The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley is in seventh place

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro was eighth

Sixth place is occupied by Lucinda Riley’s Missing Sister. Right, Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro was seventh

1. Matt Haig’s Midnight Library (2020).

Event Magazine critics: Olympic swimmer, pop star, glaciologist – just three of many dreams Nora Seed could be living if she weren’t trapped in drab reality. After being laid off from work at 35 and grieving her cat, Nora Seed committed suicide. She then woke in a book-lined world that serves as her gateway into parallel, if not more, lives. 

It’s all multiverse-hopping, all breezy attributed to quantum Physics and sprinkled with philosophy. Fiction meets therapy in a life-affirming fable that’s quintessential Haig. 

2. Harry Potter Children’s Collection – The Complete Collection of J. K Rowling

3. Delia Owens (2019), Where the Crawdads Sing

Fanny Blake of the Daily Mail: Chase Andrews’ body, a local legend in football and womaniser is discovered in a swamp near a North Carolina coastal town. There are no clues as to how he got there.

Kya Clark, a young girl from the marshes who is suspected of being the first suspect in this case, is immediately on alert.

Kya, who was left behind by her mother and siblings when she turned six, is now living with her father. He’s an unstable drunk who goes missing for days. Rejected by the local community as ‘swamp trash’, she turned to the marsh for protection and company.

It’s a murder mystery, part novel about coming of age, and it is just as memorable as Kya. A story of loneliness, survival and love that’s as engrossing as it is moving.

Where The Crawdads Sing is now being made into a film by Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon has made a film called Where the Crawdads Sing.

4. Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet (2020).

Jane Shilling for the Daily Mail: Among the scant historical details of Shakespeare’s life is the fact that he was married at 18 to 26-year-old Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna and twins Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet was 11 when he died from unspecified causes. Hamlet was published three years later.

Maggie O’Farrell’s haunting novel imagines Hamnet as he was during his brief life: a sturdy, curious, fair-haired lad. It also explores his aftershocks: the boy who was swept away by the plague from his family, leaving behind a gap which his father fills in with words and his mother with uncontrollable grief.

Maggie O’Farrell’s award-winning novel is a haunting study of love, grief and the power of storytelling.

5. Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart (2020).

Ciara Dossett writes for Daily Mail. This Booker Prize winner tells Shuggie’s story as a young girl growing up in dysfunctional families in Glasgow in the 1980s.

Everybody who lives there is affected by the harshness of it. Shuggie’s mom, Agnes (once a beautiful girl), has been made a miserable alcoholic and crushed by her husbands violence.

Shuggie’s siblings Catherine, Leek and Leek leave the family home leaving Shuggie with his mother, who is in a terrible, irreversible decline.

Glasgow, a poor place, is especially difficult for Shuggie who was bullied because of his sensitive and different views. Liberace is moving into, shouts a neighbor as the Bain family makes a desperate attempt to start anew in an isolated pit village.

Shuggie Bain is an elegy to the suffering of people, beautifully written and charmingly humane.

6. Lucinda Riley (2021), The Missing Sister

Wendy Holden for the Daily Mail: I’ve loved the Seven Sisters from the get-go and this latest in the series is just as great as the rest. The glamorous d’Apliese girls are in search of their lost sibling to complete the family set.

They believe Mary McDougal from New Zealand is the right one, and they each swoop in to find out. Mary’s mother Merry, rattled by the visiting strangers, flees on a world tour. What is her secret?

As ever there’s a brilliant historical subplot, in this case 1920s Ireland, rocked by civil war. Young Nuala comes from Fenian families and is forbidden to sympathize for the British. But after the death her young husband, hatred and violence take root. But what does all of this have to do with Merry? This will be revealed in the final volume. 

7. Klara and The Sun by KazuoIshiguro (2021).

Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel since he won the Nobel Prize in 2017 returns to the sci-fi territory of 2005’s Never Let Me Go.

Better off Dead by Lee Child is eighth

Lee Child’s eighth book, Better Off Dead is Eighth 

It’s narrated by Klara, an unusually clever robot who has been bought as an artificial friend for Josie, an ailing teen girl whose sister died of the same (unspecified) illness some years ago.

Klara — a classic Ishiguro narrator, observing from the margins — has to learn quickly about human ways and emotions as she becomes more embedded within Josie’s family.

But she also has to learn about Josie herself when it becomes clear that Josie’s grief-stricken mother, fearful the girl might also die, is fashioning the sincere, conscientious, well-intentioned Klara into a possible replacement.

8. Lee Child, Better off Dead (2021)

9. American Dirt, Jeanine Cummins (2020).

Wendy Holden for the Daily Mail: This astonishing book is about Mexican migrants trying to reach America. You might be surprised at the reality of their lives. Lydia, a bookshop owner in Acapulco, is critical of local druglords. The couple lives a normal middle-class lifestyle until their family’s birthday ends in tragedy.

Lydia’s husband has annoyed a powerful cartel. He’s dead, and now his wife and young son must flee for their lives. However, the cartel remain everywhere.

Lydia and Luca have to go underground in order to reach safety in America. They must also take the migrant route.

The nightmare unfolds, with desperate alliances emerging and quick decisions that could lead to instant death. They climb onto freight trains to meet rapes, murders, and other brutalities.

Despite all of the terror, there are still moments of hope and friendship, kindness, and love. An absolutely unforgettable read. 

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney round off the list

10. Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney (2021).

Stephanie Cross for the Daily Mail: Rooney’s fans will be delighted to know she hasn’t changed the formula for this, her much-anticipated third outing. They might regret not having.

At the novel’s heart are two young female friends — one an author, the other an editorial assistant — who exchange long emails theorising about life, love and the contemporary novel while negotiating on/off affairs.

Alice, who’s dating warehouse worker Felix, is stuck in the unenviable position of trying to follow up a massively successful book. Are you familiar with this scenario?

For Eileen, Alice’s Dublin-based best friend, the prickly issue is how to negotiate a not-always-platonic relationship with practising Catholic Simon, formerly a childhood friend.

The musings of Rooney’s hyper-intelligent Millennials — the conspicuous cleverness of which would bring lesser novels to a screeching halt — here, as ever, flow naturally. And Alice’s scathing take on literary celebrity, and her defence of her art, seem Rooney’s own.

But it’s unfortunate that one of the knotty problems this novel puzzles at —– the ethics of caring for fictional people — presupposes emotional involvement, as my heart was entirely unengaged.