Posted by: billpurdue | August 6, 2009

65 Suggestions for a good read

I complained last time that I had run out of something to get my teeth into, so now a blog reader and a quick browse in Waterstone’s  have provided me with some ideas…

Breaking PointFirst of all, I’m grateful to Ronni Goddard who posted a comment telling me about three novels by John Macken which are crime novels on a forensic theme. They are Dirty Little Lies, Trial by Blood and the latest one: Breaking Point [Bantam Press £11.99 978-0593061442] which is about a killer loose on the London Underground.  Ronni says “They are a touch brutal in parts, but very difficult to put down”. I haven’t been able to find out much about this author, except a few brief words on John Macken works as a research scientist in the areas of genetic and forensic science. He lives in the midlands with his family. Thanks for that Ronni: I’ll try them out myself. By the way, John Macken has a new novel out in January 2010 called Control [Bantam £12.99 978-0593061459]

Northern ClemencyBrowsing in the Chesterfield Waterstone’s the other day, I came across a thick novel in the “Local Interest” section.  It was Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher [HarperPerennial £8.99 978-0007174805] which is about the lives of two suburban dwelling families in Sheffield during the 1970s and ‘80s with accurate observations about life at the time – “pin sharp” according to one newspaper review. There have been many plaudits for this novel, but there have also been some comments about it being a bit long – over 700 pages (see the Guardian review),  but still worth trawling through. So that’s another one for my list.

More ways to find a good read

Last time I wrote about several ways of finding suggestions about what to read next using the internet. There’s a website that uses a quite different approach to finding your next good read. Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, allows you to specify the kind of book you are looking for, rather than a genre or a type of author. You start off with a list of variables such as happy/sad, optimistic/bleak, gentle/violent: you are allowed to choose four of these and are invited move a slider along a bar to indicate for example whether you want a book that is conventional rather than unusual or easy rather than demanding or vice versa. You then click “go” and it will hopefully find a book for you.

Independently from this way of choosing, you can specify the character of the novel  – a male or female main character, the age group, sexuality and race. You can also specify the type of plot and the area of the world in which it takes place.

Having made your choices, the website will then search the database for a list of suggestions and usually it will come up with one plus a couple of “parallels”, ie. titles in a similar vein. The next stage is for Whichbook  to check if your local library service stocks the suggested title  and here it failed, at least for me.  I tried choosing both Nottinghamshire and then Derbyshire library services , but it failed to connect.  Is it my computer, or could it even be the time of day?  I’m not sure if this works after library hours as it were, but I don’t see why not.

Just a brief mention of a couple of American sites which might be of interest: Reading Woman is a site compiled by a group of women who have been members of a book group for several years and used to publish a journal full of what they call grassroots recommendations. Now they are in the process of putting all those suggestions on to their website and already they have a number of booklists you can access.

I might have mentioned before, but, as well as suggesting your next read,  I’ve just noticed that the site has a section in which you can enter the title of the book you’ve just read and it will come up with a list of titles you won’t like. It’s called the “Unsuggester”: I’m not sure how useful that would be.

… and finally.

Idly looking at my bookshelves today I noticed that two books with similar titles had been shelved side by side: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T E Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) and The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom which is the Von Igelfeld trilogy by Alexander McCall Smith. I read the former some years ago (just when I noticed that it might be a good idea to get my eyes tested, the print being rather small), but I haven’t read the latter – another reading suggestion I think.



  1. Hello. Thank you for this great info! Keep up the good job!

  2. Hi Bill,
    I have just placed a pre-order for John Macken’s next novel. Thanks for the heads-up. Kind regards, Ronni

  3. Didn’t understood the last part :s could you explain better please?

  4. thank you! I really liked this post!

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