George Orwell: 1984
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent - even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. "Nineteen Eight-Four" is George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.
Gavin Extence: The Universe Versus Alex Woods
Alex Woods knows that he hasn't had the most conventional start in life. He knows that growing up with a clairvoyant single mother won't endear him to the local bullies. He also knows that even the most improbable events can happen - he's got the scars to prove it. What he doesn't know yet is that when he meets ill-tempered, reclusive widower Mr Peterson, he'll make an unlikely friend. Someone who tells him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make the best possible choices. So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he's fairly sure he's done the right thing . . .
Fredrik Backman: A Man Called Ove
Warm, funny, and almost unbearably moving' Daily Mail 'Rescued all those men who constantly mean to read novels but never get round to it' Spectator Books of the Year At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets. But isn't it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible.
Simon Mawer: The Glass Room
Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room. High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes as the storm clouds of WW2 gather, and eventually the family must flee, accompanied by Viktor's lover and her child. But the house's story is far from over, and as it passes from hand to hand, from Czech to Russian, both the best and the worst of the history of Eastern Europe becomes somehow embodied and perhaps emboldened within the beautiful and austere surfaces and planes so carefully designed, until events become full-circle.
Michael Punke: The Revenant
Based on a true story, The Revenant is an epic tale of revenge set in the Rocky Mountains and soon to be a major motion picture, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Rocky Mountains, 1823 The trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Hugh Glass is one of the most respected men in the company, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts Glass face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. Two men from the company are ordered to remain with him until his inevitable death. But, fearing an imminent attack, they abandon Glass, stripping him of his prized rifle and hatchet. As Glass watches the men flee, he is driven to survive by one all-consuming desire: revenge. With shocking grit and determination, he sets out on a three-thousand-mile journey across the harsh American frontier, to seek revenge on the men who betrayed him. The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution.