Seeking new book inspo?
THE LITERARY HIT
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
This is a New York Times bestseller and rave review-magnet – with good reason. It’s one of those rare books that’s as clever as it is compulsive, as beautifully written as it is a good old page-turner. I loved the structure – it opens in 1969 New York City when the four Gold siblings, Klara, Varya, Daniel and little ‘un Simon visit a fortune teller, who tells them all when they will die. Then we track each sibling’s life in turn, in the order in which they die (one shockingly aged just 20). The result is an epic, heart-breaking family drama that elegantly ponders questions of fate versus personal choice. I’ll eat my hat if this doesn’t get snapped up for a Hollywood adaptation.
THE MUST-READ MEMOIR
Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan
For me it was The Twits (cue a lifelong phobia of beards – sorry, hipsters), Malory Towers and St Clare’s (this state school girl was weirdly fascinated by boarding schools) and, um, Ralph in Judy Blume’s Forever (*snigger*). What about you? The books and their characters we adore as children wield such identity-moulding powers that echo down the decades. Journalist Mangan re-examines her own childhood reading list and its emotional impact in this nostalgic memoir that darts from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to Sweet Valley High. Joyful and heart-warming.
Selfie by Will Storr
Don’t worry, it’s not a compendium of duckface photos, rather a scholarly but sparkily written social history, subtitled “How the West became self-obsessed”. Journalist Storr takes in psychology, economics, politics, science, culture and more, parses thousands of years of culture and travels around the world to unpick how we’ve got to this juncture – losing hours obsessively taking 800 photos of our own mugs to get the perfect one to share with our followers. That Narcissus has a lot to answer for.
THE GRIPPING YARN
The Years She Stole by Jonathan Harvey
I’m a big fan of a dual narrative novel – where you’ve got two different sets of characters in two different eras and you need to join the dots to work out how they’re connected. Here, we have Rachel in present day, who discovers a life-changing secret about her dying mother. Meanwhile, four decades previously we meet Shirley, who does something very, very bad on the day Charles and Diana marry. As you’d hope from a Coronation Street scriptwriter, Harvey’s strong on characterization and naturalistic dialogue, with these three-dimensional women leaping off the page throughout this warm, witty drama.