What to read
We've finally dragged Muddy's books editor Kerry Potter off her sun lounger - she's baaack, baby, with September's finest new tomes. Read all about them.
BOOK OF THE MONTH – The Discomfort Zone by Farrah Storr
September tends to be the time when normal services resumes in our lives – back to work, back to school, back to the daily routine – which makes this an excellent moment to get stuck in to this motivational tome about pushing yourself to do things that scare you. If you’re allergic to earnest self-help guff, fear not – Storr is the straight-talking, wise-cracking editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine (and, side note, if you haven’t read a glossy in a while, try this one – it’s going great guns). She’s crammed this with inspiring expert interviews and solid tips on how to achieve success, whatever that may look like to you (so not necessarily career-related). There’s loads of interesting nuggets, such as her thoughts on how to rebrand fear as excitement. That sweaty-palmed, racing-heart feeling you get when you’re about to make a speech, run a race or start a job interview? That’s a good thing – embrace it!
Hotshots don’t come any hotter than 27-year-old Irish novelist Sally Rooney. Her novel, Conversations With Friends, was a surprise hit last summer and now she’s back with Normal People, which is already on the Man Booker prize longlist and set for a TV adaptation. Set in Dublin, it’s about the enduring relationship between two old school friends from very different worlds. Rooney’s dialogue rings true, her observations are deft and there’s lots of sex. What more can you ask for?
Meanwhile, controversial US author James Frey returns – 12 years ago, he was busted live on TV by Oprah for writing a memoir that contained a few porkies. Sorry Oprah but none of that impacted on how much I love his unusual, sparse writing style. His latest, Katerina, is a compelling, dangerous love story that darts between Paris in the early ’90s and latterday LA. Another welcome return this month is Kate Atkinson, literary novelist and total awards magnet (evidence: A God in Ruins and Life After Life). Transcription is about a young woman working for the BBC in the 1950s whose past as an MI5 agent during WW2 catches up with her.
On an entirely different note, who’s a fan of German cuisine? *Awaits tumbleweed* Well, it’s not all about currywurst, I’ll have you know. New cookbook Strudel, Noodle & Dumplings by the excellently named Anju Dunk (she’s half German, half Welsh) is perfect is you’re craving something a bit different after a summer of salads, with recipes such as white fish dumplings with courgette and tarragon stew. It’ll look chic on your kitchen shelf too.
And while we talking (a) curveballs and (b) exquisitely designed books, allow me to draw your attention to The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton. You’ll recognise the name – Burton wrote historical fiction mega-hit The Miniaturist in 2014 but this new one is her first foray into children’s books. With illustrations by Angela Barrett, it’s a joyful, elegantly written feminist reinterpretation of the Brothers Grimm’s classic Twelve Dancing Princesses, with Burton placing the girls firmly at the centre of the story this time round. Beautiful bedtime reading for children and adults alike.