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The British Are Coming – A Booklist to Unite Anglophiles

2011 February 13
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The Beatles are on iTunes.  BBC TV institution, Doctor Who,  filmed scenes in Utah .  The latest Harry Potter movie is a top earner at the US box office this year.  Since “The Boy Who Lived” jumped the pond there’s an increased interest in all things British from books to movies to TV shows.  For the uninitiated here are some titles for a perfect pairing with a scone and late afternoon cuppa tea.

Books by UK Authors not JK Rowling*

The Best: The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series begins with a kidnapping.  An Evil Queen steals Tiffany’s brother and she is determined to get him back.  On the way she must rely on her developing magical skills and Granny Aching’s timeless advice.  She meets some not so clever allies, the Nac Mac Feegle, small blue men with a raging thirst for drinking and fighting.  Between the outlandish Scottish brogue of the Nac Mac Feegle and the fantasy elements, The Wee Free Men might be the most British of British books ever conceived.  The audio voiced by Stephen Briggs, longtime Pratchett collaborator, should come with a warning it is that funny. [ed. note: Terry Pratchett was awarded the 2011 Margaret A. Edwards award for titles including The Wee Free Men.]

The Rest: Zenith and Exodus by Julie Bertagna

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness [reviewed on this site here]

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff [a 2010 Alex Award winner]

Books set in the UK

The Best: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff**

Daisy is sent to live with her aunt and cousins in England.  What should have been an escape from her old life in Manhattan instead becomes a crash course is survival and self-reliance.  When a terrorist attack cuts Daisy and her cousins off from the rest of the family, they must learn to support themselves.  Rosoff manages to create a world that is so close to our own yet still seem like a dream.  Daisy is one of my favorite YA characters.  Her resilience and self-awareness are the real strengths in this book. [How I Live Now won the 2005 Printz Award.]

The Rest: The Jacky Faber Series by L.A. Meyer

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone: The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival by Dene Low [Nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award]

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld [reviewed on this site here]

Adult Books with YA Appeal

The Best: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Cassandra lives a comfortable, if slightly damp, life in a crumbling castle in 1930’s Britain.  While she’s content to develop her writing skills, her sister Rose is not and dreams of romance and a more glamorous life.  When two wealthy and handsome American brothers move into the neighborhood Rose sees her chance to escape while Cassandra is left confused between her loyalty to her family and her newfound feelings of desire.  My grandmother gave me her copy of I Capture the Castle when I was Cassandra’s age.  It is a magical book of self-discovery and hope.

The Rest: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

*Authors may be born in the UK or have transplanted from elsewhere but self-identify as “British.”

**It’s not a mistake that Meg Rosoff is on this list twice, she is that amazing.

— Amanda Margis, currently listening to One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia and reading Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

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