Book Talk 2023

December 2023 The Judge’s List by John Grisham

Lacy Stoltz, a no-nonsense investigator of any accusations made of judge corruption, meets Jeri Crosby, a mysterious woman who is so frightened that she uses a number of aliases. Jeri’s father was murdered twenty years earlier in a case that remains unsolved and is a cold case. But Jeri has a suspect whom she has become obsessed with and has researched for two decades.

How will this thrilling story end?

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

December 2023 The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

Mukesh is trying to navigate his new life without his beloved wife and learns about himself and how much his wife loved the library. This love was passed down to his granddaughter who like her grandmother loved books. Mukesh sees this as a way of connecting to his granddaughter and visits the library.

Aleisha works at the library and one day finds a crumpled piece of paper in the back of the book To Kill a Mockingbird, it is a list of books she has never heard of before and decides to read every book on the list. Aleisha and Mukesh meet at the library and Aleisha sees that he is unsure about what the library can offer. Aleisha passes him the Reading List.

A connection if forged between them as fiction helps them navigate their grief and everyday troubles in the hope that they can find joy again.

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

November 2023 The Gritterman by Orlando Weeks

As the rest of the world sleeps, the Gritterman goes out to work. Through the wind and the snow. Through the blue-black hours when time slips away, he grits the paths and the pavements and the roads. For him, a life without gritting is no life at all…
A song for the unsung hero, this is a story about stoicism, dignity and a man leaving behind the work that he loves. It is accompanied by the author’s own illustrations.

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

November 2023 The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

Meet Adunni, a teenage girl born into a rural Nigerian village. Removed from school and sold as a third wife to an old man, Adunni’s life amounts to this: four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens, and a new TV. When a tragedy swiftly strikes in her new home, she is secretly sold to a household in the wealthy enclaves of Lagos where she becomes a house-servant to the cruel Big Madam and pray to Big Madam’s husband ‘Big Daddy’. No one will talk about the strange disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. No one but Adunni… 

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

October 2023 West by Carys Davies

When Cy Bellman, American settler and widowed father of Bess, reads in the newspaper that huge ancient bones have been discovered in a Kentucky swamp, he leaves his small Pennsylvania farm and young daughter to find out if the rumours are true. West is the story of Bellman’s journey and of Bess, waiting at home for her father to return. It explores the courage of conviction, the transformative power of grief, the desire for knowledge and the pull of home.

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

October 2023 A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Dr Diana Bishop is a spellbound witch and scholar of 17th-century chemistry. When she calls a long-lost, enchanted manuscript from the Bodleian Library, she sets a mythical underworld stirring, and soon the library is overrun by daemons, witches, and vampires. Among the various creatures who desire the book are the centuries-old vampire Mathew Clairmont and the malevolent wizard Peter Knox. Diana, the only creature who can break the book’s spell, must embrace her magic to defeat Knox and protect those she loves, including her forbidden romance with Matthew.

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

September 2023 Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Sam and Sadie meet in a hospital in 1987. Playing together brings joy, escape, fierce competition – and a special friendship. Then, all too soon, that time is over and they must return to their normal lives. When the pair spot each other eight years later in a crowded train station the spark is immediate, and together they get to work on what they love – creating virtual worlds to delight, challenge and immerse.

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

September 2023 Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Set during the colonial era in 1960’s Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Young Tambu from the Shona tribe wants to be educated but it’s a preference for boys to be educated rather than girls. But tragedy strikes and Tambu is offered a place at a missionary school. Within her burns a desire for learning and independence.

This is Tambu telling us of her own challenges, her family’s struggles through various trials, and their tribal customs as impacted by colonial teachings.

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

August 2023 Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Tommo Peaceful is a young soldier reflecting on his life growing up and his eventual voluntary enrolment in the war effort. When Charlie (his brother) is forced to enlist to fight in the war, Tommo lies about his age to be with him. He recalls his wartime experiences, including his rigorous training, the brutal trench battles he endures in France and Charlie’s continued protection of him which has devastating consequences.

Morpurgo focuses on the harsh realities of World War One and the consequences of disobedience and mental breakdowns.

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

August 2023 The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley

In 1963, former nuclear specialist Valery Kolkanov has served six years of his ten-year sentence in a Siberian gulag. One day, Valery’s university mentor intervenes and has him transported to the mysterious City 40, where he is expected to serve the remainder of his sentence studying the effects of radiation on local animals.

What is being kept from the town’s thousands of residents? Why are radiation levels so high? And will he survive the remainder of his sentence if he keeps seeking the truth?

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

July 2023 My Pen is the Wing of a Bird by Afghan Women

My Pen Is the Wing of a Bird is a landmark collection: the first anthology of short fiction by Afghan women. Eighteen writers tell stories that are both unique and universal – stories of family, work, childhood, friendship, war, gender identity and cultural traditions.

A woman’s fortitude saves her village from disaster. A teenager explores their identity in a moment of quiet. A petition writer reflects on his life as a dog lies nursing her puppies. 

This collection introduces voices from the country’s two main linguistic groups (Pashto and Dari) with original, vital and unexpected stories to tell, developed over two years through UNTOLD‘s Write Afghanistan project. 

July 2023 The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

‘Excuse me, sir, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard. I am a lover of America . . . ‘

So speaks the mysterious stranger at a Lahore cafe as dusk settles. Invited to join him for tea, you learn his name and what led this speaker of immaculate English to seek you out. For he is more worldly than you might expect; better travelled and better educated. And as he tells you his story, of how he embraced the Western dream — and a Western woman — and how both betrayed him, so the night darkens.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007. Now a major film starring starring Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson and Kiefer Sutherland.

June 2023 Brick Lane by Monica Ali

Still in her teenage years, Nazneen finds herself in an arranged marriage with a disappointed older man. Away from her Bangladeshi village, home is now a cramped flat in a high-rise block in London’s East End. Confined in her tiny flat, Nazneen sews furiously for a living – until the radical Karim steps unexpectedly into her life. On a background of racial conflict and tension, they embark on a love affair that forces Nazneen finally to take control of her fate.

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

June 2023 Bad Men by John Connolly

In 1693, the settlers on the small Maine island of Sanctuary were betrayed to their enemies and slaughtered. Since then, the island has known three hundred years of peace. Until now. For men are descending on Sanctuary, their purpose to hunt down and kill the wife of their leader and retrieve the money that she stole from him. All that stands in their way are a young rookie officer, Sharon Macy, and the island’s strange, troubled policeman, the giant known as Melancholy Joe Dupree.

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

May 2023 Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie

On an ordinary May morning in 1996, the residents of high-rise Nightingale Point in London, Mary, Malachi, Tristan, Elvis and Pamela wake up to their normal lives and worries. It’s a day like any other, until something terrible happens and their lives are changed completely.

The novel was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2020 and chosen as one of the titles on offer for this year’s World Book Night. Thanks to The Reading Agency for their generous donation of books.


May 2023 Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

Former NYPD detective Charlie “Bird” Parker is on the verge of madness. Tortured by the unsolved slayings of his wife and young daughter, he is a man consumed by guilt, regret, and the desire for revenge. When his former partner asks him to help track down a missing girl, Parker finds himself drawn into a world beyond his imagining: a world where thirty-year-old killings remain shrouded in fear and lies, and the ghosts of the dead torment the living.

Aided by a beautiful psychologist, a Cajun Seer, and a pair of bickering career criminals, Parker becomes the bait in a trap set in the humid bayous of Louisiana, which threatens the lives of everyone in its reach.

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

April 2023 True Biz by Sara Nović

True biz (adj./exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk

This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy and February, the headmistress, who is fighting to keep her school open. This is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.

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

April 2023 The Job by Douglas Kennedy

Ned Allen is young, smart, and upwardly mobile. Several years into his career as an ad salesman for a successful computer magazine, Ned’s finally left his small-town roots behind, and is certain that the sophisticated Manhattan world he covets is his forever.

But then what appeared to be a career break shows its true colours. Ned’s forced to make some tough calls, among them a question of ethics and the small matter of whether to lie to his wife.

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

March 2023 The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman

Osman’s beloved ageing investigators return in another captivating mystery that blends wry wit and deft characterisation with fast-paced, intricate plotting.A local news legend is on the hunt for a sensational headline, and soon the gang are hot on the trail of two murders, ten years apart.

To make matters worse, a new nemesis pays Elizabeth a visit, presenting her with a deadly mission: kill or be killed…While Elizabeth grapples with her conscience (and a gun), the gang and their unlikely new friends (including TV stars, money launderers and ex-KGB colonels) unravel a new mystery. But can they catch the culprit and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?

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

March 2023 Kololo Hill by Neema Shah

Set during the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin, Shah’s stunning debut tracks a fleeing family from Kampala to London in an emotionally acute exploration of the power of home and the fear of fresh starts.

From the green hilltops of Kampala, to the terraced houses of London, Neema Shah’s extraordinarily moving debut Kololo Hill explores what it means to leave your home behind, what it takes to start again, and the lengths some will go to protect their loved ones.

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

February 2023 The Whistleblower by Robert Peston

1997. A desperate government clings to power; a hungry opposition will do anything to win. Journalist Gil Peck thinks he knows how things work. But is his sister’s death an accident? Just what’s going on in this fast-moving world of politics and finance, and what can a journalist do about it?

Robert Peston has been a familiar figure on our TV screens for many years. These days he is Political Editor for ITV, and you’ll also find him hosting his own programme, Peston, on ITV. This is his first novel, a fast-paced thriller written with insider insight.

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

February 2023 Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Marian Graves has been obsessed with flight since her girlhood. She becomes an accomplished aviator, and in 1950 she disappears in Antarctica whilst attempting to fly longitudinally round the world over the north and south poles – the Great Circle. 

Some 75 years later actor Hadley Baxter, is offered the part of Marian in a film exploring her disappearance. Hadley finds herself powerfully and unexpectedly drawn towards digging out the truth about Marian’s fate.

Great Circle was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2022.

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

January 2023 The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the sole inhabitant of Eel Marsh House. The house stands at the end of a causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but it is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black – and her terrible purpose.

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

January 2023 Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan

Everyone has a Tully Dawson; the friend who defines your life. 

Summer 1986 and a bunch of mates from Ayrshire, Scotland, take off to a music festival in Manchester for a riotous weekend of music, drugs and mayhem, a weekend that becomes part of the friends’ collective mythology.

But thirty years later Tully needs his mate Jimmy to perform a final request, something he can only ask of his very closest friend…

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