A study conducted by the independent national charity Booktrust has revealed that Sarah Water’s chilling country house mystery The Little Stranger (Virago) was the most popular choice for summer reads by the critics this year.
In second and third place came two of Sarah’s rivals for this year’s Man Booker Prize – Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate) and AS Byatt’s The Children’s Book (Chatto & Windus).
This year’s most popular publisher was Penguin: a wide range of their old and new titles (from Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes to Sebastian Faulks’ Devil May Care) were chosen.
The list was compiled by Booktrust’s website editor James Smith, from over 780 recommendations from 8 publications.
James Smith commented:
“Each year, our roundup of the newspapers’ summer reading recommendations highlights the season’s big new titles, but it’s as interesting to find out about the books that you’ve never heard of, or have always meant to read but somehow never found the time for. Personally I’ll be reading a lovely reissue of the The South Country by Edward Thomas (Dovecote Press).”
The critics clearly saw the summer holidays as a time for readers to reflect on the world’s tumultuous past and present as, in a bumper year for non-fiction, Anthony Beevor’s D-Day (Viking) proved the most popular, with Gillian Tett’s Fools Gold (Little Brown), an analysis of the global financial crisis, not far behind.
Other popular novels were Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn (Viking), David Nicholl’s One Day, Giles Foden’s Turbulence (Faber), Anita Brookner’s Strangers (Fig Tree) and Kate Atkinson’s aptly titled When Will There Be Good News? (Black Swan).