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7 Classic Science Fiction Books Worth Revisiting
Science Fiction stories delve into all things futuristic, technological, extraterrestrial — you catch our drift. Pivotal authors in the space include Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, Philip K. Dick, N. K. Jemisin, and countless others.
In celebration of both Asimov, his peers, and the entire genre, we’ve put together a collection of sci-fi books that are always worth rereading (or reading for the first time if you’re just getting into these magical worlds of tomorrow). From fun and fascinating intergalactic travels to dystopian futures that will leave you with much to think about, these sci-fi tales are fundamental to the genre.
Foundation Series – Isaac Asimov
The Foundation series began as a few short stories published in the magazine Astounding Stories of Super-Science back in the 1940s and ultimately became an entire series of seven epic books. The tale is set in the distant future where a man named Hari Seldon has invented “psychohistory,” a mathematical means of predicting the future.
Unfortunately, its predictions aren’t very flattering: They foretell a time when humanity will more or less revert back to the Dark Ages. These predictions get Seldon and his crew exiled to a distant planet known as “the Foundation,” where they attempt to shorten the period of decline to come. Apple TV+ also turned the series into a TV show and released the first season in 2021.
Dune – Frank Herbert
As fans of the 2021 Dune film may know, the story is based on the 1960s book by Frank Herbert and its sequels. Dune eventually became a bit like a literary version of Star Wars, as Herbert wrote six novels in the Dune series before he passed away. Later, his son Brian and author Kevin J. Anderson teamed up to produce numerous sequels and spinoffs based on the Dune -iverse.
The saga is set in a future where noble families rule different planets under a sort of intergalactic feudal system. In the first of the six foundational novels, readers are introduced to the heir of one such distinguished group, a boy named Paul Atreides whose family is charged with ruling a planet called Arrakis. When his family is betrayed, Paul embarks on a journey that blends everything from adventure to mysticism in one of the most epic sci-fi tales of all time.
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
While some earlier sci-fi classics tend to reflect women in the light of the times in which they were written, The Left Hand of Darkness is a whole other experience altogether. The 1969 novel follows the adventures of Genly Ai, an envoy who is sent to a stray world called Winter in an attempt to bring it back into the intergalactic fold.
However, to stand a chance, he must overcome his own preconceptions when he’s confronted with a culture that exists entirely without gender prejudice. As Ai soon discovers, some of the creatures on Winter express multiple genders, while others don’t identify with any at all. If you’re a reader who loves to go deep, this one makes for a fascinating read.
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
While the actual 1984 may have come and gone, the dystopian novel that shares its name remains a pivotal work of science fiction. The Atlantic notes that “No novel of the past century has had more influence than George Orwell’s 1984 ,” and this assessment is indeed a fair one. Published in 1949, the story follows Winston Smith, who lives under a totalitarian government in which “the Party” controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives.
“Big Brother,” an invisible yet omnipresent leader, is always surveilling the populace to ensure that no one commits so much as a thoughtcrime, which involves no more than thinking of rebelling against the Party. When Smith dares to think for himself, he sets off on a haunting journey that transports readers to a world that’s all too easy to imagine actually existing. While this isn’t necessarily an easy read, it’s an important one that will stay with you for years.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
Though you may not think you’ve heard of this one, it may be a bit more familiar than you think — it’s the inspiration behind Ridley Scott’s film, Blade Runner (1982). First published in 1968, the novel takes place in a dystopian 2021 where entire species have been eliminated by a global war. In an effort to replace live animals, which are highly prized, series of incredibly realistic androids have been developed, some of which are even fashioned after human beings.
However, when the government becomes wary of these AI humans and their disturbing capabilities, it eventually bans them from Earth. Bounty hunter Rick Deckard is sent to “retire” any rogue androids that remain, which doesn’t prove to be an easy task.
Kindred – Octavia E. Butler
Kindred has become a foundational work of sci-fi and African-American literature alike. The story follows a modern young Black woman named Dana who is suddenly deposited back in time to the pre-Civil War South. Through a series of trips between that era and her own time, Dana is forced to contend with the horrors of slavery, racism and sexism while completing a series of tasks.
Though each journey becomes more dangerous, Dana realizes that her own family’s future depends on their successful completion. First published in 1979, the novel remains relevant today with its skillful blend of romance, sci-fi, feminism, equality and adventure.
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time is a classic story of good vs. evil presented through an adventurous sci-fi lens. The tale follows a high school student named Meg Murray, her friend Calvin O’Keefe and her younger brother Charles Wallace. When the three are introduced to tesseracts (or wrinkles in time) by an unearthly visitor, they set off on a journey through time and space to rescue Meg’s missing scientist father.
Along the way, she learns a series of timeless life lessons about everything from the power of individuality to the resiliency of love. Appropriate for both young and adult readers alike, this one is a fun and fascinating tale that seems impossible to outgrow.
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19 best new books to read this autumn, from historical fiction to romance novels
Discover debut novelists and immersive page-turners from acclaimed authors this season, article bookmarked.
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You won’t want to put down these tomes
Our Top Picks
The bookies’ contender for this year’s Booker Prize, Paul Murray’s The Bee Sting is a tour de force of fiction. The Barnes, a once-well-off Irish family, are in the midst of emotional and financial strain. Set during turbulent months in their claustrophobic town (think floods, droughts and the aftermath of recession), Murray expertly gives us each family member’s perspective of the same events – with flashbacks unravelling an intricate story of betrayal, crime and lust.
Some writers suffer from second-novel syndrome, but not Dolly Alderton. The author and columinist’s second book Good Material is a cliché-avoiding break-up novel, in the vein of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity .
A satire of the publishing industry and brazen exploration of cancel culture, Rebecca F Kuang’s literary heist Yellowface is one the most gripping books of the year. It begins with the freak accident death of young, famed writer Athena Liu (she chokes on pancake mixture, setting the preposterous tone for the rest of the book), witnessed by her sometimes-friend and aspiring (currently failing) novelist June Hayward.
Beginning in a private boarding school for boys, before taking us to the horror of the trenches during World War One, Alice Winn’s blistering debut is an unforgettable read. We’re first introduced to the book’s central figures – Gaunt and Ellwood – in 1914, when both schoolboys are secretly in love with each other. When half-German Gaunt is pressured by his mother to enlist in the British army, he is relieved to run away from his forbidden feelings for his best friend. But when the true terror of the war is revealed to him, he is soon devastated when Ellwood and other classmates follow him to the Western Front.
Zadie Smith’s first foray into historical fiction, The Fraud is based on true events and juxtaposes a portrait of Victorian life and slavery in the Caribbean. The titular fraud in question is the Tichborne Claimant – a butcher who claimed to be an aristocratic heir in an 1873 trial that gripped the country. Real-life cousin and housekeeper to the largely forgotten novelist William Ainsworth, Smith reimagines Eliza Touchet’s mostly unknown life and her fascination with the case and its prime witness, an ageing Black man named Andrew Bogle.
The book that everyone’s talking about, Slay In Your Lane writerYomi Adegoke’s debut novel is so buzzy that an HBO TV adaptation is already in the works. Podcaster Michael and journalist Ola are a young couple on the cusp of marriage when their world is blown apart by allegations of abuse made against Michael online in “The List”.
A sex comedy with darkness at its centre, Jen Beagin’s latest novel is narrated by Greta, a 45-year-old who lives in a decrepit Dutch farmhouse and transcribes for a sex therapist. Knowing everyone’s secrets in the small town of Hudson is no problem when you’re a relative recluse – that is until she bumps into Flavia, aka Big Swiss, her nickname for the 28-year-old married Swiss woman who suffered a terrible beating that she regularly transcribes (and is infatuated with).
A subversive love story set against the political polarisation of America, Cecilia Rabess’s Everything’s Fine is a funny and punchy debut. Jess – Black and liberal – immediately dislikes her Ivy League college classmate Josh – white and conservative – but when they find themselves working in the same company after graduating, a cantankerous friendship turns into a passionate relationship.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Colson Whitehead is back with the second instalment to his New York crime trilogy. First introduced in 2021’s Harlem Shuffle , furniture salesman and ex-fence Ray Carney returns to the criminal underbelly of the city in Crook Manifesto , in a bid to secure Jackson 5 tickets (which were like gold dust in 1971) for his daughter.
Plunging us into the much-mythologised world of Andy Warhol’s The Factory in Sixties New York, Nicole Flattery’s debut novel follows two school girls in a unique coming-of-age story. Disillusioned with her life both at home and in school, 17-year-old Mae is offered a job in The Factory as a typist for the artist’s unconventional new novel. Tasked with transcribing the tapes of conversations between Warhol’s favourite subjects – including Edie Sedgwick and the actor Ondine – Mae quickly becomes friends with fellow typist Shelley.
Having previously given voice to President’s wives in the acclaimed American Wife and Rodham , Curtis Sittenfeld has set her sights on the comedy world in her latest novel – aptly named Romantic Comedy . Protagonist Sally is a successful writer at a Saturday Night Live -inspired sketch show, and has, thus far, been unlucky in love. When she meets pop idol Noah Brewster on the show in 2018, she develops a school-girl crush that challenges her cynicism about love.
Megan Nolan’s Acts of Desperation was one of our favourite reads last year and we loved the writer’s second novel just as much. A unique take on the crime genre, Ordinary Human Failings marks a dramatic departure from the tone and plot in Nolan’s debut. Set in the 1990s in London, tabloid journalist Tom Hargreaves believes he’s stumbled upon a career-making scoop when a child is murdered on a housing estate.
Naoise Dolan’s follow-up to 2020’s Exciting Times, this book is infused with the same biting social commentary and humour. A satirical spin on the marriage genre, it follows late-20-somethings Luke and Celine – both of whom think the other is out of love with them – on the cusp of their wedding day. Whether they’ll make it to the end of the aisle or not forms the tension of the novel.
This debut novel from Liv Little, founder of online magazine gal-dem , is a lyrical story of love in all its forms: friendship, romance and family. The coming-of-age tale follows Elsie Macintosh, a gay 28-year-old poet, who is ejected into the arms of her estranged best friend Juliet after being evicted from her flat.
A fictional story told in the manner of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Eliza Clark’s Penance delves into the grisly torture and murder of 16-year-old Joan Wilson on the eve of the Brexit referendum in the seaside town of Crow. Three years after the murder, obsession with true crime is at an all-time high and an American podcast draws awareness to the case.
In 1929, three members of the Hope family were murdered in their clifftop mansion. Decades later, the book’s protagonist Kit McDeere takes on a job caring for Lenora Hope who has been in the house ever since and is the only remaining member of the Hope family. She also happens to be the one accused of carrying out the murders.
Obsessed with her husband, the main character of this dark domestic drama spends her days over-analysing her husband’s words, agonising over perceived slights and fantasising about imagined scenarios that send her swirling into flights of jealousy and passion. Her deep obsession eclipses everything else in her life including her relationship with her children, her work and her friendships.
A group of six friends living in a small Irish seaside town are inseparable until one day, Kala goes missing. Fifteen years later, three of the friends are back in Kinlough and human remains are found in the woods nearby, bringing the past screaming back.
A follow-up to the critically acclaimed The Girls , Emma Cline’s The Guest follows 22-year-old escort Alex as she drifts from pool to beach during a chaotic week in sun-drenched Long Island. Cast out by the older man she was staying with, instead of returning to the city, she stays on the island and adapts to survive – believing they can be romantically reunited five days later at his Labor Day party.
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Autumn has arrived, and the cosy season is the perfect excuse to refresh your reading pile and hunker down with a good book (or two).
The colder months between October and December offer ample chance to dive into a new tome. From spooky books for Halloween and immersive historical epics to novels that transport you to warmer climes, the criteria for a good autumn book is simple: you won’t want to put it down.
Luckily, the releases for 2023 leave you spoiled for choice. From romance novels to Booker Prize-nominated tomes and laugh-out-loud stories, the mix is as eclectic as ever.
This year’s reading pile sees plenty of acclaimed debuts from the likes of Yomi Adegoke, Maud Ventura and Alice Winn, as well as eagerly anticipated titles from acclaimed authors such as Paul Murray, Dolly Alderton, Zadie Smith , Colson Whitehead, Megan Nolan and Jen Beagin.
The varied authorship is reflected in the diverse themes addressed,ranging from an Irish family in turmoiland love in the trenches of the First World War to slavery in the Caribbean, and dating across the political spectrum and dark domestic dramas.
How we tested.
To narrow down our list of the best books to read this autumn, we looked for original page-turners with superb quality prose and a captivating story that stayed with us after we’d reached the end. From books for history-lovers to romance novels, witty romantic comedies and acclaimed prize-winners, there’s something for every type of reader.
The best new books to read in autumn 2023 are:
- Best new release – The Bee Sting by Paul Murray, published by Hamish Hamilton: £16.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best literary thriller – Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang, published by The Borough Press: £8.49, Amazon.co.uk
- Best war novel – In Memoriam by Alice Winn, published by Viking: £12.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best buzzy book – The List by Yomi Adegoke, published by Fourth Estate: £8, Amazon.co.uk
- Best subversive romance novel – Everything’s Fine by Cecilia Rabess: £12.99, Amazon.co.uk
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‘The Bee Sting' by Paul Murray, published by Hamish Hamilton
- Best: New release for autumn
- Genre : Domestic comedy
- Release date : 8 June 2023
The daughter, Cass, is on the brink of university, experiencing all the teenage angst that accompanies the milestone, while her brother, 12-year-old PJ, is coming-to-age in a world of video games and the climate crisis. Their mother, Imelda, is reviled by her daughter who thinks she’s vapid – yet her section reveals a life of poverty, violence and lost love – while their father, Dickie, is similarly tortured by both the past and present.
It would be remiss to reveal any more, but it’s safe to say Murray’s novel is deserving of every accolade it’s sure to receive. Profound on the human condition, utterly gripping and peppered with comedy, everyone should pick it up this winter.
‘Good Material’ by Dolly Alderton, published by Fig Tree
- Best: Comedy novel
- Genre : Comedy
- Release date : 9 November 2023
Told through the eyes of recently dumped Andy, we follow him as he grapples with single life after his girlfriend realised she wanted to be alone. This in itself is a powerful narrative, with Alderton making a case for the happy and single 30-something woman.
Genuinely laugh-out-loud funny – with characters straight out of a Richard Curtis film (the elderly lodger who’s prepping for doomsday is a highlight) – whipsmart dialogue and relatable millennial themes (Alderton’s forte) mean there’s never a dull moment. Despite it being a pleasingly easy read (we tore through it in a single day), Good Material still manages to be thought-provoking and wise.
‘Yellowface’ by Rebecca F Kuang, published by The Borough Press
- Best: Literary thriller
- Genre : Thriller
- Release date : 25 May 2023
After June steals Athena’s unfinished manuscript and publishes it under her own name to acclaim, she is thrown into the fame, money and relevance she’s always desired. But when her secret threatens to become known, June must decide how far she will go to maintain her reputation. Addictive and uncomfortable, with plenty of savagely funny moments, Kuang’s novel is a must-read this autumn.
‘In Memoriam’ by Alice Winn, published by Viking
- Best: War novel
- Genre : Historical fiction
- Release date : 9 March 2023
A love story set against the tragedies of war, Winn’s rousing writing transports you to the trenches, where an entire generation of lost men are brought to vivid life – the characters will stick with you, long after the final page.
‘The Fraud’ by Zadie Smith, published by Hamish Hamilton
- Best: Novel about real people
- Genre : Historical
- Release date : 7 September 2023
The author’s version of Bogle’s backstory provides most of the second half of the book, beginning with his father’s abduction in the 1770s to the Hope Plantation in Jamaica. Affecting and devastating, it’s in stark contrast to the humdrum domestic middle-class Victorian life also explored. In typical Zadie style, the narrative structure and decade leaping require you to pay attention – but you’re heavily rewarded with the sheer breadth of the novel and its vividly painted characters.
‘The List’ by Yomi Adegoke, published by Fourth Estate
- Best: Buzzy summer book
- Genre : Relationships, social media
- Release date : 20 July 2023
Having made a career of exposing such men, Ola is torn between believing Michael’s innocence or supporting the women who anonymously submitted their stories to the list. Thought-provoking and topical in its exploration of life both online and offline, and the fallout of cancel culture, it’s written with sharp insight and is impossible to put down. The hype is real.
‘Big Swiss’ by Jen Beagin
- Best: Sex comedy
- Genre : Dark comedy
- Release date : 18 May 2023
Their dog park meeting leads to a passionate relationship with both women trying to escape their own traumas. Greta’s mother committed suicide when she was 13 years old while Flavia’s attacker has just been released from prison. An off-kilter romance with lashings of psychological thriller, darker moments are balanced with Beagin’s witty writing, idiosyncratic characters and laugh-out-loud passages. Naturally, there’s already an HBO adaptation starring Jodie Comer in the works.
‘Everything’s Fine’ by Cecilia Rabess, published by Simon & Schuster
- Best: Subversive romance novel
- Genre : Romance
Set against the backdrop of Trump’s presidential campaign, the novel explores if ideological opposites can be together – with its most heated moments taking place over arguments about Maga hats, wealth inequality and wokeism. Commenting perceptively on politics and economics, Rabess’s writing is just as enthralling on lust and sex. Concluding on the eve of the 2016 election, the novel questions whether love really can conquer all. We tore through it in two sittings.
‘Crook Manifesto’ by Colson Whitehead, published by Fleet
- Best: Best crime novel
- Genre : Crime, historical
- Release date : 18 July 2023
Jumping through the years up to 1976, Whitehead casts a satirical eye on New York during the tumultuous decade, touching on everything from police corruption and the Black Liberation Army to Blaxploitation. Blending family drama with history and culture, the sequel has the feel of a Quentin Tarantino movie and we were hooked.
‘Nothing Special’ by Nicole Flattery, published by Bloomsbury
- Best: Coming-of-age novel
- Genre : Coming of age
- Release date : 2 March 2023
Together, the two navigate the era’s countercultural movement of parties and excess. On the cusp of adulthood, they forge new friendships, gain independence and discover their sexuality. With razor-sharp dialogue, descriptions that verge on poetry and characters so finely drawn, Flattery’s debut is a fresh addition to the genre.
‘Romantic Comedy' by Curtis Sittenfeld, published by Doubleday
- Best: Rom-com
- Genre : Romantic comedy
- Release date : 6 April 2023
Picking up the story two years later, in 2020, during the pandemic, the two reconnect over email (this section is stellar) and meet up in LA.
Sittenfeld explores the world of celebrity, modern dating, lockdown and Covid-19 with wit, humour and often profundity. A light-hearted page-turner that’s funny, romantic and heartwarming.
‘Ordinary Human Failings’ by Megan Nolan, published by Vintage
- Best: Best family drama
- Genre : Crime
- Release date : 13 July 2023
As fingers start pointing towards a family of Irish immigrants, the Greens family, Tom hunkers down with them to drive into their history. At the centre of the family is Carmel, a beautiful yet mysterious young mother, who is forced to reckon with how her 10-year-old daughter is implicated in a murder investigation. Tom’s probing soon reveals the regrets, secrets and silences that have trapped the Greens for decades. Intriguing and vast in scope, it’s an old-fashioned page-turner.
‘The Happy Couple’ by Naoise Dolan, published by Orion Publishing
- Best: Anti-romance novel
- Genre : Comedy/satire
Switching perspectives between their nearest and dearest, from best man Archie (Luke’s ex and sometimes-lover) to Celine’s sister (suspicious of Luke’s frequent disappearances), Dolan explores the anxieties of modern love. A wedding novel permeated by emotional turmoil rather than romance, its self-aware characters and comedic-timing cement Dolan as one of the sharpest writers around.
‘Rosewater’ by Liv Little, published by Dialogue Books
- Best: Debut novel
- Genre : Coming-of-age
- Release date : 20 April 2023
Jobless and floundering, it’s her relationships that keep her afloat, from her repairing bond with Juliet and friend-with-benefits Bea to her maternal grandmother and older lesbian friend Maggie. Levity is provided by the humour that threads through the novel, while sections of verse by spoken word poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal are an enjoyable touch.
‘Penance’ by Eliza Clark, published by Faber & Faber
- Best: Fictional non-fiction book
- Release date : 6 July 2023
Ex-tabloid hack Alec Z Carelli sets out to write the “definitive account” of the murder – which was committed by three school girls – through eyewitness accounts, interviews and correspondence. Living in the town, exploring its history and its people, Carelli recounts the lives of the teenage murderers and the sinister world of online true-crime fandoms. As well as questioning Carelli’s morality in exploiting a horrific murder for his own career, Clark questions society’s preoccupation with gruesome true crime. Unnerving, superbly written and engrossing, the ending is pitch perfect.
‘The Only One Left’ by Riley Sager, published by Hodder & Stoughton
- Best: Gothic thriller
- Genre : Crime, mystery
- Release date : 4 July 2023
This book is breathtakingly twisty and while the mystery unravels, the claustrophobia becomes almost unbearable as the Hope’s End mansion itself begins succumbing to the sea and crumbling like the cliffs. We found ourselves literally gasping out loud as secrets were revealed. The Only One Left is a Gothic thriller, with horror elements and is perfect for cosying up with as autumn turns to winter.
‘My Husband’ by Maud Ventura, published by Hutchinson Heinemann
- Best: Domestic thriller
- Genre : Domestic noir, thriller
- Release date : 27 July 2023
Her roller-coaster of emotions and unhinged antics are fascinating to follow and we found ourselves devouring this darkly humorous work in less than two days. This fresh and easy-to-read book is translated from French by Emma Ramadan.
‘Kala’ by Colin Walsh, published by Atlantic Books
- Best: Coming of age thriller
- Genre : Drama, crime
Jumping between the time when the group was in secondary school and the present day, the mystery slowly unravels as we explore the heavy family traumas and broken friendships from the past. A complicated small-town community is the claustrophobic backdrop to the story which creates a refreshing mixture of family drama and crime thriller.
The story is told from the point of view of three of Kala’s friends who come back together and delve into the past to try and make sense of Kala’s death. There’s the loyal Mush who has always been in Kinlough, working in his mother’s cafe, hiding his mysterious facial scars from the world. Helen is the hard-headed former best friend of Kala who is now a journalist and is in town for her father’s impending wedding. And Joe, who is now a world-famous musician, has a hometown residency in a local bar, and is trying to reconnect to his old friends.
The use of three distinct narrative voices is well executed with clues cleverly revealed via the three protagonists and concludes with a major twist that you won’t see coming.
‘The Guest’ by Emma Cline, published by Vintage Publishing
- Best: Stylish novel
- Release date : 18 May 2013
In each encounter with individuals, groups at parties or old acquaintances, she leaves disaster in her wake. Though the story is a simple premise, each page is loaded with tension and risk, thanks to Cline’s stylistic writing. The poetic form and metaphorical use of water (swimming is survival) adds to the novel’s hazy feel. The Guest is also a deft exploration of social mobility, as Alex navigates the class system of Long Island.
The verdict: Best novels to read this autumn
Paul Murray’s The Bee Sting is storytelling at its best. Moving, witty and funny, the fast-paced tome will keep you gripped until the very last page. Zeitgeist-y and engrossing, Rebecca K Kuang’s Yellowface is the perfect literary thriller for cosying up with this autumn, while the topical and thought-provoking The List by Yomi Adegoke deserves the hype.
For a funny yet wise novel, pick up Dolly Alderton’s Good Material , while historical tome In Memoriam by Alice Winn will linger long in your mind, thanks to its emotional heft.
Discover more great authors and books you’ll love in our fiction review section
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The best fiction books of 2023 (so far)
If your plans this autumn include cosying up on the sofa with a good book, then we’ve got you covered.
From funny new romcoms by Sophia Money-Coutts and Lucy Vine to incredible, page-turning debuts by authors such as Heather Darwent, Jenny Jackson and Cleo Watson, and fantasy fiction by Rebecca Yarros and Bea Fitzgerald, there are so many options. Here’s your new reading list, as recommended by the YOU team.
The best fiction books of 2023
Fourth wing by rebecca yarros.
‘I’m not a big fantasy reader but I have to admit, Rebecca Yarros had me hooked from the first chapter. Possibly because Fourth Wing reminded me of Divergent, which I devoured as a teen, but definitely because it was a well-written slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers novel (that happens to be set within the walls of a war college for dragon riders) with likeable characters – and a massive plot twist at the end.’ – Charlotte Vossen, features writer
Girl, Goddess, Queen by Bea Fitzgerald
‘One of my favourite reads of 2023 so far, this debut novel from Bea Fitzgerald breathes fresh life into the oversaturated romcom genre. It’s a fun, fast-paced retelling of the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, in which he abducts her into the Underworld. Except Girl, Goddess, Queen’s fierce protagonist isn’t taken to hell, she jumps to avoid an arranged marriage, only to be met by Hell’s rude and arrogant ruler, who also happens to be extremely easy on the eyes… The two have 496 pages worth of brilliant banter and page-turning chemistry that you’ll easily devour on a weekend.’ – Charlotte Vossen, features writer
Happy Place by Emily Henry
‘As a big Emily Henry fan, Book Lovers remains my favourite but Happy Place is just as sexy, smart and charming as I hoped it would be. Every summer for the last decade, Harriet and Wyn and their tight-knit group of friends have swapped their busy lives for a week at a holiday cottage in Maine. Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are no longer engaged – and they haven’t told their friends yet. A brilliant use of the ‘only one bed’ trope, I found myself rooting for them from the first chapter.’ – Charlotte Vossen, features writer
Big Swiss by Jen Beagin
‘Greta is a 45-year-old depressed loner and a transcriber for a pretentious sex therapist who, without a whiff of irony, calls himself Om, despite Greta’s observation that his ‘real (and perfectly good) name was Bruce’. As Greta eavesdrops on Om’s therapy sessions she becomes quietly infatuated with one client: Big Swiss (so nicknamed by Greta because she is tall and from Switzerland), a married gynaecologist in her 20s, who has never had an orgasm. Depression and death, sex and loneliness, violence and survival: they’re all here. But Beagin’s brilliantly quirky style and uproariously bonkers characters turn what could be a depressing read into something utterly compelling, deeply moving and unexpectedly funny as hell.’ – Lindsay Frankel, deputy editor
The Midnight News by Jo Baker
‘Jo Baker’s 2013 novel Longbourn – a reimagined Pride and Prejudice , told from the perspective of the staff – was a hit. For The Midnight News , Baker has ditched the aprons and written a full-throttle thriller about a typist living in 1940s London. It’s just as good. Spooky, clever and pacey.’ – Maddy Fletcher, features writer
The Things We Do to Our Friends by Heather Darwent
‘It’s been a while since I’ve read dark academia (I’m pretty sure the main character was a vampire) but Heather Darwent’s page-turning debut is dark, twisted and intoxicating. When Clare arrives at the University of Edinburgh with a secret, she is desperate to reinvent herself. Soon, she falls in with a close-knit clique of wealthy students who promise her everything she has ever wanted… but at what cost?’ – Charlotte Vossen, features writer
Looking Out For Love by Sophia Money-Coutts
‘Stella, an unemployed socialite with a terrible habit of showing up late (that is until she starts working for a private investigator nicknamed ‘The Affair Hunter’) is a little annoying at first, but that’s the point! Looking Out For Love is a story about love, but it’s also a story about the importance of self-love and friendship. It’s heartwarming, funny and just like every other Sophie Money-Coutts novel, utterly bingeable.’ – Charlotte Vossen, features writer
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
‘The Prep author’s latest book is, as you might expect, a straightforward romantic comedy. It’s also excellent. Sally is a plain Jane script writer for a comedy sketch show in LA – and she’s annoyed that all her (average-looking) male colleagues date beautiful women. Then, Sally meets Noah: a very handsome musician with a reputation for exclusively sleeping with models. No prizes for guessing what happens next…’ – Maddy Fletcher, features writer
Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson
‘This is heaven! It’s about the Stocktons: a very rich, very waspy family, who live in Brooklyn, New York. I read somewhere that Pineapple Street is like “ Succession with a soul” which is a great line and one I would now like to steal. It’s silly, mean, self-aware, sad, and often properly funny. Also, it’s already been bought for TV by HBO – the same company that makes… (no prizes for guessing here) Succession !’ – Maddy Fletcher, features writer
Whips by Cleo Watson
‘Imagine Jilly Cooper had set her racy bonkbusters in No 10 and you get the idea for this debut by Cleo Watson, a former aide to Boris Johnson. Whips follows three twenty-something friends who all land jobs in Westminster – which they soon discover is awash with sex-obsessed sleaze bags and power-hungry manipulators. Watson’s characters are a little too convincing (she clearly draws on her time in Johnson’s Government for inspiration) meaning some of the racier scenes are somewhat tarnished by images of Matt Hancock popping into your mind uninvited. That aside, it’s a riotous and raunchy romp of a book that will probably confirm a lot of what you already think goes on at the heart of Government.’ – Lindsay Frankel, deputy editor
The Happy Couple by Naoise Dolan
‘The 30-year-old Irish author’s debut novel, Exciting Times , got rave reviews and Sally Rooney comparisons. Actually, we think Dolan is funnier (and meaner) than Rooney – as her follow up book, The Happy Couple , proves. It’s about a soon-to-be-married couple, fretting in the run-up to their wedding. Expect ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, tricky bridesmaids, nightmare groomsmen, and lots and lots of stress.’ – Maddy Fletcher, features writer
Seven Exes by Lucy Vine
‘If you’re single, tired of dating and have considered texting one of your exes, there’s no way you won’t relate to Esther. After reading a magazine article from the noughties claiming that there are seven people a woman will date before finding the one, she decides to contact each of her exes to find out which is the one that got away… It’s clever, charming and addictive – it’s everything you want from a romantic comedy.’ – Charlotte Vossen, features writer
Shy by Max Porter
‘Max Porter’s 2015 debut, Grief is the Thing with Feathers is one of the best things I’ve read, ever; his 2019 offering, Lanny , was great; and his latest novel, Shy , is – no surprise – excellent. It’s about a young and angry boy called Shy. I rarely read about young and angry boys, and it was unusual (but gripping) to be inside the head of one. Also, if that hasn’t convinced you – it’s only about 90 pages long.’ – Maddy Fletcher, features writer
- YOU Entertainment
Today’s YOU magazine
Liz Jones’s diary: In which I experience déjà vu dismay
The evening started well. I attended my party to celebrate the protection of elephants abroad (and equines, ostriches, dolphins, etc) at the Garrick Club, stuffed to the gills as it was with baronesses and lords. Then I took a black cab to stay at David 1.0’s. The driver asked for the address. I’d forgotten it, as it’s been so long. I couldn’t even find it in my phone. ‘Um, I know it’s in Camberwell, on a corner. Next to a hostel. Doubtless an old washing machine dumped in the front garden.’
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Makes 20 serves
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