A culture of imagination, dedication and thirst for knowledge has given us millions of books to discover. So, to celebrate International Book Lover’s day we’ve shared some of the ADPR team’s favourite books and what we like about them. Happy reading!
Zak has picked one of the books that got him into reading – Framed! By Malcolm Rose, Traces Series.
Luke Harding has barely had time to celebrate becoming the youngest ever person to qualify as a forensic investigator when MALC, his Mobile Aid to Law and Crime, calls him to their first case. A student has been mysteriously shot dead with an arrow. An elusive killer is at large and all the evidence points to Luke being the murderer himself…
‘It was one of the first books that I read in my own time when I was in secondary school and it really caught my attention – the excitement and cunning nature of the job as a Forensic Investigator made me want to become one for quite a long time! Seeing how Luke used everything in his power to track down someone so elusive was so gripping and meant I went on to read all of the other books in the Traces series as well!’
Charlotte’s choice is Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery, Reviews by Henry Marsh:
What is it really like to be a brain surgeon, to hold someone’s life in your hands, to drill down into the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason? How do you live with the consequences of performing a potentially life-saving operation when it all goes wrong? In this powerful, gripping and brutally honest account, one of the country’s top neurosurgeons reveals what it is to play god in the face of the life-and-death situations he encounters daily. Henry Marsh gives a rare insight into the intense drama of the operating theatre, the chaos and confusion of a modern hospital, the exquisite complexity of the human brain, and the blunt instrument that is surgeon’s knife by comparison.
‘We often take the skill and intelligence of our National Health Service for granted, we forget that the people we turn to for medical advice are real people themselves. Henry’s accounts throughout his career forge an, otherwise unknown, partnership between an extraordinarily complex job and the realms of everyday life and his own conscience and thoughts. You learn to appreciate Henry’s passion for his job pretty quickly, the strain his family were put under during his career and his emotions towards the changing environment of hospitals, including contempt for a penny-pinching, meddling government. You can only admire Henry for the journey he’s been on and the people he’s helped along the way.’
Leah’s Favourite book is actually three. It’s a series by Wilbur Smith and is made up of the titles: River God, The Seventh Scroll and Warlock.
Ancient Egypt. Land of the Pharaohs. A kingdom built on gold. A legend shattered by greed… Now the Valley of the Kings lies ravaged by war, drained of its lifeblood, as weak men inherit the cherished crown.
City of Thebes. The Festival of Osiris. Loyal subjects of the Pharaoh gather to pay homage to their leader, but Taita – a wise and formidably gifted eunuch slave – sees him only as a symbol of a kingdom’s fading glory. Beside Taita stand his protégés: Lostris, daughter of Lord Intef, beautiful beyond her fourteen years; and Tanus, proud young army officer, whose father was betrayed by Lord Intef, Chief Vizier of Egypt whose power is second in wealth only to the Pharaoh. A glorious civilisation. An epic journey. A heroic battle. An enduring love. Here is a magnificent, richly imagined saga that explodes with all the drama, mystery and rage of a bygone time.
‘I love this series of books, because reading them felt like I was watching a film! Wilbur Smith describes everything in such detail and with such vivid description that it’s like seeing the pages move in front of you. Reading it, I was totally submerged in the world and absolutely fell in love with the characters. All three books are high adventure and overflowing with passion, rage, treachery, barbarism and love – once you start reading it really is difficult to put them down. I also loved that after River God was set in ancient Egypt, the second book, the Seventh Scroll was set in present day Africa but all linked to the characters from River God, before stepping back in time again for the third book, Warlock. Many a late night was spent getting through this series!’
Adrian’s pick is all about adventure and fun. What more do you need from your bedtime read?
‘Current favourite among my collection of thriller writers is Lee Child, who has won a whole new audience since the release of the 2012 Jack Reacher film. New York Times writer, Emma Donoghue, says, “If I was to be executed at dawn, I would choose to spend the night reading the next Jack Reacher thriller.” I’m not sure I’m quite that fanatical, but I share her sentiment about the pull of the popular Brit writer. The book I’m currently reading, Echo Burning, is a red-hot tale set in the hellish heat of a Texas, USA. summer. It tells how ex-military cop, Reacher, endeavours to save a Mexican woman who is entangled in a web of lies, prejudice and hatred and whose husband is out to murder her. However, every night, before I delve into murder and mayhem, I like to have a bit of fun in the form of classic 1970s/80s comic, Whizzer and Chips. This was originally marketed as Double the Fun – Two Comics in One, with Chips inside Whizzer – hence the three-book idea. You can still pick these up on e-Bay quite cheaply. Yes, the concept is dated and the cartoons are not quite p.c., but I don’t care. It’s a great way to end a busy ADPR day!’
Beki’s book is Kensuke’s Kingdom, a thrilling adventure story from Michael Morpurgo.
Michael, his parents and their faithful dog Stella set sail around the world in their yacht the Peggy Sue. Michael has never been so happy and then disaster strikes when he and his dog are swept overboard and find themselves stranded on an island where he discovers Kensuke, a former Japanese soldier and obstinate old man. Seemingly determined to thwart any attempt Michael makes to be rescued yet, unswerving in his generosity, sharing precious food and water and watching over him. Michael soon looks on Kensuke as both saviour and captor. It is not until both boy and man begin to understand one another and a bond of trust builds. Having lost his own family in the war Kensuke realises he must do all he can to help Michael find his own family even though he desperately wants to keep his island secret from the outside world he has turned his back on.
‘I first read this book at school and it was one of the first books to inspire me (perhaps not to get on a boat at aged 9) but to think outside the box and be super descriptive when telling and writing stories. Morpurgo tells such a magical tale of trial and strife, but also of friendship, trust and adventure – which can very quickly capture the imagination of all readers. It’s an easy read, but a lovely one.’
Sophie’s recommendation is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph – a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate.
‘It isn’t just another crime book about the theft of a painting, it’s about being human and how everything that happens to us affects the rest of our lives. Donna Tartt is a master storyteller who vividly brings alive the places and scenes she writes about. The dialogue between characters is so real you feel you are really hearing their conversation. The only book, so far, that I am happy to read and re-read – a true sign of a favourite!’
Pippa’s pick is Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.
Following the death of her parents, the book’s heroine, Flora Poste, finds she is possessed “of every art and grace save that of earning her own living.” She therefore decides to invite herself to impose on her relatives and decides to visit her distant relatives at the isolated Cold Comfort Farm in the fictional village of Howling in Sussex. The inhabitants of the farm — Aunt Ada Doom, the Starkadders, and their extended family and workers — feel obligated to take her in to make up for an unspecified wrong that was once done to her father. Flora brings a level headed, urban approach and values to countryside life with hilarious results.
‘Written in the 1930s, I love it because it is a clever parody of popular literature of the time. The language is crisp, turn of phrase lyrical and the novel has a great pace with lots of twists and turns. I wish I had Flora’s way with words – never at a loss what to say – and her exceptional problem solving skills!’
What’s your favourite book?