Some of our books contain secrets! Well, many of our books contain secrets – most thrillers have characters in them who are loose with the truth and the best novels usually hang on something being revealed that was previously hidden. This Autumn, we’ve decided to showcase some of the best books with secrets. If you visit our libraries over the next few weeks, you’ll find displays of staff picks of ‘Secret Reads’ – some of our picks are below but first, why do we love a book with a secret?


What is a secret read?

There are many reasons you could describe a book as a ‘secret read’. It might be one you read in secret and don’t want people to see you reading (we hope that’s not the case as no one should ever hide what they enjoy reading!). If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that I enjoy a good cowboy romance and once, that would have been my secret read though now my colleagues know to wave anything cowboy related under my nose. 

Your secret read might be one that has the big twist that as a reader you always try to figure out but then don’t see coming. It might be one that has ‘secret’ in the title or it might be a title that tells its secret on page one and spends the rest of its pages revealing it to the characters in the book. 

The book with the biggest secret from the last few years, for me, has to be ‘The Da Vinci Code‘ by Dan Brown. It’s one that a lot of people read and were gripped by as Professor Robert Langdon raced against the clock to unearth the secrets behind the brutal murder of a French cryptologist. Having read all the Dan Brown books, I do enjoy his use of mystery and conspiracy, ideas that could be true and the adventure of uncovering secrets that have been hidden in plain sight.

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Is a twist the same as a secret?

Many books are marketed as being full of ‘twists that you’ll never see coming’. While some may not always live up to the hype, there have been a few recently that I  have read, enjoyed and did not see the ending coming. I really enjoyed ‘The Holiday‘ by T M Logan. It led you one way in thinking about the characters then pulled the rug out with its twists and turns before a climatic finish. It was the perfect summer read!

Now, I’m not a reader who skips forward (unlike some of my colleagues) so I enjoy finding the twists as I go along. If you’re looking for novels with a good twist, give ‘The Cutting Season‘ by Attica Locke a try or ‘I Let You Go‘ by Claire Mackintosh. I would also recommend ‘Defending Jacob‘ by William Landay and ‘Behind Her Eyes‘ by Sarah Pinborough and my colleagues are currently discussing the twists in Louise Candlish’s ‘Our House‘ as we’ve recently added that to our Reading Group Collection.


Books with ‘secret’ in the title.

Sometimes, we all need a bit of direction and if a book has ‘secret’ in its title, that is a sure sign that something will be revealed during its pages. I loved ‘The Secret Garden‘ by Frances Hodgson Burnett growing up and where would we be without ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets‘? ‘The Secret Life of Bees‘ is one that is currently sat on my TBR pile and who could forget ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4‘? Donna Tartt, whose most recent novel ‘The Goldfinch’ hits our cinema screen soon, wrote ‘The Secret History‘ while ‘The Secret Keeper‘ by Kate Morton weaves its tale with mystery as you would expect.

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It’s not just fiction either. If you want to uncover the world’s most secret places, have a look through ‘100 Places You Will Never Visit‘ or search the catalogue for ‘conspiracies’ – my particular favourite is ‘Conspiracy Theories: mystery and secrecy‘ and anything on the Kennedy assassination gets the thumbs up! The Secret Barrister‘ takes you behind the scenes of what goes on in the British justice system. If sport is more your thing, ‘The Secret Footballer’ series was recently joined by ‘The Secret Footballer – what the physio saw‘ which will no doubt be an eye opener and if you missed ‘The Secret Life of Cows‘, now is your chance to discover all. A good one for this time of year, as schools go back is ‘The Secret Teacher‘ or if finding out about the hidden lives of well-known authors is more your reading pleasure, try ‘Jane Austen, the Secret Radical‘.

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Our Autumn 2019 ‘Secret Reads’

For displays in many of our libraries this Autumn from next week, we’ve chosen books that have secrets at their heart – family secrets, terrible secrets that would shatter worlds if they were revealed, hidden knowledge and people who will do anything to keep their secrets secret. Not all are thrillers as you might expect, though all promise a reading experience full of surprises that will keep you reading from start to finish.

My favourite has to be ‘The Woman Who Took in Parcels and Opened One‘. It’s something that we all do for neighbours and our neighbours do for us but what happens if you took a peek at the delivery? And what if the contents were not something you’re supposed to have seen? When an innocent peek turns into a nightmare for the characters in this book, this promises to be a gripping read this Autumn.

We’ve also chosen books that ask some big questions about how we live in today’s world – where is the line between public and private? In ‘Social Creature‘ by Tara Isabella Burton, relationships are spotlighted and the lines between friends and enemies are blurred. ‘Resin‘ by Ane Riel takes its inspiration from communities who live outside of government systems – think Tara Westover’s ‘Educated’ and other books about groups who shy away from society. Translated from Danish, this tells the story of Liv who ‘died’ when she was six and how her family navigate their world.

Some of the secrets that feature are earth-shattering. In Hannah Beckerman’s ‘If Only I Could Tell You‘, 30 year old family secrets lead to tense situations while in ‘One Year Later‘ by Sanjida Kay, dealing with grief after a daughter’s death leads to revelations that threaten to tear a family apart.

There will also be some thrilling crime and serial killer books – ‘Jar of Hearts‘ by Jennifer Hillier follows Geo whose best friend, Angela, was killed by Geo’s high school boyfriend, Calvin. Geo knew but kept the information secret for many years while Calvin went on the run. When dead bodies start showing up again, Geo has a choice to make.

If award-winners are your choice, have you come across Steve Cavanagh who won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year for ‘Th1rt3en‘ (all those spellings are correct, even if they don’t look it!)? Hollywood murders, courtroom dramas and killers revealed!

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We hope you’ll enjoy unearthing some secrets this Autumn. Let us know in the comments any of your recommendations and don’t forget to check out BorrowBox too as a keyword search on there for ‘secret’ will bring you lots of variety to choose from.

Happy reading!

ED