Journal

10 Books to Read in April

Whilst we're stuck indoors, books feel more important than ever. They provide comfort, entertainment and a chance to escape.

We know you can't browse our bookshops right now, but we know the importance of books, the importance of reading something other than the news. Maybe consider supporting your local indie bookshop by shopping online for a gift certificate for our cafe, whilst you download, loan or listen to these books. Here's a list of our favourites for the month ahead. 

Stay safe, stay home and keep on reading x

Redhead By the Side of the Road, Anne Tyler

From the bestselling author of A Spool of Blue Thread: an offbeat love story about mis-steps, second chances and the elusive art of human connection

Micah Mortimer isn’t the most polished person you’ll ever meet. His numerous sisters and in-laws regard him oddly but very fondly, but he has his ways and means of navigating the world. He measures out his days running errands for work – his TECH HERMIT sign cheerily displayed on the roof of his car – maintaining an impeccable cleaning regime and going for runs (7:15, every morning). He is content with the steady balance of his life.

But then the order of things starts to tilt. His woman friend Cassia (he refuses to call anyone in her late thirties a ‘girlfriend’) tells him she’s facing eviction because of a cat. And when a teenager shows up at Micah’s door claiming to be his son, Micah is confronted with another surprise he seems poorly equipped to handle.

An intimate look into the heart and mind of a man who sometimes finds those around him just out of reach – and a love story about the differences that make us all unique.

 

 

The Book of Longings,  Sue Monk Kidd

'I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.' So begins the exquisitely written new novel from the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings.

Ana is a rebellious young woman, a gifted writer with a curious, brilliant mind, who writes secret narratives about the neglected and silenced women around her. Raised in a wealthy family in Galilee, she is sheltered from the brutality of Rome's occupation of Israel. Ana is expected to marry an elderly widower to further her father's ambitions, a prospect that horrifies her. A chance encounter with the eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything: his ideas and his passion are intoxicating.

Taking Ana on a journey she could never have imagined, The Book of Longings is a glorious evocation of a time and a place where astounding events unfolded, and of one woman's fate when she fights to make her voice heard.

 

 

 

Chosen Ones, Veronica Roth

The mesmerising adult debut from Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Divergent.

When Sloane Andrews and her friends defeated the Dark One, and saved the world, it nearly cost them everything. Ten years later, they are still struggling to put the battle behind them and reclaim their lives. After all, the rest of the world has moved on ... so why can't they?

Of the five, Sloane has had the hardest time adjusting. Everyone else blames the PTSD - and her huge attitude problem - but really, she's hiding secrets from them . . . secrets that keep her tied to the past and alienate her from the only four people in the world who understand her.

On the tenth anniversary of the Dark One's defeat, something unthinkable happens: one of the Chosen Ones dies. When the others gather for the funeral, they discover the Dark One's ultimate goal was much bigger than they, the government, or even prophecy could have foretold - bigger than the world itself.

Last time, it took everything she had. This time, it might not be enough.

 

 

Recollections of My Non-Existence, Rebecca Solnit

In 1981, Rebecca Solnit rented a studio apartment in San Francisco that would be her home for the next twenty-five years. There, she began to come to terms with the epidemic of violence against women around her, the street harassment that unsettled her, and the authority figures that routinely disbelieved her. That violence weighed on her as she faced the task of having a voice in a society that preferred women to shut up or go away.

Set in the era of punk, of growing gay pride, of counter culture and West Coast activism, during the latter years of second wave feminism, Recollections of My Non-Existence is the foundational story of an emerging artist struggling against patriarchal violence and scorn. Recalling the experience of living with fear, which Solnit contends is the normal state of women, she considers how oppression impacts on creativity and recounts the struggle to find a voice and have it be heard.

Place and the growing culture of activism liberated her, as did the magical world of literature and books. And over time, the clamour of voices against violence to women coalesced in the current feminist upheaval, a movement in which Solnit was a widely audible participant. Here is an electric account of the pauses and gains of feminism in the past forty years; and an extraordinary portrait of an artist, by a seminal American writer.

 

 

This Too Shall Pass, Julia Samuel

A leading therapist shares memorable patient stories to explore the key crises in life and what we can learn from them.

Nearly all of us find change difficult. But what wisdom can we glean from 'having a wobble' or 'going through a rough patch'?
Psychotherapist Julia Samuel guides us through how the most troublesome times of our lives can teach us to grow and transform ourselves.

This Too Shall Pass unflinchingly deals with major issues relating to: family, love, work, health and identity. We follow the personal narratives of 20 or so everyday people in their twenties to eighties during their most vulnerable and transformative experiences. We follow Jackson's character-building story of first love; Rachel's difficult return from maternity leave; Maria's mid-life love crisis; Sara's hopeful new life as a refugee and Owen's well-received coming out.

These are unforgettable and deeply intimate yet universal stories. They will resonate with each and every one of us and enlighten our own journeys in times of change - both good and bad.

 

 

Death in Her Hands, Ottesa Moshfegh

From the Booker-shortlisted author of Eileen, a novel of haunting metaphysical suspense.

While on her daily walk with her dog in the nearby woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with stones. Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body.

Shaky even on her best days, she is also alone, and new to this area, having moved here from her long-time home after the death of her husband, and now deeply alarmed. Her brooding about the note grows quickly into a full-blown obsession, as she explores multiple theories about who Magda was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But is there either a more innocent explanation for all this, or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home?

In this triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, we must decide whether the stories we tell ourselves guide us closer to the truth or keep us further from it.

 

 

Slime, David Walliams

WELCOME TO THE ISLE OF MULCH…

This little island is home to a large number of horrible grown-ups. The school, the local park, the toy shop and even the island’s ice-cream van are all run by awful adults who like nothing more than making children miserable. And the island is owned by the most awful one of all – Aunt Greta Greed!

Something needs to be done about them.

But who could be brave enough?

Meet Ned – an extraordinary boy with a special power. Slimepower! 

 

 

 

The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel

The extraordinary novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of Station Eleven.

Vincent is the beautiful bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it's the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: 'Why don't you swallow broken glass.' Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, Emily St John Mandel's The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

 

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, Cho Nam-Joo

The multi-million copy selling, South Korean sensation that has got the whole world talking.

The life story of one young woman born at the end of the twentieth century raises questions about endemic misogyny and institutional oppression that are relevant to us all.

Kim Jiyoung is a girl born to a mother whose in-laws wanted a boy. Kim Jiyoung is a sister made to share a room while her brother gets one of his own. Kim Jiyoung is a female preyed upon by male teachers at school. Kim Jiyoung is a daughter whose father blames her when she is harassed late at night. Kim Jiyoung is a good student who doesn't get put forward for internships. Kim Jiyoung is a model employee but gets overlooked for promotion. Kim Jiyoung is a wife who gives up her career and independence for a life of domesticity. Kim Jiyoung has started acting strangely. Kim Jiyoung is depressed. Kim Jiyoung is mad. Kim Jiyoung is her own woman.

Kim Jiyoung is every woman.

 

 

Sex and Lies, Leila Slimani

From the prize winning and bestselling author of Lullaby and Adele: a fascinating and witty collection of essays on the lives of women grappling with sexual politics in a deeply conservative culture.

In these essays looking at sexual politics in Morocco, Leila Slimani gives voice to young Moroccan women who are grappling with a conservative Arab culture that at once condemns and commodifies sex. In a country where the law punishes and outlaws all forms of sex outside marriage, as well as homosexuality and prostitution, women have only two options for their sexual identities: virgin or wife. 

Sex and Lies is an essential confrontation with Morocco's intimate demons and a vibrant appeal for the universal freedom to be, to love and to desire.