The BookBrunch team reveal what's on their bedside tables
I recently read the YA novel Full Disclosure, by Camryn Garrett, in a day. I thought it was a really remarkable book, following the story of Simone Garcia-Hampton, a high school student who is HIV positive, and it's full of beautifully drawn family relationships and high school dynamics, with a gorgeous romance at its core. It's a subject that I have never seen tackled before in a young adult novel, and the writing has warmth and wit. This is Garrett's debut novel, released by Penguin on 31 October, and she's still in college - she's a huge talent and I can't wait to see what she does next.
I'm just finishing The Transition, by Luke Kennard, which was recommended to me by the Halesworth Bookshop. It is set in an alternative future where our hero Karl accepts a place on a self-improvement scheme instead of going to prison, but discovers some sinister goings-on. I'm rooting for Karl to overturn the whole system... but with only 10 pages to go, does he have time to do it?
I'm half way through David Nicholls Sweet Sorrow (Hodder) for my book club. As with One Day, the only other Nicholls book I've read (I couldn't get on with Us), there's a lovely tenderness to his writing, and so many moments of truth and comedy; I always feel like I'm in safe hands. The story centres on Charlie, a kid just out of school, who signs up to be in a production of Romeo and Juliet to impress a girl. It's hard to do an original coming of age tale, but I have high hopes that this one will continue to deliver.
A stray 20 minutes browsing at Foyles' excellent little Waterloo shop is always a dangerous occupation. Ignoring the last of the summer beach reads, my eye was caught by The Jamestown Brides, by Jennifer Potter, on the non-fiction table. It tells the story of the 56 English women who sailed the Atlantic in 1621 to make wives for the English colonists of Virginia, men they had never met before. It's a dense, scholarly piece of social history, and what an irresistible subject, although I don't yet know if they find love...
I have just finished reading Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift (Scribner). One of our greatest novelists at the peak of his powers, weaving the tension from a patchwork of relationships and recollections.
Not every Booker winner has taken the prize with the right book, but Kingsley Amis, who triumphed with The Old Devils in 1986, did. I have read the novel four times, and I am looking forward to reading it again. Any aspiring writer could learn a great deal from Amis' masterly command of time, point of view, and a sizeable cast of characters - the most memorable being the professional Welshman Alun Weaver, given a portrayal worthy of Amis' inspiration by John Stride in Andrew Davies' excellent TV adaptation.