Welcome back to The Booksellers' Book Club. Here you will find out what Avid staff members are currently reading, have just read, or plan to read next.
The Thinking Woman by Julienne van Loon
Van Loon’s idea for this book came about whilst browsing the philosophy section in a bookshop. She noticed that amongst the large display, there was not a single book that was written by a woman. Aren’t women also important thinkers? In this book, van Loon engages with the works of six women, all leading contemporary philosophers and writers, and applies their ideas to her own life. Van Loon takes philosophy back to its core and examines how it can help us to live a good life.
The Binding by Bridget Collins
Think Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind + Charles Dickens + a love affair between Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter (if he was farm boy) + magic. I loved it!
When Death Takes Something From You, Give it Back by Naja Marie Aidt
This stunning memoir mixes lyrical prose and poetry in a fragmentary style. In it, Aidt comes to terms with the sudden death of her son and discusses writing, motherhood, grief, and philosophy in an astoundingly beautiful way. Aid’s voice took my breath away and I just know that this book is one I will read again and again.
Exposure by Olivia Sudjic
This is a small but powerful book. It looks at female artists and the assumptions we have about their work. It looks at that dreadful feeling of exposure that paralyses any artist before a publication, exhibition or performance, particularly female artists who are fighting against a historical imperative about how to behave. It is comforting to read something like this that puts things in perspective. I think this book will sit on my desk for a very long time.
Everything Under by Daisy Johnson
I thought Lanny would be my book of the year but Daisy Johnson is giving Max Porter a run for his money. This is the story of a lost mother. A child searching for her history, and a mother who is losing her sense of self. It is about the fractured nature of memory about forgetting and struggling to remember. It is told in such a fragmented circling manner that the form of the book reflects the struggles of the characters. I love the piercing sparse prose presented here and the mood which is one of dread and beauty intermingled. Everything Under was the hot favourite to win last year's Booker Prize and reading it now I can see why. It is like an extended gorgeous and terrifying LSD trip. Daisy Johnson is now one of my new favourite writers.
Melmoth by Sarah Perry
Everyone loved Perry's previous novel the Essex Serpent and I will have to go back and read it as I am enjoying Melmoth immensely... Melmoth is a gothic novel about a mysterious presence that watches relentlessly. It is a retelling of the book Melmoth the Wanderer but Perry's Melmoth is a woman and this changes the tale completely. Told in a mix of present day scenes, letters and historical stories this book is a truly modern Gothic fable and Sarah Perry's writing is extraordinary. She can make a living room look like a landscape masterpiece. A very fine writer indeed.
The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
I’ve just finished re-reading The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. I’ve read this so many times, and every reread illuminates something new. The rhythm of Le Guin’s prose, the economy of her story telling, and the way it opens up and illuminates the books that follow and in turn is transformed by those novels make this one of the greatest works of twentieth century fiction.
Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi
I’ve just started this wonderful alt-history supernatural spy drama set between the World Wars England and the Soviet union are at loggerheads, and in a world where the afterlife has been colonised, the consequences are truly spiritual.
Winter Hours by Mary Oliver
I’ve just finished Mary Oliver’s Winter Hours, a collection of poems and personal essays filled with sublime imagery and gorgeous sentences. Mary Oliver celebrates and mourns nature. Spiders, storms and poets are given deep, reflective study. Mary Oliver illuminates the familiar and makes it new again.
Just starting Born to be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey. It’s a fine literary biography of a very interesting and influential artist.
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
I’m reading my daughter Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows, it’s a delight to enter the Wild Wood again and visit old friends. And talking of rereads current picture book favourites (and rereads and rereads) it’s been I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon, Rhyme Cordial by Antonia Pesenti, and Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers, which may be my favourite picture book about a penguin in a very crowded field.
Oh, and I just finished Lanny by Max Porter - loved it! A choral, gorgeous, harrowing, fecund delight of a book.
On the Sunday, She Created God by Gerii Pleitez
These were a really good choice of 100 pages to have spent a Thursday afternoon in. On the Sunday, She Created God centres around a young author, Wren, who leaves Sydney with her two mates in search of snow. Rather than finding this soft and icy ideal Wren has longed to know and touch, the group of misfits instead sift their way through a lot of drugs, regret and emotional wreckage. I enjoyed the pace and poetry of this little gem. The events and emotions are constant; they are jarring and at times they are distressing, but the precision and originality in which they are articulated makes the story refreshingly vivid. A bit like rain. Gerii Pleitez’s debut novel and the inaugural novel from Kara Sevada, an independent publisher whose activities I look forward to following. I also thoroughly appreciated Pleitez’s author photo, a stunning homage to the cover of Patti Smith’s Horses. Right on, Gerii.