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I take the titles for these monthly posts from a number of sources, including the highlighted books on The Bookseller, my own knowledge of authors to watch, and various lists around the web, and while I can’t claim to have read them, they definitely seem to have merit — or, at least, buzz. Unless indicated otherwise, descriptions are taken from Goodreads, Amazon, or the publisher’s site.
The most reliable place to find UK books in the original British English and at the date at which they come out in the UK is bookdepository.com, though you may also have some luck with wordery.com and bookwitty.com.
Around the World in 80 Days, by Mark Beaumont (US, 2nd July, UK, 26th July, memoir)
On Monday 18th September 2017, Mark Beaumont pedalled through the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes earlier he set off from the same point, beginning his attempt to circumnavigate the world in record time. Covering more than 18,000 miles and cycling through some of the harshest conditions one man and his bicycle can endure, Mark made history. He smashed two Guinness World Records and beat the previous record by an astonishing 45 days. Around the World in 80 Days is the story of Mark’s amazing achievement – one which redefines the limits of human endurance. It is also an insight into the mind of an elite athlete and the physical limits of the human body, as well as a kaleidoscopic tour of the world from a unique perspective.
Notes on a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig (UK and US, 5th July, non-fiction)
The world is messing with our minds. Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index. – How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? – How do we stay human in a technological world? – How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious? After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the twenty-first century.
New Female Tribes, by Rachel Paisley (UK, 5th July, non-fiction)
How do you see women? And how do they see themselves? In her role as Head Strategist at the world famous advertising agency J. Walter Thompson, author Rachel Pashley decided to find out. In a global survey orchestrated over five years, over 8,000 women responded, aged seventeen to seventy across 19 countries. The results make fascinating reading. Working with the results, Pashley defines four key ‘female tribes: Alphas (focusing on achievement and career); Hedonists (focused on pleasure and self-development); Traditionalists (women whose chief focus is home and children); Altruists (women who focus on community and environment).
She also asked about women’s values and measures of success. Interestingly, those with more assertive values came from India and Saudi Arabia, while measures of success the world over did not necessarily include marriage or children. As women become more and more empowered, politically and economically, it is clear that their lot is changing across the globe. This book will prove essential reading to all those who seek to better understand women’s dreams, ambitions and goals.
Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené (UK, 5th July, non-fiction, non-fiction)
Black women today are facing uniquely challenging experiences in all aspects of their lives. Yet when best friends Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené searched for a book that addressed these challenges they realised none existed. So Slay in Your Lane – the lovechild of exasperation and optimism – was born. From education, to work, to dating, to representation, money and health, this inspirational, honest and provocative Black Girl Bible explores the ways in which being black and female affects each of these areas – and offers advice and encouragement on how to navigate them. Illustrated with stories from Elizabeth and Yomi’s own lives, and from interviews with dozens of the most successful black women in Britain – including Amma Asante, Charlene White, Jamelia, Denise Lewis, Malorie Blackman and Dawn Butler MP – Slay in Your Lane recognizes and celebrates the strides black women have already made, whilst providing practical advice and inspiration for those who want to do the same and forge a better, visible future.
Floored, by various authors (UK, 10th July, YA)
The Breakfast Club meets One Day in Floored, a unique collaborative novel by seven bestselling and award-winning YA authors: Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood. When they got in the lift that morning, they were strangers. Sasha, who is at the UK’s biggest TV centre desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he’s by far the richest – and best-looking – guy in the lift; Velvet, who regrets wearing the world’s least comfortable shoes to work experience; Dawson, who isn’t the good-looking teen star he was and desperate not to be recognized; Kaitlyn, who’s slowly losing her sight but won’t admit it, and Joe, who shouldn’t be there at all, but who wants to be there the most. And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year . . .
Useless Magic, by Florence Welsh (UK, 5th July, US, 10th July, poetry)
Lyrics and never-before-seen poetry and sketches from Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine.
The Floor is Lava: and 99 more games for everyone, everywhere, by Ivan Brett (US, 10th July, UK, 12th July, games)
There are games to start a party, ideas to trigger conversation, story-telling setups and fiendish puzzles, plus physical challenges, activities to soothe a weary brain and plenty more. In short, there is something for everyone. Here you’ll find games for every occasion:
* beating boredom in the car
* hosting a party
* cooling off in the summer holidays
* sitting around the dinner table
* digesting your Christmas turkey
* being trapped in the house on a rainy day
Eye Can Write: A memoir of a child’s silent soul emerging, by Jonathan Bryan (UK, 12th July, non-fiction)
Jonathan Bryan has severe cerebral palsy, a condition that makes him incapable of speech or voluntary movement. He was locked inside his own mind, aware of the outside world but unable to fully communicate with it until he found a way by using his eyes to laboriously choose individual letters, and through this make his thoughts known. In Eye can Write, we read of his intense passion for life, his mischievous sense of fun, his hopes, his fears and what it’s like to be him. This is a powerful book from an incredible young writer whose writing ability defies age or physical disability – a truly inspirational figure.
The Madonna of Bolton, by Matt Cain (UK and US, 12th July, fiction)
On his ninth birthday, Charlie discovers Madonna, and falls in love. His obsession sees him through some tough times in life: being persecuted at school, fitting in at a posh university, a glamorous career in London, finding boyfriends, getting rid of boyfriends, and family heartbreak. Madonna’s music and videos inspire him, and her fierce determination to succeed gives him the confidence to do the same. Ultimately, though, he must learn to let go of his idol and find his own voice.
Squad Goals: The Friendship Book, by Ella Kasperowicz (UK, 12th July, US, 4th September, gift book)
Everbody has their own squad, a group of friends who you can rely on. The sassy one, the brainiac, the hot mess, the dizzy one, the party animal, the compulsive messager, the surrogate mum. Squad Goals celebrates all the facets of friendship, with burning issues for you to debate such as: ‘Which cockatil would you be?” and “Who is the most likely to live to 100 or spend a night in jail?”. Illustrated throughout by talented artist Ella Kasperowicz, this book is the perfect gift for birthdays, bachelorette parties and graduation.
The Boy At the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q Rauf (UK, 12th July, kids/middle grade)
There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He’s nine years old (just like me), but he’s very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets – not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite! But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn’t very strange at all. He’s a refugee who’s run away from a War. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to help. That’s where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we’ve come up with a plan. . .
The Lost Letters of William Woolf, by Helen Cullen (UK, 12th July, fiction)
Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers. When William discovers letters addressed simplyto ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love? William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.
The Tidal Wife, by Kaddy Benyon (UK and US, 15th July, poetry)
Kaddy Benyon’s second collection, The Tidal Wife, is concerned with islands: both as physical landforms and as emotional states; the need to retreat and be cut off as much as the need to reconnect and come to trust the pulse of one’s internal tide. The poems address the day-to-day realities of being wife, mother, poet at the same time as living with mental illness. They draw on the glory and fury of nature’s flora, fauna and weather systems to describe shifting states of ‘I’.
Best British Short Stories 2018, ed. Nicholas Royle (UK, 15th July, literary short stories)
This new series aims to reprint the best short stories published in the previous calendar year by British writers, whether based in the UK or elsewhere. The editor’s brief is wide ranging, covering anthologies, collections, magazines, newspapers and web sites, looking for the best of the bunch to reprint all in one volume.
Mandela: His Essential Life, by Peter Hain (UK and US, 18th July, biography)
Mandela: His Essential Life chronicles the life and legacy of one of the twentieth century’s most influential and admired statesmen. Charting his development from remote rural roots to city lawyer, freedom fighter, and then political leader, Peter Hain takes an in-depth look at Mandela’s rise through the ranks of the African National Congress (ANC) and subsequent 27 years imprisonment on Robben Island, as increasingly vocal protests against the injustices of Apartheid brought his struggle against overwhelming prejudice and oppression to the eyes of the world. This book encompasses Mandela’s inauguration as South Africa’s first democratically elected president, his “retirement” campaigns for human rights, a solution to AIDS and poverty. It goes on to chronicle his later years and death. Throughout, the humanity and compassion of this extraordinary world leader shine through. The author concludes with a critical analysis of his and the ANC’s achievements, its leadership’s subsequent slide into corruption, and whether under new direction South Africa can reclaim the values and legacy of Mandela, and the `rainbow nation’ he created and led to such global acclaim.
A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings, by Helen Jukes (UK, 26th July, memoir)
Entering her thirties, Helen Jukes feels trapped in an urban grind of office politics and temporary addresses – disconnected, stressed. Struggling to settle into her latest job and home in Oxford, she realises she needs to effect a change if she’s to create a meaningful life for herself, one that can accommodate comfort and labour and love. Then friends give her the gift of a colony of honeybees – according to folklore, bees freely given bring luck – and Helen embarks on her first full year of beekeeping. But what does it mean to ‘keep’ wild creatures? In learning about the bees, what can she learn of herself? And can travelling inside the hive free her outside it? As Helen grapples with her role in the delicate, awe-inspiring ecosystem of the hive, the very act of keeping seems to open up new perspectives, deepen friendships old and new, and make her world come alive.
I Am Heathcliff, ed. Kate Mosse (UK, 26th July, literary short stories)
16 modern fiction superstars shine a startling light on the romance and pain of the infamous literary pair Heathcliff and Cathy. Short stories to stir the heart and awaken vital conversation about love.
One in a Million, by Lindsey Kelk (UK, 26th July, romantic comedy)
Annie Higgins has given up on love: she’s too busy trying to get her own business off the ground. Infuriated by the advertising agency across the hall making fun of her job, Annie accepts their crazy challenge – to make a random stranger Instagram-famous in just 30 days. And even when they choose Dr Samuel Page PhD, historian and hater of social media, as her target, Annie’s determined to win the bet – whether Sam likes it or not. But getting to know Sam means getting to know more about herself. And before the 30 days are out, Annie has to make a decision about what’s really important…
Plus, out in the US this month:
Dear Mrs Bird, by AJ Pearce (3rd July, literary fiction)
London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down. Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.
How to be Famous, by Caitlin Moran (3rd July, contemporary fiction)
I’m Johanna Morrigan, and I live in London in 1995, at the epicentre of Britpop. I might only be nineteen, but I’m wise enough to know that everyone around me is handling fame very, very badly. My unrequited love, John Kite, has scored an unexpected Number One album, then exploded into a Booze And Drugs HellTM – as rockstars do. And my new best friend – the maverick feminist Suzanne Banks, of The Branks – has amazing hair, but writer’s block and a rampant pill problem. So I’ve decided I should become a Fame Doctor. I’m going to use my new monthly column for The Face to write about every ridiculous, surreal, amazing aspect of a million people knowing your name. But when my two-night-stand with edgy comedian Jerry Sharp goes wrong, people start to know my name for all the wrong reasons. ‘He’s a vampire. He destroys bright young girls. Also, he’s a total dick’ Suzanne warned me. But by that point, I’d already had sex with him. Bad sex. Now I’m one of the girls he’s trying to destroy. He needs to be stopped.
The Lido, by Libby Page (10th July, contemporary fiction)
Rosemary Peterson has lived in Brixton, London, all her life but everything is changing.
The library where she used to work has closed. The family grocery store has become a trendy bar. And now the lido, an outdoor pool where she’s swum daily since its opening, is threatened with closure by a local housing developer. It was at the lido that Rosemary escaped the devastation of World War II; here she fell in love with her husband, George; here she found community during her marriage and since George’s death. Twentysomething Kate Matthews has moved to Brixton and feels desperately alone. A once promising writer, she now covers forgettable stories for her local paper. That is, until she’s assigned to write about the lido’s closing. Soon Kate’s portrait of the pool focuses on a singular woman: Rosemary. And as Rosemary slowly opens up to Kate, both women are nourished and transformed in ways they never thought possible.