World Book Night 2015

At the annual World Book Night, which falls this coming Thursday this year, thousands of books are given away across Britain with the aim of encouraging more people to read. The 20 books that will be handed out can be found on the World Book Night website, but they’re also encouraging as many people as possible to get involved by giving out any book you choose – one you already own, or one you buy especially – to a friend, a member of your community, or even a complete stranger.

We love reading at hush, so we wanted to give you a rundown of the top 5 books that hush Creative Director & Founder, Mandy, has read and reviewed this year, in the hope to inspire you with possible books to add to your reading lists!

 

Read on to find out more about her choices:

 

1. And the Mountains Echoed

"There was a time when you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone reading The Kite Runner - on a train, in an airport departure lounge, in the park, on the beach... It was one of those books that for a few months everyone had beside their bed (like The Help or Gone Girl or even the dreaded Fifty Shades of Grey). Author Khaled Hosseini’s third book. And The Mountains Echoed, has by contrast attracted much less attention – but I think it’s even better than his celebrated debut novel and that’s from someone who has bored my friends (and total strangers) about how much I loved The Kite Runner. Set again in the author’s native Afghanistan (and in part on the west coast of the United States, where Hosseini now calls home), this book deals with many of the same issues as his first two books in particular with regard to family, loss and loyalty against a backdrop of half a century of Afghan history."

 

2. Stoner

"Described by the Sunday Times as “the best book you’ve never read”, it’s easy to see why Stoner was not a big hit when it was first published in the 1960s. For a start, the title makes you think it’s going to be a book about drugs, or at least someone who has smoked too many of them. The reality is no more enticing - the Stoner of the title is the surname of the protaganist, William Stoner, an unremarkable English professor at a Midwestern university, unhappily married, frustrated in his career. But the story is so beautifully told, the sadness (but also nobility) of his life so perfectly conveyed, his failures and brief moments of happiness so profoundly moving that it is as gripping a story as you will ever read. In fact, it’s the kind of book you try to prolong by reading only a few pages a day and once finished press on all your friends so you can have someone to share the experience with. And that is how it has come back to prominence half a century after it was first published – a true word of mouth success after it was rediscovered in France and exported back to its native America. Read it - it’ll be one of the best books you’ve ever read…"

 

3. The Best of Everything

"I'm a great fan of Mad Men, so when I heard it was that programme which was indirectly responsible for this book being republished more than 40 years after it first hit bookshelves, I was sold. Well, almost. The story of six women working in a New York publishing house, It did look at first sight as if it could be the 1950s equivalent of chick lit. But it read like an episode of Mad Men - and that in my book is very high praise indeed... The book was first published in 1958, but had been out of print until recently when it made a brief cameo appearance in AMC’s hit TV series set around the advertising world of Madison Avenue in 1960s New York. In one scene, lead character Don Draper, an advertising guru with a shadowy past and a not much more virtuous present, is seen in bed reading it to try to better understand the female psyche. I’m not sure whether any of it would have helped Don Draper better understand the other sex, but as a contemporary take on the lives of women a generation and a half ago, it’s both entertaining and enlightening."

  

4. The Garden of Evening Mists

"A good book can do many things, including making you interested in things you never had an interest in before, in people, places and events that you had up to then only a passing knowledge. Central to the story of The Garden Of Evening Mists is the relationship between Yun Ling Teoh, a young Malayan lawyer and survivor of a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, and Aritomo, formerly gardener to the Emperor Of Japan. Learning that Aritomo is now living in the highlands of Malaya where he has created the only Japanese garden in the country, Yun Ling tries to persuade him to build a garden as a memorial to her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses, but says he will take on Yun Ling as an apprentice so she can learn the principles of building a Japanese garden. Set against the background of the communist insurgency in post-war Malaya and narrated both contemporaneously and in hindsight, it’s a beautifully written book that does a fantastic job of conjuring up time and place."

 

5. I’m Not Scared

"People who talk about books you can read in a single sitting either have a lot of free time or read very short books - or (most likely) both. However, I'm Not Scared came as close to that definition as anything's going to get in our house. My husband bought the book on the basis that, if it was a huge hit in Italy and good enough to be translated, then it must be pretty good. But then he had to wait his turn while it passed between three of us all within the space of a week, which is testament not only to the fact that the book's quite short, but – far more importantly – that it's a gripping story beautifully told. So gripping in fact that I won't tell you much about the plot except to say that it centres on Michele, a young Italian boy who makes a truly horrible discovery while out with his friends. What follows undermines a lot of our assumptions about adult-child relationships – or perhaps just confirms the worst of them. It also tells us a lot about how children cope with the loss of innocence that comes with early exposure to the grown-up world. Settle down and put your phone on silent – this is a book that you really will want to read without interruption."