FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH
Marlena by Julie Buntin
Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbour, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat, inexperienced and desperate for connection, is quickly lured into Marlena’s orbit by little more than an arched eyebrow and a shake of white-blonde hair.
As the two girls turn the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground, Cat catalogues a litany of firsts - first drink, first cigarette, first kiss - while Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby.
Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past.
Alive with an urgent, unshakeable tenderness, Julie Buntin’s Marlena is an unforgettable look at the people who shape us beyond reason and the ways it might be possible to pull oneself back from the brink.
NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Pleasures of Leisure by Robert Dessaix
In today’s crazily busy world the importance of making time for leisure is more vital than ever. Yet so many of us lack a talent for it. We are working longer hours, consuming more than ever before; technology erodes the work-life balance further; increasingly, people feel that only work gives existence meaning. In a world where time is money, what is the value of walking without purpose, socialising without networking, nesting when we could be on our laptops?
Robert Dessaix shows, in this thoughtful and witty book, how taking leisure seriously gives us back our freedom - to enjoy life, to revel in it, in fact; to deepen our sense of who we are as human beings. He explains how we can reclaim our right to ‘rest well', and to loaf, groom, nest and play, as he looks at leisure from many angles: reading, walking, travelling, learning languages, taking siestas and simply doing nothing.
A terrifically lively and engaging conversation that reminds us that at leisure we are at our most intensely and pleasurably human.