1. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is significantly shorter and less intimidating a novel than her smash hit The Goldfinch (which is also excellent, FY). A small group of highly intelligent classics students suffer the consequences after being involved in the murder of one of their own.
The only problem reading this is that you’ll have to concede that Donna Tartt and her beautiful language and limitless knowledge of Ancient Greece is more intelligent than you will EVER be.
2. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
A depressed alcoholic wistfully looks into the houses on her commute to work every morning, affectionately naming a particular favourite couple of hers and imagining what their lives must be like. But then she sees something she shouldn’t, and becomes involved in something that seems to have nothing to do with her. Or does it?
3. Looking for Alaska - John Green
John Green novels are being turned into movies at an alarming rate, with Looking For Alaska the third book after The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns to be adapted. Basically a wise-cracking Nicholas Sparks aimed at a teenage audience, to read a John Green book is to feel happy, emotional, excited and inspired, and Looking for Alaska is no different.
Miles, a generally normal teen with an odd hobby of collecting famous people’s last words meets Alaska, an enigmatic wild child who Miles falls deeply in love with and changes his life.
4. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson
If non-fiction is more your thing, or you just want a bit of a change, try Jon Ronson. The humorous journalist is the mind behind The Men Who Stare at Goats and the critically acclaimed Frank, but his books are a whole other level. He has uncovered conspiracies, and crazy experiments in the military and studied psychopaths.
In his newest book, he seeks out those whose lives have been ruined by being publicly shamed, the mob mentaliy, and if we have reintroduced cruel punishment that was ruled out decades earlier. It is fascinating.
5. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
If you haven’t read this yet, that means none of your friends have either. Because guaranteed, if they had they would be forcing it on you until you had no choice but to devour every page. It is THAT good.
The Book Thief is narrated by Death, but it’s okay! Death is sort of like a bored, misanthropic omnipresent narrator, who grows increasingly interested in young Liesel Meminger, who is left with foster parents who are harbouring a Jewish fugitive during WWII. It’s a celebration of the power of words as well as being full of laughs, love and, of course, tragedy. It’s wonderful.
6. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
Read Stephen Spielberg adapts it next year and everyone is let in on the secret, which is that this is the best story that you’ll devour in one weekend.
A young orphan boys is obsessed with a virtual reality world that basically everyone is tuned into at all times as the real world has become so miserable. When the Steve Jobs type creator dies, he leaves Easter Eggs in the virtual reality so whoever finds the clues first will inherit his insane fortune.
7. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Mao – Junot Diaz
The Pulitzer Prize winning novel follows Oscar, an overweight and generally unlucky Dominican boy who, whilst obsessed with the idea of love, finds more success in role playing games and writing science fiction. It's a tremendously complex and beautifully written novel, relying on citations to explain any Dominican culture that surfaces in the book, and yet it never feels dragging or too complicated.
8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book with language so beautiful and descriptive it almost feels like reading a song, in which teenager Karou, who has been brought up among chimaera (creatures who have different aspects of animals) and collects teeth for them for unknown reasons, begins to discover the truth about her adopted family's world, meeting seraph Akiva along the way.
This one is perfect for anyone who wants a genuinely original and fantastic fantasy novel. Trust us, there isn't even a mention of vampires!
9. Legend - Marie Lu
A futuristic retelling of Les Miserables sees law-abiding June go up against the man she thinks murdered her brother, the law-breaking Day. It's a quick teen read but it'll keep you gripped and is perfect for some light beach reading!
§0. A Game of Thrones - George RR Martin
If you have never watched the show, it's high time you get involved with the dramatic, emotional yet glorious world of Westeros and read the first Game of Thrones novel by George RR Martin!
Ned Stark agrees to serve as the King's main advisor, opening himself up to the cutthroat and manipulative politics of the Capitol while, on the other side of the world, a white-haired girl is married off to a savage War Lord by her brother, in the hopes that they may give him an army and help them take the Iron Throne...
11. The Art of Being Normal - Lisa Williamson
A wonderful coming-of-age tale about a teenage boy who dreams about becoming a girl but is too afraid to tell his parents, instead obsessing over wanting what he feels he can't have until he meets Leo, the new, mysterious boy at school and the pair become friends.
12. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
Skeeter comes home from graduating university of find her beloved maid Constantine has quit without word, and slowly begins to realise the hypocrisy of her friends who treat their black maids with discrimination, particularly Hilly, a manipulative and ruthless housewife. Skeeter decides to write a book on the maid's experiences with the help of Aibileen, a maid who cares for a neglected child and decides to shed light onto her experiences.
13. Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey
Maud is suffering from Alzheimer's, and as her days grow more and more confused, she becomes fixated on what has happened to her good friend Elizabeth, who has seemingly disappeared. As she searches, memories from an unresolved mystery seventy years earlier surface. Will Maud finally be able to put the pieces together?
This novel is perfect if you love a good mystery novel, but is also a sad insight into a struggling mind and as such, a great blend of genres.
14. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Catch up on the classic before it's long-awaited sequel, Go Set a Watchman is released in mid-July. Scout Finch is a tomboy who plays with her brother Jem and their friend Dill, all of whom are obsessed with the hermit who lives on their street, the mysterious Boo Radley.
However, when their father, lawyer Atticus Finch, is appointed the defence lawyer of a black man on trial for rape, Jem and Scout are faced with discrimination and the racial inequality of their town.
15. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
A richly described romance meets time travel novel in which World War II nurse Claire Randall falls through time while honeymooning with her fiance in Scotland, only to find herself in 17th Century Scotland where the Jacobite rebellion is rising and absolutely nowhere is safe.
Taken by Scottish clansman, Claire finds herself falling in love with Jamie, a young clansman with a terrible past. He is also swoonworthy, just saying. Will she find her place in this strange new world, or will she manage to find her way back to her own time?