The Friday Five: Our Recommendations (12/08/2016)

There’s nothing better than waking up and realising that it’s Friday and the weekend is nearly here. And what better way to enjoy the weekend than with a good book? At the British Council Library, we know the value of a good book better than anyone, so we’re here with this week’s Friday Five - five great books for you to enjoy this weekend.

Pale Fire

It’s a “demonstration of genius.” A “perfect novel,” that’s spawned nearly 100 academic works of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire is one of the greatest novels ever written by one of the greatest novelists to ever live. It doesn’t get better than that.

The novel’s title comes from a 999-line long poem written by one of its characters, the deceased John Shade, but the body of the novel itself is written by the poet’s friend and colleague, John Kinbote. Though he sets out to interpret the poem, Kinbote mostly ignores it, talking about his own concerns - and the truth behind Shade’s death.

Good for: Poets and writers, people interested in literary criticism, people looking for challenging, postmodern reads.

How to Have Creative Ideas

Another book from our author of the month, Edward De Bono, How to Have Creative Ideas: 62 Exercises to Develop the Mind is an excellent work that will help you get the edge in your work and study.

Let’s face it: we’ve all wished we could come up with something new. Not necessarily inventing something, but finding a way around a problem that nobody else can see. It’s those sort of thinkers that have shaped the world, and Edward De Bono’s work has done a great deal to help people think like them. So what are you waiting for? Grab a copy today 

Good for: people in business or studies who want to think at a higher level than their colleagues

Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station is an award-winning work of parallel fantasy. It’s about a world that developed along different lines, where magic and steam technology exist side by side. 

Set in a victorian-style police state, it tells the story of a scientist, Isaac, who is asked by a winged creature to help him fly again after his wings are clipped as punishment. In the process, they uncover a conspiracy that threatens the lives and minds of people in the city they inhabit, spanning its criminal underworld and corrupt government.

A magnificent story of incredible imagination, Period Street Station is a must-read for people that want to read fiction unlike anything else they’ve read before.

Good for: fiction-lovers and people that wish magic was real

Fantastically Funny Stories

We’ve got a lot of very intelligent stuff on the list this week. But if you’re a young reader or you want something to give to your child, perhaps a dark fantasy from a parallel world isn’t what you want. But this is.

Michael Rosen is a wonderful educator and writer, and knows perhaps better than anybody what children enjoy and how to make them love reading. So how about 25 silly stories written by the man himself? If you want a laugh suitable for younger readers, look no further.

Good for: younger readers, people seeking light-hearted reads, educators


In a world where superheroes are real - and their activities prohibited by government - can a vigilante convince his retired teammates that he has uncovered a plot that threatens millions of lives and avert a global catastrophe?

Watchmen is regarded as one of the finest graphic novels of all time and has been included in lists of the best novels ever (alongside books like the aforementioned Pale Fire). If you have any interest in superhero stories and moral dilemmas or you just want a compelling read, we urge you to read it. It really is brilliant.

Good for: superhero fans, fiction fans, people who like asking the big questions