Here’s one to set off a fiery debate around the dinner table. Now that the first storm around #MeToo has settled, This is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill takes a step back and looks at the fallout. Quin, a successful, charming publisher, has been a huge flirt his entire adult life. While never explicitly abusing his power, Quin has always operated at the very edge of acceptable behaviour (sometimes overstepping it). It has now come back to haunt him. Many of us have had a Quin in our lives. What do we think of this one?
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Having spent the better part of my 20s living in New York City, I have a huge soft spot for this iconic place. I crave books that bring back the noises, the buzz, the beauty, the people and the grittiness of the city. Here’s a selection of some of the very best ones.
Self-isolation. It means something different to each of us. Perhaps you are in the company of a partner, roommates, a clan of kids; perhaps you are entirely by yourself. Regardless, the experience of being confined to your household and cut off from the outside world is a lonely one. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson won’t cure loneliness, but it’s the perfect read in which to find solace amid these unusual circumstances. At its core, the book is a compassionate and beautifully-written meditation on solitude and the idiosyncrasies of domestic life.
I can’t think of a better year to turn to plastic-free, (relatively) low carbon footprint Christmas gifts like books. They generate hours and hours of pleasure, can be enjoyed over and over again, can be given away and are recyclable. We have thought long and hard about which books we think will make good gifts and here is our selection for Christmas 2019. Spread the love!
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.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, was published a few weeks ago. The dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale was a game-changer when it came out in 1985, painting a terrifying picture of a totalitarian society in which women had been reduced to birthing machines. The arrival of Trump and religious extremism propelled the book back on the best-seller lists and inspired Atwood to write a sequel. Any follow-up to a brilliantly conceived, ground-breaking creation is a tall order and as much as I found this book an interesting, page-turner (always the case with Atwood, in my opinion), it also feels like a slightly paler version of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Set in Tudor England, The Shardlake Series by CJ Sansom is a series of (currently) 7 books featuring the lawyer Matthew Shardlake and a cast of both real and fictional characters. Packed with mystery, murder and intrigue and a wealth of fascinating historical insights, I admit I have become a bit obsessed. Forget taxing literary fiction, here is your new guilty pleasure.
Packing your suitcase ready for your summer hols? Don’t forget to slip in the odd paperback or two for your kids. Starting off with our favourite reads so far in 2018, here are the books we can guarantee your kids will love!
Cassandra and Judith Edwards are identical twins. Both brilliant and beautiful; one happily engaged to be married, the other severely depressed. This 1960s psychological drama is an intense read that will bring you into the psyche of both protagonists and show the devastating effects of depression not only on the depressed, but also those around. Brace yourself for something much darker and a great deal more profound than the title suggests.