#THEPOOLREADS

This week we're reading...

#THEPOOLREADS

This week we're reading...

Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish), Lidia Yuknavitch's gutsy, bloody and unforgiving The Book of Joan and the new Penguin Women Writers series

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Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish), Lidia Yuknavitch's gutsy, bloody and unforgiving The Book of Joan and the new Penguin Women Writers series

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  • Yomi Adegoke is reading... Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch

    Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish), a book on "race, identity and belonging", has set tongues wagging on both sides of the political spectrum, for very different reasons. The memoir of the lawyer turned journalist is at first glance an autobiographical account of a biracial woman, existing within a space many know all too well; "not black enough" to truly feel black and certainly not white enough to be considered "properly British". But, simultaneously, it is the biography of a nation which has also struggled to address and critique it’s own harrowing history – and as much about Hirsch reflecting on the parts of her past that are difficult, uncomfortable and downright painful to address as it is doing the same for the country. It’s very much about looking back in order to move forward, both for Afua and Britain, and it’s surprising just how much of our horrible history has been airbrushed from the likes of "Horrible Histories".
    • BUY Brit(ish) on Amazon or pop into your local bookshop.

  • Sam Baker is reading... The woman in the window by AJ Finn

    I confess I approached this as a hate-read – “This year’s Gone Girl meets Girl On A Train”. Gah! Could it be any more derivative? Even the title made my heart sink. But I was wrong. The Woman In The Window makes no secret of its Hitchcockian pretensions – in fact, it makes a virtue of them, with The Woman herself, Dr Anna Fox, an agoraphobic who spends her days drinking Merlot, watching noir and spying on her neighbours through her Nikon. Until one day one of them is murdered right in front of her long lens. Or is she? Yes, it’s cynical – written by a book editor with the de rigeuer gender-ambiguous pseudonym – but it’s smart, slick and wholly gripping. Plus, I defy you not to download Hitchcock’s entire oeuvre the second you turn the final page.
    • BUY The Woman In The Window on Amazon or pop into your local bookshop.

  • Anna James is reading… the first 4 books in the Penguin Women’s Writers series 

    This week, I've been reading the books in the new Penguin Women Writers series, publishing at the beginning of February as part of the Vote 100 celebrations. Penelope Lively and Kamila Shamsie have both chosen two "forgotten" books to be reissued, and written new introductions for them (Birds Of America by Mary McCarthy (next week’s bedtime bookclub), Meatless Days by Sara Suleri Goodyear, The Lark by E Nesbit and Lifting The Veil by Ismat Chughtai). Two in particular were a revelation to me: The Lark and Meatless Days. Despite counting myself as a Nesbit fan, I wasn't aware she'd written several adult novels, most of which have fallen out of print. The Lark is a wry, charming delight of a book about two cousins having to try and make their own way in the world after their guardian gambles their inheritance away. Escapades include trying to sell flowers, taking in paying guests who don't pay, dressing up as ageing aunts to seem as though they have a chaperone and of course the first blossomings of romance. Meatless Days is a cult classic in India and Pakistan but has never been published in the UK before; it's a memoir of Suleri's life and family as well as a sort of social history of Pakistan. The chapters are organised via the people in her life with a particular focus on the effects of the early deaths of both her mother and her sister. It's a dense, unusual read that you have to really pay attention to, but it is absolutely worth the effort. Her turn of phrase is extraordinary and the book is an incredibly smart, dryly funny and hugely moving read.
    • BUY the Penguin Women’s Writers series on Amazon or pop into your local bookshop.

  • Alexandra Heminsley is reading… Self Care for the Real World by Nadia Narain & Katia Narain PhilLips

    Oh, how I was braced to hate this book. "Self-care" is up there with "adulting" as terms that raise my hackles, but it turns out that this little gem totally hits the sweet spot between gorgeous (but not oppressively girly) design, some neat psychological tricks and a handful of refreshing recipes and meal ideas. It would be as lovely as a gift for oneself as for a good friend.
    • BUY Self Care for the Real World on Amazon or pop into your local bookshop.

     

  • Kat Lister is reading… The Book Of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

    I started reading this the day after the death of Ursula K Le Guin, science fiction's most fearless dreamer. I couldn't think of a better time to rocket myself into Yuknavitch's simultaneously dazzling and harrowing imagination. Gutsy, bloody and unforgiving, The Book of Joan recasts "the Maid of Orléans" and thrusts her into a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by humanity. Humans have now evolved into sexless, hairless, ice-white creatures who hover precariously on a mysterious platform (known as CIEL) above their self-made carcass: earth. Mix Le Guin's gender fluidity with a splattering of gonzo-styled profanity and you're only halfway to understanding why Rebecca Solnit called this a wild and feminist ride.
    • BUY The Book Of Joan on Amazon or pop into your local bookshop.

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