Book Talk 2022

December 2022 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Scrooge is transformed after these visits. Through Ebenezer Scrooge’s moral journey, A Christmas Carol provides a feel-good festive tale of eternal popularity.

This month we’re offering 2 versions of A Christmas Carol for Book Talk.

  1. A Christmas Carol – the original
  2. A Christmas Carol – the Graphic Novel

Simon Callow’s one man adaptation of A Christmas Carol will be available to listen to on the 22nd December.

November 2022 Snow by John Banville

Detective Inspector St John Strafford is called in from Dublin to investigate a murder at Ballyglass House – the Co. Wexford family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family.

Facing obstruction from all angles, Strafford carries on determinedly in his pursuit of the murderer. However, as the snow continues to fall over this ever-expanding mystery, the people of Ballyglass are equally determined to keep their secrets.

Thank you to our volunteer Claudia for choosing this title and creating the resource.

November 2022 Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces into his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he feels the past rising up to meet him – and encounters the complicit silences of a people controlled by the Church.

Winner of The Orwell Prize and The Kerry Group Novel of the Year award.

Shortlisted for The Rathbones Folio Prize and The Irish Novel of the Year at The Dalkey Literary awards.

‘Marvellous-exact and icy and loving all at once.’ – Sarah Moss

October 2022 The Lamplighters

In all my years I’ve realized there are two kinds of people. The ones who hear a creak in a dark, lonely house, and shut the windows because it must have been the wind. And the ones who hear a creak in a dark, lonely house, light a candle, and go to take a look.

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week. What happened to those three men, out on the tower? 

Thank you to our volunteer Becca for choosing this title and creating the resource.

October 2022 The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel

Liya Thakkar refuses to play by the rules. An Indian-American, MBA-toting biochemical engineer, Liya has always fought against the role of women in her culture. A laugh-out-loud debut about first impressions, second chances, and finding your soulmate in the most unexpected place.

Sajni Patel was born in vibrant India and raised in the heart of Texas, USA. Her books draw on her personal experiences growing up in Texas, cultural expectations, and with a flair to create worlds that centre on strong Indian women.

Thank you to our volunteer Neville for choosing this title and creating the resource.

September 2022 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. 

Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel. 

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best First Book 

September 2022 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It is 1939. In Nazi Germany, the country is holding its breath. By her brother’s graveside, nine year old Liesel’s life is changed forever when she picks up a single object. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, and this is her first act of book thievery. Soon she is stealing from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library . . . wherever there are books to be found. 

But these are dangerous times, and when Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, nothing will ever be the same again. 

Now a major film from Twentieth-Century Fox starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.

August 2022 Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara is an ‘Artificial Friend’, a humanoid machine bought to act as a companion to 14-year old Josie and to help her navigate growing up through the tricky adolescent years

The novel explores the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence and the blurred boundaries between human and machine. Along the way it also asks questions about parents and children, privilege and inequality, and above all the meaning of love.

Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017.

August 2022 Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

One windy spring day in the Chilterns Joe Rose’s calm, organised life is shattered by a ballooning accident. The afternoon could have ended in mere tragedy, but for his brief meeting with Jed Parry. Unknown to Joe, something passes between them – something that gives birth in Parry to an obsession so powerful that it will test to the limits Joe’s beloved scientific rationalism, threaten the love of his wife Clarissa and drive him to the brink of murder and madness.

Enduring Love was featured on BBC2’s ‘Between the Covers’ hosted by Sara Cox.

July 2022 The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

In this psychological thriller, Tom Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors and the law, when an unexpected acquaintance offers him a free trip to Europe and a chance to start over. Ripley wants money, success and the good life and he’s willing to kill for it.

There have also been several films with Ripley played by actors including Alain Delon, John Malkovich, Dennis Hopper, Andrew Scott and – perhaps most famously – Matt Damon.

Liccle Bit by Alex Wheatle

Venetia King is the hottest girl at school. Too bad Lemar is the second shortest guy in his year. Everyone calls him Liccle Bit, and his two best friends, McKay and Jonah, never tire of telling him he has no chance with girls. When Venetia starts paying Liccle Bit attention, he secretly hopes he’s on a fast track to a first date. Unfortunately, as a new gang war breaks out, he finds himself on a fast track to something much more sinister. 

‘This is a book that sings with warmth, in spite of its tough setting – in the midst of a gang war – and contains lines that dance.’ Scotland Herald

June 2022

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body,

Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2021 and The British Book Awards 2022 Debut Book of the Year.

Thank you to Rayan for choosing this title and creating the resource.

The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage

Phil and George are brothers and joint owners of the biggest ranch in their Montana valley. They sleep in the room they shared as boys, and so it has been for forty years. When George unexpectedly marries a young widow and brings her to live at the ranch, Phil begins a relentless campaign to destroy his brother’s new wife. But he reckons without an unlikely protector.

The Power of the Dog was made into a Netflix film in 2021 starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

May 2022

Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh

Mikey was born into a Romany Gypsy family. They live in a closeted community, and little is known about their way of life. After centuries of persecution Gypsies are wary of outsiders and if you choose to leave you can never come back. But although Mikey inherited a vibrant and loyal culture his family’s legacy was bittersweet with a hidden history of grief and abuse.

Gypsy Boy was chosen by The Reading Agency as one of this years World Book Night titles.

It’s absolutely riveting, un-put-downable. Anne Lamott, The Miami Herald 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Noah was born a crime, son of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the first years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, take him away.

A collection of eighteen personal stories, Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy growing into a restless young man as he struggles to find his place in a world where he was never supposed to exist.

Thank you to Isobel for choosing this title and creating the resource.

April 2022

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Americanah is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalised world.

The tale of childhood sweethearts at school in Nigeria whose lives take different paths when they seek their fortunes in America and England.  

‘A delicious, important novel from a writer with a great deal to say.’ – The Times

Thank you to our volunteer Neville for choosing this title and creating the resource.

Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn

The Emissary meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in this poignant and triumphant story about how love, friendship, and persistence can change a life forever.

Yunjae was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger. A shocking act of random violence shatters his world, leaving him alone and on his own. Struggling to cope with his loss, Yunjae retreats into silent isolation, until troubled teenager Gon arrives at his school, and they develop a surprising bond.

Translated from the Korean by Sandy Joosun Lee.

Thank you to our volunteer Rayan for choosing this title and creating the resource.

March 2022

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafrón

Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘Cemetery of Lost Books’.’ To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out ‘The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax.’

What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Carax and to save those he left behind…

‘Shadow is the real deal, a novel full of cheesy splendour and creaking trapdoors, a novel where even the subplots have subplots. One gorgeous read.’ – Stephen King

Thank you to our volunteer Ella, for choosing this title and creating the resource.

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. But when her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer.

Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn her childhood House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared. Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.

Girl A was published in 2021 and became an instant Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, also topping the charts in Ireland and Australia. The novel has been acquired in 35 territories, and television/film rights have sold to Sony.  

Thank you to our Jenny for choosing this title and creating the resource.

February 2022

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Drifters in search of work, George and his childlike friend Lennie, have nothing in the world except the clothes on their back – and a dream that one day they will have some land of their own.

They find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are dashed as Lennie – struggling against extreme cruelty and misunderstanding becomes a victim of his own strength.

Of Mice and Men tackles universal themes of friendship and shared vision, and gives a voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed.

Thank you to our volunteer Maggie, for choosing this title and creating the resource.

The Offing by Benjamin Myers

One summer following the Second World War, Robert Appleyard leaves his Durham village. Sixteen and the son of a coal miner, he makes his way across the countryside until he reaches the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay.

The Offing is a story of love and friendship between a teenage miner and an eccentric older woman. Evoking the striking landscapes of the Durham Coast, Myer’s novel is an enthralling depiction of the journey from adolescence into adulthood.

‘Book by book, over the past decade, Ben Myers has proved himself to be one of the most singular, moving and crucial voices of our times.’ David Peace

Thank you to our volunteer Clare, for choosing this title and creating the resource.

January 2022

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home? Neither parent knows that Hamnet will not survive the week.

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright: a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

One of our greatest living novelists resurrects the short life of Hamnet Shakespeare, in a lyrically written and emotionally devastating account of the Bard’s only son.

Thank you to our volunteer Helen, for choosing this title and creating the resource.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

‘The novel that made Afghanistan the talking point of every book group’ – Guardian, 50 Books that Defined the Decade

Thank you to our volunteer Lauren, for choosing this title and creating the resource.