The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - "Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question....
"Story sneaks up on you, so don't give up too soon"
Day one: The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the Earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%. Week Two: Civilization has crumbled. Year Twenty: A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and it threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.
"“survival is insufficient”"
Recipient of the 1966 Tanizaki Prize, it has been called Endo's supreme achievement" and "one of the twentieth century's finest novels". Considered controversial ever since its first publication, it tackles the thorniest religious issues of belief and faith head on. A novel of historical fiction, it is the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to seventeenth century Japan, who endured persecution that followed the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion.
"How a man comes face to face with God"
It's a story you think you know: the age-old tale of "star-cross'd lovers"; two families at war; a romance, so pure and absolute, fated for a tragic end. It's a story so thoroughly embedded in our culture, and so frequently retold. Yet, nothing captures the spark, the possibility, and the surprise of Shakespeare's work quite like this....
A natural storyteller and raconteur in his own right - just listen to Paddle Your Own Canoe and Gumption - actor, comedian, carpenter, and all-around manly man Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) brings his distinctive baritone and a fine-tuned comic versatility to Twain's writing. In a knockout performance, he doesn't so much as read Twain's words as he does rejoice in them, delighting in the hijinks of Tom - whom he lovingly refers to as a "great scam artist" and "true American hero".
It is 1866 and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.
"Beautifully written, but slower than a snail"
Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended. In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys - best friends - are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.
"An amazing and memorable book"
Fifteen years ago, Susan Morrow left her first husband Edward Sheffield. One day, comfortable in her home and her second marriage, she receives--entirely out of the blue - a parcel containing the manuscript of her ex-husband's first novel. He writes asking her to read the book; she was always his best critic, he says. As Susan reads, she is drawn into the fictional life of Tony Hastings, a maths professor driving his family to their summer house in Maine. And as we read along with her, so are we....
Including many of the greatest stories ever told - the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus's journey home - Robert Graves's superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version. With a novelist's skill and a poet's eye, Graves draws on the entire canon of ancient literature, bringing together all the elements of every myth into one epic and unforgettable story.
Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to "aging out" out of the foster care system. A community-service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
"Lovely easy read"
The second novel by Donna Tartt, best-selling author of The Goldfinch (winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize), The Little Friend is a grandly ambitious and utterly riveting novel of childhood, innocence and evil. The setting is Alexandria, Mississippi, where one Mother's Day a little boy named Robin Cleve Dufresnes was found hanging from a tree in his parents' yard. Twelve years later Robin's murder is still unsolved and his family remains devastated.
"Her third best book but still a wonderful story"
When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their Children's and Household Tales in 1812, followed by a second volume in 1815, they had no idea that such stories as "Rapunzel", "Hansel and Gretel", and "Cinderella" would become the most celebrated in the world. Yet few people today are familiar with the majority of tales from the two early volumes, since in the next four decades the Grimms would publish six other editions, each extensively revised in content and style.
"Grimm's grim stories"
Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.
"The best way to enjoy this true classic"
Orphaned Portia is stranded in the sophisticated and politely treacherous world of her wealthy half-brother's home in London. There she encounters the attractive, carefree cad Eddie. To him, Portia is at once child and woman, and he fears her gushing love. To her, Eddie is the only reaason to be alive. But when Eddie follows Portia to a sea-side resort, the flash of a cigarette lighter in a darkened cinema illuminates a stunning romantic betrayal.
The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. Of course, there's a catch to the invitation...
"Like Vonnegut but..."
"The narrative moves on"
Lying in front of Harrison Opuku is a body, the body of one of his classmates, a boy known for his crazy basketball skills. Armed with a pair of camouflage binoculars and detective techniques absorbed from television shows like CSI, Harri and his best friend, Dean, plot to bring the perpetrator to justice. They gather evidence and lay traps to flush out the murderer. But nothing can prepare them for what happens when a criminal feels you closing in on him.
"If you loved Life of Pi..."
Hailed by The New York Times as "a marvel of storytelling", The Things They Carried's portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. Now, three-time Emmy Award winner-Bryan Cranston, star of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book's hallucinatory line between reality and fiction and highlights the emotional power of the spoken word.
"What is a true war story?"
Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under) performs Truman Capote's masterstroke about a young writer's charmed fascination with his unorthodox neighbor, the "American geisha" Holly Golightly. Holly - a World War II-era society girl in her late teens - survives via socialization, attending parties and restaurants with men from the wealthy upper class who also provide her with money and expensive gifts. Over the course of the novella, the seemingly shallow Holly slowly opens up to the curious protagonist.
When Pembe leaves the Kurdish village of her birth, and her twin sister with it, it is for love. She follows her husband, Adem, to London with the hope of making a new life, but the family soon faces a stark choice: to stay loyal to the old traditions or try their best to fit in. When Adem abandons his family, it is Iskender, Pembe's eldest son, who must step in and prevent shame from falling on the family name. And when Pembe begins a chaste affair with a man named Elias, Iskender will discover that you could love someone with all your heart and yet be ready to hurt them.
"Honour - a clash of culture,murder, family honour"
It's 1926. Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, travel to a villa in the south of France. They swim, play bridge and drink gin. But wherever they go they are accompanied by the glamorous Fife. Fife is Hadley's best friend. She is also Ernest's lover. Over the ensuing decades, Ernest's literary career will blaze a trail, but his marriages will be ignited by passion and deceit. Four extraordinary women will be forced to ask themselves how far they will go to remain his wife....
The View from Willow Hill is a story of heartbreak, courage, soul searching and forgiveness. As a child, Autumn was abandoned by her parents and then raised by her grandmother, a brilliant poet. Now Autumn is 23, and alone in the world. She is surrounded by friends but struggles to resolve her past. Her emotional journey as a young adult along with her grandmother's fortitude teaches Autumn to reach for the stars.
Joseph Goebbels, born in 1897, aspired to be an author, obtained a PhD from the University of Heidelberg in 1921. He joined the Nazi Party in 1924, After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted controlling supervision over the news media, arts, and information in Germany.
On a cozy street in Philadelphia, three neighboring families have become the best of friends. They can't imagine life without one another - until one family outgrows their tiny row house. In a bid to stay together, a crazy idea is born: What if they tear down the walls between their homes and live together under one roof? And so an experiment begins.
Originally a short stage play, Potato Chips is about an elderly woman in an assisted living facility who is mistreated by a nurse. A ghost who appears as a younger version of the woman is trapped with her. The story is all told by a rat in the room.
At once disarmingly humorous and deeply thought-provoking, Perfect Little World is a novel about how the best families are the ones we make for ourselves. Isabelle Pool, recently graduated from high school and pregnant with her art teacher's baby, is just about out of options. Her mother is dead, her father's a drunk and the art teacher is too much of a head case to help raise the child. Izzy knows she can be a good mother, but without any money or prospects, she's left searching.
The man Clemency loves belongs to someone else. She has to hide her true feelings - but when she ropes in an unsuspecting friend to help, wires start to get crossed. For the first time in Ronan's life his charm has failed him in winning over the woman he wants. Loving her from afar appears to be his only option. Belle seems to have the perfect boyfriend, but something isn't quite right. And now a long-buried secret is slowly rising to the surface. The truth has a funny way of revealing itself, and when it does St Carys will be a very different place indeed....
It's the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York, shimmer in a heat wave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery. Noting Ruth's perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation.
When Nina finds out that her 15-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart. Because Scarlet won't tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything. As the suspects mount - from Scarlett's teacher to Nina's new husband of less than a year - Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.
Red Mountain in eastern Washington is home to a community of eccentrics. Otis Till, the area's visionary winemaker, has been known to howl at the moon - fully nude. Single mother Margot Pierce moved across the country to build an inn, but so far all she does is binge on gelato, the Hallmark Channel, and fantasies of murdering her ex. High school senior Emilia Forester is the daughter of celebrity parents struggling to build her own life outside of their shadow.
Dr. Jonah Michelakis is a university professor, a specialist in world religions. He has to find a way beyond his extensive book learning to explain the "big" questions of life to his grandson, Xander - a way that finally frees him from his own anger demons. Woven throughout the story is a comforting message to a troubled world.
Edinburgh basks in glorious, but brief, summer sunshine, and Isabel Dalhousie - philosopher, philanthropist and mother - searches for the perfect birthday present for her husband Jamie. While carefully seeking out a gift, Isabel finds herself at a viewing for an auction, and happens upon an old friend in distress - a friend who decides to unburden herself of her secrets, and to reveal a clue within a painting hanging on the walls of the auction house.
The perfect family. The perfect house. The perfect life. All gone now. What could cause a man, when all the stars of fortune are shining upon him, to suddenly snap and destroy everything he has built? This is the question that haunts Sergeant Ryan DeMarco after the wife and children of beloved college professor and best-selling author Thomas Huston are found slaughtered in their home. Huston himself has disappeared and so is immediately cast as the prime suspect.
Written in a style that is both precise and sumptuous, weirdly archaic and powerfully novel, Zama takes place in the last decade of the 18th century and describes the solitary, suspended existence of Don Diego de Zama, a highly placed servant of the Spanish crown who has been posted to Asunción, the capital of remote Paraguay. There, eaten up by pride, lust, petty grudges, and paranoid fantasies, he does as little as he possibly can while plotting his eventual transfer to Buenos Aires.
Set in the early 1900s, the novel follows young Lucia Rutkowska who, thanks to the influence of her beloved grandmother, escapes the Warsaw ghetto to work as a kitchen maid in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the bustling city of Paris. Too talented for her lowly position, Lucia is thrown out on the street. Her only recourse is to take a job working for a married couple - two disorganized, rather poor scientists so distracted by their work that their house and young child are often neglected.
Two men marked by the boyhood adventures of All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing now stand together to confront a country changing beyond recognition. In the fall of 1952, John Grady Cole and Billy Parham are cowboys on a New Mexico ranch, encroached upon from the north by the military. On the southern horizon are the mountains of Mexico, where one of the men is drawn incessantly in this story of friendships and passion, to a love as dangerous as it is inevitable.
A collection of full-cast dramatisations and readings from the best-selling author. Maeve Binchy was one of Britain's best-loved storytellers, and this compilation of her finest fiction, as heard on BBC Radio, demonstrates all the warmth, wit and compassion that made her so popular.
Gwen Hill adores Green Valley Avenue. So when the house next door is sold, Gwen wonders how the new family will settle into this cosy community. More than a new home, it's a clean slate for Frankie, who has moved her brood in a bid to save her marriage. To maintain privacy and corral her children, Frankie proposes a fence between the properties, destroying Gwen's picture-perfect front yard. To Gwen, this is an act of war.
After the death of his estranged father, Amit takes his parent's ashes to the Ganges to fulfill a deathbed promise. Instead of returning home, he wanders, his pain and grief leaving him confused about his future. Almost broke, unsure about his direction in life, and running from memories, he is led by fate to the Camino de Santiago, an ancient 550-mile pilgrimage route across northern Spain.
Wuthering Heights is Emily Bronte's only novel. Written between October 1845 and June 1846, Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 under the pseudonym "Ellis Bell"; Bronte died the following year, aged 30. Wuthering Heights and Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey were accepted by publisher Thomas Newby before the success of their sister Charlotte's novel, Jane Eyre.
Big Brother is watching you.... 1984 is the year in which it happens. The world is divided into three superstates. In Oceania, the Party's power is absolute. Every action, word, gesture and thought is monitored under the watchful eye of Big Brother and the Thought Police. In the Ministry of Truth, the Party's department for propaganda, Winston Smith's job is to edit the past. Over time, the impulse to escape the machine and live independently takes hold of him and he embarks on a secret and forbidden love affair.
"A Prophetic look at modern 'Politics of Fear'..."
The new audiobook from number one best-selling author Jodi Picoult, with the biggest of themes: birth, death, and responsibility. When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father. What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.
"Loved everything about this book"
Born in Dickens, Los Angeles, the narrator of The Sellout spent his childhood as the subject in his father's racially charged psychological studies. He is told that his father's memoir will solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed, he discovers there never was a memoir. Fuelled by despair, he sets out to right this wrong with the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.
"A clever, enjoyable satire on racism in todays USA"
At the heart of Joseph Heller's best-selling novel, first published in 1961, is a satirical indictment of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it.
Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and true identity, how they shape us and how we can survive them. Moving from Northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time. Two brown girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe or makes a person truly free.
"Couldn't stop reading"
Elegiac, bittersweet and profoundly moving, The Leopard chronicles the turbulent transformation of the Risorgimento, in the period of Italian Unification. The waning feudal authority of the elegant and stately Prince of Salina is pitted against the materialistic cunning of Don Calogero, in Tomasi's magnificently descriptive memorial to a dying age.
"The Leopard by Tomasi Lampedusa"
A novel of high adventure, great storytelling and moral purpose, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld. In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail.
"An incredible piece of art (written & narrated)"
The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed . If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs....
"A great book to listen to :)"
"Why do you want to be a boat builder?" "Because," said Morwenna, "I like the way the boats grow." Morwenna and Corwin are eight years old, wind-swept and salty-haired twins growing up on the Devon coast. In the soft autumn light they play as their grandfather, Matthew, watches the boats come in. But it is a day unlike any other.
"Short sweet tale of life and death"
Animal Farm is George Orwell's great socio-political allegory set in a farmyard where the animals decide to seize the farmer's land and create a co-operative that reaps the benefits of their combined labours. However, as with all great political plans, some animals see a bigger share of the rewards than others and the animals start to question their supposed utopia.
"Brilliant classic, superbly read by Simon Callow"
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is an immensely powerful and heartbreaking novel of brotherly love and the limits of human endurance. When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success and pride.
Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master. To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour, is just a speck in the universe of possible things?
"One of his best."
Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life, one of the top-selling adult books of 2014, explored the possibility of infinite chances, as Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula's beloved younger brother, Teddy - would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband, and father - as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.
"Remarkable Companion to "Life After Life""
Dorothea Brooke is an ardent idealist who represses her vivacity and intelligence for the cold, theological pedant Casaubon. One man understands her true nature: the artist Will Ladislaw. But how can love triumph against her sense of duty and Casaubon's mean spirit? Meanwhile, in the little world of Middlemarch, the broader world is mirrored: the world of politics, social change, and reforms, as well as betrayal, greed, blackmail, ambition, and disappointment.
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.
"cora captivated me. "
A bold English adventurer; an invincible Japanese warlord; a beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love - all brought together in an extraordinary saga of a time and a place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust, and the struggle for power.
Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss, and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them, in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul, they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.
"A Thousand Splendid Suns"