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There’s nothing like seeing a stranger happily reading a book you’ve read and loved; of recommending a fantastic tome to someone you know will love it; or solemnly being handed a book with the promise that it could’ve been written for you. Who doesn’t love that feeling of starting a book and mere paragraphs in knowing you cant bear to put it down and ‘oh boy, this is a goodie!’ I remember at primary school my favourite teacher suggesting I read Anne of Green Gables, as I might recognise myself in Anne ( to date one of the warmest compliments I’ve received!)  A book is the greatest gift you can give someone; relatively inexpensive they are portals to new worlds, different times, and give you a chance to complete adventures with beloved new friends. Books provide opportunities to explore new ideas and different cultures and challenge your own beliefs and standards.

From a very young age you’d rarely find me without a book (or two) on the go. I remember being taught to read by my mum before I’d even started primary school and remember with great pride the day I was first granted access to the grown-up section of the library  – it was years in advance of my peers as I’d already devoured the entire contents of the children’s corner a few times over! so you can imagine my delight when my friend Tim drew my attention to this extreme reading experiment – a woman read the entire contents of one shelf of books in her local library (In New York no less!)in order to open up the range of books she was exposed to, to step outside of the ‘usual suspects’ to….well, why not?! Our public libraries are a great resource (and unsung luxury) and I support the Library Campaign – access to books is important from an educational as well as personal point of view. I recommend every family get hold of a library card and uses it well; Libraries are an often undervalued asset in our communities and can be a great hub for children and adults alike. I lived in a Council house in Essex as a child and we never went abroad but books meant that in essence I grew up in a range of places, my favourites including the country estate of Flambards, the Haunted Woods near Green Gables in Prince Edward Island, and exploring the royal Courts of Tudor England. My imagination was set alight by the stories and characters I encountered, and that flame still burns brightly. I have a house full of books and dream of owning a bookshop with comfy seats and cakes for sale, so you can imagine my shock, horror and disappointment when people say they don’t have time to read. (Please, make the time!)

There are numerous lists of books you simply MUST read like this from The Telegraph recently .However sometimes theses lists are a bit dry ( worthy, even..) and for me, you cant beat a personal and heartfelt recommendation. So looking for my next great literary love affair I tweeted about my favourite recent book – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (You simply MUST read it!) and asked fellow tweeters for their suggestions in return. As always there was a fabulous response and here are the books that were commended to me – I’ve included a handy link to a book review or plot synopsis so you can see if the next book you will fall in love with is here! Also, if you have any treasures you cant wait to share with other people please comment and let us know.

Lighthouse Keeping  by Jeanette Winterson Plot and review

The Sea by John Banville  Plot & interview with author

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova Author wesbite

The Way the Crow Flies by Anne-Marie MacDonald Plot review

We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver Plot & interview with author

The Time Travellers Wife by  Audrey Niffeneggers  –  Plot & Review

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Authors website & plot

A fraction of the whole by Steve Toltz  Book review

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts  Book review

Homicide: A year on the killing streets  by David Simon Book review & plot

Uncle Sam – DC comics – Graphic Novel review

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer Book Review & Plot

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss Book review & plot

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver  Book review & Plot

The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch Book review & plot

The Earth hums in B flat by Mari Strachan Book review & plot

The Wool Trilogy by Hugh Howey Author website

The sacred book of the werewolf by Victor Pelevin Book review and Plot

Small Island by Andrea Leavy Book review & plot

Any thing and everything by Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou

Happy reading everyone!

Thanks to Tamsin StirlingLuke Merlini, Neil Jackson , Gudrun Burnet , Matthew Close , Cathy Ayrton , Gayna Jones, Rob Gershon and Tim Morton for contributing to this list and keeping me busy until Christmas!

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