Check out my Decades library entry over on GrabThisBook’s blog!
If you’re not a follower of Mr Grab, then you should be, he’s a real star among the book blogging community for his considered, thoughtful reviews and interviews. His latest venture is the Decades Library, which is such a brilliant idea I’m deadly jealous of not having thought of it myself! The premise is simple, he says: “Back in January I decided I wanted to build up a library of essential reads as chosen by booklovers. I started with empty shelves and I invite each of my guests to nominate five books they feel should be added to my Ultimate Library. There are two rules: 1 – Choose ANY five books. 2 – You can only choose one book per decade over five consecutive decades.”
Doesn’t that sound easy? Well, not exactly easy, but definitely doable – after all, who hasn’t daydreamed of their Desert Island Books now and then? The trouble is, that five-decade span gets in the way… Mr G asked me ages ago to do this and I really struggled! (And as you’ll see if you click through for the full post, I cheated a fraction by also listing my Desert Island Books too :-D). In the end, I went back in time to thin the herd, and also to find some titles I thought other people might not think of. They’re not all crime, because I do sometimes pick up something outside the genre for a break, and also because while I dream of owning a secondhand bookshop specialising in crime fiction, the brief was to help Mr G create the Ultimate Library, which needs more than police procedurals and action thrillers in it.
You can find the full post over on Grab This Book, but here’s a taste:
1940s 1946 Daphne du Maurier – The King’s General
Set around the time of the English Civil War, The King’s General is a romance with a bit of a mystery, but mostly is an incredible portrait of a woman’s life and the strength she finds when so much is ranged against her.
1950s 1955 Alistair MacLean – HMS Ulysses
Alistair MacLean wrote great action thrillers that sold ridiculous amounts of millions of copies in his lifetime, yet he’s all but forgotten these days. His debut, HMS Ulysses, draws on his experiences during the Second World War Arctic convoys, and it’s astonishingly powerful.
1960s 1961 Muriel Spark – The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie
It’s only 128 pages long, but this novel is absolutely rammed full of plot, character work, evocation of place and some of the sharpest, wittiest, most poignant foreshadowing you’ll ever see in fiction.
1970s 1970 Ted Lewis – Get Carter (aka Jack’s Return Home)
Lewis specialised in unlikeable protagonists and grimy, unsettling true noir plots, and his best are gripping read. Get Carter is perhaps the most accessible; I’d recommend both book and film for any library.
1980s 1984 William Gibson – Neuromancer
I spent a lot of my teens and 20s reading sci-fi and fantasy, and comics, and still dip into that world now and then (comics is a medium, not a genre, people!), so Neuromancer in part stands for all that. It’s also just a little slice of genius.