From A Room Full of Leaves to The God of Small Things: books Guardian readers couldn’t put down

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and A Room Full of Leaves by Kate Grenville

I absolutely devoured A Gentleman in Moscow during lockdown last year, probably because it’s on point for lockdown. During our recent power cuts, I ripped through Kate Grenville’s A Room Full of Leaves which was beautifully written and evocative. I’ve not read anything by her before but some of her other books are certainly on my list now. – Clodhop

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

I read it in a single sitting many years ago while sheltering in an alpine hut that was at risk of being blown to bits by a huge gale that was so loud that sleep was impossible, and we needed to be ready to run for it if the roof lifted in any case. I think this is the best of Harris’ books by a substantial margin (although the Silence of the Lambs is really good as well). I still remember that night every time I pick it up and flick through a few pages. – CaligulaMcNutt

The Spymaster of Baghdad by Margaret Coker

The NYT bureau chief in Baghdad from 2017-18, Coker takes the reader inside the war in Iraq from the perspective of Iraqis themselves, some of who fought Isis and some who decided to help them. This book reveals the terror that was brought on a country in extremely personal circumstances and it seems that no one was left unscathed. A superbly researched and written book from a journalist who tells a story from Iraq, not from a western perspective. – Sean Davey

Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

I loved it. Stayed up until 3am finishing it. It’s a fantasy story that spends more time looking at its characters than wallowing in the fantasy aspect. On the one hand a story about bullying and the shutdown response that comes from that; on the other hand a story about building social confidence and learning to cope with the inevitable miscommunications that come from daily interactions. – ajostu

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

The last book I couldn’t put down was The Huntress, by Kate Quinn, about a small group on Nazi hunters in Vienna in 1950, hunting down a woman war criminal; and this woman’s reinvention of herself in the US after the war. Riveting historical fiction, which also features the story of a Soviet night witch. EthosDaimon

A Brief History Of Seven Killings by Marlon James and Apeirogon by Colum McCann

These books blend history and fiction in such a way that you want to believe every word that is written. The multiple voices and perspectives is refreshing. I don’t reread books, because I am constantly obsessed with my reading challenge and count on Goodreads but one of these days I will change my mind and read these two books again. – wrathzombie

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This book plays effortlessly with language and cultural issues, conveying a vivid sense of the little joys and huge shocks experienced by its protagonists. I reread it recently and found that it had lost none of its power to entertain and move me to tears. Exquisite writing! – RachTh

They Knew Mr Knight by Dorothy Whipple

Dorothy Whipple has been described as a 20th century Jane Austen, and her books can generally be summarised in a sentence. In this case: “The rise and fall of a family whose lives intertwine with a rich and unscrupulous financier.” But this is very much the small tip of the very large iceberg, and while slow to start, her books will have you staying awake into the small hours as you get to know and care about the characters. Nothing much happens – Whipple’s books are all set within comfortably middle class families in northern England in the middle of last century – but her knowledge of people, their motivations and actions is unparalleled. bobthekelpie

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

The most compelling thing I’ve read this year. The first scene sets up a feeling of foreboding that is maintained for the whole 160 pages. Set in 70s Northumbria, young Silvie is on an immersive Iron Age holiday with her family and a group from the university. Short, sweet and dark. Sberro

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

I’ve been meaning to read him for years, and finally got to him via a re-read of The Transit of Venus, and a first read of The Great Fire. Bewitched by Shirley Hazzard’s language, I picked up the Greene collection on the shelf, and The Heart of the Matter is the first novel. Greene has the capacity to drop me into wherever he is, and to make his characters human. Whoville

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