• The Best Classic Crime Fiction - The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • The Best Classic Crime Fiction - The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Best Classic Crime Fiction - The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie
  • The Best Classic Crime Fiction - Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
  • The Best Classic Crime Fiction - The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The Best Classic Crime Fiction, recommended by Sophie Roell

Since the early stories of the 18th and 19th centuries, crime fiction has been an incredibly popular and enduring genre, the investigation of murder somehow capturing the imagination of millions of readers around the globe. Here, Sophie Roell, editor of Five Books, uses strict but simple criteria to pick out the best classic crime fiction, from the Victorian age through to the 1950s.

  • The Best Fiction of 2022: The Booker Prize Shortlist - Glory: A Novel by NoViolet Bulawayo
  • The Best Fiction of 2022: The Booker Prize Shortlist - The Trees by Percival Everett
  • The Best Fiction of 2022: The Booker Prize Shortlist - Treacle Walker by Alan Garner
  • The Best Fiction of 2022: The Booker Prize Shortlist - The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
  • The Best Fiction of 2022: The Booker Prize Shortlist - Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
  • The Best Fiction of 2022: The Booker Prize Shortlist - Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

The Best Fiction of 2022: The Booker Prize Shortlist, recommended by Neil MacGregor

The Booker Prize is awarded each year to the best original novel written in the English language. We asked the art historian Neil MacGregor, chair of this year’s judging panel, to talk us through the six novels that made the 2022 shortlist—and why fiction can be a most effective means of engaging us emotionally in social and political crisis elsewhere.

  • The Best Sci Fi Books on Space Settlement - Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
  • The Best Sci Fi Books on Space Settlement - The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Best Sci Fi Books on Space Settlement - Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey
  • The Best Sci Fi Books on Space Settlement - Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • The Best Sci Fi Books on Space Settlement - The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin

The Best Sci Fi Books on Space Settlement, recommended by Erika Nesvold

We look to the stars and imagine a new home for humanity, an escape from the troubles that plague us here on Earth, but as astrophysicist Erika Nesvold points out, many of our problems will join us on our voyage. Here, she selects five science fiction books that illuminate the challenges and possible conflicts we’ll face if we head for this new frontier.   

  • The Best Colombian Novels - One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  • The Best Colombian Novels - Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez
  • The Best Colombian Novels - Una holandesa en América by Soledad Acosta de Samper
  • The Best Colombian Novels - The Vortex by José Eustasio Rivera
  • The Best Colombian Novels - December Breeze by Marvel Moreno

The Best Colombian Novels, recommended by Pilar Quintana

Colombian novels shot to international prominence after the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, which told the story of his small, Colombian hometown by mixing in fantastical elements. The novel spoke to readers around the globe and García Márquez would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Here, contemporary Colombian novelist Pilar Quintana introduces us to the works of this ‘genius’ as well as some of the other great novels of Colombian literature.

  • The Best Thrillers of 2022 - Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
  • The Best Thrillers of 2022 - The Turnout by Megan Abbott
  • The Best Thrillers of 2022 - Rock, Paper, Scissors by Alice Feeney
  • The Best Thrillers of 2022 - These Toxic Things: A Thriller by Rachel Howzell Hall
  • The Best Thrillers of 2022 - Red Widow by Alma Katsu
  • The Best Thrillers of 2022 - I Am Not Who You Think I Am: A Novel by Eric Rickstad

The Best Thrillers of 2022, recommended by Tosca Lee

Every year, the International Thriller Writers—an honorary organisation of authors—showcases the best new books in the genre at their annual awards. Here, bestselling author and the organisation’s vice-president Tosca Lee talks us through the six-strong shortlist of books, and explains why ‘Southern noir’ writer S.A. Cosby won the title for the best thriller of 2022—only a year on from his last triumph.

  • The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist - Deep Wheel Orcadia: A Novel by Harry Josephine Giles
  • The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist - Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist - A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine
  • The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist - A River Called Time by Courttia Newland
  • The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist - Wergen: The Alien Love War by Mercurio D Rivera
  • The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist - Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley

The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist, recommended by Andrew M. Butler

Every year, the judges for the Arthur C. Clarke Award select the best of the latest batch of new scifi books. In 2022, the science fiction award’s shortlist includes new work from Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, a novel-in-verse from the Scottish writer Harry Josephine Giles, and a new title in Arkady Martine’s beloved Teixcalaan series. Andrew M. Butler, academic and chair of the judges, talks us through the finalists.

  • The Best Historical Fiction: The 2022 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist - Rose Nicolson: A Novel by Andrew Greig
  • The Best Historical Fiction: The 2022 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist - News of the Dead by James Robertson
  • The Best Historical Fiction: The 2022 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist - Fortune by Amanda Smyth
  • The Best Historical Fiction: The 2022 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist - The Magician by Colm Tóibín

The Best Historical Fiction: The 2022 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist, recommended by Elizabeth Laird

Every year, the Walter Scott Prize highlights the best new historical novels. In 2022, the shortlist comprises four fantastic works of historical fiction that immerse the reader in the past—from 16th-century Scotland to 1920s Trinidad—while confronting universal human dramas we still struggle with today. Elizabeth Laird, one of the judges, talks us through their choices this year.

  • The Best Tudor Historical Fiction - Green Darkness by Anya Seton
  • The Best Tudor Historical Fiction - The Concubine: A Novel by Norah Lofts
  • The Best Tudor Historical Fiction - Tudor Pilgrimage by Josephine Bell
  • The Best Tudor Historical Fiction - The Heretic: A Novel by Alison Macleod
  • The Best Tudor Historical Fiction - Amenable Women by Mavis Cheek

The Best Tudor Historical Fiction, recommended by Alison Weir

The Tudor dynasty, which ruled England from 1485 to 1603, has been the focus of extraordinary public attention in recent years, thanks to the success of books like Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and the lavish television drama The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. We asked Alison Weir, the author of many bestselling factual and novelistic books on the period, to recommend her favourite works of Tudor historical fiction.

  • The Best of World Literature: The 2022 International Booker Prize Shortlist - Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell
  • The Best of World Literature: The 2022 International Booker Prize Shortlist - Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur
  • The Best of World Literature: The 2022 International Booker Prize Shortlist - A New Name: Septology VI-VII by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls
  • The Best of World Literature: The 2022 International Booker Prize Shortlist - Heaven by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd
  • The Best of World Literature: The 2022 International Booker Prize Shortlist - The Books of Jacob: A Novel by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft
  • The Best of World Literature: The 2022 International Booker Prize Shortlist - Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle

The Best of World Literature: The 2022 International Booker Prize Shortlist, recommended by Frank Wynne

The International Booker Prize celebrates the best fiction in translation published over the previous year. Frank Wynne, acclaimed translator and chair of the 2022 judging panel, tells Five Books about the six novels that made the shortlist, and reminds readers that world literature need not be tough, consumed only in the interests of self-improvement—but is often joyful, surprising and full of feeling.

  • Best Medieval Historical Fiction - The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Best Medieval Historical Fiction - Pilgrims by Matthew Kneale
  • Best Medieval Historical Fiction - The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Best Medieval Historical Fiction - The Western Wind: A Novel by Samantha Harvey
  • Best Medieval Historical Fiction - The Invention of Fire by Bruce Holsinger

Best Medieval Historical Fiction, recommended by Marion Turner

The medieval era in Europe lasted a millennium and saw massive social change and technological innovation, as well as calamities like the Black Death. That makes it a great period for historical fiction, offering a glimpse of a past that was very different from our own lives, and yet can resonate with the present. Here Marion Turner, Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, recommends some of her favourite historical novels set in the Middle Ages and explains why she finds them so compelling.

  • The best books on Poetry of the First World War - Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology ed. Tim Kendall
  • The best books on Poetry of the First World War - From the Line: Scottish War Poetry 1914-1945 ed. David Goldie and Roderick Watson
  • The best books on Poetry of the First World War - The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry ed. George Walter
  • The best books on Poetry of the First World War - The War Poems of Wilfred Owen by Wilfred Owen, ed. John Stallworthy
  • The best books on Poetry of the First World War - The Annotated Collected Poems by Edward Thomas, ed. Edna Longley

The best books on Poetry of the First World War, recommended by Guy Cuthbertson

Poetry written during the First World War has remained prominent in the public consciousness for more than a century; writers like Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Robert Graves are still commonly studied in British schools and universities. Here, Guy Cuthbertson—literary scholar and author of an acclaimed biography of Owen—selects five books to give an overview of the poetry produced during the Great War.

  • Historical Fiction Set in the Ancient World - The Persian Boy by Mary Renault
  • Historical Fiction Set in the Ancient World - Votan by John James
  • Historical Fiction Set in the Ancient World - Family Favourites by Alfred Duggan
  • Historical Fiction Set in the Ancient World - Julian by Gore Vidal
  • Historical Fiction Set in the Ancient World - Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem

Historical Fiction Set in the Ancient World, recommended by Harry Sidebottom

The ancient world offers an excellent canvas for historical fiction but too many books fall victim to anachronistic thinking, says Oxford ancient historian Harry Sidebottom, author of two series of historical novels set in Ancient Rome. Here he recommends some of his own favourites, all written during the golden age of classical historical fiction half a century ago.

  • The Best South Asian Novels in Translation - Phoolsunghi by Pandey Kapil, translated by Gautam Choubey
  • The Best South Asian Novels in Translation - The Bronze Sword of Tengphakhri Tehsildar by Indira Goswami, translated by Aruni Kashyap
  • The Best South Asian Novels in Translation - The Upheaval by Pundalik Naik, translated by Vidya Pai
  • The Best South Asian Novels in Translation - Battles of Our Own by Jagadish Mohanty, translated by Himansu S. Mohapatra and Paul St-Pierre
  • The Best South Asian Novels in Translation - Sarasvatichandra by Govardhanram Madhavram Tripathi, translated by Tridip Suhrud

The Best South Asian Novels in Translation, recommended by Jenny Bhatt

The writer and translator Jenny Bhatt selects five key works of South Asian literature, all historical novels available in English translation, that showcase the richness and diversity of the region’s lesser known languages: from a modernist classic decrying the depradations of the coal mining industry to a ‘loose, baggy monster’ of a Victorian novel exploring utopian ideals.

  • The Best Toni Morrison Books - The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • The Best Toni Morrison Books - Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • The Best Toni Morrison Books - Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Best Toni Morrison Books - Home: A Novel by Toni Morrison
  • The Best Toni Morrison Books - The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison

The Best Toni Morrison Books, recommended by Marilyn Mobley

In 1993, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to American novelist Toni Morrison, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” Here, literary scholar Marilyn Mobley—Professor Emerita of English and African American Studies at Case Western Reserve University and a former President of the Toni Morrison Society—introduces her work, from the best novel to start with to the essays she published just before her death in 2019.

  • The Best Historical Fiction: The 2021 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist - Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
  • The Best Historical Fiction: The 2021 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist - The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  • The Best Historical Fiction: The 2021 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist - The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
  • The Best Historical Fiction: The 2021 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist - A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville
  • The Best Historical Fiction: The 2021 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist - The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte

The Best Historical Fiction: The 2021 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist, recommended by Katharine Grant

The Walter Scott Prize seeks to highlight the very best of historical fiction—and in 2021, we find the shortlist dominated by Australian writers. Katharine Grant, the acclaimed novelist and chair of the judges, returns to Five Books to discuss the cream of this year’s crop, and the art of transforming the historical record into a creative exercise.

  • The Best Post-Soviet Spy Thrillers - Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
  • The Best Post-Soviet Spy Thrillers - Remembrance Day by Henry Porter
  • The Best Post-Soviet Spy Thrillers - Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
  • The Best Post-Soviet Spy Thrillers - Slow Horses by Mick Herron
  • The Best Post-Soviet Spy Thrillers - To the Lions by Holly Watt

The Best Post-Soviet Spy Thrillers, recommended by Charles Cumming

With the end of the Soviet Union, many thought the spy novel was dead. Within a decade, it was back, with old antagonists back in different guises and a new raft of international flashpoints to keep both fictional and real-life spies busy. Here, British spy novelist Charles Cumming, author of more than ten books, recommends five key post-Soviet spy thrillers and explains how the genre has evolved since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  • The Best Fiction of 2021: The Booker Prize Shortlist - No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
  • The Best Fiction of 2021: The Booker Prize Shortlist - The Promise by Damon Galgut
  • The Best Fiction of 2021: The Booker Prize Shortlist - Bewilderment: A Novel by Richard Powers
  • The Best Fiction of 2021: The Booker Prize Shortlist - A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam
  • The Best Fiction of 2021: The Booker Prize Shortlist - The Fortune Men: A Novel by Nadifa Mohamed
  • The Best Fiction of 2021: The Booker Prize Shortlist - Great Circle: A Novel by Maggie Shipstead

The Best Fiction of 2021: The Booker Prize Shortlist, recommended by Maya Jasanoff

This year the Booker Prize finalists include new work from previous shortlistees Richard Powers and Damon Galgut, a sweeping historical novel by Maggie Shipstead, and a fragmentary account of a life lived ‘extremely online.’ Maya Jasanoff, Harvard historian and chair of the 2021 judging panel, talks us through the best fiction of the past year.

  • The Best African Novels - The Famished Road by Ben Okri
  • The Best African Novels - The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
  • The Best African Novels - Burma Boy by Biyi Bandele
  • The Best African Novels - Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Best African Novels - Opening Spaces: An Anthology of Contemporary African Women's Writing by Yvonne Vera (editor)

The Best African Novels, recommended by Blessing Musariri

“We are connected to the spirit and it’s an active connection. It’s not somewhere that’s only in the afterlife, it’s here in the present as well. That, I think, is endemic across all African cultures and traditions,” says Zimbabwean novelist and poet Blessing Musariri. Here she recommends some of the best African novels, books that had a big personal impact and have stayed with her.

  • The Best William Golding Books - The Inheritors by William Golding, with a foreword by Ben Okri
  • The Best William Golding Books - The Spire by William Golding, with a foreword by Benjamin Myers
  • The Best William Golding Books - Darkness Visible by William Golding, with a foreword by Nicola Barker
  • The Best William Golding Books - Rites of Passage by William Golding, with a foreword by Annie Proulx
  • The Best William Golding Books - Lord of the Flies by William Golding, with a foreword by Stephen King

The Best William Golding Books, recommended by Judy Golding

The Nobel laureate William Golding is best known for his novel Lord of the Flies, in which a group of schoolboys marooned on a desert island revert to savagery. But he was a prolific writer who produced eleven further novels, including the Booker Prize-winning Rites of Passage. Here, his daughter and manager of his literary estate Judy Golding selects five of William Golding’s key texts, including The Inheritors—the book he felt to be his best work.