There are hundreds, if not thousands, of great books out there and numerous lists recommending what you should read.
I read a lot and thought I would share a few of my all-time favourite novels, in no particular order. Some are well-known classics that have no doubt been recommended many times before, but a few are a bit more obscure, but still worth checking out.
1. Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami
The most famous novel by one of Japan’s more successful authors and a great introduction to his work. This is an evocative novel about first love, desire, grief and mental illness.
2. Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
A prequel to Jane Eyre, this book tells the story of the first Mrs Rochester and her descent into madness.
3. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
One of my absolute favourite books, this is full of gorgeous, heart-breaking imagery and very possibly Margaret Atwood’s best work. In a dystopian future society, women’s right have been stripped away as the ruling group force a return to traditional values.
4. The Crow Road, by Iain Banks
A family saga focusing on an extended Scottish family with a few dark secrets. Struggling to find his way in life, twenty-something Prentice McHoan discovers an unpublished novel by his uncle Rory, a travel writer who vanished years earlier. Caught up in the story, Prentice begins to realise that his uncle’s disappearance might be more sinister than the family has always believed.
5. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
The legendary examination of the Beat Generation, this is a must-read for anyone with a creative soul or who has ever been struck by wanderlust.
6. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
One of the most beautiful, original and moving love stories I’ve read. Henry is afflicted by a strange condition that causes him to time travel to different moments in his own life. His relationship with Clare exists outside of time as they meet when she is just a child and he has travelled back into the past.
7. Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami
My favourite of Murakami’s novels, this is a quirky, postmodern detective story that encompasses science fiction, fantasy, tragedy and farce.
8. How to be Lost, by Amanda Eyre Ward
Well-to-do family, the Winters, enjoy a comfortable life in the suburbs of New York, until five-year-old Ellie disappears. Fifteen years later, Caroline Winters sees a photo of a woman in a magazine that she is convinced is her long vanished sister and becomes determined to find her.
9. The Lotus Eaters, by Tatjana Soli
Set during the Vietnam War, this book follows the love affair between Helen, an American photojournalist addicted to the war and Linh, her Vietnamese lover who is caught between his passion for a woman and his loyalty to his country.
10. Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A beautifully written story about the civil war that devastated Nigeria in the 1960s, told from the point of view of three very different characters that are all caught up in the violent events.
11. Acts of Violence, by Ryan David Jahn
Based on a real life murder case, this shocking story tells the story of the night Katrina Marino was killed outside her apartment building. It is also the story of the neighbours who all witnessed the crime, yet did nothing to help the defenceless victim.
12. As the Earth Turns Silver, by Alison Wong
A haunting inter-racial love story set in New Zealand in the early 1900s that follows the relationship between widow Katherine McKechnie and Chinese immigrant Yung as they struggle with secrets and prejudice.