At Soreen HQ, we’re pretty obsessive readers, and World Book Day is nothing if not an opportunity to shun reality and get stuck into a great book. To celebrate 20 years of World Book Day, we’ve put together a list of 20 page-turners that we think everyone should add to their shelves. Some of them you can read to your children, but most are perfect for absorbing alone. Preferably whilst soaking in a bubble bath. Maybe with a glass of wine and a slice of Soreen handy
1. The Hobbit
This classic adventure tale is perfect escapism whether you’re 9, 19 or 90. Like all decent fantasies, it has danger, suspense, and plot twists. Oh, and a big fiery dragon.
2. Harry Potter (the series)
You don’t have to love fantasy to love Harry Potter; you just have to suspend your disbelief long enough to fall madly in love with the characters. Ultimately, this classic series is about humans, not wizards, and it honestly doesn’t matter how old you are – Harry Potter has a lesson for us all.
3. The Magic Faraway Tree
No-one does whimsical children’s books quite like author Enid Blyton, and The Magic Faraway Tree might be the best of her 800 or so works. It’s about a tree that takes its climbers to randomly generated magical lands, and is astoundingly imaginative in its detail and plot.
4. The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Roald Dahl has written so many good books, it’s hard to pin down a favourite, but this tale of window cleaning misfit trio has to be up there. Friendship blooms in unlikely places, and a bit of madness is a thing worth holding onto.
5. I Capture the Castle
Two sisters. A crumbling castle. A broken heart. This classic seems so timeless because, despite being set in the 50s, it’s about a family so outcast from society that they could have been living in Medieval times. Also, this has got the best last paragraph ever. Expect to cry a lot.
Written from the perspective of a 5-year-old who has been kept prisoner in a tiny room his entire life, this book ought to be really harrowing. But somehow it manages to be completely heart-warming and beautiful. A total must-read.
7. The Color Purple
A beautiful, troubling book set amongst 1930s Georgia, within a sea of racial hatred. Our protagonist is born into horrific circumstances, but manages to rise above it all to find peace, love and happiness.
8. To Kill a Mockingbird
Maybe the most famous English language book bar the bible, To Kill a Mockingbird has got prose and plot in abundance, plus the best example ever of realistic child-narration and the most awesome father in literature. It’s great.
9. The Time Traveler’s Wife
Think the most heart-wrenching story you’ve ever read with a fantasy twist and insanely perfect prose. The Time Traveler’s Wife is so much more than chick lit, but at its core still lies a really good romance.
As the title suggests, this is a novel about atoning for one’s sins, but it’s also a novel about coming to terms with your own fallibility as a human, set amongst class-divided 1930s Britain. This is novel that polarises readers, so if you don’t hate it, you’ll probably love it.
11. We are All Completely Beside Ourselves
To try and give a synopsis of this book would sort of be a plot-spoiler, so suffice to say that this is a book about family, love and what makes us human. Also, no-one sees the twist coming.
12. Life of Pi
This magical epic adventure grapples with all of life’s big questions, while recounting a boy’s incredible journey across the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat. Expect to leave this book with more questions than answers, but with your brain thoroughly scratched.
13. The Girl on the Train
This thriller enjoyed huge success upon its release, and it’s now been turned into a film. If you haven’t already discovered the book behind the hype, now’s definitely the time to start reading!
14. The Handmaid’s Tale
A modern-day dystopian novel recounted from a female perspective – The Handmaid’s Tale is a feminist masterpiece that will have you flicking through the pages at a remarkable speed. It’s gory, grimy and totally gripping – you won’t ever read anything like it.
15. On Beauty
Any Zadie Smith novel could have made it onto this list, but On Beauty slightly takes the edge when it comes to characters so real they could almost jump off the page. As with most of her books, this one examines complex cultural and racial issues in a thought-provoking way, but it also examines marriage, and whether it’s really an institution that was built to last.
16. The Great Gatsby
It’s not the most uplifting novel in the literary canon, but The Great Gatsby is a classic for a reason. It’s got deceit, murder, parties, and it’s so dramatic that we guarantee whatever’s going on in your life will be put right back into perspective.
A gorgeously gothic romance with a protagonist you’ll fall in love with and a plot that will keep you riveted throughout. If you liked Jane Eyre, you’ll love this one.
So much of 1984 has come true that this reads more like a history text than a work of fiction, but its original plot and incredibly detailed world deserve to be read by everyone. Don’t expect to laugh though – this one is served bleak with an extra helping of gloom
19. A Thousand Splendid Suns
When we hear about Afghanistan, we often think about the wars, not the people, so it’s interesting to get a glimpse into regular lives. This novel is ultimately a gorgeous tribute to the power of sisterhood, and celebrates women supporting women, regardless of what separates them.
20. The Catcher in the Rye
Probably the best coming-of-age book ever written, The Catcher in the Rye will take you back to your teenage days, or maybe help you sympathise better with your own growing brood. It’s also refreshingly short – you could easily get through it in a couple of days.