Reading list

These books are hiding Easter eggs

Sometimes books can contain a little something extra – a secret message or inside joke. In a phrase borrowed from game design, these extras are known as ‘Easter eggs’. Here are 9 of our favourite examples.

His Dark Materials/The Book of Dust

Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials followed Lyra and Will, two characters drawn into a struggle across multiple worlds. La Belle Sauvage, the first book in Pullman’s The Book of Dust series, features a baby Lyra.

What's the easter egg?

But Lyra’s not the only familiar character in the novel – savvy readers will have spotted that her rescuer, Malcolm Polstead, made an earlier appearance in His Dark Materials

 

The Power

Naomi Alderman

Alderman’s book explores the fallout of an imaginary future in which women acquire the power to hurt and kill using a new power conducted through their hands.

What's the easter egg?

The book’s hardback cover features a hand in black, with silver foil to signify the power, but there’s a hidden cover under the dust jacket of the hardback edition. Here, a red foil recreation of the power surges across a matt red background.

 

Arthur & George

Julian Barnes

Barnes’ novel is a fictional version of a true story: that of how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle turned detective to prove the innocence of George Edalji, a man accused and convicted of mutilating livestock.

What's the easter egg?

Fans of Sherlock Holmes will love this dramatisation of Conan Doyle’s real-life sleuthing exploits, which is peppered with veiled nods toward the fictional detective’s adventures.

 

Elizabeth is Missing

Emma Healey

Maud is forgetful, but one thing she knows for certain is that her friend Elizabeth is missing.

What's the easter egg?

As Maud unravels the mystery of Elizabeth’s whereabouts, the reader is treated to beautiful illustrations at the start of every chapter, each one depicting a key object from the book.

 

Follow This Thread: A Maze Book to Get Lost In

Henry Eliot, illustrated by Quite

This book looks at real and historical mazes, and how they’re used in literature, art and film. It’s illustrated with a single red line, which you can follow all the way through the book.

What's the easter egg?

Sometimes the text even coils round the pages, making your journey through the book feel a lot like tackling a maze.

 

Charlotte Brontë: A Life

Claire Harman

Harman’s biography of Jane Eyre’s author is essential reading for Brontë fans.

What's the easter egg?

It it also contains another delightful feature - a beautiful black and white map, illustrated by Caroline Harper, which depicts significant locations in Charlotte Brontë’s life, including places that featured in both her own books and her sisters.

 

Love, Nina

Nina Stibbe

This is a collection of letters that the author wrote while working as a nanny, and quite a few famous names pop up in it. Stibbe is nanny to Sam and Will, the sons of Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books.

What's the easter egg?

Their father is filmmaker Stephen Frears, but the most enjoyable surprise appearances are from one of the Wilmers’ neighbours – the author Alan Bennett.

 

The Periodic Table of Feminism

Marisa Bate

Bate profiles 130 women who have played major roles in the feminist movement, from Mary Wollstonecraft to Caitlin Moran, Simone de Beauvoir to Oprah, categorizing them by which wave of the movement they belonged to, and what kind of activism they practised.

What's the easter egg?

For easy reference, there’s a handy periodic table displayed on the endpapers of the book.

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