like other girls, Calliope uncovers a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns her into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. 
Also available as eBook

The crimson petal and the white by Michel Faber
Now a major BBC series, ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’ features Sugar, a London prostitute seeking a better life for herself, whilst writing a gruesome tirade against her clients. A new life beckons in the form of perfumer William Rackham, but is it one for the better? 
Also available as eBook

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
Anais Hendricks is once again off to The Panopticon, a prison so constructed that it allows the inspector to see each of the prisoners at all times, without being seen. Looking up at the watchtower that looms over the residents, Anais knows her fate – she is part of an experiment, and that experiment is now closing in. 

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada
Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At 55 Jablonski Strasse, various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the nervous Frau Rosenthal, the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm, and the unassuming working-class couple Otto and Anna Quangel.  First published in 1947, this is the first English translation of a German classic.
Also available as eBook

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
This is the story of Stephen, who arrives in Amiens in 1910. His life goes through a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experience of war itself.
Also available as Audiobook

The shock of the fall by Nathan Filer
An extraordinary portrait of one man’s journey through the spinning vortex that is mental illness. It is a brave and groundbreaking novel from one of the most exciting new voices in fiction

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
A social satire and a milestone in 20th century literature, ‘The Great Gatsby’ peels away the layers of the glamorous twenties in the U.S. to display the coldness and cruelty at its heart. 
Also available as eBook and Audiobook

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Finding herself stifled by marriage, Emma Bovary throws herself into a desperate love affair and by doing so, sows the seeds of her own downfall.
Also available as eBook

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
At the casino in Deauville Bond’s game is baccarat, for stakes that run into millions of francs. But away from the discreet salons, it’s 007 versus one of Russia’s most powerful and ruthless agents. 

Canada by Richard Ford
“First, I’ll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.” So, tantalizingly, begins Richard Ford’s seventh novel, a big book that takes its time to tell the story of how 15-year-old Dell Parsons’s life was temporarily derailed by a single, spectacularly uncharacteristic act by his mother and father: a barely planned and ineptly executed bank robbery. 
Also available as eBook

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Freedom invites us to question perfection and whether it really exists, in the form of Patty and Walter, a successful American couple. 

Skios by Michael Frayn
On the Greek island of Skios, the Fred Toppler Foundation’s annual lecture is to be given by the young and charming Dr Norman Wilfred, an authority on science. The Foundation’s guests are soon eating out of his hand. Meanwhile, in a remote villa at the other end of the island is a balding old gent called Dr Norman Wilfred… Find out what happens in one of the funniest novels of 2012. 
Also available as Audiobook

Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst
Follow Costa Zannis as he navigates Nazi occupied Salonika, holding down a government intelligence position whilst becoming a fully fledged member of the resistance movement. 

The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman
It began for our narrator 40 years ago when the family lodger stole the family car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive.

All Made Up by Janice Galloway
In the second volume of her memoirs, the prize-winning author Janice Galloway reveals how the child introduced in ‘This Is Not About Me’ evolved during her teenage years.  Winner of the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year non-fiction section, and overall prize in 2012. 

The White Lie by Andrea Gillies
On a hot summer’s afternoon, Ursula Salter runs sobbing from the loch on her parents’ Scottish estate and confesses, distraught, that she has killed Michael, her 19-year-old nephew. But what really happened? No body can be found, and Ursula’s story is full of contradictions.  ‘The White Lie’ is a tense, beautifully crafted novel about the poisonous ripple effect of unaddressed guilt.  
Also available as eBook and Audiobook

My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin
Beautiful Cora Cash, the wealthiest debutante in America, is spirited away from the glamour & comfort of her Park Avenue mansion & suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, mistress of Lulworth Castle, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. As Cora is soon to discover, nothing in this strange new world is quite as it seems.
Also available as Audiobook

A spot of bother by Mark Haddon
At 57, George is settling down to retirement. Then his daughter announces she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her family is not pleased, and her mother is a bit put out by all the wedding planning, which gets in the way of her love affair with her husband’s former colleague. Unnoticed in the uproar, George begins to lose his mind. 

The Footballer who could Fly  by Duncan Hamilton
Inspired by his father’s lifelong devotion to Newcastle United, Duncan Hamilton charts the progress of post war British football to the present day. But at the heart of the book is his exploration of the bond between father and son through the Beautiful Game and how football became the only connection between two people who were totally different from one another.

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
In 1888, young, art-loving Harriet Baxter arrives in Glasgow at the time of the International Exhibition. Befriending the Gillespie family, Harriet soon becomes a fixture in all of their lives. But when tragedy strikes the promise and certainties of this world all too rapidly disorientate into mystery and deception.
Also available as Audiobook

Damage by Josephine Hart
A successful doctor and politician arrives at middle age and the high point of his career, having pursued a dutiful and passionless life. Then he becomes obsessed by his son’s lover, the strange and secretive Anna.

Grace Williams says it loud by Emma Henderson
Briar Mental Institute seems an unlikely setting for a heartwarming tale of love against the odds but Grace and Daniel’s bittersweet relationship offers inspiration in the face of sadness.

The Junior Officers Reading Club by Patrick Hennessey
Written in spare and lucid prose, this title describes with alarming vividness not only the frenetic violence of a soldier’s life, but the periods of stifling and (sometimes) comic boredom, living inside an institution in a state of flux, an Army caught between a world that needs it and a society that no longer understands it. 
Also available as eBook 

The Thread
by Victoria Hislop
Thessaloniki, 1917. As Dimitri Komninos is born, a devastating fire sweeps through the Greek city where Christians, Jews and Muslims live side by side. 5 years later, Katerina Sarafoglou’s home in Asia Minoris destroyed by the Turkish army. Losing her mother in the chaos, she flees across the sea to an unknown destination in Greece.

Stranger’s child by Alan Hollinghurst
In the late summer of 1913 aristocratic young poet Cecil Valance comes to stay at ‘Two Acres’, the home of his close Cambridge friend George Sawle. A weekend of many excitements and confusions for all the Sawles, it is on George’s 16-year-old sister, Daphne, that it will have the most lasting impact.

May we be forgiven by A.M. Homes
Harry is a Richard Nixon scholar who leads a quiet, regular life; his brother George is a high-flying TV producer, with a murderous temper. They have been uneasy rivals since childhood. Then one day George loses control so extravagantly that he precipitates Harry into an entirely new life

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
With a host of accolades and a major feature film to its name, ‘The Kite Runner’ tells the story of twelve year old Amir’s idyllic childhood and friendships, before the Russian invasion uproots his family from Afghanistan to America.
Also available as eBook

A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini
A chronicle of Afghan history, and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, and the salvation to be found in love. 
Also available as eBook

I served the King of England by Hrabal Bohumil
Sparkling with comic genius and narrative exuberance, this is the story of how the unbelievable came true. Its hero, Ditie, is a hotel waiter who rises to become a millionaire and then loses it all again against the backdrop of events in Prague from German invasion to the victory of Communism.

Tony Hogan bought me an ice-cream before he stole my ma by Kerry Hudson
When Janie Ryan is born, she is destined to be the latest in a long line of Aberdeen fishwives. Ahead of her lies a life filled with feckless men, filthy council flats and bread and marge sandwiches. But Janie isn’t like the rest of them. She wants a different life. And Janie, born and bred for combat, is ready to fight for it.  This is the story of a Scottish childhood of sordid council flats and B&Bs, screeching women, feckless men, fags and booze and drugs, the dole queue and bread and marge sandwiches. It is also the story of an irresistible, irrepressible heroine, a dysfunctional family you can’t help but adore, and the absurdities of the 80s.

Cold sea stories by Pawel Huelle
In this collection of short stories, Paweł Huelle tackles the big themes of life, politics, loss and love. The stories are unified by a common theme: each features a book, from works of major religious significance to the catalogue issued by a toy shop.

Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt
When the dark and mysterious frame of Mr Chartwell appears in their doorways, both Esther, a mild-mannered librarian, and Winston Churchill (yes, that Winston Churchill) are filled with dread. This book takes a novel approach in its depiction of a black dog who visits many of us.
Also available as eBook

Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro gives us a tragic love story whose characters enjoy a seemingly idyllic childhood in a country boarding school. Their adult lives, however, hold none of the possibilities aforded to the rest of us. Ishiguro is often credited with ‘extending the possibilities of fiction’ (Sunday Times) and this book is no exception. 

We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson
Featuring a memorable murder plot (arsenic in the sugar bowl!) this story follows Constance as she returns to the family estate, acquitted of the crime. A chilling and sinister tale, sure to shock as it becomes clear that Constance is not the character to fear. 
Also available as eBook and Audiobook

The orphan master’s son by Adam Johnson
Pak Jun Do knows he is special. He knows he must be the son of the master of the orphanage, not some kid dumped by his parents – it was obvious from the way his father singled him out for beatings. He knows he is special when he is picked as a spy and kidnapper for his country, the glorious Democratic Republic of North Korea. He knows he must find his true love, Sun Moon, the greatest opera star who ever lived, before it’s too late.
Also available as Audiobook

Smokeheads by Doug Johnstone
As we follow four male friends, reunited since university, on a trip to whiskey hot spot Islay, we might expect some bad behaviour and drunken antics. When an accident gets them involved with the local police, the friends are drawn into a shocking, gory and ultimately gripping tale with many twists and turns. 

Hand me down world by Lloyd Jones
A multi-voiced approach to the often unheard story of the illegal immigrant, Hand Me Down World follows Ines, who, whilst searching for her stolen child, encounters a wide range of individuals, both good and bad, who share their experiences with the reader. 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking.  To save someone else’s life.

The murder of Halland by Pia Juul
Bess and Halland live in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else. When Halland is found murdered in the main square the police encounter only riddles. For Bess, bereavement marks the start of a journey that leads her to a reassessment of first friends and then family.

The fall of the stone city by Ismail Kadare
1943. German soldiers advance on Gjirokastër, Albania, the first step in a carefully planned invasion. But the troops are taken aback by an act of rebellion that leaves the citizens fearful of a bloody counter-attack. Soon rumours circulate that the Nazi Colonel was a school acquaintance of a local dignitary – then he and his army disappear.

The adoption papers by Jackie Kay
A collection of personal, brave and often funny poems. 
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Red dust road by Jackie Kay
In this revelatory and redemptive book Jackie Kay tells the story of her own life. It is a book about belonging and beliefs, strangers and family, biology and destiny and what makes us who we are.

The sound of laughter by Peter Kay
Born in Bolton in 1973, Peter Kay left behind a string of menial jobs when he won the 1997 So You Think You’re Funny contest at the Edinburgh festival. This is the autobiography of the star and creator of ‘Phoenix Nights’ and ‘Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere’. 
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Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
With equal fascination for the local gang – the Dell Farm Crew – and the pigeon who visits his balcony, 11-year-old Harri absorbs the many strange elements of his new life in England. But when a boy is knifed to death and a police appeal for witnesses draws only silence, Harri decides to start a murder investigation of his own.
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What becomes by AL Kennedy
Always attuned to the moment of epiphany, these 12 stories are profound, intimate observations of men and women whose lives ache with possibility. Each story is a dramatisation of the instant in a life that exposes it all: love and the lack of love, hope and the lack of hope. 
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Burial rites by Hannah Kent
In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdøttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district office Jøn Jønsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tøti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed.

Smoke Portrait by Trilby Kent
Moving between the exotic setting of a Ceylon tea plantation and a small Belgian village, Glen and Marten develop a deep friendship following an exchange of letters in which both create a false identity for themselves… 
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The invention of wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Sarah Grimké is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On Sarah’s 11th birthday, Hetty ‘Handful’ Grimké is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept. And so, indeed, the trouble begins.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
‘The Lacuna’ is the story of a man’s search for safety in the grinding jaws of two nations, at a moment when the entire world seemed bent on reinventing itself at any cost. 
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The poisonwood bible by Barbara Kingsolver
As soon as missionary Nathan Price, along with his wife and four daughters, sets foot in the Belgian Congo, all hell breaks loose. To say that he and his family are woefully unprepared is an understatement and it isn’t long before they discover that life in the jungle is one huge hassle. Arriving in the middle of political upheaval, (the Congolese are seeking to wrest independence from Belgium), Nathan preaches his fiery brand of Christianity which falls on stony village ground. Could things get any worse? 
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Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
Attempting to escape her empty marriage and the drudgery of life on a rundown Appalachian farm, Dellarobia Turnbow heads for an assignation that accidentally transforms her life. En route to a tryst with a lover, she stumbles on a hillside covered with swathes of orange monarch butterflies that appear like fire on the landscape, a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature.  A calamity of contemporary climate change? 

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman
An immensely gripping and well-told tale of two generations of a family spanning the period from 1945 to 1969, beginning with two cousins – beautiful and demanding Nick, who wants more from life than a woman in post-war America is likely to get, and insecure Helena, who doesn’t ask for much and receives even less.  Read on with the growing conviction that a nasty surprise lies around the corner. 
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The milkman in the night by Andrei Kurkov
Semyon is disturbed. He has woken up in the living room with blood on his shirt, an angry wife and no idea where he was the night before. After waking to find his boots and overcoat damp on several mornings in a row, Semyon realises his excursions are a nightly occurrence.

Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, ‘The Lowland’ is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri’s achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date.
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The girl with the dragon tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The first novel in a trilogy,this tale is split between the shady secrets of a wealthy family and the murky dealings of a famous businessman. Mikael Blomkvist, recently convicted journalist, is hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of his niece almost 40 years ago. Vanger promises Blomkvist the means to clear his good name as part of the payment and Blomkvist accepts, with a young Female, an emotionally disturbed, punk hacker, joining forces with him to investigate both strands of the plot. 
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To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird’. This is a lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of the story – a black man charged with raping a white girl in the 30s. 

Freakonomics by Stephen D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
Asking provocative and profound questions about human motivation and contemporary living and reaching some astonishing conclusions, ‘Freakonomics’ will make you see the familiar world through a completely original lens. 
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The long song by Andrea Levy
Set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed, this novel follows the life of July, a slave girl, who lives upon a sugar plantation named Amity. 

A short history of tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
“Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukranian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.” 

Little White Lies by Lesley Lokko
In a beachfront mansion in Martha’s Vineyard, Annick and Rebecca have left their children in the carer of their lifelong friend Tash. Tash has made her millions from the fashion business and treating her friends to a holiday makes all the hard work worthwhile. But by the end of the afternoon one of the children will have vanished.

No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Wayward daughters, missing husbands, philandering partners, curious conmen. If you’ve got a problem, and no one else can help you, then pay a visit to Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s only – and finest – female private detective, and her assistant.
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The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A father and his young son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road. 

The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen
10-year-old Judith McPherson’s world is regimented by her father’s faith. Her mother was fun and liked making things, but she has gone, so Judith consoles herself with ‘The Land of Decoration’ – an intricate model of The Promised Land which she has built in her bedroom. Through the model, Judith realises she can perform miracles. 

Atonement by Ian McEwan
‘Atonement’ is the novel for which Ian McEwan will always be remembered. Enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, class and England, at its centre is a profound and profoundly moving exploration of shame and forgiveness. 
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Saturday by Ian McEwan
‘Saturday’ is a novel set within a single day in February 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man, but what troubles him is the state of the world. Following a minor car accident, Perowne is brought into contact with a small-time thug called Miller. This meeting has savage consequences. 

Even the dogs by Jon McGregor
When Robert’s neglected body is eventually discovered, his friends and acquaintances narrate the circumstances in which he died, revealing a bleak life consumed by addiction. Emotional and gritty, this novel provokes consideration of those on the fringes of society. 
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Right to die by Hazel McHaffie
Successful writer and journalist,Adam O’Neill, discovers he has Motor Neurone Disease. Keeping a computer diary to help him track his loss of control and choose the time and manner of his death, he writes of his inner struggle and changing priorities. When is the time right for his exit? Who will help him? How should he consider his wife and mother? Trapped in a body that increasingly refuses to obey him, his mind remains alert. Devising a exit plan for himself, he doesn’t reckon on his wife’s haunting secret that could jeopardize what little time they have left together. 

All the colours of the town by Liam McIlvanney
When Glasgow journalist Gerry Conway receives a phone call promising unsavoury information about Scottish Justice Minister Peter Lyons, his instinct is that this apparent scoop won’t warrant space in The Tribune. But as Conway’s curiosity grows and his leads proliferate, his investigation takes him from Scotland to Belfast. 

The necessary death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay
A twenty-nine-year-old man lives alone in his Glasgow flat. The telephone rings; a casual conversation, but behind this a job offer. He is an expert. A loner. Freelance. Another job is another job, but what if this organisation wants more? A meeting at a club. An offer. A brief. A target: Lewis Winter. It’s hard to kill a man well.

Intrusion by Ken MacLeod
Imagine a near-future city, say London, where medical science has advanced beyond our own and a single-dose pill has been developed that, taken when pregnant, eradicates many common genetic defects from an unborn child. Hope Morrison is expecting her second child and refuses to take The Fix, as the pill is known.

The Fields by Keith Maher
Dublin, 1984. Jim Finnegan is the youngest in a family of five sisters. After a drunken yet delicate rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ at the Donohues’ raucous annual party, Jim captures both the attention of the beautiful Saidhbh Donohue and the unwanted desires of the devious and dangerous Father Luke O’Culigeen. Bounced between his growing love for Saidhbh and the abuse he receives at the hands of O’Culigeen, Jim’s life starts to unravel.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Winner of the Booker Prize 2009, this historical novel explores the complex character of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s right hand man, within the wider context of the politics of Tudor England. 
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Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus
A sci-fi disaster thriller, driven by the conceit that language has become toxic in a more than purely metaphorical sense. Words have begun literally poisoning people, their ravaging effects sweeping across America like a deadly plague. Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, ‘The Flame Alphabet’ begs the question: what is left of civilisation when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love? 

Matterhorn: a novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes
Loosely based on the author’s own experiences during the Vietnam War, this novel follows Second Lieutenant Mellas and his platoon’s experiences around Matterhorn. With rich description of the environment and the mens’ camaraderie, the novel ultimately highlights the futility of the war. 
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Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
Fate takes many forms. When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey named Beatrice and Virgil. 
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Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Young Pi Patel, who grows up with a love of swimming and among a family circus, finds himself stranded at sea with wild animals after the boat transporting his family sinks. His challenges and the dealing with his eventual return to civilization pose some existential and psychological questions that make this book more than just a story about a lost boy. 
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Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar
Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness that her strange death leaves behind in the Cairo apartment, until Mona appears in her bright yellow sunsuit. 

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Simon Mawer
Marian Sutro is an outsider: the daughter of a diplomat, brought up on the shores of Lake Geneva and in England. But when she is recruited from her desk job by SOE to go undercover in wartime France, it seems her hybrid status will be of service to a greater, more dangerous cause. 
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The woman upstairs by Claire Messud
A teacher (and artist) tells the story of her relationship with a family. In the beginning Reza Shahid is a new and outstandingly lovely child in class but as our narrator’s involvement with first the mother and then the father grows, we begin to feel that something, somewhere is very wrong.

Kick Ass by Mark Millar and John Romita
Dave Lizewski is just an ordinary American teenager. He has a MySpace page, he loves comic books and he is unable to find a girlfriend. Then an idea hits him: why not become a real life superhero? Soon, his life will never be the same again. 

Pure by Andrew Miller
Deep in the heart of 1785 Paris, its oldest cemetery is overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young engineer charged by the king with demolishing it. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own. 

Snowdrops by Andrew Miller
A chilling story of love and moral freefall – of the corruption, by a corrupt society, of a corruptible young man. It is taut, intense and has a momentum as irresistible to the reader as the moral danger that first enchants, then threatens to overwhelm, its narrator. Discuss this book online.
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Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
This is a breathtakingly original rendering of the Trojan War – a devastating love story and a tale of gods and kings, immortal fame and the human heart.   Winner of the 2012 Orange prize for fiction. 
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A fine balance by Rohinton Mistry
Being recently widowed, Mrs Dina Delal is determined not to marry again. The pressure to make ends meet sees her set up a tailoring business in her apartment, where we meet her three employees. Life has forced them to share their space, meals and stories, but when life forces them to share a tragedy, we see the strength of their love for each other, and their determination. 

The thousand autumnsof Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
Imagine a nation banishing the outside world for two centuries, crushing all vestiges of Christianity, forbidding its subjects to leave its shores on pain of death, and harbouring a deep mistrust of European ideas.  
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Imprimatur by Rita Monaldi
First published to great controversy in Italy in 2002, this internationally bestselling thriller sheds new light on the power struggles of 17th-century Europe. It is 1683. In Rome, a spy in the service of the French king uncovers a plot to unleash a weapon of mass destruction in the battle between Islam and the West.

How to be a woman by Caitlin Moran
Part memoir, part rant, ‘How To Be A Woman’ follows Caitlin Moran from her terrible 13th birthday, through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, fat, abortion, TopShop, motherhood and beyond.

The husband’s secret by Liane Moriarty
Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret – something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive!

Close Your Eyes by Ewan Morrison
Emma, living in London, struggles with postnatal depression after the birth of her first child. She appears to have an easy life: a comfortable home, an adoring husband and child, a career. But her daughter only reminds her that she lost her own mother when young, and that she’s repressed her past.  An exploration of the damage idealistic well-intentioned parents can do to their children and a reminder that it is sometimes the people who are absent really fill our lives. 

And when did you last see your father? by Blake Morrison
A bestseller translated into several languages and the inspiration for a whole genre of confessional memoirs, this book is an extraordinary portrait of family life, father-son relationships and bereavement. 

Dear Life by Alice Munro
Alice Munro captures the essence of life in this collection of stories. Moments of change, chance encounters, the twist of fate that leads a person to a new way of thinking or being: the stories in ‘Dear Life’ build to form a radiant, indelible portrait of just how dangerous and strange ordinary life can be.

Her fearful symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Julia and Valentina Poole are identical twins who have no interest in college, jobs or anything outside their cosy suburban home. But everything changes when they receive notice that an aunt whom they didn’t know existed has died and left them her flat in an apartment block overlooking Highgate Cemetery in London. 
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The tiger’s wife by Tea Obreht
The prize-winning debut novel from this young writer, The Tiger’s Wife paints a fascinating tale of family and folk-lore set in the war-torn Balkan region. The author tackles huge questions of life, death, faith and religion in a richly imaginative way. 

The death of bees by Lisa O’Donnell
Glasgow, Christmas Eve 2006, and 15-year-old Marnie and her little sister Nelly have just finished burying their parents in the back garden. Only Marnie and Nelly know how they got there. As the year ends and another one begins, the sisters’ friends, their neighbours and the authorities gradually start to ask questions.

The Man who Forgot his Wife by  John O’Farrell
When forty-something Vaughan suffers total memory loss, he is told that his breakdown has probably been triggered by his marital problems. But then he comes face to face with the stranger he’s supposed to be divorcing – and promptly falls head over heels in love with her. 
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The vanishing actof Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
Set between the 1930s and the present, Maggie O’Farrell’s novel is the story of Esme, a woman edited out of her family’s history, and of the secrets that come to light when, 60 years later, she is released from care, and a young woman, Iris, discovers the great aunt she never knew she had. 

This glorious thing by Christine Orr
Set in Edinburgh in 1916, this funny, sometimes tragic, beautifully written novel centres on a group of young people trying to find their place in society.  Edinburgh writer Christine Orr examines the changing role of women, politics and religion against the backdrop of the First World War. Recently republished by Napier Students/Merchiston Press.

The buddha in the attic by Julie Otsuka
The long-awaited follow-up to ‘When the Emperor was Divine’ tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as mail-order brides, nearly a century ago.

The complete novellas by Agnes Owens
This is the complete collection of Agnes Owens’ five novellas: ‘Like Birds in the Wilderness’, ‘A Working Mother’, ‘For the Love of Willie’, ‘Bad Attitudes’ and ‘Jen’s Party’. 
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Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
The collapse of her brief marriage has stalled Bea Nightingale’s life. Leaving her impoverished borough in 1950s New York, Bea escapes from the stigma of her divorce when she answers a plea from her estranged brother. Now she has left for Paris, to retrieve a nephew she barely knew. 
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Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk
Revisiting his own family’s secrets and idiosyncracies, Orhan Pamuk guides the reader through some of Istanbul’s monuments and lost paradises, discovering what made his family typical of their time and place.

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Nobel Prize winning author Pamuk offers a highly emotive story of a forbidden love which approaches obsession, set in heady and exotic Istanbul.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
There were people on the banks of the river. Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever. Dr Annick Swenson’s work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors. 
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Tales from the back green by Bill Paterson
Tales full of wit and warmth, carefully sculpted but told in a conversational style. An unusual gem from a much-loved Scottish acting treasure, Bill Paterson details his Glasgow childhood in various episodes first read on radio. 

Rain by Don Paterson
In this, his first volume of original verse since the award-winning Landing Light, Don Paterson is found writing at his most memorable and direct.

The death of Lomond Friel by Sue Peebles
A debut novel about a family in crisis, written with extraordinary compassion, humour and grace. A young woman’s life is thrown into disarray when her father has a stroke. 

The tenderness of wolves by Stef Penney
As winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a woman steers herself for the journey of a lifetime. A man has been brutally murdered and her 17-year old son has disappeared. To clear her son’s name, she has no choice but to follow the tracks leaving the dead man’s cabin.

Mercy by Jodi Picoult
Cameron MacDonald has spent his life guided by duty. As the police chief of a small Massachusetts town that has been home to generations of his Scottish clan, he is bound to the town’s residents by blood & honour. Yet when his cousin arrives at the police station with the body of his wife, Cam immediately places him under arrest.
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Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
Tiffany Aching put one foot wrong, made one little mistake and now the spirit of winter is in love with her. But just because the Wintersmith wants to marry you is no excuse for neglecting the chores.
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The naming of the dead by Ian Rankin
The assorted leaders of the G8 countries have gathered in Scotland and with daily marches, demonstrations and scuffles on the streets, the police are stretched to the limits. When a young politician plunges from the walls of Edinburgh Castle, suicide must be proved, and quickly, to avoid distraction from the main event. 
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The girl on the cliff by Lucinda Riley
After a chance meeting on the cliff, Grania and Aurora discover that their lives are intertwined by a secret one hundred years old. It falls to Grania’s mother to explain the compelling and tragic family history which connects the two girls today. 
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The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson
Mack is a minister who doesn’t believe in God, the Devil or an afterlife. One day he discovers a standing stone in the middle of a wood where previously there had been none. Unsure what to make of this apparition, Mack’s life begins to unravel dramatically.
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And the land lay still by James Robertson
An exploratory portrait of Scotland, its politics and its people over the last fifty years. Charting the nation’s changing values and attitudes through protagonist Michael’s struggle to create a lasting memorial to his photographer father.  
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Hill of doors by Robin Robertson
Charged with strangeness and beauty, ‘Hill of Doors’ is a haunted and haunting book, where each successive poem seems a shape conjured from the shadows, and where the uncanny is made physically present. The collection sees the return of some familiar members of the Robertson company, including Strindberg – heading, as usual, towards calamity – and the shape-shifter Dionysus. Four loose retellings of stories of the Greek god form pillars for the book, alongside four short Ovid versions.

In a dry season by Peter Robinson
When a reservoir dries out, a flooded village emerges and a boy finds a skeleton buried in an outhouse. DI Banks and DS Annie Cabbot try to find out who she was, when she died, and why. In alternating chapters, Crime writer Vivien writes her own account of what happened during WWII when she was an intense unhappy teenager, with plenty of surprises in store. The author’s intense sense of period and celebration of the virtues of solid police investigation, gave his thriller a nomination for the Edgar, the US crime writers’ best of the year award. 

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Charlotte Rogan’s terrific debut novel opens with a bang, when the ship carrying newlyweds Grace and Henry back to New York after the outbreak of war in Europe suffers an explosion and sinks. Somehow, Grace is squeezed into a departing lifeboat, captained by ship’s officer Mr Hardie, and along with a motley crew of passengers, mostly female, they push away from the wreckage, beating off drowning men and beseeching infants as they go

Nemesis by Philip Roth
Frequently described as the greatest American modern writer, Roth tackles the polio epidemic of the 1940’s through the eyes of Bucky Cantor, the local PE teacher, as he watches his pupils picked off one by one by the disease. Torn by guilt and duty, Bucky struggles to understand the role of chance in human lives.

In times of fading light by Eugen Ruge
The story begins in 2001 as Alexander Umnitzer, who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, leaves behind his ailing father to fly to Mexico, where his grandparents lived as exiles in the 1940s. It then takes us both forward and back in time, creating a panoramic view of the family’s history.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
The tale of two children born at midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment that India claimed its independence from Great Britain – a coincidence of profound consequence for bothComic, tragic and fantastic by turns, this is the novel which revolutionised English fiction.  A many-layered narrative in which the complexities of the Indian sub-continent are projected through the minds of its many characters. 
Also available as Audiobook

The spinning heart by Donul Ryan
In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.

The boy next door by Irene Sabatini
Vividly evoking the traumatic history of a nation once brimming with promise, ‘The Boy Next Door’ tells an engrossing, unpredictable story of love against the odds, and of the shadows cast by the past.

Perfect lives by Polly Samson
A beautiful collection of short stories, the so-called ‘perfect lives’ never quite as they seem. Set in an idyllic English seaside town, its community struggles to keep its sinister undertones from brimming over. 

Scandic Crime Collection
15 of the best contemporary cutting-edge Scandic crime writers.

The reader by Bernhard Schlink
Schlink explores questions of guilt, deceit, betrayal and memory in this novel which traces the relationship between a German lawyer, Michael, and an older woman, Hanna, who was formerly a guard at a satellite camp attached to Auschwitz.

The bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
Sultan Khan is the head of a prosperous Kabul family. A bookseller by trade, he has seen his books burnt by one regime, defaced by another, then burnt again. As the Taliban regime falls in 2001, he meets Norwegian war correspondent, Seierstad. They agree that Seierstad should live with his family for several months. Her description of family life exposes life under the Taliban regime. 

Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Bernadette Fox has disappeared and her 15-year-old daughter Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her. A touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s place in the world.

The art of hearing heartbeats: a novel by Jan-Philipp Sendker
A suspenseful love story set in the exotic Burmese countryside, where a young American woman discovers the secret that lived in her father’s heart for over fifty years

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Set in 1946, in the form of letters mainly to and from Juliet Ashton, a successful writer, this book highlights her coincidental involvement with some Guernsey people who live through wartime German Occupation. The resilience of the islanders in desperate circumstances, makes for a really interesting and beautifully evoked story, with acute observations, and characters that you really care about. 
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Of mutability by Jo Shapcott
Dealing with change, transience and development, this collection of poetry explores humanity and nature in an approachable and accessible way. Winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2011.
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The secret mandarin by Sara Sheridan
An unforgettable tale set in Victorian London and 1840s China. Shielding her from scandal, Mary’s brother-in-law, the ambitious botanist Robert Fortune, forces her to accompany him on a mission to China to steal tea plants for the East India Company. But Robert conceals his secret motives – to spy for the British forces, newly victorious in the recent Opium War. Disguising themselves as a mandarin and man-servant, Mary revels in her new freedom and the Chinese way of life, finding unexpected reserves of courage when danger strikes. 

New Republic by Lionel Shriver
Fat and ostracized as a kid, Edgar Kellogg has always yearned to be popular. Bored rigid by his pedestrian life as a solicitor, Edgar decides to risk everything on trying to make it as a journalist. When he’s offered the post of foreign correspondent in Barba, Edgar leaps at the chance.

The Rosie project by Graeme C. Simsion
Meet Don Tillman. Don is getting married. He just doesn’t know who to yet. But he has designed a very detailed questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman. One thing he already knows, though, is that it’s not Rosie. Absolutely, completely, definitely not.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
In 2000, Alice Blackwell sees her husband become President of the USA. As we follow her through her adjustment into the First Lady, we see an ordinary woman’s life become remarkable, in this novel loosely based on the life of Laura Bush.
Also available as Audiobook

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Though buried in a shoddy grave in 1951, Henrietta Lacks lives on due to her unwitting contribution to medical science. Many advancements in cancer research would have been impossible without the HeLa cells, but Henrietta’s family knew nothing of their mother’s legacy. Skloot tells Henrietta, and HeLa’s story in this emotive and interesting read.

The cowards by Josef Skvorecky
In 1945, in Kostelec, Danny is playing saxophone for the best jazz band in Czechoslovakia. Their trumpeter has just got out of a concentration camp, their bass player is only allowed in the band since he owns the bass, and the love of Danny’s life is in love with somebody else.

Monsieur le Commandant by Romain Slocombe
French Academician and Nazi sympathizer Paul-Jean Husson writes a letter to his local SS officer in the autumn of 1942. Tormented by an illicit passion for Ilse, his German daughter-in-law, Husson has made a decision that will devastate several lives, including his own.

Girl meets boy by Ali Smith
The story of two very different sisters – one free-thinking, likeable and rebellious Anthea, and Imogen, a precious, conservative type who works in advertising. Based around the myth of Iphis – Ovid’s most joyful metamorphosis – the book makes much of the idea that myth can carry wider truths and be applied to a range of situations and characters, in both past and present time. 
Also available as eBook

The return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller
A new addition to the historical fiction genre, this book explores Captain Emmett’s suspicious death amidst the aftermath of the First World War. Heavier themes of bereavement and post traumatic stress are leavened in the deeply atmospheric setting of 1920’s London.

My brother Michael by Mary Stewart
Having impulsively agreed to drive a hire car to Delphi, Camilla finds herself embroiled in a nightmare, both thrilling and perilous. Set amongst the olive groves and grandiose ruins of Greece during its Civil War. 

The help by Kathryn Stockett
Aibileen is a black maid, raising her 17th white child, but with a bitter heart after the death of her son. Minny is the sassiest woman in Mississippi. Skeeter is a white woman with a degree but no ring on her finger. Seemingly as different as can be, these women will come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. 
Also available as eBook

This sporting life by David Storey
Rugby League football in an industrial northern city is a life of grime, mud, sweat and intrigue. The story follows the fortunes of Arthur Machin from his inclusion in the local team to the match when be begins to feel age creeping up on him. 
Also available as eBook

Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace
by Kate Summerscale
A story of romance and fidelity, insanity, fantasy and the boundaries of privacy in a society clinging to rigid ideas about marriage and female sexuality, ‘Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace’ brings vividly to life a complex, frustrated Victorian wife, longing for passion and learning, companionship and love.  Beginning in Edinburgh, based on a true story.
Also available as eBook

The Door by Magda Szabo
A story of the relationship between two women over a period of 20 years, this novel deals with a busy young writer, struggling to cope with domestic chores, who employs an elderly woman called Emerance recommended by a friend, to be her housekeeper.  From their first encounter, it’s clear that Emerance, with a reputation built on dependable efficiency, is no ordinary maid.  Translated from the Hungarian.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Twan Eng Tan
Booker 2012 short listed, this novel set in the lush highlands of Malaya, tells the tale of a woman setting out to build a memorial to her sister, killed at the hands of the Japanese during the brutal occupation of their country. Yun Ling’s quest leads her to ‘The Garden of Evening Mists’, and to Aritomo, a man of extraordinary skill and reputation, once gardener to the Emperor of Japan. Accepting his offer to become his apprentice, she begins a journey into her past, inextricably linked with the secrets of her troubled country’s history. 
Also available as eBook

The tin-kin by Eleanor Thom
When her aunt Shirley dies, Dawn finds herself back in her claustrophobic hometown of Elgin in Scotland. In an attempt to avoid contact with anyone from her former life, Dawn busies herself cleaning Shirley’s flat, until one day she comes across the key to a cupboard that she was never allowed to open as a child. 
Also available as eBook

Swing Hammer Swing by Jeff Torrington
Tam Clay, 1960s slum-dweller, father-in-waiting and wordsmith manqué, stumbles through the drink-sodden world of the Gorbals underclass on a mini-odyssey of self-discovery.  A rediscovered classic, from ‘Scotland’s Bookshelf’ 

The Shoemaker’s Wife by by Adriana Trigiani
Nestled high in the Alps lies Vilminore, home to Ciro. Close by lives Enza, who longs only for a happy life for her family. When the two meet, it seems it could be the start of a life together. Then Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal and is sent to America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy, leaving Enza behind. 
Also available as Audiobook

The slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Christos Tsiolkas presents an apparently harmless domestic incident as seen from eight very different perspectives. The result is an unflinching interrogation of our lives today; of the modern family and domestic life in the 21st century, a deeply thought-provoking novel about boundaries and their limits. 
Also available as eBook

Digging to America by Anne Tyler
Dealing with themes such as belonging, pride, prejudice and love, this is the story of two extended families who are brought together thanks to the birth of two tiny Korean babies on the same night. 

A gambling man: Charles II and the Restoration by Jenny Uglow
From acclaimed biographer Jenny Uglow, this is a portrait of Charles II and the first decade of the Restoration: a time of glamour and gossip, charade and risk. 

The forgotten Highlander by Alastair Urquhart
This is the extraordinary and moving tale by an ex-POW and last surviving member of the Gordon Highlanders regiment that was captured by the Japanese in Singapore.  

The sound of things falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
No sooner does he get to know Ricardo Laverde in a seedy billiard hall in Bogotá than Antonio Yammara realises that the ex-pilot has a secret. Antonio’s fascination with his new friend’s life grows until the day Ricardo receives a mysterious, unmarked cassette. Shortly afterwards, he is shot dead on a street corner. Yammara’s investigation into what happened leads back to the early 1960s, marijuana smuggling and a time before the cocaine trade trapped Colombia in a living nightmare.

The House by the Medlar Tree (I Malavoglia) by Giovanni Verga
The House by the Medlar Tree’ depicts a Sicilian fishing village, still untouched by modernisation and industrialisation, coping with the hardships of life. Verga makes no judgement on his characters leaving the reader to form his own opinions. A sad and moving tale, translated from the Italian, pub. 1889. 
Also available as eBook

Cutting for stone by Abraham Verghese
A richly descriptive depiction of life and death in Ethiopia, following twin Doctors in their struggle to save lives and forgive each other for a past betrayal in the process.
Also available as Audiobook

The color purple by Alice Walker
This compelling and cherished classic tells the story of Celie. Raped by the man she calls father, her two children taken from her and forced into an ugly marriage, she has no one to talk to but God, until she meets a woman who offers love and support.

The Deadman’s Pedal by Alan Warner
It is the early 1970s and for 16-year-old Simon Crimmons there’s really not much to do in the Highlands of Scotland. The only local drama and romance is the West Highland Line, so Simon joins up as a train driver. But that summer he is introduced to a world far more glamorous and strange than the railways can provide.  Discuss this book online. 

Beyond the blossoming fields by Junichi Watanabe
Ginko Ogino seems set for a conventional life in male-dominated society of 19th century Japan. After contracting gonorrhoea from her husband, she suffers the ignominy of divorce. Forced to bear the humiliation of being treated by male doctors, she resolves to become a doctor herself to treat fellow female sufferers and spare them some of the shame she had to endure. As more and more obstacles are placed before her, will she give in to social pressure or continue to fight against her world and her times? 

“We cultivate literature on a little oatmeal”
Edinburgh is truly a city built on books – and in this special ‘City Of Literature Trust’ title you can read about our literary past, find out about City of Literature’s vision for a literary future, and explore the historical and contemporary wealth of words and ideas on offer in Scotland.

Naming the bones by Louise Welsh
Murray Watson, a Glasgow University professor, seeks to restore the reputation of forgotten poet Archie Lunan, but embarks on a sinister journey of discovery having uncovered murky circumstances around his death.
Also available as eBook and Audiobook

In the Rosary Garden by Nicola White
Inspired by a notorious true case from the 1980s of infanticide in Ireland, Nicola White’s debut novel begins with the shocking discovery of a dead baby in the grounds of a convent school in 1980s Ireland. From there we follow the stories of Ali Hogan, the young woman who finds the baby and is promptly brought to national attention by a vampiric media, and Detective Swan, who is assigned the task of discovering the infant’s fate. This crime thriller novel won the 2013 Dundee International Book prize.

The spirit level: why equality is better for everyone by Richard Wilkinson
It is common knowledge that, in rich societies, the poor have worse health and suffer more from almost every social problem. This book explains why inequality is the most serious problem societies face today. 
Also available as eBook

Stoner by John Williams
The son of a midwestern farmer, William Stoner comes to the University of Missouri in 1910 to study agriculture. Stoner tells of love and conflict, passion and responsibility against the backdrop of academic life in the early 20th century.
Also available as Audiobook

When God was a rabbit by Sarah Winman
The story of Elly Portman, who narrates from 1968 in Cornwall and 1995 in New York. A tale of family and relationships, its pages are packed full of all life’s eventualities, good and bad. A highly recommended first novel. 

Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
This book is the story of a life’s work to find happiness. It is the story of how the painful past Jeanette Winterson thought she had written over and repainted returned to haunt her later life, and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her real mother.
Also available as Audiobook

Diving belles by Lucy Wood
In these stories, Cornish folklore slips into everyday life. Hopes, regrets and memories are entangled with catfish, wrecker’s lamps, standing stones and baying hounds, and relationships wax and wane in the glow of a moonlit sea.

Revolutionary road by Richard Yates
This rediscovered American suburban novel, tells the tale of April and Frank Wheeler,a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in prosperous suburban mid-1950s Connecticut. Their inability to feel fulfilled or happy in their relationships or careers, pinpoints with brilliant erudition, the poverty at the soul of many wealthy Americans and the exacting cost of chasing the American Dream. 
Also available as eBook and Audiobook

Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar
This 1949 novella about the violent expulsion of Palestinian villagers by the Israeli army has long been considered a modern Hebrew masterpiece, and it has also given rise to fierce controversy over the years.

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