More of our contributors - including some new faces to the blog - give us their reading choices. What was on their Christmas list? What have they been hoarding for a special treat? Old favourites, new publications, authors recently discovered ...
As ever, a big thank you to our guests, thanks to whose generosity we post a new review every Monday. We hope you'll find something here to add to your own to-be-read pile.
Can We All Be Feminists is a collection of essays by seventeen writers from diverse backgrounds. Listening to some of the essayists at a Waterstones’ event, and reading Eishar Kaur’s essay on the way home on the train highlights how slow change continues to be – she is writing as a third generation British Asian woman and I am second generation – and also how ‘feminism’ can mean radically different things according to your background, ethnicity and colour.
Hilary McKay: Helen Macdonald's H is for Hawk was my car book. I have car books, I’ve had them for years. Comes from the days of waiting with hot water bottles in the dark outside music lessons, party venues, gyms, schools, all those places that I don’t wait outside of anymore because the children are grown up(ish). So I’ve brought it into the warm, thing of beauty that it is, with that cover. That hawk. Now I’m two chapters in, and it’s as I guessed and as I’ve heard, long distance poetry. I have no fear of finishing it because I know already I’ll just turn to the beginning and start again.
I love it when Jill Dawson takes characters from real life and immerses them in turbulent semi-fictional scenarios - her next book, The Language of Birds (Sceptre, April) plunges us into the 1970s and the infamous disappearance of Lord Lucan. Can’t wait! In the meantime why not read The Crime Writer, her most recent novel which is about Patricia Highsmith? Chilling.
Leslie Wilson: I'm looking forward to reading The Pursuit of Power, Europe 1815-1914, by Richard J Evans. Evans is an author who I greatly esteem, because he has written about Nazi Germany in a dispassionate, enlightening and scholarly way. This book, however, deals with the period between Waterloo and the outbreak of World War 1, the era that my English and Silesian-German grandparents were born into (the latter part, anyway). There was so much going on during that period; the revolutions of 1848, the growth of cultural and political nationalism, colonialism, technological change, but also feminism and trade unionism. Can't wait.
Gwen Grant: A Place in the Woods, by Helen Hoover, is one of my most treasured books. Chicagoans Helen and her husband, Adrian, move to the vast forests on the edge of Minnesota’s northern wilderness. Helen’s deep love and respect for the forest and its wild inhabitants shines through as she shares the beauty and
danger of this world..
Environmentalists, they face many challenges. A violent storm almost destroys their cabin. Hunters appear. Their money runs out. Only when Helen starts to sell her detailed and lovely stories about the woods, illustrated with Ade’s beautiful pen and ink drawings, does the threat to their new life begin to lessen.
Sheena Wilkinson: Christmas is a time for old friends. This year Linda Newbery’s The Key to Flambards sent me back to K.M. Peyton’s originals. My own work in progress is set in 1921, so revisiting the post-war atmosphere of Flambards Divided is fascinating– though my book is set in Belfast which had its mind on things other than horses and racing cars. I’ve recently loved Kate Atkinson’s Transcription, and I hear there’s a new Jackson Brodie on the horizon next year. So that has settled my Christmas reading – a leisurely reread of the first four Jackson Brodie books to get me in the mood.
Bridget Collins: I’m really looking forward to re-reading Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver. It’s a
|Photo: Symon Hamer|