The 2011 book lists digested. What are the must-read lists made of?
Here’s our ultimate guide
1 The novel that would have won the Booker prize if the fools in charge had given me the job rather than that lightweight Stella Rimington.
2 The King James’s Bible. The most compelling piece of poetry in the English language. Not that I’ve read it. Or intend to.
3 The “luminous” first novel of one of the students on my creative writing course.
4 The truly wonderful novel by my good friend that was unaccountably left off every literary prize long-list.
5 The new collection of poems and fragments from D’Erek, the authentic black voice of the underclass and the dispossessed.
6 The book that finally makes sense of string theory and shows you how to use quantum physics to get a haircut like Brian Cox.
7 The heartbreaking biography of a previously unknown major war poet who was killed on the first day of the battle of the Somme having just completed the first verse of his only poem.
8 The paperback edition of the thought-provoking novel by one of my best friends that was published in hardback last year. I know this doesn’t strictly count but he doesn’t have anything else out this year and it’s the only way I can squeeze him in.
9 The shocking deconstruction of modern culture that revealed D’Erek was in fact a white Oxford graduate.
10 The 37-page novella about a man who doesn’t have much to say that felt as rich and satisfying as many 400-page full-length novels.
11 The book whose title I can’t quite remember by an author who once gave me a jacket quote.
12 The brilliantly conceived historical novel that re-imagines the Tudor court of Henry VIII from the point of view of the man who was employed to wipe his arse.
13 Chick-lit often deservedly gets a bad press, but this novel is an exception – principally because I met the author at a publishing do and she’s well fit.
14 The richly satisfying work of modern counter-factualism that examines how Britain would now look if the M25 had never been built.
15 The provocative and groundbreaking insight into Lady Gaga buying her own drinks in a German nightclub that has reclaimed feminism for the 21st century.
16 The brilliantly researched history of the slipper in the Victorian novel by the lead fiction reviewer of the TLS who, I hope, will review my new book favourably next spring.
17 The compelling satire about a phone hacker who goes mad after listening to his own messages by mistake.
18 The astonishing work of literary scholarship that proved Martin Amis was actually only the second-greatest novelist who has ever lived.
19 The masterful novel by the author who promised to nominate my book in return.
20 The brave and heart-lifting account of the Chinese woman who spent 10 years working in a Nike sweatshop before coming out as a lesbian.
21 The utterly forgettable book by the author whose kids go to the same school in Islington as mine.
22 The disturbing first novel about a teenage rioter by a writer who perfectly captures the authentic voice of Huddersfield.
23 The book of counterintuitive cod psychology by an American with a silly haircut that proves if you say something persuasively enough you can end up on a Christmas booklist.
24 The riotous rewriting of The Dead Sea Scrolls in iambic pentameter by the country’s greatest living poet.
25 The stunning, transcendent new translation into Swedish of Pascal’s Pensées.
26 The collected journalism of an old hack who is well past his sell-by date and hasn’t written anything interesting for years but goes to dinner parties with the director of a publishing company.
27 The autobiography of the Higgs Boson particle that is both a savage indictment of Europe in the aftermath of the financial meltdown and a searching, provocative account of our relationship with God.
28 My book, Vertigo: One Football Fan’s Fear of Success. I can’t recommend it highly enough.