The best list of books of this kind I've come across is the list of Easy Reads on the British Council's EnCompass Literature website. It includes reviews of fiction and poetry, as well as links to related websites. Many of the titles on the list are available at the British Council Library. (I put them into the last shopping list I prepared.)
Here's a little taster picked at random:
Douglas Adams The Hitchhikers Guide to the GalaxySee? Nothing dumbed down or pulpy about this list. Good stuff, just easier good stuff.
William Boyd Fascination
Anita Brookner Hotel du Lac
Mavis Cheek Janice Gentle Gets Sexy
Carol Anne Duffy The World's Wife
Heln Fielding Brigit Jones Diary
Anne Fine All Bones and Lies
Esther Freud Hideous Kinky
Susan Hill A Bit of Singing and Dancing and Other Stories
Nick Hornby About a Boy
Alexander McCall Smith The Number One Ladies Detective Agency
Tony Parsons Man and Wife
Meera Syal Life Isn't all Ha Ha Hee Hee
Fay Weldon Watching You, Watching Me
Readership needs to be grown. We all know the school system here doesn't do enough to make this happen, largely because of a lack of funding for school libraries, partly because of a lack of willpower. Many, if not most school-leavers have not learned to fall in love with books, and if there isn't a reading culture in Malaysia, someone has to create it!
I actually think that the bookshops should play a more active role in promoting titles of this kind. (Instead of, she says cynically, giving so much space to Dan Brown, patron saint of marginal readers.)
And talking of well-written popular fiction, Nick Hornby, a writer I enjoy very much, talks about his novel A Long Way Down at The Age website.
Literature for the Sub-Literate (4/3/06)