Sometimes it’s easy to forget the good in the world, when we’re inundated with news of pandemics, wars and politics. And books, in our opinion, are the best escape.

From the funny to life-affirming, here are just a few of the books we’d recommend to get the smile back on your face!


Anxious People – Fredrik Backman

In a small town in Sweden, it appears to be an ordinary day. But look more closely, and you’ll see a mysterious masked figure approaching a bank.

Two hours later, chaos has descended. A bungled attempted robbery has developed into a hostage situation – and the offender is refusing to communicate their demands to the police.

Inside the building, fear quickly turns to irritation for the seven strangers trapped inside. If this is to be their last day on earth, shouldn’t it be a bit more dramatic? But as the minutes tick by, they begin to suspect that the criminal mastermind holding them hostage might be more in need of rescuing than they are.


The Whale At The End Of The World – John Ironmonger

It all began with the whale.

When a young man washes up on the sands of St Piran in Cornwall, it is clear to the villagers that this is not a regular day. What has brought him here? And what is the crisis only he understands, that threatens not only their community but all of civilisation?

With a global pandemic on the horizon, and a whale lurking in the bay, the villagers of St Piran must band together to survive.

A book which eerily seems to predict much of what has happened over the last couple of years, this is a tale that ultimately proves the power of community and humanity.


The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash.

Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly-imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window.


Before The Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

What would you change if you could go back in time?

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a cafe which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time. In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the cafe’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the cafe, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .


Still Life – Sarah Winman

1944, Italy. As bombs fall around them, two strangers meet in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa and share an extraordinary evening.

Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier, Evelyn Skinner a 64-year-old art historian living life on her own terms. She has come to salvage paintings from the wreckage of war and relive memories of her youth when her heart was stolen by an Italian maid in a particular room with a view. Ulysses’ chance encounter with Evelyn will transform his life – and all those who love him back home in London – forever.

Uplifting, sweeping and full of unforgettable characters, Still Life is a novel about beauty, love, family and friendship.

One of our favourite books of the year!


Lessons In Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus

Garmus has entered the book world with a unique and innovative story – full of humourous and witty characters. Unputdownable – I loved it!!

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary.

But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.


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Miss Benson’s Beetle – Rachel Joyce

It is 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition.

She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. Enid Pretty, in her unlikely pink travel suit, is not the companion Margery had in mind. And yet together they will be drawn into an adventure that will exceed every expectation. They will risk everything, break all the rules, and at the top of a red mountain, discover their best selves.

This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.