Here are 10 brilliant fiction books that are exceptional in style, story and ingenuity!
Let me know if you have any further recommendations (fiction as well as non-fiction!)
1. The City Of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers*
My absolute favourite book. When I was 11 or 12 one of my best friends recommended Walter Moers to me: Never having heard of him, I rushed into the closest library and asked the man working there whether they had any of his books. He looked at me as though
I had just confessed to eating my own poo, and replied, ‘Do we sell the books by the greatest German author of all time?’.
The City Of Dreaming Books is written from the perspective of a lindworm (a dinosaur), who inherits a manuscript so breathtakingly brilliant and powerful, that he sets out to find its anonymous author.
If you enjoyed J. K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman, Walter Moers should be your next stop: He is the greatest story-teller I’ve ever read.
2. Flight Of The Storks by Jean-Christophe Grangé*
Probably the most suspenseful thing I’ve ever read. Story line: Young man called Louis is tasked with finding out why the storks aren’t making their return to Europe lately. He starts following them on their journey and finds himself in a world of greed, murder and maggot-infested corpses.
This book is a tornado of gruesome violence, beautiful language and disturbing insights into the merciless law of the Congolian Jungle: I cannot recommend it highly enough.
3. Wilt by Tom Sharpe
I started reading this book whilst on a plane and had to stop because the other passengers were getting annoyed with my almost hysterical laughter. I’m not usually a big fan of my father’s book recommendations, but this was brilliant.
It’s about Henry Wilt, a middle-aged teacher who plans his obnoxious wife’s murder… with a sex doll. Everything goes horribly wrong and hilarity ensues. This is one of the most absurdly funny books I’ve ever read – and you should, too!
4. A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Tucker Max reviewed this best: ‘This is the type of book that humbles you, and makes you understand how great writing can be.’
Ignatius J. Reilly is my favourite character in all fiction: a fat, self-pitying, know-it-all intellectual who lives with his mother and is forced to go and find work after she crashes their car. A simply beautiful story of a lazy genius’ attempt to save the world.
Note on the author: JKT killed himself at the age of 31. A Confederacy Of Dunces was only published a decade after his death and earned him the Pulitzer Prize one year later. Here’s a short & touching account of his mother’s struggle to get her son’s masterpiece published.
5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho*
65 million copies sold in 56 languages. I’ve read this book about 5 times and it still hasn’t lost any of its power. It tells the tale of a young man’s struggle to find his own way, and how he follows his dream despite devastating opposition and tiny odds of success. Do you have an idea that drives you? A dream? An inner calling that won’t let go, no matter how deep you try and bury it?
If you do, read this book.
6. Thank You, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
‘The funniest writer ever to put words to paper’ -Hugh Laurie (Dr. House).
I couldn’t decide which P. G. Wodehouse novel I like best – they’re all bloody amazing. If you love the English language, slapstick comedy and posh speaking, Wodehouse is your Ecstasy.
7. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
Perhaps an emotional choice, since – like millions of others – I grew up with Harry. But the ending is just so brutal, so powerful, so surprising and beautiful that it definitely deserves a mention. Thank you, J. K. Rowling.
8. The Alchemaster’s Apprentice by Walter Moers*
If there is a greater children’s book out there, I haven’t heard of it. My copy of The Alchemaster’s Apprentice is completely worn off by now, because I’ve lent it to so many people. A colleague from work read it to his two children, and all three of them absolutely loved it. One of the most fun reads you’ll find, packed with awesome pictures and brilliant characters.
9. The Perfume by Patrick Süskind*
I think I have never annotated a book more than this one. I love Süskind’s style and the way he allows the reader to look into his characters’ heads. Unfortunately, a lot of young people dislike it – mainly, I think – because they are forced to read it in school and immediately put it in a sack with some of the other (horrible) school literature.
What’s truly weird things about this book is that you find yourself rooting for a serial killer (admit it, seeing Grenouille teach Master Baldini a lesson was fucking awesome).
10. The Discovery Of Slowness by Sten Nadolny*
This novel takes a bit to get going: It tells the semi-fictional story of a nineteenth-century arctic explorer who is extremely slow in all he does. The novel is a celebration of slowness, and packed with great quotes such as:
‘A weak captain can be influenced by anyone who calls him strong. He listens to whispers and compliments, because the truth has always been his enemy’
‘If we’re ahead of the Eskimos in terms of weaponry and intelligence, then our intelligence consists in not having to use our weapons.’
The story gets very interesting too, but I wouldn’t recommend this to very impatient readers!