We're always asked what our favourite books are. Here's our selection of some of BookBar's all-time favourites.
Hisham Matar£9.99 £9.29
When Hisham Matar was a child, his family were exiled from their home in Libya due to his father’s opposition to Gadhaffi’s administration. A few years later, living in Cairo, his father disappeared, abducted by Gadaffi’s forces. The Return chronicles the author’s search for the truth behind what happened to his father as an adult. It’s beautifully poignant about the uncertainty and grief of losing a father, not knowing what happened, and extremely moving about the relationship between father and son. As well as being deeply personal, it’s also political – I gained such an understanding of Middle Eastern politics and the UK’s involvement in those conflicts, through the author’s moving journey.
Richard Powers£9.99 £9.29
The Overstory is one of the most ambitious and epic novels we've ever read, yet it is simultaneously one of the most immersive and beautifully written. It’s about people and our relationship with trees, ecology, friendship, humanity, nature, family, history, mythology and storytelling. Told through nine characters, whose individual stories come together in the second half of the novel, it’s an ode to the planet's best resource and an impassioned plea to all of us to protect them, beautifully told in emotive, poetic writing.
Hanya Yanagihara£9.99 £9.29
Telling the story of four men – Jude, JB, Malcolm and Willem – who have moved to New York after college to begin adult life. All are successful in their spheres, but Jude has a traumatic past that clouds his experience of the present. Often dark and occasionally disturbing, you rejoice in the men’s friendship and despair at their suffering. A Little Life absolutely astounded me with its grace, beauty and power. The exploration of the potency and failings of friendship, how those we love can restore and redeem us only if we let them, is extraordinary. It’s a masterclass in empathy, but it comes with a trigger warning – leave this one for later if you aren’t in the headspace for it.
Benjamin Myers£8.99 £8.36
Poetry is mankind’s way of saying we are not entirely alone in the world’ says the wonderfully vivacious Dulcie in Benjamin Myers’ uplifting novel The Offing, which is set along the beautifully realised crags and cliffs of the North Yorkshire coast. When Robert sets off on a rambling adventure by foot, he stumbles upon the home of eccentric Dulcie and finds himself drawn to her unconventional lifestyle and her love of poetry. It’s a warm, wise and lyrically told novel about the sea, love, friendship, nature and poetry.
Lisa Taddeo£9.99 £9.29
Three Women is one of the most revelatory, incisive, moving accounts of womanhood in the 21st century. Following the lives of three different women, all with different accounts of sexual experience and trauma, over a decade, journalist Lisa Taddeo gets under the skin of these women so deeply the characters feel almost fictional. Although it does not speak for every woman's experience (the three women are all cis, heterosexual women), Taddeo powerfully puts female desire and agency under the microscope.
Min Jin Lee£8.99 £8.36
‘History has failed us, but no matter.’ So opens this multi-generational epic, spanning eight decades and four generations of one Korean family living in Japan. It’s an incredibly heartfelt tale about family, immigration, and the impact of racial oppression on communities and individuals that also taught me a lot about the relationship between these two nations.
Claire Lowdon£9.99 £9.29
Lowdon's debut is an excruciatingly honest, heartwarmingly familiar, whimsical and witty tale of the confidence, hopefulness, and ultimate fallibility of the 20-somethings attempting to navigate the pressures and pleasures of modern day London.
Lauren Groff£8.99 £8.36
A superb book about perspective, telling the story of one marriage. It's subtley and exquistely executed, with writing reminiscant of Ann Patchett.
Bernardine Evaristo£8.99 £8.36
Twelve women’s lives intertwine over the course of this compulsive novel that contemplates race, gender, sex, and class. It’s so full of life, it’s joys, dreams and disappointments, that the writing fizzes on every page, and the poetic-prose form adds so much to the pleasure of reading it. Very much a novel about how we live now yet it will undoubtedly resonate for years to come.
Curtis Sittenfeld£9.99 £9.29
Curtis Sittenfeld's writing is genius. This novel, based on the life of Laura Bush, examines what it means for a woman to navigate the political sphere and to be tied to her husband's ambitions.
Georgie Codd£9.99 £9.29
Afraid of fish since she was a child, Georgie Codd sets out to overcome her fear by learning to dive and embarking on a mission to swim with the largest fish in the world: the whale shark. This beautifully crafted memoir is a journey of self-discovery, and a moving and inspiring meditation on travel, fear and grief that had us eager to leap into the ocean’s depths.
Maggie O'Farrell£20.00 £18.60
Hamnet is one of the most beautiful books we've read this year, telling the story of Shakespeare's wife, and their twin children Judith and Hamnet, whose death canonically inspired the writing of Hamlet. Shakespeare (who is never mentioned by name) aside, it's an exquisite portrait of a family in the 16th Century, of class and creativity and family. It's about grief and motherhood and the unbearable loss of a child, and poignantly for this year, about plague and infection. There are beautiful passages on sibling love and familial sacrifice and one memorable description of how a virus creeps across continents.
SAYAKA MURATA£12.99 £12.08
Remember the strangeness of Han Kang's powerful and otherworldly novel The Vegetarian? Imagine that, but on a completely intergalactic level, pair it with the power and beauty of Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, and add a splash of Sarah Moss' ability to create tension and you have something that looks like EARTHLINGS. From the author of Convenience Store Woman, this has the shame sharp strangeness, taken to a whole other level. Natsuki is an outsider. Her cousin Yuu is the only person with whom she connects and she longs for the long summers she can spend with him at their grandparents' home in the Nagano mountains. Here's where is gets... weird. When Yuu confesses he is an extraterrestrial being who has ended up on Earth by accident, Natsuki wonders if she might be an alien too. And when something devastating happens back home, Natsuki begins to question everything. EARTHLINGS is a stunning and shocking look into trauma, imagination, how society functions, family, loneliness and what it means to feel like you don't belong. It's unlike anything we've ever read and we could not put it down.
Han (Y) Kang£8.99 £8.36
Devestating and powerful, the Vegetarian is a memorable read by Korea's most celebrated author. It examines female oppression, and the extremes our central character goes to to exert control over her body, which is all too often claimed by her husband and society.
Clare Chambers£14.99 £13.94
When Jean, a journalist living alone with her suffocating mother, is contacted by Gretchen, a woman claiming that her daughter is the product of a virgin birth, Jean is swept up into Gretchen's family's vibrant world. But the truth behind the mystery of the child's birth threatens to darken Jean's newfound happiness - with devastating consequences. This novel has so much to enjoy: a gripping mystery, a heart-warming love story and a brilliant central character.
Sarah Waters£8.99 £8.36
Bodice ripper, twisting thriller, historical caper, Fingersmith defies genre. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves – fingersmiths – under the rough care of Mrs Sucksby and her ‘family’. But when she is sent to be the companion to a wealthy young woman, her life changes forever. Fingersmith is a jaw-dropping, rip-roaring romp through Victorian England that wins BookBar’s award for most shocking plot twists.