The Buttercup Cafe’s bookish review of 2011

Sarah Weal's Book Christmas Tree. Photo taken from

We’ve been inspired by this amazing book tree on a fellow Lewesian’s blog (Sarah Weal’s Tales Through a Lens). It made us think that maybe we should start building a book tree here in The Buttercup Cafe – made from everyone in the cafe’s best reads over the next 12 months. Anyone up for joining a Buttercup book club for 2012?

Every newspaper, TV show and radio programme seems to have had their review of the year. So why shouldn’t we! Here is The Buttercup Cafe book-loving team’s very own literary review of 2011.

Claire’s first recommendation is Alan Bennett’s Smut. “Observational, dark and of course very funny in that Bennett way.”, she says.

Claire’s dad (aka Pappa Buttercup) has chosen Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, a novel based in Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia. “Takes a while to get into but is brilliant.”, he says.

Dani-Lola's best read of 2011: Patti Smith's Just Kids

Another team pick is Patti Smith’s autobiography, Just Kids. A great description of a hip, New York world of artists, writers and musicians in the 1970s. Oh, and it has a very cool photo on the cover too.

Helena’s picked the moving and very cleverly written Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters. Make sure you’re feeling robust before reading this bleak biography.

Amanda says, “In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan (first published in 1968) is a perfect balance between beauty and tragedy.”

Harvey’s picked Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. “A brilliant interweaving of fairytales. Dark and captivating.”

Flora recommends Ottolenghi’s Plenty. A collection of vegetarian recipes from Yotam’s Guardian column which has been running for the last 4 years. “An elegant cookbook; fresh recipes that work well after inevitable over-indulgences of Christmas cooking! Try the globe artichokes with crushed broad beans”.

Claire says The Healing Code will change your life! “And Sue Minns’ Soulmates is a great book to reflect on both good & bad relationships in your life.” Ideal for those New Year’s resolutions.

Puff G (known as Geoffrey to some) is king of the audiobook. Crime, murder and extortion are his favourites. A wonder that he sleeps at night! He’s picked Nemesis by Jo Nesbo (Scandinavian crime fiction) as his best this year.

Sophie says Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend is her read of the year. Mr & Mrs Boffin, Mr Venus and Mr & Mrs Veneering – surely some of the best character names ever. (And yes, we’re all very excited about Great Expectations on the telly this Christmas. BBC1, Dec. 27th, 9pm)

Will's pick of the books for 2011: Dick Francis' Whip Hand

Will says his pick of the year has to be a Dick Francis. He’s chosen, Whip Hand, “a classic racing thriller”.

Flora’s pick for younger Buttercup visitors is The Doll’s House Fairy. “A beautifully illustrated, magical book by Jane Ray about a wild, chocolate eating fairy that moves into a doll’s house and causes havoc.”

And Jasper says his best book of the year will always be The Beano Annual. Unbeatable.

Happy reading to one and all!

p.s. Have you spotted Ilaria’s handmade paper christmas trees in the cafe?They are made from the Guardian’s The Guide supplement. The mag makes the most robust of Christmas trees. Who would have known! A great piece of recycling which we’re sure the Guardian would be most proud of.