The Book Hive's top 10 books of 2019
Whether you're looking for a gift or a good read for yourself, there's something for everyone in The Book Hive's top ten books of 2019.

Shame on Me  by Tessa McWatt

This is an astounding book. Part memoir, part cultural investigation into the notion of ‘race’, part family history. The author explores racial stereotypes and the historical significance of the way we look by taking parts of her own mixed race body and assessing them through the prism of colonialism.

New York to California by Jeremy Page

In this beautifully written meditation on landscape and identity Page takes a journey on foot and bicycle from the tiny fenland village of New York to the east coast Norfolk village of California. Extremely funny and often very moving, his trip, with a strange man called Heath and a small dog leads him down many rabbit holes in his memory, and creates an experience both he and the reader is much richer for having experienced.

Turning the Boat for Home by Richard Mabey

Norfolk based Mabey is not only one of the finest nature writers working today, he is simply one of the finest writers. In this collection of essays spanning the more than 40 years of his career we get a sense of what has kept his unique vision of man’s relationship to the natural world around him at the forefront of his work. Masterly and wise, this is a must have for anyone interested in the natural world, and our place in it.

Love by Hanne Orstavik

An intensely gripping and dark short novel from the acclaimed Norwegian writer Orstavik. A mother and her young son play out a strange drama involving several set-pieces of pure horror genre, which lead you to think one thing, before quickly changing course. This is a pin point meditation on two people craving love, and in looking for it losing their way before trying to find a path home.

All About Birds and Insects by Frank Jarvis

Jarvis was a man who lived the later part of his life in Norfolk, where he carried on his personal hobby of drawing birds and writing about them, for himself. Since his death his wife has lovingly transformed these exquisite illustrations into books, and this latest one is a real gem. Birds and Insects is the book he made as a child, showing his extraordinary gifts at a young age, as he drew and noted the wildlife he saw around him. A beautifully produced treasure of a book.

Lanny by Max Porter

Porter’s first book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers heralded the arriving of a dynamic and fascinating new voice in contemporary literature. Lanny reaffirms that; a poetic tale of a small boy, unknowingly in touch with the ghostly spirit of the very landscape his village is part of. Exhilarating and fascinating, this is a tale of mythical proportions set in the chattering streets of a contemporary English community.

Rivers of Norfolk by Tor Falcon

Armed with a map, an alphabetical list of 38 named ‘Rivers of Norfolk’, a box of chalk pastels and an insatiable curiosity, artist Tor Falcon has followed all of Norfolk’s rivers from source to mouth, making drawings of them. Along the way she has met experts and idiots and everyone in-between, had close encounters with wildlife, and spent a great deal of time in the company of cows. She has become well acquainted with overgrown ditches, sewage works, weirs and mudflats. There are very few places in Norfolk that she didn’t visit in her four-year journey along its rivers, streams and trickles to create this beautiful record of the counties waterways.

Uki and the Outcasts by Kieran Larwood

The latest instalment in the outstanding Podkin One-ear series of books for children aged 7-11. From the Ice Wastes beyond the Cinder Wall emerges an unlikely hero. Rejected by his village and left to die, young Uki is given life and unique powers by a long-buried spirit from the time of the Ancients. Joined by two other outcasts – a trained assassin who refuses to kill people and a very short rabbit who rides the fastest jerboa on the plains – Uki must capture Valkus, the Spirit of War, before rabbit kind destroys itself in conflict.

Endland by Tim Etchells

This is an extraordinary and unique book. A pull no punches bleak imagining of another world which could be ours, nearly is ours, but thankfully not quite. But maybe, before long… An experiment in prose style that is searingly brilliant, horrific, and very funny. Read these stories from an imagined world so close to ours and thank God it isnt. But choose to ignore the similarities at your peril. This excoriating, wonderful concoction feels almost like a warning…

The 392 by Ashley Hickson-Lovence

This dazzling debut takes place over just 36 minutes on a London bus, travelling from Hoxton to Highbury (Hickson-Lovence, a bus fanatic, created a new route just for the book). On board are a charismatic cast of characters from an inner-city London in the grips of gentrification: delinquent school kids, the high-flyers, the weird, the wonderful and the homeless. All so different, and yet they share one thing: a threat…. The sheer range of voices here, the carefully considered structure: a book to be wowed by, and a writer to watch.

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The Book Hive’s top 10 books of 2019
The Book Hive
Independent book shop in the heart of Norwich