The Books To Read If You’ve Already Worked Your Way Through The Man Booker Prize Shortlist

One Day author David Nicholls has a new book out, for example... Photographs by Joe Wilson


by Alexandra Heminsley |
Published on

Whilst How To Be Bothand The Lives of Othersare the most-talked on the Man Booker Prize shortlist and well worth downloading on your Kindle if you haven’t already (the winner is announced on 14 October, btw), just because you’ve exhausted the tomes of Ali Smith and Neel Mukherje, doesn’t mean your bedside table should be bare.

Here’s our selection of titles that didn’t make the cut.. But are worthy reads nonetheless.

Us – David Nicholls


One Day broke our hearts, and the movie adaptation broke them again. Now we can forget the pain of Anne Hathaway’s ‘Emma Morleh’ accent with Us – it’s not only as funny as One Day, but it’s as moving. Where One Day was about finding love, Us is about clinging onto it. The novel opens with Douglas Peterson’s wife announcing she wants to leave him, and him persuading her to stay on board for one last tour of Europe with their son. He wants to win her back, she wants to get the hell out, and their son just wants to get stoned with fit Australians. Nicholls has a unique and kind eye for anxious human behaviour and can provide proper belly laughs in the darkest of scenes – this isn’t a book about trying to stay together, it’s a book about trying to keep your shit together, and it’s bloody brilliant.

The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters


Set not long after WW1, the paying guests of the title refer to a young couple who move into a South London house whose owners (a mother and daughter) can no longer afford the upkeep. All the good men have gone, the war has left everyone depressed, and this looks like it’ll be a tense comedy of manners. But, 30% of the way thought it, you realise it really, really isn’t. An all-consuming lesbian affair leads to an event that changes everything. In turns eye poppingly sexy, unbearably tense and powerfully insightful, this is the sort of book you read ’til 3am, then have to take a walk after in order to calm down.

**READ MORE: Here's What The Actual 'New Gone Girl' Books Are **

The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell


Almost all of Mitchell’s novels have made the Man Booker shortlist, and he’s also managed to maintain a legion of superfans who love the way his books somehow interlock. Some have accused him of ‘prog rock’ writing, and admittedly there is a lot of noodling around to show off all the voices and eras he can write in. But it rarely feels like showing off – more like someone having all the fun with storytelling. This mixes fantasy with literary in-jokes and hints of science fiction. It might not be the place to start with his work, but it slots right in with the rest, which is unique and dazzling and absolutely worth the time.

Her – Harriet Lane


If you get frustrated with all awards list novels having to ‘say something’ rather than merely make you ‘feel something’, then Her is a more than brilliant read. We’re told the same events of about a year, from the perspective of two different women. They’re the same age, but Nina has a teenage daughter and the sort of home you only see in Toast catalogues. And Emma has a toddler and a baby, and only unloads the dishwasher when she needs a clean plate. Crucially, one detests the other, much to her obliviousness. We watch in horror as a life is slowly, subtly, dismantled. Like the very best of Notes on a Scandal, this is horrifying, creepy and bang on about the very worst women can do to each other.

How to Be Both – Ali Smith


OK, so this one is on the Man Booker shortlist, but we’ve included it as it’s our pick of the crop. Told in two parts, the entire production is messing with how we read and what it means. There are two versions of the book, each telling the two narratives – one a teen girl in the present day, one a renaissance mural artist – in a different order. It’s up to you which edition you choose. If this sounds like a horrendous lit crit experiment that you want no part of when on your commute, don’t panic – the tone is choppy and accessible and the way the stories bob and weave is something bordering magical.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

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Caitlin Moran On How To Deal With Life When You’re Still Figuring It Out

Follow Alex on Twitter @Hemmo

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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