On the Bookshelf | January

There’s no better way to beat the January Blues than by escaping reality and curling up with a good book. If you’re looking for some reading inspiration this month, here are the books that are currently on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

A Richard and Judy Spring 2017 pick, I came across this book when writing about the book club for work. A quirky and charming portrayal of suburban life in 1970’s England, the plot of the book intrigues me as much as its unusual title.


England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is alive with whispers. The neighbours blame her sudden disappearance on the heat wave, but ten-year-old Grace and Tilly aren’t convinced. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, the girls decide to take matters into their own hands. Spunky, spirited Grace and quiet, thoughtful Tilly go door to door in search of clues. The cul-de-sac starts to give up its secrets, and the amateur detectives uncover much more than ever imagined. As they try to make sense of what they’ve seen and heard, a complicated history of deception begins to emerge. Everyone on the Avenue has something to hide, a reason for not fitting in.

Dictator by Robert Harris

There was a time when Cicero held Caesar’s life in the palm of his hand. But now Caesar is the dominant figure and Cicero’s life is in ruins. Exiled, separated from his wife and children, his possessions confiscated, his life constantly in danger, Cicero is tormented by the knowledge that he has sacrificed power for the sake of his principles. His comeback requires wit, skill and courage – and for a brief and glorious period, the legendary orator is once more the supreme senator in Rome. But politics is never static and no statesman, however cunning, can safeguard against the ambition and corruption of others. Riveting and tumultuous, Dictator encompasses some of the most epic events in human history yet is also an intimate portrait of a brilliant, flawed, frequently fearful yet ultimately brave man – a hero for his time and for ours. This is an unforgettable tour de force from a master storyteller.


Not Working by Lisa Owens

Claire Flannery has quit her job in order to discover her true vocation – only to realize she has no idea how to go about finding it. Whilst everyone around her seems to have their lives entirely under control, Claire finds herself sinking under pressure and wondering where her own fell apart. ‘It’s fine,’ her grandmother says. ‘I remember what being your age was like – of course, I had four children under eight then, but modern life is different, you’ve got an awful lot on.’ Sharp, tender and funny, Lisa Owens’ brilliantly observed debut Not Working is the story of a life unravelling and a novel that asks the questions we’ve never dared to say out loud.






The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

If you saw my book review you will know I’ve just finished reading The Muse by Jessie Burton. I really enjoyed it and seeing as her debut, The Miniaturist, was an international bestseller, I have a feeling I’ll love her first book too.

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways …Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realises the escalating dangers that await them all. Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession.


Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

Julian Fellowes’s Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London’s grandest postcode. Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond’s now legendary ball, one family’s life will change for ever…

Which books are on your ‘To Be Read’ pile this month? Let me know in the comments below.