The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
A young graphic artist moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother. She is grief struck and spends her time staring out the window. One day she notices a young man across the street who is staring out of his window. They hesitantly fall in love but there’s something horrific in his past. While they’re visiting two of his friends who live by a lake, the pieces of his past start falling together. Banana Yoshimoto took inspiration from the infamous Aum Shinrikyo cult for this beautiful, fragile novel.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Narrated by Merricat Blackwood who lives with her older sister and her uncle, who is confined to a wheelchair, in their large family home after the rest of the family is poisoned at dinner. The older sister is the acquitted murderess and it has caused them to live on the fringe of society. This is gripping Gothic psychological suspense at its best. This book evokes nostalgia, conjures up memories of childhood and may even cause déjà vu for Shirley Jackson fans.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
After the 2011 tsunami which devastated Japan, a Hello Kitty lunchbox containing a diary washes ashore an island off British Columbia and it has a profound effect on the Japanese American woman who discovers it. The diary is written by a 16-year-old Japanese American girl in Tokyo who calls herself ‘a time being’ and hopes that she will find a friend and reader through the diary. This mind-blowing novel blurs the line between fact and fiction, reader and writer. A part mystery, part fantasy masterpiece that will have you hooked from the very first sentence.
The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
At 7 in the morning, the respectable Bantrys find the body of a young woman wearing an evening gown and heavy makeup in their library. They have never seen her before and have no idea how she got there. Colonel Bantry calls the police and Mrs. Bantry decides to invite her friend and sleuth Miss Marple over to investigate. The queen of cosy murder mysteries herself said that the opening to this book was the best opening she ever wrote.
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas
A delightful fictional book on ontology. It all starts with an obscure cursed book written by a Victorian scientist. Parallel worlds, time travel, metaphysics, theology, thought experiments, cosmology, deconstruction, idealism, epistemology, 19th-century philosophy, relativity theory and quantum physics. It’s all there. This is a captivating read that will make you question everything in the universe as if you were one with the book’s narrator Ariel Manto (a beautiful anagram by the way). It’s a bit like having an out-of-body experience but a fantastic one!