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A list of books read by the CDSS book club.

I joined a couple of years ago and have enjoyed the experience. It's been a great way to stumble upon different books that I probably would have overlooked otherwise. Quite a few have surprised me and I feel that it has helped me move away from a tendency to prejudge and reject new things before giving them a chance.

I hope to write reviews for each of the books over time (I may have to re-read a couple to jog my memory).

Bonkers

Jennifer Saunders' comic creations have brought joy to millions. From Comic Strip to Comic Relief, from Bolly-swilling Edina in Ab Fab to her takes on Madonna or Mamma Mia, her characters are household names.But it's Jennifer herself who has a place in all our hearts. This is her funny, moving and frankly bonkers memoir, filled with laughter, friends and occasional heartache - but never misery.BONKERS is full of riotous adventures: accidentally enrolling on a teacher training course with a young Dawn French, bluffing her way to each BBC series, shooting Lulu, trading wild faxes with Joanna Lumley, touring India with Ruby Wax and Goldie Hawn.There's cancer, too, when she becomes 'Brave Jen'. But her biggest battle is with the bane of her life: the Laws of Procrastination. As she admits, 'There has never been a Plan. Everything has been fairly random, happened by accident or just fallen into place. I'm off now, to do some sweeping...'Prepare to chuckle, whoop, and go BONKERS.

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The Girl on the Train

The #1 New York Times Bestseller, USA Today Book of the Year, now a major motion picture starring Emily Blunt. The debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives. “Nothing is more addicting than The Girl on the Train.”—Vanity Fair “The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl. . . . [It] is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership.”—The New York Times “Marries movie noir with novelistic trickery. . . hang on tight. You'll be surprised by what horrors lurk around the bend.”—USA Today “Like its train, the story blasts through the stagnation of these lives in suburban London and the reader cannot help but turn pages.”—The Boston Globe “Gone Girl fans will devour this psychological thriller.”—People EVERY DAY THE SAME Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. UNTIL TODAY And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Published for the first time in flipback - the new, portable, stylish format that's taken Europe by storm.Genteel society ladies who compare notes on their husbands' suicides. A hilariously foul-mouthed black drag queen. A voodoo priestess who works her roots in the graveyard at midnight. A morose inventor who owns a bottle of poison powerful enough to kill everyone in town. A prominent antiques dealer who hangs a Nazi flag from his window to disrupt the shooting of a movie. And a redneck gigolo whose conquests describe him as a 'walking streak of sex'.These are some of the real residents of Savannah, Georgia, a city whose eccentric mores are unerringly observed - and whose dirty linen is gleefully aired - in this utterly irresistible book. At once a true-crime murder story and a hugely entertaining and deliciously perverse travelogue, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is as bracing and intoxicating as half-a-dozen mint juleps.

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The Rosie Project

The Rosie Effect is the charming and hilarious sequel to Graeme Simsion's bestselling debut novel The Rosie Project. Until a year ago, forty-one-year-old geneticist Don Tillman had never had a second date. Until he met Rosie, 'the world's most incompatible woman'. Now, living in New York City, they have survived ten months and ten days of marriage. But though Rosie has taught him the joys of unscheduled sex and spontaneous meal planning, life is still not plain sailing for Don. Not least with the sudden arrival of his best friend Gene, serial philanderer, who takes up residence on their sofa. Then Rosie drops the mother of all bombshells. And soon Don must face her hormonally induced irrational behaviour as he prepares for the biggest challenge of his previously ordered life - at the same time as dodging deportation, prosecution and professional disgrace. Is Don Tillman ready to become the man he always dreamed of being? Or will he revert to his old ways and risk losing Rosie forever? Join Don and Rosie in the next chapter of their weird and wonderful journey in Graeme Simsion's unmissable new novel, The Rosie Effect. Praise for Graeme Simsion: 'Warm-hearted and perfectly pitched, with profound themes that are worn lightly, this very enjoyable read promises to put Don Tillman on the comic literary map somewhere between Mr Pooter and Adrian Mole.' Guardian 'Funny, endearing, and pure, wonderful escapism.' Independent 'Don Tillman is one of the most endearing, charming and fascinating literary characters I have met in a long time.' The Times Graeme Simsion is a full-time writer. Previously an IT consultant and educator, he wrote his first book in 1994 (the standard reference on data modelling). Graeme's debut novel, The Rosie Project, has had phenomenal success in over forty-two countries and has sold over half a million copies to date. The Rosie Effect is his second novel. Graeme lives in Australia with his wife Anne, a professor of psychiatry and published author, and their two children.

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Bittersweet

From author of THE THORN BIRDS, one of the biggest-selling books of all time, comes this epic saga of love, betrayal and redemption in 1920s Australia. The four Latimer sisters are famous throughout New South Wales for their beauty, wit, ambition and sisterly love. They thought that would never change. But then they left home to train as nurses, swapping the feather beds of their father's townhouse for the spartan bunks of nursing accommodation. And now, as the Depression casts its shadow across Australia, they must confront their own secret desires as the world changes around them. Will the sisters find the independence they crave? Or is life - like love - always bittersweet?

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The Poisonwood Bible

Barbara Kingsolver's acclaimed international bestseller tells the story of an American missionary family in the Congo during a poignant chapter in African history. It spins the tale of the fierce evangelical Baptist, Nathan Price, who takes his wife and four daughters on a missionary journey into the heart of darkness of the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them to Africa all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to the King James Bible - is calamitously transformed on African soil. Told from the perspective of the five women, this is a compelling exploration of African history, religion, family, and the many paths to redemption. The Poisonwood Bible was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 and was chosen as the best reading group novel ever at the Penguin/Orange Awards. It continues to be read and adored by millions worldwide.

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The Sense of an Ending

This title is winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011. Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is in middle age. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove. "The Sense of an Ending" is the story of one man coming to terms with the mutable past. Laced with trademark precision, dexterity and insight, it is the work of one of the world's most distinguished writers.

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Bring Up the Bodies

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009 'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back that night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks' tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.' England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor. Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages. From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.

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The Song of Achilles

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

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The Catcher in the Rye

Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories ? particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme ? With Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is fully of children. The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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