If you’re giving a book as a present (and what better gift is there) I can recommend the following titles. Something for everybody (as long as they read fiction).

The First Rule of Survival by Paul Mendelson

Unravelling Oliver by Lizzie Nugent

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Dark Tides by Chris Ewan

The Secret Place by Tana French

This Dark Road To Mercy by Wiley Cash

After Me Comes The Flood by Sarah Perry

How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Thornfield Hall by Jane Stubbs

Binge Reading

I love to read, I’m an unashamed addict and I get the jitters and can’t settle when I’m close to finishing a book and haven’t another one at hand. That usually necessitates a trip to the library or bookshop or some online browsing. Mainly thanks to Twitter, I am now getting way more word of mouth recommendations for books than I ever did in the past and so I  keep a list of those I fancy the sound of, and gradually they migrate to my TBR pile. The ones I like, go on my regular blog list of recommended reads. The ones I don’t, I ditch as soon as I realise they are not for me. I read quite fast, usually in the gap between the end of the working day and the start of my TV viewing – and often in the bath. Always when I travel. But lately I’ve noticed I’m sometimes going too fast, scrambling down the page, scooping up the gist of a story, racing to get to the end. I don’t think this is simply because I read a lot of ‘page turners’ and thrillers, I think it’s probably the result of that teetering pile of books I know I’ve still got to read. An insidious pressure (all of my own making I’m sure) to ‘get through’ another title and tick it off. I always bolted my food as a kid and do even now if I’m not concentrating: hungry and eager to fill the empty space but not really savouring the food. This style of reading feels a little like that though I still relish the books and enjoy being wrapped up in the story. But reading is such a joy I don’t want there to be even the slightest stress connected to it. I’m not sure what I can do about it; certain books, with more lyrical or poetic prose, make it harder to gobble them down, the writing demands a slower read but I don’t want to limit my diet, I like to read widely. And I like to spread the word. As do so many of you!