Books from the British Isles everyone should read

Books from the British Isles everyone should read

About the author: Kirsi Kekki

Kirsi Kekki is a unionlearn Policy Officer working in the Strategy team. She has worked in a number of trade unions in the UK and Finland with a variety of roles from tutoring to organising and project management.

Kirsi is currently looking after English and maths policy and support to unions.

How to pick a book for a reading group?

The first answer is to check out the Top Ten list of recommended books for workplace book clubs. Unionlearn organised a vote in the autumn, compiled the winning list and hopes it can help people to start talking about books. Of course, the Top Ten list can never be exhaustive because there are so many excellent books in the world.

A superb way for any reading group to kick off is taking a look at the Quick Reads which will have new titles out this week. This week unionlearn is also running a campaign to promote English literacy and language skills with the hashtag #literacyworks.

To add to the mix of options I have decided to make my own recommendations. As a non-British person living in the UK I cannot resist making my list thematic and these are my five favourites from the British Isles. You will see that I am a serial reader!

  • Adrian McKinty: The Cold Cold Ground
    • Detective Sean Duffy is one of my favourite literary characters in and outside crime fiction. McKinty’s use of language is hugely enjoyable and humour unbeatable and I am happy to say that there is a whole series of Duffy-novels. The setting in 1980’s Northern Ireland is really interesting to people like me who only learned the basics about the Troubles in a history class at school.
  • Andrea Levy: Small Island
    • I recommended this for the workplace reading list but unfortunately it did not reach the Top Ten. Small Island tells a captivating story of Jamaican immigrants in the UK in 1948. It is a very human story with love and humour while discussing big themes such as migration and prejudice.
  • Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair
    • I suspect The Eyre Affair is usually classified as fantasy. Thursday Next is a literary detective chasing criminals who infiltrate into literacy fiction, in this case Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. A mind-blowing premise and a mind-bowing alternate history. As a teaser I would like to mention that in the book Wales is an independent socialist nation. A starter of another brilliant series.
  • Denise Mina: Garnethill
    • I cannot resist good crime fiction and this is as good as Tartan Noir gets and the start of a gripping trilogy. Wry Scottish humour and great likeable female characters. Glasgow as a location is poor and dirty and violent but you get the feeling that this is one rough city with its own distinct personality.
  • George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
    • Now, I know these are two books so I am cheating a bit here. The reason for adding them is that they made a lasting impression on me as mandatory reading at school. These are classics described as science fiction but every now and then some of the scary dystopian ideas come alive in our current world. Read and compare.

As always, the floor is open to suggestions and recommendations. Would your reading group like to share and write blog?

Share this blog post