Our lists

DECISIONS, decisions! Many of us struggle mightily when it comes to selecting our next book. Get it right and you have hours of enjoyment — but get it wrong and it’s a big disappointment. Sometimes it’s good to get an inside track with an insight into what other people have enjoyed. Our readers’ panel is delighted to offer you some ideas. Use our ‘find my book’ page and we will be very happy to source and of the books shown here.


Simon’s list

Simon is the owner of the Archway Bookshop. His tastes are varied and range from literary fiction to historical, detective, sci fi and fantasy fiction novels.

  • Tombland – CJ Sansom. Most recent in the fantastic Shardlake series (I highly recommend all of them). Historical fiction of the very best calibre
  • The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R Carey. Zombies and the apocalypse…umm….Well Yes! It’s absolutely brilliant. Thrilling, heart warming and very thought provoking.
  • All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doer. Beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German Boy whose paths collide in occupied France.
  • The Blade Itself  – Joe Abercrombie. I lost all faith in ever finding another fantasy fiction book that didn’t cover the same old ground until I read this. First in a magnificent trilogy. Fantasy fiction but not as you might expect it to be!

Colin’s list

Colin is a retired social worker who plays a lot of golf and consumes books in quantity — adventure, detectives, history and more.

  • The Warlord Chronicles and Last Kingdom series – Bernard Cornwell. Totally absorbing – I learned more about ancient England than when I as at school.
  • Courtney’s War – Wilbur Smith. The latest in a great series. Smith is always a good solid read and this one is brilliant. He really puts you into Africa and Egypt.
  • The Son – Jo Nesbo. The Harry Hole series is excellent but this is an equally fine standalone. It is both fascinating and memorable.
  • Even the Dead – Benjamin Black. Beautifully written dark prose about a pathologist who investigates grisly murders.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For – Jeffrey Archer. Fourth in the Clifton Chronicles series – a story with some great twists. Archer at his best.

Jane’s list

Jane has been a valued member of the team at the Archway Bookshop for the past 13 years. Her tastes include novels set in bygone eras and biographies.
  • A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry.  A study of four people living in India in the 1970’s, whose lives become inextricably mixed.
  • Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey.  A magical tale, set in Alaska in the 1920s where a child suddenly appears at the home of a childless couple.
  • Old Filth – Jane Gardam.  First in a trilogy featuring a failed Judge, his wife and a barrister.
  • Cider with Rosie – Laurie Lee.  The first part of Lee’s autobiography.  It tells of his childhood and adolescence in the village of Slad, living as part of a large family.
  • Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver.  An evangelical baptist minister takes his wife and four daughters to the Belgian Congo in 1959.  Each chapter is written in a different style by each of the women.

Martha’s list

Martha is Simon’s 12-year-old daughter. She loves sport and thoroughly enjoys both reading and writing.

  • Twilight – Stephanie Meyer. A highly recommend series if you love romance novels. It is a very well-written story about a vampire and a human who fall in love despite the odds.
  • Turtles All The Way Down – John Green. A girl with anxieties investigates The mystery of a millionaire who has gone missing. She has help from a friend and the missing man’s son.
  • An Ember In The Ashes – Sabaa Tahir. Very well-written featuring a war between two families. Boy from one meets a girl from the other and everything changes.
  • All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven.  A girl learns to live from a boy who wants to die. I would highly recommend this tearful book if you love sad romance novels.
  • The Northern Lights – Philip Pullman. An amazing book about a world in which  people have a second half to them known as a daemon. A girl and her daemon go on a great adventure.

Vicky’s list

Vicky is a marketing expert and mum of three. Reads  nightly ‘if I stay awake long enough!’

  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari. A fascinating insight into being a human. I enjoyed dipping in and out between fictional reads.
  • Work Like a Woman – Mary Portas. Bloody brilliant! Made me laugh out loud and cry – on the train! A must for any juggling mum who wants to embrace a new and more positive, inclusive working culture.
  • The break – Marian Keyes.  Can a couple in their 40s survive the husband’s mid life crisis? Hilarious and witty but also poignant. Loved it.
  • Harry Potter – all of them. These books are truly special. Pure escapism into a new and magical world, with characters you grow to know and care about. More magic crammed in than any film. I often say that to my children.
  • Penny Vincenzi. My go-to holiday read author, offering blockbuster style family sagas of love, secrets and betrayal. Perfect with a G&T in the sun

Barrie’s list

Barrie is a retired PR man and now a writer. He moves between fiction, biographies and gardening books.

  • Down to Earth – Monty Don. You feel he is sitting beside you and chatting. Fifty years of gardening tips and a lot of pure wisdom.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee. A truly great classic that puts racial discrimination in the American Deep South into sharp perspective
  • Always Managing: My Autobiography – Harry Redknapp. Who doesn’t love ‘Arry?! The epic career journey of one of football’s great managers and characters.
  • A History of Modern Britain – Andrew Marr. Packed with detail many of us have missed. Follows all the key twists and turns of our recent political, economic and social history. Marr interprets it all with great authority and perception.
  • The Wire in the Blood – Val McDermid. A real chiller in the brilliant Tony Hill series – psychologist who gets right inside the heads of serial killers.
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