Let’s take a trip…
London’s Times has picked the top 50 paperbacks of 2009 as part of The Time’s WHSmith Paperback of the Year. (Apparently this is the only prize given to paperbacks in the UK). The judges have also picked a short list of 12 out of those 50 and will be counting down 12 weeks to the winner on Dec 12th.
I will admit – I have not read one book on the list. Now, in my defense my year has been extremely busy. And hey, one title has been on my “To Read” list.
One title in particular stood out – Stephanie Meyer’s The Host. Well, based on the Twilight series I didn’t understand this choice. And the description beside the title – “…a love triangle wit only two bodies.” Needless to say I had to read an excerpt and did on Stephanie Meyer’s site. Okay – at least the first 18 pages are written better than Twilight.
Back to my main point – how are these things chosen? Based on writing, popularity, copies sold? I’ve searched and haven’t yet found the answer. The judges include American author and critic (living in the UK) Erica Wagner, bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith (who has a really ugly website) and WHSmith bookbuyer Sandra Bradley.
Well, I won’t make you wait any longer. Here’s the list of 50, how many have you read? And if you want to read the whole article – they do give a fun, brief rundown of how paperbacks came to be – thanks to Penguin and Woolworth’s for making them big.
THE LONG LIST 50
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale: Reinvestigation of a killing in an isolated Wiltshire house that became the prototype for the Victorian murder mystery.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: Adiga’s first novel and Man Booker winner is a highly original story about the lengths to which Balram Halwai (the White Tiger) must go to break free of his caste.
Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama
Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier
Churchill’s Wizards by Nicholas Rankin: Along with cigars and rallying speeches, Churchill liked deception. Rankin reveals the ingenuity of the men and women who fought Winnie’s secret war.
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden
The Palace of Strange Girls by Sallie Day: In 1959, the burgeoning freedom of the Sixties forces a crisis at the heart of the superficially stable Singleton family on their annual trip to Blackpool.
Mystery Man by Colin Bateman
The Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Noble
The Other Half Lives by Sophie Hannah: Aidan Seed, a picture-framer, confesses to his girlfriend, Ruth, that he killed a woman called Mary Trelease. But Ruth knows her and that she’s still alive.
The Return by Victoria Hislop: Sonia, a PR exec, flees her banker husband to dance flamenco in Granada. But the Spanish Civil War’s turbulent legacy permeates her experience.
The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver: The retired criminalist and quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme teams up with his paramour Amelia Sachs to trace “Unknown Subject 522”, the identity-stealing villain.
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Reapers by John Connolly
A Most Wanted Man by John le Carré
The Unicorn Road by Martin Davies
Remember Me by Melvyn Bragg: The estrangement of two young lovers has a tragic ending in Swinging Sixties London. The fourth in a series of Bragg’s autobiographical novels.
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
Testimony by Anita Shreve: A videotape of three boys and an under-age girl performing sex acts is found at a New England boarding school. It sparks a disproportionately damaging scandal.
The Bolter by Frances Osborne
In the Dark by Mark Billingham
The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams: A reunion between a solitary moth expert and her sister in their creepy childhood home masterfully reveals the rivalry and strange secrets that bind them.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer: Meyer’s first novel for adults is set in a future in which humans have been body-snatched by mind-controlling aliens. It involves a love triangle with only two bodies.
Full Hearts and Empty Bellies by Winifred Foley
The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri
Revelation by C. J. Sansom: While Henry VIII is pursuing Catherine Parr, Matthew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer, is on the trail of a serial killer who is a religious fanatic.
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
The Way Things Look to Me by Roopa Farooki
An Equal Stillness by Francesca Kay: Rivalry between painters Jennett Mallow and David Heaton results in a competitive marriage. But drink dilutes his flair and lets her slow-burning talent eclipse his fame.
Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
Doors Open by Ian Rankin
Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly: When a Hollywood lawyer is murdered, Mickey Haller inherits his case. Enter detective Harry Bosch, hell-bent on trapping the killer and keen to use Haller as bait.
A Simple Act of Violence by R. J. Ellory
A Secret Alchemy by Emma Darwin
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid: An ambitious young Muslim leaves Pakistan to go to Princeton, where he wins a prestigious Wall Street job. But 9/11 changes his fortunes.
Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks: The Bond torch has passed to Faulks for the latest instalment of 007, picking up where Ian Fleming left off in 1966 with Octopussy and The Living Daylights.
The Believers by Zoë Heller
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
Fractured by Karin Slaughter: An Atlanta housewife discovers her teenage daughter dead on the landing, with a stranger wielding a bloody knife. Special Agent Will Trent has his work cut out.
Becoming Queen by Kate Williams
Dambusters by Max Arthur: Fascinating oral history from the men in 617 Squadron whose key Second World War mission, Operation Chastise, was to destroy Ruhr dams.
The Murder Exchange by Simon Kernick
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith: Stalin’s Government won’t admit that crime exists in communist Russia. Exiled war hero Leo Demidov becomes an enemy of the state for hunting down a child serial killer.
When Will There be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
Keeping the Dead by Tess Gerritsen: A killer with a knack for ancient mummifying death rituals is leaving a trail of victims. The race is on to prevent him adding to his grisly collection.