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November's Read Christie choice is Crooked House

Reading Lists

Read Christie 2021

Welcome back to Read Christie 2021. To receive your copy of the Read Christie list which you can print off (or use digitally) to record your progress throughout the year, simply click the ‘Download the postcard’ button.

This month's theme is 'A story set after WWII' and we’ve chosen one of Christie’s own favourites from amongst her novels, Crooked House. Published in 1949, this story explores plenty of the changes brought about by the Second World War, and some of the difficulties people were faced with in the post-war era. From the outset it is clear the impact that World War II has had on the Leonides family, it is the reason they’re all living under one roof when the patriarch Aristide Leonides dies.

Our November choice: Crooked House

What's it about?

Charles Hayward, our narrator, is in love with Sophie Leonides, and plans to marry her once he returns to England after the war. A family tragedy casts suspicion on every member of the ‘crooked’ household, and Sophie vows not to marry Charles until the truth of her grandfather’s mysterious death is solved. Charles’ father happens to be an Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, so Charles enlists the family expertise to get to the bottom of Aristide Leonides’ poisoning. But a visit to the sprawling Three Gables, their home in Swinly Dean, seems to provide plenty of suspects in this case.

I mean, people are capable of surprising one frightfully. One gets an idea of them into one’s head, and sometimes it’s absolutely wrong.
Crooked House, Agatha Christie

Alternative stories

For this category it is possible to read any Agatha Christie story published after 1945. If you’d prefer to choose one which reflects on the changes people experienced after the Second World War, we would recommend A Murder is Announced, After the Funeral or Ordeal By Innocence.

How to get involved?

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

The book club

We plan to host our book clubs on Thursday 25th November on Facebook and Instagram. We will be running one at 9am GMT, and one at 5pm GMT to help accommodate multiple time zones.

Read Christie 2021 - October - January

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October's Choice is Death in the Clouds

This month's theme is 'A story set on a mode of transport' and readers, we are spoilt for choice on this one! We have chosen Death in the Clouds as it perfectly encapsulates the 'locked-room' element of Christie's transport mysteries, and we wanted to get in one more Poirot story before the end of this year's challenge.

Our October choice: Death in the Clouds

What's it about?

Hercule Poirot is journeying back to London on board the Prometheus from Paris when a body is discovered. The victim, found dead in seat No.2 is a Madame Giselle, and she has been killed in the plane's cabin without a single witness... The reader has a passenger list, a plan of the cabin, an extraordinary inquest and a detailed inventory of the travellers' luggage to help them solve this puzzling crime. Meanwhile Japp is on the case in London, and Poirot must return to Paris to help solve the case, before he himself is implicated in the crime.

A woman had been murdered—they could rule out any question of suicide or accident—in mid-air, in a small enclosed space. There was no question of any outside person having committed the crime.
Death in the Clouds, Agatha Christie

Alternative stories

There are so many great picks for this one, we had to make a reading list! Explore Agatha Christie stories set on transport.

How to get involved?

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

The book club

We plan to host our book clubs on Thursday 28th October on Facebook and Instagram. We will be running one at 9am BST (7pm AEDT, 1:30pm IST, 9am CET), and one at 5pm BST (9am PDT, 12pm EDT, 5pm CET) to help accommodate multiple time zones.

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September's choice is Cat Among the Pigeons

This month’s theme is ‘A story featuring a school’, just in time for that back-to-school September feeling here in England!

Our September choice: Cat Among the Pigeons

What's it about?

This thrilling novel is part murder mystery, part adventure story. In the fictional country of Ramat, Prince Ali Yusuf is facing an imminent revolution and entrusts a cluster of precious jewels to his British pilot Bob. The focus of the story then shifts back to Meadowbank, an exclusive boarding school for girls in the English countryside, where the pupils are returning for the summer term – among them, Bob’s niece Jennifer who had been in Ramat over the spring break. There follows a spate of murders at the school, and Jennifer’s new friend Julia makes a startling discovery which leads her to consult eminent private detective Hercule Poirot.

Nothing, anywhere, could be half as good as Meadowbank! It had seemed to her that nothing could affect the well-being of Meadowbank— But now—Murder!
Cat Among the Pigeons, Agatha Christie

Alternative stories

We’ve picked out a shortlist of great stories that feature children, who – whether they be home-schooled or packing up their pencil cases and protractors – will be feeling all the emotions of returning to education after the holidays.

Young Josephine Leonides is home-schooled in Crooked House, a Hallowe’en Party is held in honour of those children about to move from primary education to secondary schools, and we get an insight into Superintendent Battle’s home life in Towards Zero when he has to deal with a letter from his youngest daughter Sylvia’s school.

How to get involved?

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

The book club

We plan to host our book clubs on Thursday 30th September on Facebook and Instagram. We will be running one at 9am BST (7pm AEDT, 1:30pm IST, 9am CET), and one at 5pm BST (9am PDT, 12pm EDT, 5pm CET) to help accommodate multiple time zones.

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August's choice is Midsummer Mysteries

This month’s theme is ‘A story set by the seaside’. As it’s summer here in England, we wanted to choose something that conjured up the holiday spirit, and we’re so excited to hear what reader’s think of the new book.

Our August choice: Midsummer Mysteries

What’s it about?

This new collection, published in July in the UK, felt like the perfect pick for our August read! Join Miss Marple for a murderous story set on the Cornish coast, or travel with Parker Pyne on board an Egyptian cruise. Hercule Poirot and Mr Quin also feature. Expect kidnaps and ransoms, daring thefts and duplicitous lovers, plus assassination attempts and espionage. Find out more about the collection with our free summer reading guide.

Like the beginning of a novel, eh? Real exciting stuff. Wouldn’t believe it if you read about it.
'The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman', Midsummer Mysteries

This collection contains the following 12 short stories: ‘The Blood-Stained Pavement’; ‘The Double Clue’; ‘Death on the Nile’; ‘Harlequin’s Lane’; ‘The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman’; ‘Jane in Search of a Job’; ‘The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim’; ‘The Idol House of Astarte’; ‘The Rajah’s Emerald’; ‘The Oracle at Delphi’; ‘The Adventure of the Sinister Stranger’ and ‘The Incredible Theft’.

Alternative stories

As Midsummer Mysteries is currently only published in the UK, Hungary and Russia, we wanted to provide plenty of suggestions for global readers. This category has plenty of great Christie stories to choose from! Want to holiday with Poirot? Pick up Evil Under the Sun. Peril at End House would also make a perfect Poirot pick. Travel to the seaside with Miss Marple in The Body in the Library, or delve into N or M? with Tommy and Tuppence. We also think And Then There Were None, or Towards Zero work well for this theme.

How to get involved?

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

The book club

This month we’ve teamed up with HarperCollins UK for a live zoom book club panel. Book your free ticket to the Agatha Christie Summer Book Club Live! Bethany Rutter will be speaking with Sophie Hannah & Alex Michaelides on Aug 25th at 6:30pm (UK time). Sign up to the free event, and don’t forget to submit your questions for the panel: [email protected]. They will discuss the new summer short story collection, Midsummer Mysteries, and the characters that star in the book, as well as their favourite summer Christie stories. See you there.

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In August we hosted a free online Zoom book club to discuss Christie's summer stories
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July's Read Christie choice is The Murder at the Vicarage

This month’s theme is 'A story starring a vicar' and we opted for the first Miss Marple novel, The Murder at the Vicarage. We will examine how Christie uses these staples of village life to support and subvert a reader’s expectations. Our particular fondness for the Vicar's wife Griselda also prompted our choice!

Our July choice: The Murder at the Vicarage

What’s it about?

This novel charts the demise of Colonel Protheroe, who is found dead in the neighbouring vicarage to Miss Marple’s St Mary Mead home. The death, which is termed a “sad business” by investigator Colonel Melchett, seems in fact to be a relief to plenty of people in the village. This story, told from the vicar Reverend Leonard Clement’s perspective, highlights the role Miss Marple plays in deciphering local gossip as well as devious clues, whilst the furiously determined Inspector Slack, and his superior Melchett seem incapable of agreeing on anything. Was the artist, Lawrence Redding, who had recently been rebuked by Protheroe to blame? Or does the murderer come from a little closer to home? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

For all her fragile appearance, Miss Marple is capable of holding her own with any policeman or Chief Constable in existence.
Agatha Christie, The Murder at the Vicarage

Alternative stories

We think it only fair to extend the category of ‘A story starring a vicar’ to any Christie story where a person of the church plays a role. This opens up the works of The Pale Horse, After the Funeral and At Bertram’s Hotel, alongside A Murder is Announced, and By The Pricking of my Thumbs. We hope this gives you plenty of choice for your July pick.

How to get involved?

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

The book club

We plan to host our book clubs on Thursday 29th July on Facebook and Instagram. We will be running one at 9am BST (7pm AEDT, 1:30pm IST, 9am CET), and one at 5pm BST (9am PDT, 12pm EDT, 5pm CET) to help accommodate multiple time zones.

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June's Read Christie choice is Nemesis

June 2021

This time our theme is 'A story featuring a garden' and we have chosen the late, great Miss Marple novel Nemesis. We plan to explore the role of gardens in this work, as well as in others, and also to share insight on Christie's love of the outdoors too.

Our June Choice: Nemesis

What's it about?

Miss Marple is attempting to take it easy at the outset of this novel, she is under strict instructions to resist gardening and too much walking... This recommendation doesn't last long though, as she is summoned to London to meet the lawyers of a late acquaintance, a Mr Jason Rafiel. The pair met in the Caribbean, and he hopes to enlist her help, posthumously, in solving a mystery. The demands are not clear, but when it emerges they involve a renowned tour of English country homes and gardens, our leading lady is pleased she accepted the mission. Will Miss Marple's skills be up to the challenge, as clues to her purpose are difficult to find? We suspect Mr Rafiel's trust is well-placed.

It was possible, Miss Marple thought, that Mr Rafiel might have left her some small memoir or souvenir in his will. Perhaps some book on rare flowers that had been in his library and which he thought would please an old lady who was keen on gardening.
Agatha Christie, Nemesis

Alternative stories

This category has plenty of great stories to choose from. If you'd prefer to read a Poirot novel this month, then why not try Five Little Pigs, or Dead Man's Folly. If you'd rather read some short stories this month then we'd recommend The Thirteen Problems (also starring Miss Marple). If you're looking for a spookier garden angle, you could choose to read Peril at End House, Hallowe'en Party or Sleeping Murder.

How to get involved

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

The book clubs

We plan to host our book clubs on Wednesday 30th June on Facebook and Instagram. We will be running one at 9am BST (7pm AEDT, 1:30pm IST, 9am CET), and one at 5pm BST (9am PDT, 12pm EDT, 5pm CET) to help accommodate multiple time zones.

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May's Read Christie choice is A Pocket Full of Rye

May 2021

This month's theme is 'A story featuring tea’ and we have chosen a marvellous Miss Marple story, to help celebrate the comfort (and danger) of this delightful brew. We will be exploring food and drink in Christie this month, as well as sharing some of our favourite quotes about the power of a cup of tea!

Our May choice: A Pocket Full of Rye

What's it about?

Rex Fortescue, a wealthy businessman is sipping a cup of his preferred tea in the office when he is taken ill. His usually level-headed secretary Miss Grosvenor is taken aback by the violent reaction to his drink, but he eventually makes it to hospital where he sadly dies. Inspector Neele is on the case immediately. Such a sudden death was bound to cause suspicion, but his investigation into the victim suggests that there are plenty of those who might want him dead. Will meeting his young widow, interviewing the staff of Yewtree Lodge, and getting to know his children help him to solve this seemingly deadly poisoning? And does it matter why he died with a pocket full of rye?

‘There wasn’t anything wrong with the tea,’ said Miss Grosvenor. ‘There couldn’t have been.’ ‘I see,’ said Inspector Neele.
Agatha Christie, A Pocket Full of Rye

Alternative stories

If you’d prefer to pick up a different book this month, we highly recommend Poirot’s deadly case One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, 4.50 from Paddington or At Bertram’s Hotel. All three of these feature tea (and scandal).

How to get involved?

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

The book clubs

We will host our May book clubs on Facebook and Instagram on Thursday 27th April. We will be running one at 9am BST (7pm AEDT, 1:30pm IST, 9am CET) on Facebook and Instagram, and one at 4pm BST (8am PDT, 11am EDT, 4pm CET) on Facebook and Instagram, to help accommodate multiple time zones.

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April's Read Christie choice is Murder is Easy

April 2021

This month's theme is 'A story set before WWII'. This category allows readers to choose between any novel, short story collection or play written and published prior to 1939. We loved picking some really intriguing themes this year, but also wanted to include a few, more open categories, so readers could pick from the huge number of Christie stories available to them. We hope this enables you to revisit an old favourite, or to start a Christie you've been meaning to read for the first time.

Our April choice: Murder is Easy

What's it about?

When Luke Fitzwilliam returns to England from police service abroad for the last time, he is disconcerted, and a little regretful for leaving his active life behind. His train trip to London introduces him to a suspicious elderly lady, Miss Pinkerton, who believes she is on the hunt for a killer. Dismissive at first, Luke is roused into action when this seemingly harmless whistle-blower is killed. With an alias in mind, and an accomplice in the inquisitive Bridget, Luke Fitzwilliam heads to Wychwood under Ashe to explore a series of accidental deaths, and to finish what the late Miss Pinkerton started - a search for the truth.

The old lady nodded vigorously. ‘Yes, murder. You’re surprised, I can see. I was myself at first . . . I really couldn’t believe it. I thought I must be imagining things.
Miss Lavinia Pinkerton, Murder is Easy

Alternative stories

If Murder is Easy isn't what you are looking for this month, may we recommend you join HarperCollins US in their reading of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, one of her finest ever novels. If you're in need of a bit of escapism we think The Man in the Brown Suit, The 13 Problems and The ABC Murders are all excellent examples of Christie's pre-WWII writing which would work for this category.

How to get involved?

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

The book clubs

We will host our Murder is Easy book club on Facebook and Instagram, on Thursday 29th April. This month we will be running one at 9am BST (7pm AEDT, 1:30pm IST, 9am CET) on Facebook and Instagram, and one at 5pm BST (9am PDT, 12pm EDT, 5pm CET) on Facebook and Instagram, as per in March, to help accommodate multiple time zones.

Our US publishers, HarperCollins, are hosting a book club too, on Friday April 30th at 3pm (Eastern, US & Canada, 12pm PDT, 8pm BST). It will be free to attend (we will be there), and is part of our promise to deliver book clubs in different formats and time zones in 2021. Register to join bestselling author and Agatha Christie fan Lucy Foley along with crime fiction experts Abby Endler (Crime by the Book) and Molly Odintz (CrimeReads) for a live virtual book club discussion of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Book club attendees will be incorporated into the conversation through a live chat and on screen to share their opinions and thoughts about Christie’s masterpiece. There will also be a lightning trivia round and you’ll be entered to win a Christie prize pack upon registration for the event. Register here

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March's Read Christie choice is Lord Edgware Dies

March 2021

This month's theme - a story featuring a society figure - offers an embarrassment of riches. From Lords and Ladies, to actors and actresses, artists to socialites, Agatha Christie's works often feature these types of people. They add intrigue and glamour, but also showcase the fact that no one is too grand to be embroiled in a murder plot. We are excited to read Lord Edgware Dies this month.

Our March choice: Lord Edgware Dies

What's it about?

The story begins with an introduction from Captain Hastings, who promises to recall the finer details of this Poirot case. In the opening chapters we meet both Carlotta Adams, a comic impressionist, and Lady Edgware, an actress who Carlotta is currently impersonating on stage. Lady Edgware, aka Jane Wilkinson, approaches Poirot later that evening, to ask for his assistance in her divorce from the eponymous Lord Edgware. The Lady is used to getting what she wants, and it seems the Belgian detective is determined to help her too (much to Hastings' dismay). But when George Alfred St Vincent Marsh, fourth Baron Edgware, is found dead before a divorce is granted, there's only one suspect who everyone is focused on... Packed with society figures of all kinds, this intriguing read felt like the perfect pick for March.

I know her, you see. She’d kill as easily as she’d drink her morning tea. I mean it, M. Poirot.
Bryan Martin, Lord Edgware Dies

Alternative stories

If you have recently read Lord Edgware Dies, or fancy choosing a different title this month, we recommend the following other stories: Three Act Tragedy, Sparkling Cyanide or The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.

How to get involved

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

We will host our Lord Edgware Dies book club on Facebook and Instagram, on Thursday 25th March. This month we have taken your votes on when you would like the book club to be hosted, and will be running one at 9am GMT (8pm AEDT, 2:30pm IST, 10am CET) on Facebook and Instagram, and one at 5pm GMT (10am PDT, 1pm EDT, 6pm CET) on Facebook and Instagram.

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February's Read Christie choice is Parker Pyne Investigates

February 2021

This year our book prompts celebrate popular settings, scenes and tropes from Agatha Christie’s works. This month - a story featuring love. Christie’s stories feature a whole host of couples, romances, attachments and types of love. The passion a person feels might be for another person, for money or for power, it might lead them to revenge, or even murder. Looking at the variety of love which emerges in Christie’s oeuvre is fascinating, and we’ve chosen to explore its variety using the short stories of Parker Pyne.

Our February choice: Parker Pyne Investigates

Inline Parker Pyne Advert

What’s it about?

Parker Pyne’s newspaper advertisement attracts a wide-ranging selection of people, looking for solutions to unrequited love, to their thirst for adventure, or to their desire for self-improvement. Parker Pyne makes for an ideal confidant, promising to help his clientele but giving so few details as to how, so readers can take the same leap of faith that his clients do. Can Parker Pyne solve the issue of a wayward partner? Can he inject a bit of life into the bored bank clerk, or the disappointed soldier? You’ll have to read this series of cases to find out... It is a fascinating exploration of love, human drive, and statistics! Expect to meet a few familiar faces too.

In a way, I can understand a clever beautiful woman getting fed up with an ass like me.
'The Case of the Discontented Husband', Agatha Christie

Alternative stories

If you’ve already read Parker Pyne Investigates, or just fancy choosing a different book for this month, we recommend the following alternative stories: The Secret Adversary, Sad Cypress or Giant's Bread, A Daughter's A Daughter (both Mary Westmacott novels).

How to get involved

We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge.

We plan to host our second book club on Facebook and Instagram, on Thursday 25th February at 4pm (GMT).

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January's Read Christie choice is The Hollow

January 2021

Introducing the 2021 challenge

Welcome to Read Christie 2021, our third official reading challenge. To receive your copy of the Read Christie list which you can print off (or use digitally) to record your progress this year, simply sign up to our newsletter. Sign up here

If you’re already a subscriber, you should have received your copy of the Read Christie list in your most recent newsletter from us. Not received yours? Simply email us at [email protected] and we will send it to you.

This year our book prompts celebrate popular settings, scenes and tropes from Agatha Christie’s works. We begin with the ever popular crime category - a story set in a grand house!

Our January choice: The Hollow

What’s it about?

An unlikely (and not entirely likeable) collection of guests are brought together at Lord and Lady Angkatell’s house, The Hollow, for a relaxing weekend. Dr John Christow sets off keenly, with his reluctant wife Gerda in tow, excited to spend time with his hostess, and his beloved Henrietta. Midge Hardcastle eagerly awaits Edward’s arrival, though he too has eyes only for the beautiful Henrietta. David Angkatell is up (or down) from college, no one is quite sure why, and Lucy is nervously anticipating an additional guest, the Crime man with the egg-shaped head.

I’ve asked the Crime man to lunch on Sunday. It will make a distraction, don’t you think so?
Lucy Angkatell, The Hollow

Alternative stories
If you’ve already read The Hollow, or just fancy choosing a different book to begin the year with, we recommend the following alternative stories: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Body in the Library, Crooked House or Curtain.

How to get involved

Simply download and print the Read Christie 2021 postcard. Select your first book, and read it this month. We'll be sharing quotes, clips and trivia on Facebook, and at #ReadChristie2021 on Instagram and Twitter. Join in on social media, via our social media posts, ask questions about the text, and chat with other fans who are also taking part in the challenge. Our first book club will be hosted on Thursday 28th January at 4pm (GMT), on Facebook and Instagram.

Our 2021 reading choices

Puzzling over which titles to choose? We will be reading the following stories throughout 2021.

If you'd like to try a different selection, we recommend the following stories for each category (although some of the prompts have endless choices)

A story set in a grand house: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Body in the Library, Crooked House or Curtain

A story featuring love: The Secret Adversary, Sad Cypress or Giant's Bread, A Daughter's A Daughter (Mary Westmacott novels)

A story starring a society figure: Three Act Tragedy, Sparkling Cyanide or The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

A story set before WWII: Any Agatha Christie book published before 1939

A story featuring tea: Murder is Easy, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe or At Bertram's Hotel

A story featuring a garden: The 13 Problems, Five Little Pigs or Dead Man's Folly

A story starring a vicar: A Murder is Announced, 4.50 from Paddington or The Pale Horse

A story set by the seaside: Peril at End House, And Then There Were None or Evil Under the Sun

A story featuring a school: Towards Zero, Crooked House or Hallowe'en Party

A story set on a mode of transport: The Man in the Brown Suit, The Mystery of the Blue Train, The ABC Murders or Death on the Nile

A story set post WW2: Any Agatha Christie book published after 1945

A story set during bad weather: Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None or Midwinter Murder

This list is by no means exhaustive, but aimed to help you decide on some new reads, and old favourites to accompany you through the year. Picked something different? We want to hear from you! Join in the conversation on social media using #ReadChristie2021.

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