The BookBrunch team reveal what's on their bedside tables
I am half way through Quichotte (Cape), Salman Rushdie's latest novel, which is on the Booker Prize shortlist. We seem to back in more Midnight's Children mode than in his recent novels, so will that prove popular with the judges? As a Don Quixote fan I am really enjoying this book, but offer no guarantees that others will do the same.
I've just started In the Shadow of Heroes (Chicken House), a YA novel by Nicholas Bowling. I heard great things about his first book, Witchborn, which was set in 1577. In the Shadow of Heroes is also a historical novel, but it's set during the Roman Empire and is about a 14-year-old slave, Cadmus, whose master Tullus has disappeared and who teams up with a slave girl called Tog on a quest that leads to Emperor Nero himself. So far it's a great page-turner and a really enjoyable read with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour. It's always great to find a YA novel that teenage boys will love.
Part-travelogue, part-memoir, all history - Simon Winder's Lotharingia (Picador) really is a book to get stuck into. The final part of a monumental trilogy that includes Germania and Danubia, it is the story of the middle slice of Europe from the North Sea to the Alps, given to one of Charlemagne's grandsons as compensation for not getting Germany or France. Winder's genius is the elegant, witty and self-deprecating way he wanders the byways of this forgotten kingdom, an insight on every page. Highly recommended.
The HBO adaptation of Big Little Lies brought Liane Moriarty to my attention, and I've been dipping into her backlist ever since. Truly Madly Guilty (Penguin) - rather like The Slap - revolves around an incident at an Australian barbecue and features a cast of very fragile people. To be honest I slightly lost patience with some of them, and felt that she took rather too long to get to the big denouement... but overall it's a well crafted and intriguing read.
I cannot work out Michael Connelly: at his best he's one of the best around, but he throws in the odd routine effort. I had thought that the introduction of Renee Ballard in The Late Show had revitalised him, and the Bosch novel Two Kinds of Truth showed him on top form too; but the Ballard/Bosch novel Dark Sacred Night (Orion) is curiously flat. (Instances of the phrase "Ballard/Bosch nodded": 58.) Still, I'll be reading about their next case in The Night Fire, due on 29 October.
With the change of weather, it seemed right to pick up my Virago Classics edition of The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier. While it's a re-read for me, these stories are always captivating, and some horrifying. A classic I'll always return to.