Books of the Year

Books editor Brian Donaldson selects his favourite reads of 2006

Alan Warner The Worms Can Carry Me to Heaven One of his less ‘difficult’ books, the Oban-born, Dublin-based writer’s return was a metaphysical lurch into desperation with a Spanish protagonist living in the shadow of HIV. A typical gallery of Warnerian offbeat rogues made this a summer read with a difference.

Gordon Burn Best and Edwards When it comes to dissecting the lives of social and cultural icons (whether they be snooker players or serial killers), Burn is your man. Here, he tackles the wasted talent of two Manchester United legends and asks if celebrity has ever been all that it’s cracked up to be.

Giacomo Papi Under Arrest A captivating collection of mug shots down the years from the rich and famous (Hanoi Jane’s fist salute and Wacko Jacko’s startled alien expression) to the poor and desperate (concentration camp prisoners and Shanghai prostitutes).

Maggie O’Farrell The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox If you were a woman in the 1930s who caused your elders a bit of bother, it was a small room in a mental institution for you. In O’Farrell’s devastating novel, the subjugation of women has shifted only in its methods.

Benrik This Diary Will Change Your Life And that’s a cast-iron guarantee if you follow the advice given here. ‘This week, smile inappropriately’; ‘This week, help finish roadworks’; ‘Monopolise radio phone-ins this week.’ And so on.

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