BOOKMARK July 2021 Book recommendations
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We’ve all become used to the term ‘box sets’ when describing a series of tv programmes. I like to think that the idea began a very long time ago when reading was the way to capture the imagination. Dickens wrote many of his novels in serial form, and Trollope included his characters in more than one book. Authors as diverse as William Faulkner and C S Lewis imagine territories to place their action, and others such as Louis de Bernières would like us to think of all their work as one book.
So here are some of my personal favourites of series of novels that should keep you engrossed over the summer. I may have mentioned some of these titles before, and they are not all new publications. Most should be available on Kindle, or found also in Booklore, or other used book shops.
(Next month, we’ll consider some of the best non-fiction and poetry that has been published this year.)
Conn Iggulden ‘Wars of the Roses’ trilogy
Stormbird, Trinity, Bloodline
One of the best writers of historical fiction (his other series concern Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan), this trilogy is an evocative account of the tragedy of the Wars of the Roses. His battle scenes in particular are extremely accomplished and his characters well-drawn and one-hundred-percent believable.
If you like these, you may also enjoy the series of C J Sansom, Rory Clements, S G MacLean.
Thomas Mullen ‘Darktown’ trilogy
Darktown, Lightning Men, Midnight Atlanta
Simply the best American crime fiction I have ever read. Utterly compelling and based on the true story of the setting up, in 1948, of Atlanta’s first black police force. I also like the writer’s website page: ‘Thomas Mullen lives a deceptively quiet life not far from downtown Atlanta. While SUVs drive by and dogs bark and the locals suspect not a thing, he commits murders, spins wildly convoluted conspiracy theories, travels through time, reinvents the past, resurrects the dead, falls in love with women of his own invention, imperils young children, unleashes plagues, wages war, saves lives, dangles participles, and invents new metaphors. Most of his sentences contain verbs.’ (thomasmullen.net)
If you like these, you may also enjoy the series of Attica Locke, Don Winslow.
Ghostwritten, number9dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, The Bone Clocks, Utopia Avenue
Yes, seven novels but they do not need to be read in any particular order. Mitchell’s characters have the uncanny ability to turn up in every one of his books – some as the main focus of the story, others as side players. What I particularly enjoy is the sheer inventiveness of his story-telling: there is no way of knowing the direction his tales are going to go in, and that is perhaps his major theme – what is a life and how can it be directed when so much is haphazard? There is always a huge amount of opportunity for in-depth book group discussions with any one of Mitchell’s books.
I hope you enjoy these selections. We’re always keen to have your feedback, or indeed your own suggestions!