*COMPETITION CLOSED* 8 Best sellers that weren’t crap: Competition and book reviews

This article from the Guardian in 2012 lists the 100 best selling books of all time. As I was looking through the list I found there was a lot of crap on it (Dan Brown and EL James, I’m looking at you). But I was pleasantly surprised to find some of my favourite books on it, I’d definitely recommend checking them out if you haven’t already. I’m also giving away a £10 Amazon voucher in my competition (see Gleam app below) so you can treat yourself to a new book. So here are 8 best sellers that weren’t crap:

Curious Incident1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon) (N0. 20) An insight into life with autism, this book follows the investigations carried out by Christopher, a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, after he discovers the body of his neighbour’s dog. It is fascinating and moving at the same time as while he can manage complex maths problems with ease (I still don’t get the one about probability!) he fails to grasp the complexities of human behaviour and relationships.


Hungry Caterpillar


2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle) (No. 25) Lovely introduction to counting and days of the week. I love the beautiful illustrations and the last page is a favourite with little T- he loves to wave his arms like a butterfly fluttering its wings.



Gruffalo3. The Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson) (No. 26) This and The Very Hungry Caterpillar are definite must-reads for young children. My little boy loves pointing at all the different animals in the book, and I enjoy the ingenuity of the mouse!




Time Traveller's Wife4. The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) (No. 32) This clever book deals with some of the practical issues faced by a time traveller such as the need to steal clothes and why driving is a bad idea. I really enjoyed this book, although I was expecting it to make me cry and it didn’t.




Atonement5. Atonement (Ian McEwan) (No. 33) I am a big Ian McEwan fan. Although not my favourite book of his, Atonement, like his other books, is exquisitely well written and a thoroughly enjoyable read.




Captain Corelli6. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Louis de Bernieres) (No. 36) I love this book. I first read it while on holiday in Cephalonia (where the book is set) and we had an extract from it as one of the readings at our wedding. The occupation of the island by Italian forces results in the collision of European politics with the everyday life of local doctor, Iannis, and his beautiful daughter, Pelagia. Arriving with the occupying forces is Captain Antonio Corelli, who just wants a have a peaceful war and play his beloved mandolin. This bittersweet story had me laughing and crying in equal measures.


Life of Pi7. Life of Pi (Yann Martel) (No. 38) After a tragic shipwreck, on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are 16 year old Piscine ‘Pi’ Patel, a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a tiger named Richard Parker. A novel like nothing I’ve read before, Life of Pi is a true classic.




Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

8. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne) (No. 62) The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a brilliant book about the son of the Commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp. The poignancy of the situation viewed through the innocence of childhood makes for fascinating reading. This beautiful book had me in tears with its unexpected turn of events.



These were my favourite books from the Guardian’s list. Now’s your chance to win a £10 Amazon voucher using the Gleam app below. Good luck!

Wonderfully Average £10 Amazon voucher giveaway

U, me and the kids

123 thoughts on “*COMPETITION CLOSED* 8 Best sellers that weren’t crap: Competition and book reviews

  1. Carie

    I liked Atonement, and the children’s books are classics, but I wasn’t sure whether I liked the Time Traveller’s Wife. I think I was a bit blindsided by the miscarriage storylines which while relevant to the plot were just not what I needed to be reading at the time. I think The Alchemist is my favourite of that list 🙂
    Carie recently posted…Living Arrows 2015: 29/52My Profile

    • Helen Post author

      There were some upsetting scenes in the Timetraveller’s Wife, I’d imagine especially so if it resonates with personal experiences. Overall I liked the book but I didn’t love it, I thought it was an interesting new take on a theme that has been done so many times before, but I felt slightly disappointed with the last few chapters, not really sure why. Thanks for the recommendation, will check out The Alchemist.

  2. Stephen

    This is a good list, I have read some of these and now have some more to read. May miss out the children ones though 😉

  3. Simon C

    The last book I read was “Death and the Penguin” by Andrey Kurkov‎. I don’t know it’s a best-seller or not, but it is a stonkingly good read. Magnificent.

  4. Sian Round

    Just read ‘Elizabeth is Missing’. My grandma lent it to me so I was just reading it out of courtesy but I ended up loving it. Read the whole book in 2 days! Definitely worth a read!

  5. Sarah-Jane Laycock

    I have both read the book and seen the film of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Both are very firmly etched in my mind – innocence vs utter futility and ultimate tragedy pulls very hard on human emotion. Brilliant characterisation in the book

  6. Soph H

    One Day and A Thousand Splendid Suns. One Day because it was just beautifully bitter sweet and A Thousand Splendid Suns because it just opened my eyes.

  7. Jodie Cook

    Apparently The Very Hungry Caterpillar was my favourite book as a child – so much so, that still to this day, my mum refuses to ever read it again! Haha, whoops!

  8. Robbie_d

    Apparently I loved the hungry caterpillar as a kid, so I’ve just got it for my boy, I’m sure he’ll love it.

  9. Fari

    The hungry caterpillar is a classic and I loved it as a kid, but after re-reading it as an adult to a child I thought it was overhyped and not all that haha

  10. Frances Heaton

    I read the ’50 shades’ trilogy, which were best sellers, also enjoy reading Sophie Kinsella and Katie Fforde.

  11. Elaine Savage

    I read Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and enjoyed it but didn’t find it anywhere near as good as her earlier novels, especially Started Early, Took My Dof

  12. Francesk

    I read all these except captain corellis mandolin and the gruffalo. Probably my favourite is atonement but I did cry buckets at the boy in the striped pyjamas!

  13. Laura Jeffs

    The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton ..it’s an amazing read, simply outstanding! Hopefully Ms Burton will write a sequel.. 😉

  14. Emma Hogg

    Ive been going through the classics and loving them. I love beautiful use of language in the classics. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the last book I read. Ive read this book a few times over the years and really love the Jonathan Harker opening narrative build up.

  15. Lucia

    I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel a few months ago (it’s a NYTimes Bestseller, although I’m not sure if it was as successful over here) and I just couldn’t put it down. It painted such an interesting picture of what is most important in a post-apocalyptic landscape. It follows a group of travelling actors and musicians across the United States (as well as a few other characters here and there) after a flu pandemic wipes out the majority of the world’s population in a short space of time. Would thoroughly recommend it to everyone!

  16. Miriam

    I’ve read most of the children/teen books on the guardian’s list… Harry Potter multiple times! I’ll have to make an effort to read some more grown up books this summer!

  17. Natalie D

    I read the very hungry caterpillar to my son the other day – I haven’t had time to read any grown up books recently though!

  18. Jo wakefield

    Of that list I’ve read three, am ashamed to say the very hungry caterpillar and the gruff all are about as far as my reading goes nowadays.
    How I dream of a toddler who goes to bed early so I can relax

  19. Ane S

    I have not read any of these but i have watched The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas which is incredibly moving.

  20. Jennier Turnbull

    I have just finished World Without End by Ken Follett the sequel to The Pillars Of The Earth. I loved these books, they were so absorbing and interesting.

  21. Darrell

    I’m pleased to say that I have read 7 books from the Top Ten!!! However, they were all written by J K Rowling and were all Harry Potter stories – but they were all EXCELLENT!!

  22. Rachel C

    Me and my daughter read the very hungry caterpillar in the library recently.. she would love to own it 🙂

  23. June

    The boy in the striped pajamas, life of pi and the curious incident are some of the best books I have ever read so couldn’t agree more. As for the hungry caterpillar, a childhood classic that I made sure to pass on to my three younger sisters.

  24. Barry Page

    I tend to read lots of autobiographies, but usually wait until they go down in price – have just finished Stephen Fry’s ‘More Fool Me’ and am about to start Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Total Recall’

  25. Victoria N

    I loved the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas but was in tears throughout most of it. Would certainly recommend it to others.

  26. Helen W

    i haven’t read any best sellers at the moment but i am reading Agatha Raisin and the Haunted house by M C Beaton

  27. Jeremy Hards

    Recently completed the 7 books in A Song of Ice and Fire. Fantastic books, so much better than Game of Thrones on TV and that is pretty engrossing.

    I don’t read many best sellers as I tend to be concerned that they are hyped up and rarely live up to expectation.

    I have read some that went on the become best sellers due to films being made. The Boy in Striped Pyjamas was fantastic as was the The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo.

    Best book was The Book Thief which I got when it first came out in hardback. It was a special offer at a new bookshop and it looked interesting. Didn’t take long to read but is one of the best books I have read.

  28. Janice Mackin

    No, I don’t have much time for reading. I did read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time years ago. I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Gruffalo to my children.

  29. Emma Gibson

    I have just read I am pilgrim and absolutely loved it. Not my typical choice, but extremely interesting and well written.

  30. Tracey Redfern

    i have only read the Time Travellers Wife and Fault in our Stars..hopefully during the holidays i will get chance to read more

  31. Pam Lawrence

    I read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,which I found painfully sad, but well-written. I quite liked The Time-Traveller’s Wife (hubby loved it!), and really thoroughly enjoyed The Curious Incident etc! This year on hols I took Shift and Dust by Hugh Howey, as I had read Wool on a previous holiday, and I was thoroughly engrossed in that dystopian world – or should that strictly-speaking be worldS!? And as an antidote I also took and read Never Go Back by Lee Child …. Mmmn, I started by devouring every Reacher novel, but frankly I think it may just be time for him to settle down, get a wife or a dog, and take up competitive mowing, as I think every possible permutation has been penned by Mr Child by now!

  32. DawnLouise

    Currently attempting to read Game of Thrones but being kept way too busy with Julia Donaldson books thanks to my boy!!

  33. Helen Metcalfe

    I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my 2yr old niece the other day, think I liked it more than she did! Currently I am reading my way through Agatha Christie books as I hadnt read any before.

  34. Scott

    I recently read “Lurking in the Deep”.
    It’s an anthology of water-themed horror, fantasy and paranormal stories, which I enjoyed very much. it was in the Amazon top 10 books for the first week of its release, and I thoroughly recommend it.

  35. Jordanne

    I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time years ago and I freaking loved it! I will check out The Time Travelers Wife after your description of it, thanks.

    I’m currently reading Don’t Drink the Nine by PM Briede and Twisted Tales Anthology, myself.

  36. Angela Kelly

    I tend not to read bestsellers as I usually find them underwhelming. Alternatively they can make me angry when some of them are just poorly written yet sell millions of copies! I may read Go Set A Watchman soon, but I don’t think I can handle the idea of Atticus as a racist.

  37. Megan Kinsey

    I’m reading the Harry Potter series for the first time….definitely see what the fuss is about, I can hardly put them down!

  38. israr baig

    Read the mortal instrument Book 2, i thought of it as OK but not really got into the characters all that well.

  39. Angela Wilcox

    I’ve just recently finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray (I’d never read it!) and The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull. Waiting on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell arriving in the post then I will be starting on that. Reading some more of the complete Sherlock Holmes while I am waiting for it to arrive.

  40. Sammi McSporran

    I’ve just finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which is a bestseller I believe! It was good, definitely, but not as good as many other books without that “bestseller” status!

  41. Victoria Prince

    I haven’t read any bestsellers recently, but I did go and see The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime at the Bristol Hippodrome – I thought it was brilliant, such a good story that really conveys autism


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