The Bone People by Keri Hulme

 Well, the big one. The Bone People by Keri Hulme. On my shelf for the best part of 30 years, which is apparently just over twice as long as it took to write. Often thought of (well, by me at least) as ‘unreadable’, it won the Booker Prize in 1985 after a judges’ bust-up: prize judge Joanna…

The Code Of The Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

 ‘It’s grand to be an Englishman in 1910,’ sings Mr Banks at the beginning of Mary Poppins. Unwise to read too much into a musical fantasy, of course, but you can’t help thinking that in four years’ time, Mr Banks is going to be dead in a trench somewhere in France, along with the irritating Bert and the other…

No News At Throat Lake by Lawrence Donegan

 Lawrence Donegan has a job with The Guardian and is fed up. He has lived in his London flat for eight years and ‘had still to pass a civil word with anyone in the street’. Perhaps he should have tried harder. He thinks that throwing it all over and leaving his life to go and live…

Summer’s Lease by John Mortimer

 A few years ago at some function or other I met an old buffer whose Italian holiday home was, he said, used as the basis for Summer’s Lease. The author John Mortimer had rented it with his family and was ‘terribly snippy’ about the place in print, criticising my black-tied, slightly drunk new friend’s choice of reading matter amongst…

Dubliners by James Joyce

 High up on the reading list* sent to me by the kindly grandees at the University of Birmingham’s English department in the summer of 1986, Dubliners has had to wait until summer 2013 to make the jump from shelf to bedside. It seems the spur of a trip to James Joyce’s homeland, three decades later, was needed to…

The Herring In The Library by L.C. Tyler

A comic crime novel set in Worthing, The Herring In The Library lines up all the tropes of the genre in an enjoyable identity parade: a murder during dinner at a country house, amateur sleuths determined to get to the bottom of it, some nods to Cluedo, a coded message…there’s even a dramatically-revealed secret passage at one point. And crucially…