I keep telling myself (and others) that I won’t be buying any books in the foreseeable future – and then I do. I had a frustrating few reading weeks, so obviously I need more books to overwhelm me. I make brilliant choices … But then again, I don’t think I can actually have too many books. My own personal rule so far is that I do not want my unread books to be more than a third of my book collection and I am very far away from that.
Since my last haul I have bought 11 books and 1 audiobook.
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
I only owned these books in German (and now not anymore because apparently my father decided there were his all along) and really wanted to have an English edition. I love the way these books look together. While these are not my favourite books, I adored them when I read them and felt my bookshelves were incomplete without them.
Practical-minded Isma has spent the years since her mother’s death watching out for her twin brother and sister in their North London home. When an invitation to grad school in America comes through unexpectedly, it brings the irresistible promise of freedom too long deferred. But even an ocean away, Isma can’t stop worrying about her beautiful, headstrong, politically inclined sister, Aneeka, and Parvaiz, their brother, who seems to be adrift—until suddenly he is half a globe away in Raqqa, trying to prove himself to the dark legacy of the father he never knew, with no road back.
Then Eamonn Lone enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The instrument of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined.
This has been on my TBR for a while now and I finally could not resist it anymore. This sounds like something I will just adore and I need these kinds of books right now.
Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor
From the award-winning author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and Even the Dogs. Reservoir 13 tells the story of many lives haunted by one family’s loss.
Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.
Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.
The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must.
As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.
Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.
An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.
Another one from the Man Booker Longlist that I never got to, this has since been nominated for other prizes and garnered even more praise. There was no way I could not buy and read this. This sounds like something that will either blow my mind or bore me to tears.
Sour Heart – Jenny Zhang
Centered on a community of immigrants who have traded their endangered lives as artists in China and Taiwan for the constant struggle of life at the poverty line in 1990s New York City, Zhang’s collection examines the many ways that family and history can weigh us down and also lift us up. From the young woman coming to terms with her grandmother’s role in the Cultural Revolution to the daughter struggling to understand where her family ends and she begins, to the girl discovering the power of her body to inspire and destroy, these seven stories illuminate the complex and messy inner lives of girls struggling to define themselves.
I was refused for a review copy more than once and this was one of those times I was super disappointed. I hope to read this sooner rather than later because I am so very excited about it.
The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial – Maggie Nelson
In 1969, Jane Mixer, a first-year law student at the University of Michigan, posted a note on a student noticeboard to share a lift back to her hometown of Muskegon for spring break. She never made it: she was brutally murdered, her body found a few miles from campus the following day.
The Red Parts is Maggie Nelson’s singular account of her aunt Jane’s death, and the trial that took place some 35 years afterward. Officially unsolved for decades, the case was reopened in 2004 after a DNA match identified a new suspect, who would soon be arrested and tried. In 2005, Nelson found herself attending the trial, and reflecting with fresh urgency on our relentless obsession with violence, particularly against women.
Resurrecting her interior world during the trial – in all its horror, grief, obsession, recklessness, scepticism and downright confusion – Maggie Nelson has produced a work of profound integrity and, in its subtle indeterminacy, deadly moral precision.
I adored Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts when I read it and have since wanted to read more of her books. I love creative non fiction when it is done right and Maggie Nelson really knows what she is doing. I rarely read true crime (if ever) but I trust her and am intrigued to see how she tells this story of her aunt.
The Clocks in this House all tell Different Times – Xan Brooks
‘An orphan is travelling through the deep, dark woods and discovers that the monsters she encounters are as much tragic as wicked and that the handsome young prince may be ugly inside. The world around her is callous, unjust and horribly scarred by the past. But she brings compassion and even a glimmer of hope.’
Summer 1923. The modern world. Orphaned Lucy Marsh climbs into the back of the old army truck and is whisked off to the woods, where the funny men live. If she can only avoid all the hazards on the path, she may just survive into a bright new tomorrow.
This is on the Costa First Novel Award Shortlist and it sounds so amazing that I am a bit confused as to why I haven’t already read it. From the title to the cover art to the blurb this book amazes me.
The Wrong Way To Save Your Life – Megan Stielstra
From an important new American writer comes this powerful collection of personal essays on fear, creativity, art, faith, academia, the Internet, and justice.
In this poignant and inciting collection of literary essays, Megan Stielstra tells stories to ward off fears both personal and universal as she grapples toward a better way to live. In her titular piece “The Wrong Way To Save Your Life,” she answers the question of what has value in our lives—a question no longer rhetorical when the apartment above her family’s goes up in flames. “Here is My Heart” sheds light on Megan’s close relationship with her father, whose continued insistence on climbing mountains despite a series of heart attacks leads the author to dissect deer hearts in a poetic attempt to interrogate her own feelings about mortality.
Whether she’s imagining the implications of open-carry laws on college campuses, recounting the story of going underwater on the mortgage of her first home, or revealing the unexpected pains and joys of marriage and motherhood, Stielstra’s work informs, impels, enlightens, and embraces us all. The result is something beautiful—this story, her courage, and, potentially, our own.
Intellectually fierce and viscerally intimate, Megan Stielstra’s voice is witty, wise, warm, and above all, achingly human.
I don’t remember whose review it was that made me add this to my TBR, but I know that Roxane Gay’s blurb is what convinced me to buy it (I am so obviously a fan). I have read the first essay already and I can tell that I will enjoy this immensely.
The Beginning of The World in the Middle of the Night – Jen Campbell
‘These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button.
That’s why I bought her heart online.’
Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows.
A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island.
A boy is worried his sister has two souls.
A couple are rewriting the history of the world.
And mermaids are on display at the local aquarium.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of twelve haunting stories; modern fairy tales brimming with magic, outsiders and lost souls.
Jen Campbell is one of my favourite BookTubers and there was no way I would not pick up her first short story collection. Plus, that title.
Dora: A Headcase – Lidia Yuknavitch
Ida needs a shrink . . . or so her philandering father thinks, and he sends her to a Seattle psychiatrist. Immediately wise to the head games of her new shrink, whom she nicknames Siggy, Ida begins a coming-of-age journey. At the beginning of her therapy, Ida, whose alter ego is Dora, and her small posse of pals engage in “art attacks.” Ida’s in love with her friend Obsidian, but when she gets close to intimacy, she faints or loses her voice. Ida and her friends hatch a plan to secretly film Siggy and make an experimental art film. But something goes wrong at a crucial moment—at a nearby hospital Ida finds her father suffering a heart attack. While Ida loses her voice, a rough cut of her experimental film has gone viral, and unethical media agents are hunting her down. A chase ensues in which everyone wants what Ida has.
It will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one that I am a huge fan of Lidia Yuknavitch (exhibit a). I want to read everything she has ever written and I want to read it now. But I also want to take time to do so because I don’t want to not have any of her books left to read. It’s a dilemma.
The Child Finder – Rene Denfield
Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as “the Child Finder,” Naomi is their last hope.
Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.
As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?
This book was surrounded by so much buzz I couldn’t not read it. I rarely read crime fiction but this sounded like something I would enjoy. I have already started listening to this and I am more than half way through and it deserves all the praise it has gotten.
Have you read any of these books and which would you recommend the most? Let me know your thoughts!