From inspiring biographies and powerful poetry to critically acclaimed fiction and coming-of-age tales, here’s what we’re reading and recommending this spring.
Joanna Lee, Editorial Assistant, Drama
I love this collection. It refracts longstanding questions of identity through the surreal, through unexpected sounds, through speckled bears and sneaky ants. Humour and heartbreak cut through each other with a disarming playfulness which I found really fresh. Also – what a cover!
I have been totally evangelical about this book since I read it. It’s deeply vulnerable without ever descending into self-pity and has an impressive self-awareness and clarity that’s never self-indulgent. I’ve been recommending it with fervour already and will absolutely continue to do so this spring.
Recently longlisted for the Man Booker International, I’m excited to spend some time with The Years. Ernaux writes that her narrative will be ‘composed in an unremitting continuous tense . . . devouring the present as it goes’ – it sounds wild, vast in its scope and relentlessly precise. Yes please!
Annie Eaton, Children’s Publisher
I’m in the middle of The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar. Set in Georgian London and full of wonderful historical detail about all sorts of delicious (and sordid) goings-on, and filled with excellent characters. Can’t wait to get back to it tonight and see how they all end up!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
I enjoyed this book so much that I was actively slowing down as I got towards the end because I didn’t want it to finish…
Beloved by Toni Morrison
An astonishing novel which I came to only recently. Harrowing, profound and beautifully written.
Anne Bowman, Head of Sales North America
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
Evangelical religious cult + reality television = fiction heaven. I’ve wanted to read this since it came out in the states last year.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte
My 3 year old is obsessed with dinosaurs and keeps asking me all sorts of things I can’t answer, so time to brush up on my palaeontology. This book is supposed to be “the ultimate dinosaur biography”.
The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman
With His Dark Materials coming to BBC, and the second book in this series out in Autumn, time to hurry up and read this one!
Stephen Page, CEO
Lanny by Max Porter
I’ll be recommending this to everyone! It’s such a moving, original book, important right now and an instant classic.
Heaven on Earth by T. J. Clark
This brilliantly reviewed book is about looking at paintings that have given form to the dream of a Heaven after life. Including paintings by Giotto, Breugel, Veronese and Picasso.
The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey
An immersive detective story set in a 15th century Somerset.
Hannah Marshall, Marketing Manager
From the first page of Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women, I was completely hooked. Documenting the lives and desires of three ordinary women in America, this is reportage writing that reads like page-turning fiction. Taddeo is masterful at pulling you into the worlds of her three women – Maggie, Lina and Sloane – so that you quickly feel as if you know their interior and exterior landscapes intimately. The result is a book that has the same addictive and suspenseful quality of a hit Netflix drama.
This book is a huge achievement, an immersive work of oral history brilliantly executed by Jon Savage. What I particularly love is how the book really gets into the nitty gritty of the Joy Division story, where the band came from, in a way that shifts the narrative from being primarily about Ian Curtis and what happened to him and framing it in a much wider context. An entertaining, expansive and engaging read.
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky
An unnamed republic under the rule of a violent military occupation in a time of political unrest. After a boy is murdered, the people of the republic collectively use deafness as a method of dissent against the tyranny of their occupiers. Their dissent is coordinated by sign language. This is the compelling premise for Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic. Together the poems in this remarkable collection tell a story which resonates strongly in the world we live in today. It is a work that is both personal and political and is rendered with such beauty that the last lines turn me into a tearful, snotty mess whenever I read them (three times and counting).
Mel Tyrrell, Account Manager
A passionate, gorgeously written and sometimes heartbreaking memoir about family, swimming, literature and love and is my go-to gift for friends at the moment.
I’m currently recommending two forthcoming titles that share sumptuous foiled covers and a dystopian setting, although they are completely different in style.
The Heavens by Sandra Newman
A glorious time-travelling mix of historical fiction and biting contemporary satire.
My Name is Monster is an intimate, almost claustrophobic but strikingly beautiful survival story that I’m sure will be finding its way onto future prize lists.
Rachel Darling, Trade and Communications Executive
Dedalus by Chris McCabe
Drawn to the striking yellow cover of this beautifully produced book, I am hugely excited to read the ‘sequel’ to Ulysses. Set the following day, we finally get to see how bad Stephen’s hangover was (and more besides), as McCabe meshes his text with early RPG computer games as past and modern day Dublin intersect.
It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s by Lisa Blower
I’ve read a few from this collection of stories – the title is an old potteries’ saying that means the outlook is bleak, a little like rain – and look forward to seeing more of Lisa Blower’s raw and starkly funny narratives, most of which feature working-class matriarchs so tough and uncompromising they make you weep.
The Falconer by Dana Czapnik
I did question what yet another young-woman-coming-of-age novel had to offer me, but I stand corrected as the opening pages of this debut have already seriously blown me away with narrator Lucy’s playfully wry and devastatingly apt observations of life in 1990s New York.
Joey Connolly, Faber Academy
Significant Other by Isabel Galleymore
Isabel’s pamphlet Dazzle Ship was a masterpiece of apparent simplicity, the poems’ calm surfaces almost concealing their fierce, profound (and crucial!) thinking about our relationship to the natural world. I can’t wait to see what she’s done next.
Witch by Rebecca Tamás
I can hardly add to the excitement that’s been growing around Rebecca’s debut. She manages to be totally fearless and tender at the same time throughout her poems; her work is absolutely original, contemporary and necessary.
Discipline by Jane Yeh
Jane’s been something of a poet’s poet since her first book, Maribou. She’s effortlessly elegant, constantly surprising, wry as hell.
John Grindrod, Senior Marketing Manager
The Lark Ascending by Richard King
A gorgeous, inspiring, spirited read for anyone into the British landscape and the music inspired by it.
Bona to vada this dolly book on polari. Bold!
Can’t wait to read this novel on London low life and gentrification, looks a dark satirical treat.
Jude Gates, Production Director
Tombland by C. J. Sansom
I can only ingest history in faction form; the Shardlake series is so rich in detail and this one is a mammoth bedside read – it’s a huge Royal hardback so not one for the tube!
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
I’ve just started this one and am ploughing slowly through the intro by Jean Paul Sartre, it’s quite tough going but I need to know more about the devastating effects of colonialism – I think we possibly all do . . .
I’m reading this with my son – this is no dumbed down super hero book for kids it takes a bit of extra explanation as the action moves quickly from place to place. Focused very much on the politics and the characters thoughts and feelings it’s a brilliant progression for the action hero genre with some amazing focused artwork for the action scenes.
Dinah Wood, Editorial Director, Drama
Two irresistible, reissued debut novels, both of which are compared to Catcher in the Rye.
Introduced by the great Akhil Sharma, Upamanyu Chatterjee’s English, August: An Indian Story (1988) is a dazzling, comic tale of self-discovery. We see the world through the irreverent eyes of Agastya Sen, a privileged, marijuana-smoking slacker, who lands a position in the Civil Service in Madna, an insufferably hot, mosquito-infested rural town.
Padget Powell’s Edisto (1984) is narrated in the disarming voice of Simons, a twelve-year-old boy living on the South Carolina Coast with his mother, The Duchess. His voracious reading leads to a vocabulary way beyond his years as he offers extremely funny observations on his own life and the outlandish adult world.