What we’re reading this spring
Revamp your reading with our spring recommendations, compiled by staff and authors. From biting memoirs to nihilistic graphic novels, we’ve got you covered.
Libby Marshall, Editorial Assistant
The End of the FXXXing World by Charles Forsman
I love this graphic novel so much! The first time I read it, I absolutely whipped through it (in much the same way that I later binged the excellent Netflix/Channel 4 adaptation). Gruesome and funny and gut-punching – it’s perfect for a springtime, road trip, daydreaming mood.
The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher
That night our cousin Bernard, the bright one in the family who has always seen me at my worst, in railroad stations and such, took us to dinner at a place in Brooklyn hung with life preservers and fish nets. The view, which twinkled foggily through my flow of tears, was lovely, and we ate a rather elaborate prix-fixe meal containing either chicken or steak, I am sure. I decided then, once and for all, that I would never again willingly try to eat in the same room with a dance orchestra, and except for one night in Paris at the Ritz, several years later, I don’t think it has happened.
If I could have a meal with any one writer, living or dead, I would choose M.F.K. Fisher – but I’d make her pick the restaurant, and the wine. I’ve read and re-read this book at least a dozen times, and my copy of the beautiful Daunt Books re-issue has already passed through many hands. Her dry wit and generous prose are utterly transporting.
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
I’ve just finished reading this for the first time, and was entirely transfixed. Kitchen is about a whole lot of things – in such a slim book, Yoshimoto manages to explore grief, death, family, identity, loss and the healing power of a really delicious meal.
Sarah Lough, Children’s Marketing Executive
In Paris With You by Clementine Beauvais (translated from the French by Sam Taylor)
A compelling and beautiful book about Tatiana and Eugene, who bump into each other on the Paris Metro ten years after their teenage summer romance. It’s witty and sarcastic, but also warm, and tells the story of a relationship between two young adults living very different lives, but who are still intrigued by what could have been if things had gone differently.
Spark by Alice Broadway
Spark is the sequel to Ink, Broadway’s debut novel. It’s set in a world where your every significant moment (good or bad) is tattooed onto your skin. When you die your skin is judged and if you’ve lived an overall good life, you will be rewarded. I can’t wait to find out what happens next in Leora’s story!
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
I’ve been planning to read this book since it came out in 2015, but now I need to get a move on because the film (Love, Simon) comes out in April. I’ve only heard great things about both book and film.
Josh Smith, Publicity Assistant
Close to the Knives by David Wojnarowicz
Before he died of an Aids-related illness at the age of 37, Wojnarowicz left behind an incisive and furious collection of essays. Now re-issued with an introduction by Olivia Laing, it’s an evocative indictment of American politics, hugely relevant today, which I will be recommending to everyone.
Census by Jesse Ball
This book about a father and his disabled son is one of the most compassionate novels I have read recently. It canvasses love, frailty and representation. I couldn’t put it down.
The White Album by Joan Didion
I have been wanting to read more Joan Didion since Slouching Towards Bethlehem – she is unbeatable. I’m looking forward to hearing about her meetings with one of Charles Manson’s followers, and her love for Georgia O’Keeffe in particular.
Amelie Burchell, Sales and Marketing Manager
Eve’s Hollywood by Eve Babitz
Eve Babitz has been enjoying something of a renaissance lately, and a well-deserved one. I will be re-reading Eve’s Hollywood while I wait (im)patiently for our friends at Canongate to publish Sex and Rage in July.
Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington
I have a long-held terror of birds, which I blame on my mother allowing me to watch Hitchcock from the age of five. Owls are the exception, though – they are strange and magical and this beautiful book explores exactly why we are so fascinated by them.
Nobody Home: Writing, Buddhism, and Living in Places by Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder is an exceptional poet, ecologist, thinker and human being, and has been a huge influence on me ever since he very generously allowed me to study with him when I was 21. I’m looking forward to spending some time with him via this collection of letters focusing on the experience of everyday Buddhism.
Katharine Kilalea, author of OK, Mr Field
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
I didn’t love Robert Musil’s Young Törless, but have just bought The Man Without Qualities. I have no idea what it’s about but I’m hoping, purely by virtue of its size, to love it in the way I loved books like The Golden Notebook or The Magic Mountain, or (of course) In Search of Lost Time. It sounds superficial to express a preference for bigger books, but relationships do take time, and it makes a sort of sense to me that one might develop deeper attachments to books which stay around for longer.
The Second Body by Daisy Hildyard
I’ve just finished Daisy Hildyard’s The Second Body, which is an essay, in a way, about the difficulty of thinking about climate change. The voice is very careful and elegant – beautiful, even, in a way that hints at a sort of general decorum – but the essay itself is slippery and unwieldy, suddenly funny, suddenly intimate, not at all moral.
Anne Bowman, Head of Sales: North America
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
I am embarrassed to admit that I work at Faber and I have not read The Poisonwood Bible by the legendary Barbara Kingsolver. It’s been on my to-read list for years, but somehow I have not gotten around to it. Everyone in the office seems to be jealous of the fact that I am coming to it new – which makes me excited to begin. There is something exhilarating about the first few pages of a big heavy novel that you are pretty sure you are going to fall in love with.
The Girls by Emma Cline
After listening to the harrowing story of the Jonestown Massacre on the Casefile podcast I have become obsessed with cults. The Girls, by Emma Cline, which got tremendous hype last year, is inspired by the events surrounding the Manson Family in the 1960s. Emma Cline has been called a female Chuck Palahniuk. I’m intrigued.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
Frankenstein is one of my favourite books of all time. 2018 marks 200 years since its original publication and there are loads of celebrations worldwide. I first read this book as a teenager and it challenged my ideas of humanity, science, morality and literature. A chilling, disturbing, inspiring masterpiece.
Hannah Love, Children’s Publicity Manager
Ms Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami
This is a strange and yet gentle little book. A very short novella about a school boy fascinated by a shop worker with blue eye shadow, it’s also about making time to say goodbye properly to those who are leaving us.
Big Bones by Laura Dockrill
This book is a giant hug and a love song to food all at once. I wish I’d had it as a teenager and I want everyone to read it and feel a little more comfortable in their skin.
A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
I’ve finally got my hands on the paperback and I can’t wait to read it as I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It’s a sequel/companion and looks to be filled with as much heart as the first. A sprawling novel full of different species and planets, but driven by friendship.
Clementine Beauvais, author of In Paris With You
The Odyssey translated by Emily Wilson
This Spring I’ll be recommending, gifting, and generally harassing people into reading Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey, which is a thing of pure grace, swiftness, wit and spark. . . Thanks to her, I rediscovered this ancient story entirely.
The Man Booker International shortlist
What I’ll be reading: the winner, and probably two or three shortlisted books on the Man Booker International shortlist. It’s probably my favourite ‘major’ award in Britain. I’ve already read the French ones on there, but I can’t wait to discover the other ones.
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
I keep recommending Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, which I received for Christmas from someone who knows me very well. As a fellow obsessive of the colour blue, I found myself everywhere, and more importantly, much more than myself, in this intense poetic memoir of chromatic passion . . .
Johnny Pelham, Senior Designer
Waste by Eugene Marten
Waste, a novella by Eugene Marten, has been holding the top spot on my swaying to-read pile for a month. Remarkably few people seem to have heard of Marten, but there are two YouTube videos of Gordon Lish comparing his work to the best of DeLillo and McCarthy, and this shining endorsement – in addition to my obsession with stories about work (offices in particular) and a limitless passion for nearly any book that has fewer than 150 pages – means I must read it immediately.
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin
Coming to terms with the death of Ursula Le Guin is taking longer than I expected, but there is still so much of her work left for me to read. The next will be The Lathe of Heaven (if I can find the Panther edition from 1980 to sit alongside my copy of The Dispossessed). A beautiful writer and a beautiful human being.
Who Is Mary Sue? by Sophie Collins
I’m hoping to get hold of a copy of Who Is Mary Sue? by Sophie Collins. What little I’ve read of Collins so far has been unlike anything else. It’s like experiencing forgotten memories or something. I’m also particularly drawn to books of fragments because – like unfinished paintings – they leave space for the imagination and slot more conveniently into the spare few moments afforded to us by daily life.
Hannah Marshall, Marketing Manager
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
This debut novel has been my favourite read of 2018 so far. It’s structure – with a narrative split into three seemingly very different parts – is unconventional but Halliday pulls it off with audaciousness and great skill. It’s an intelligent piece of work, a novel that meditates on big questions – about human nature, about the creation of art and about our relationships to one another – yet the narrative grips you throughout. It’s all very meta but I found it no less profound for that.
To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine
Viv Albertine’s second memoir establishes her as a true master of non-fiction writing. With a central story revolving around the death of her mother and subsequent revelations she unearths about her family, Albertine also deftly touches on everything from the female burden of bodily hair removal to the minefield of dating in middle age. The unravelling of her family’s story is as compelling as a good psychological thriller and the author’s honesty is eye-watering and utterly admirable. This is a book that will stay with me for a very long time.
Motherhood by Sheila Heti
I’ve just started reading the new novel by Sheila Heti (out in May) and I’m already totally hooked. In a form that could pass as novel or essay, Heti’s nameless narrator wrestles with the decision whether or not to have children, with a heady mix of humour and melancholy and everything in between.
Becky Kraemer, US Marketing Manager
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
The voice leaps out of this novel about life as a person with one foot in “reality” as we know it and the other in the spirit world. I had the privilege of hearing the author read a selection, and it was mesmerising. So far, the prose on the page has been, too.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I never studied physics of any kind, so I read a lot on the subject now. I’m also still trying to figure out what happened at the end of Inception.
Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Webber
I devour music biographies – they are my brain candy. I want to know why they wrote it, how they wrote it, and, even if I don’t personally care for the music, why it resonates with people.
Angus Cargill, Editorial Director
Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty
I didn’t want this short, sad, kind novel, about an ageing couple’s weekend break to Amsterdam, to end. How did it not win any literary prizes last year?!
Green Sun by Kent Anderson
It’s the first time I’ve read this author, a Vietnam vet and then police officer who has only ever published three sort-of-crime novels, and this is the first one for years. It follows his usual character, Hanson (also a Vietnam vet) who moves from Oregon to Oakland, CA, to join their underfunded and short staffed police department. Absolutely superb so far.
Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
One of my favourite authors since I first read Queenpin, and she’s been on quite a streak with Dare Me, The Fever and You Will Know Me in the last few years. Really looking forward to her new one.
Ella Griffiths, Editorial Assistant
Who is Mary Sue? by Sophie Collins
The poetry collection of the year, and I hope a future classic. An electrifying and playful collage of verse and prose exploring the politics of authorship, shame, identity, sexuality, pain . . . In fact, almost everything of importance today, and in the most brilliant words.
Immigrant, Montana by Amitava Kumar
One of the wittiest, most stylish cultural satires I’ve read for years. With the best shades of Teju Cole, Hanif Kureishi, and Zadie Smith, Amitava Kumar’s novel follows Kailash’s life and loves as an Indian grad student in New York – and reinvents the campus novel for a new generation with its thrilling mix of sex and politics, humour and darkness.
Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
My new favourite novelist since Mary Gaitskill. When Sophie Bentwood is bitten by a stray cat lurking outside her Brooklyn brownstone, everything she has ever known threatens to implode. . . Fox’s prose is dazzling, and glints with hidden menace as it ruthlessly exposes the fissures in a marriage, not to mention the rottenness at the core of American society.