At the age of 54, author Dani Shapiro discovers that her father is not the man who raised her. The Ancestry.com genealogy test results show that not only is she fathered by someone else, but she also has a lot less Jewish DNA than she thought. Having been raised in an orthodox Jewish family, this raises all kinds of questions about identity and belonging. I was enthralled by Shapiro’s detective work as I joined her emotional rollercoaster to find out why, how and who. Inheritance by Dani Shapiro is a human story which raises some compelling ethical dilemmas and is well worth your time.
Ben Lerner’s pot smoking, pill popping protagonist Adam is an endearing, hilarious and vulnerable anti-hero whom I immediately warmed to. On a poetry fellowship to Spain from Kansas, Adam comes weighed down with self-doubt. His knowledge of Spanish is negligible, his skills as a poet questionable. Adam self-medicates to the point that much of his life has become an out-of-body experience. Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner had me in stiches, but just like Adam’s experience of life, this book has layers and layers of meaning, some hilarious, some profound, many of them both.
Bookstoker Young Readers
Is there anything better than a summery read to get you into a sunny mood? Or a summery novel to read on your holiday? To get you into the spirit, we have chosen our top ten summer classics.
If you’re lucky enough to have a voracious teen reader in your life, then you’ll already know what I’m about to declare. Young Adult literature rocks these days. No more sad bookshop shelves offering three Sweet Valley High novels and a dusty Judy Blume. Walk into any large bookshop and you’ll find thousands of YA titles stretching into the striplit yonder (and they’re not all vampire books!) In fact, the diversity and quality of contemporary YA writing makes reviewing new titles a real treat.
Here are a handful of Bookstoker’s favourite picks of YA books for the summer.
I was in awe of Let It Go by Dame Stephanie Shirley, the memoirs of one of Britain’s most successful (and possibly most unknown?) female software company entrepreneurs. I certainly hadn’t heard of this amazing woman before and I’m willing to bet that many of you haven’t either. This inspiring book is the story of her journey from 5-year-old Kindertransport child in 1939 to one of Britain’s wealthiest women and most generous philanthropists.
My article for The Wildsmith Papers this month looks at books by female founders. Sadly, there aren’t exactly an abundance of female founders and of those that exist, few seem to have had time to write books. Nevertheless, I was able to find some and boy what a joy it was to read those books! What an incredible bunch of women doing amazing things. Have a look for yourself!
Russia is divided and trouble is brewing. Revolution is bubbling angrily beneath the surface. The poor are starving and desperate, yet in the Imperial court of Tsar Nicolas II the aristocracy live a life of senseless decadence and wanton excess. Two mysterious sisters burst into the Romanov Court. Princesses Anastasia and Militza arrive from the tiny impoverished backwater of Montenegro and, thanks to their socially aspirational father the ‘Goat King’, are married off to wealthy Russian aristocrats. The Witches of St. Petersburg by Imogen Edwards-Jones is ideal beach reading: gripping, entertaining and gossipy.
Bookstoker Young Readers
We’ve all seen her by now. The little girl with the long plaits and a yellow rain coat desperately trying to save the world. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg is a collection of her speeches, from The World Economic Forum to The Houses of Parliament, from the European Parliament to the UN Climate Change Conference. It’s the clarity of her message and the simplicity of her form that makes Greta and her message so powerful. Read this little book of her speeches and be inspired to act.