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Olafur Eliasson’s choice of books on the environment

I had the pleasure of seeing artist Olafur Eliasson’s Tate Modern exhibition In Real Life on the weekend and loved his selection of books on the environment which I thought I’d share with you here. As fans of Eliasson will know, environmentalism is central to much of his work as seen in his melting ice blocks displayed in London, Paris and Copenhagen. Some of these titles sound unbearably depressing so I would probably begin with the more solution oriented sounding ones. For an initial call to action, Greta Thunberg’s book is a inspiring place to start.

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Fleishman is in trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

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Fleishman is in Trouble

One to make you howl with laughter

Toby Fleishman is divorcing. He’s had enough of his absent, high-flying talent agent wife, Rachel, who never seems to be satisfied with his job as a doctor, their flat in Manhattan or indeed have time for their two kids. He’s fed up. In his new-found freedom he’s going through a sort of sexual renaissance. New York, it appears, is full of middle-aged horny women who will do anything to get laid by someone like Toby, or, actually, just anyone. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner has descriptions of the befuddling world of online dating that had me, literally, screaming with laughter. But there’s more to this book than clever comedy and the turn to a more serious tone is both its strength and weakness.

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Girl by Edna O'Brien

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Girl

A powerful lesson in resilience

The assault on young women as an act of war is nothing new as the epigraph from Euripides’ The Trojan Women reminds us in Girl by Edna O’Brien. After a year of research including first-hand testimonies from survivors, O’ Brien brings this forcefully into the present as we confront the imagined traumatic fall-out from a schoolgirl’s kidnap and rape by Boko Haram in Nigeria in 2014. In Girl, Edna O’Brien has produced a work that sharply distils language into a reduced and banal form, journalistic in its savage editing and brutal in its delivery. Language is manipulated to transmit emotion, to reveal how men use it to assert power and how trauma denies it space.

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Things That Are by Amy Leach

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Things That Are

An enchanting and unique collection of nature writing

A collection of twenty-six essays like nothing you’ve ever seen before, Things that Are by Amy Leach manages to bring together seemingly opposed ways of approaching the natural world in a brilliant, moving, and hilarious victory. For the scientific and literary alike, for the philosopher and the poet in your life—or in your soul—this collection is a must-read.

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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The Song of Achilles

A heart-breaking, lyrical tale of soul-binding male love

Madeleine Miller is the much-praised author of the recently published and hugely successful Circe, which we at Bookstoker loved. In my view, Miller’s debut novel, The Song of Achilles, first published in 2012 and the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction that year, is even better. This spellbinding novel is a must-read for anyone who loved Circe, The Silence of the Girls , has an interest in the Greek myths or is simply looking for an addictively good read.

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We have a new reviewer!

I’m very excited to announce that Johanne has joined us as a reviewer. Johanne has just started her Masters Degree at the University of East Anglia where she’s focusing on biography and creative non-fiction. She brings a younger voice to Bookstoker and through her passion for translated literature she’ll surely introduce us to books we otherwise wouldn’t have found. Johanne has quietly written some reviews for us already. Have a look. A Stranger at My Table, So Much Longing in So Little Space: The Art of Edward Munch, The Birds, Unquiet and Will and Testament. Welcome Johanne!

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Will and Testament by Vigdis Hjorth

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Will and Testament

‘Endurance is the first duty of all living beings.’

After Knausgaard’s My Struggle series of books, Norwegian readers thought we were used to the dramatic repercussions brought on by the thinly veiled autobiographical novel. Then, in 2016, Will and Testament by Vigdis Hjorth’s  detonated like a bomb. Critics claimed to find many similarities between real people and the characters portrayed in the novel, too many for there to be a coincidence. It was clear: Vigdis Hjorth was writing about her own life and her own family. This led to much debate and even sparked a new genre – the ‘revenge-novel’ – when Hjorth’s sister wrote a novel of her own about what it was like to be made into a character in her sister’s book.

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The Cockroach by Ian McEwan

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The Cockroach

Vermin at the Houses of Parliament

Laughter is the best medicine and for those of you who can’t stand Boris Johnson or Brexit, The Cockroach by Ian McEwan should make you feel a tiny bit better, at least for a fleeting moment. The rest of you might as well stop reading now. The premise is genius: a Kafkaesque metamorphosis in reverse. A cockroach wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and fellow cabinet members, many of whom also used to live under the floorboards of the Houses of Parliament, are seeking to get an absurd economic plan called reversalism, a reversal of all money flows, through the House of Commons. It won’t change your life – or political point of view – McEwan’s political satire, but it will make you snigger. Predictably, The Guardian loved this novella, The Telegraph didn’t. I found it quite funny.

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