Cannongate, £9.99 stg
Erlend Loe had written six children's books in his native Norway before his first foray into the adult world with 'Naïve, Super'. Now, five years after its first publication – and having been translated into ten different languages – its our turn to warm to its charms.
Written in the first person, it simply follows "a young man who doesn't feel so good". Rudderless, he breaks down in tears on his 25th birthday and tells his brother he doesn't understand anything anymore. In a bid to gain perspective, he quits college, sells his TV, leaves his bedsit and agrees to mind his brother's place while he's away in the US. What follows is one man's – and everybody's – quest to separate the fresh from the stale in life. The narrator makes a list of things that excited him when he was little ("animals that were bigger than me", "things that could be thrown"), buys a ball and a toy hammer, reads a book on time and befriends a small boy who lives beside him. Slowly the clouds begin to clear.
For everyone who struggles to get out of bed here's a cure: dip into this book first thing in the morning and last thing at night. It's unlikely that you'll read anything quite so uplifting this year as Loe blurs the lines between self-help and fiction to chronicle his character's attempts to lead a simpler kind of life. Taking what he's learnt as a children's author, Loe applies it to adults and proves that while we may outgrow our early years we should always be able to find our way back in. You'll see yourself in every line and situation, live the ups and downs and still come out smiling. Read it in an afternoon, cherish for a lifetime.