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16 books to beat a reading slump

Language: English, Scots
Genre: Biography, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic novels, Non-fiction, Scots, Sports, Thriller
Age group: Adults

We've rounded up some of our favourite page-turners to help you get (back) into reading for pleasure.

Whether trying to kick a reading slump or start a new habit, it can be difficult to know what to read next. With a range of formats, genres and lengths, we hope there will be something to suit everyone – from the busy commute reader to the book-binger!

For more tips on how to start reading and find it easy, check out our article.

Oyinkan Braithwaite My Sister The Serial Killer

When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a call from her sister, she fears she may need to dig out the rubber gloves and bleach to help her get rid (in a very literal sense) of her latest boyfriend. The Financial Times described this dark firecracker of a book as, 'A stiletto slipped between the ribs and through the left ventricle of the heart', and it's hard to disagree.

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé Ace of Spades

An anonymous texter is out to ruin the reputations of the only two Black students at a prestigious private high school. Devon and Chiamaka must work together to uncover the identity and motive of the mysterious Aces while navigating the stress of looming graduation and LGBTQ+ teen relationships. You'll want to binge this fast-paced young adult thriller.

Gail Honeyman Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Gail Honeyman was the recipient of our very first Next Chapter Award for aspiring authors over the age of 40. Her debut novel quickly became a blazing success with Reese Witherspoon's production company snapping up the film rights. The unforgettable character voice sets the story apart, and makes it impossible to put down – until you pass it on to someone else to read.

Toni Morrison Sula

The Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison's novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue and richly detailed characters. Sula brings all of this together in fewer than 200 pages in an unforgettable, engaging and incredibly compelling look at the black experience in 20th century America.

Lydia Millet A Children's Bible

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, this short work of genius doesn't waste a word in hammering home a message of what climate apathy achieves in the face of an existential threat to humanity. That it does so with whip-smart humour, and a pace that wouldn't feel out of place in a well-written Netflix boxset, makes it all the more compelling.

Alice Oseman Heartstopper

This much-loved graphic novel series follows the story of Charlie and Nick. They become fast friends after meeting in school, and although Charlie is falling hard for Nick, he doesn't think he has a chance. A truly heartwarming read about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness.

Dolly Alderton Everything I Know About Love: A Memoir

Raucous, funny and heartfelt: Alderton's debut memoir recounts the hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking adventures she has collected growing up in London. Her wild stories weave around what is ultimately a celebration of female friendship, generously told with the tone of an older sister. We recommend the author-narrated audiobook if you're a fan of Alderton's podcasts.

Trevor Noah Born a Crime

The comedian and host of The Daily Show tells of his childhood growing up in South Africa at the end of apartheid. It's a funny, eye-opening look at the politics of a particularly dangerous time for someone of mixed race. But the most compelling part of this autobiography (aside from Noah's own narration in audiobook format) is the connection with his fierce and fearless, protective mother.

Catriona Ward The Last House on Needless Street

Ted was once the prime suspect in an unsolved missing child case. Now, he is a single dad and still living in his run-down childhood home. But Dee, sister to the missing girl, is intent on succeeding where the police have failed. You'll be urging your friends to read this psychological thriller while trying not to spoil the twist!

Stephen King Different Seasons

This collection of four short stories is a great jumping on point for anyone new to Stephen King or reading in general. Each story is its own genre, from coming of age to psychological horror, so at least one will appeal to most readers. King is at his best creating mood and interesting, distinct plots – three of which (Shawshank Redemption among them) readers may be familiar with from film adaptations.
Where to buy

Pick up these books through our bookshop.org affiliation! As well as supporting independent bookshops, a small portion of the profits helps our programmes to change more lives through reading and writing.

Paolo Hewitt Paul McGuigan The Greatest Footballer you Never Saw: The Robin Friday Story

According to everyone who saw him play, Robin Friday was an outstanding footballer. The reasons he never made it to the highest level are fairly conventional stuff: attitude, drink, drugs. But this book by music journalist Hewitt and Guigsy from Oasis tells the story in an unconventional way. Each season of Friday's short career is recapped through interviews with family and friends, interspersed with newspaper clippings from the time. Match reports, headlines and TV listings come together to set the scene, making for a very easy, enjoyable read even as the end becomes grimly predictable.

Rachel Smythe Lore Olympus

A comic series reimaging the story of Persephone and Hades from Greek myth that you can read weekly through Webtoons.com or buy in volumes. Its short chapters are easy to get into and great for reading on the go. Filled with fast-paced romance, colourful characters, gossip and struggles for power – engage with the live community of fellow-readers online and get excited for the next instalment.

Shaun Tan The Arrival

A silent masterpiece, filled with poignant emotion, The Arrival tells a tale all too familiar to those who seek refuge in a place far from home. Through his stunning and often surreal illustrations Tan allows us to walk in the shoes of one navigating the alien and the unknown, seeking work, friendship and safety. Vivid, empathic storytelling, coupled with rich, steampunk-inspired world-building make every page of this graphic novel worthy of revisiting again and again.

Randall Munroe What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Have you ever wondered how high a human can throw something? Or how much physical space the internet takes up? Randall Munroe undertakes fascinating scientific analysis of hypothetical questions sent in by readers of his web comic. Hilarious, absurd and scientifically rigorous ‘what if?’ explains the complex in simple terms, with a few stick men drawings to help us along the way.

Chris McQueer HWFG: Here We F**king Go

Many readers find satisfaction in reading short stories, particularly after a reading slump. This collection from Chris McQueer is filled with strong (not always likeable) characters, Scots dialect and a sense of humour that keeps the story's tone on the right side of disturbing. Perfect for any fans of Irvine Welsh.

Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing

A bestseller that quickly made it to the big screen. Get back into reading with the captivating story of Kya Clark, a young girl left to fend for herself in the marshes of Barkley Cove. Set against the vivid landscape of the North Carolina coast in the late 1960s, this novel blends nature writing with an intriguing crime story.