Happy May, everyone!
Here’s my roundup of British books hot off the press this month, chosen because they have buzz or critical acclaim or because I find them interesting. (Descriptions are taken from online retailers.) It’s a rough time for both authors and bookshops, and I’m sure they would love your support. It’s even more important than usual to buy from independent bookshops at the moment — and Bookshop.org is a great resource for that.
Where to buy the books:
- I have mostly linked to Blackwells.com — a small and excellent UK chain which ships inexpensively worldwide. I’ve searched high and low for reliable, non-Amazon ways to get British books in the US with inexpensive postage costs and Blackwell’s is the best thing I’ve found. These are also affiliate links, so you’ll be sending a few pennies my way, too.
- I’ve also included a link to a further list of mine at the new British arm of Bookshop.org, the online platform for buying books that profit shares with independent bookshops. Not only are you supporting independent bookshops when you buy from them — and those bookshops really need our help right now — you’re also supporting the podcast, since I get a generous commission through the links without adding any costs to you. They don’t ship worldwide, however, so this link is for those of you based in the UK.
- I’ve also included a link to the US arm of Bookshop.org. This list highlights British books published in the US this month. Note that this won’t be the same list, as not all British books make it across the pond, and when they do, their publication date is often later. That’s why each title links to Blackwells.com — that’s your most reliable way of getting the British book.
How to Kidnap the Rich, by Rahul Raina (UK, 6th May, US, 1st June)
Ramesh has a simple formula for fame and success: find a wealthy kid, make him a star and create an elaborate scheme to extort money from his parents, what could go wrong?
As a self-styled ‘examinations consultant’, Ramesh is the cog in the wheel that keeps India’s middle classes thriving. When he takes an exam for Rudi – an intolerably lazy but rich teenager – he accidently scores the highest mark in the country and propels Rudi into stardom. What next? Blackmail. Reality television. Grotesque wealth. And after that? Kidnap. Double-kidnap. Reverse kidnap.
In a studio filled with hot lights, with millions of eyes on the boys, and a government investigator circling, the entire country begins to question: who are they?
The Answer to Everything, by Luke Kennard (UK, 13th May)
Emily should be happy. She has a nice husband (even if they rarely speak to each other, let alone sleep in the same bed), two little boys she loves (even if a full night’s sleep is a distant memory) – and now, a brand-new house in which they can live out all of the bourgeois fantasies she knows she should be ashamed of. But still she aches for something more.
Enter Alathea and Elliott, their new neighbours, and also parents of two young boys. Alathea is intimidatingly confident and beautiful, but also disarmingly open and friendly. And Elliott … Elliott is intriguing. Dishevelled, talented, charming and a little lost, he seems as fascinated by Emily as she is by him, and soon their friendship has reached an intensity neither of them seem able to control.
Careless, by Kirsty Capes (UK, 13th May)
At 3.04 p.m. on a hot, sticky day in June, Bess finds out she’s pregnant.
She could tell her social worker Henry, but he’s useless.
She should tell her foster mother, Lisa, but she won’t understand.
She really ought to tell Boy, but she hasn’t spoken to him in weeks.
Bess knows more than anyone that love doesn’t come without conditions.
But this isn’t a love story…
Smiley Eyes, Smiley Faces, by Dawn McNiff and Zoe Waring (UK, 13th May)
Toddlers today are growing up in a world where adults wear face masks outside the house. Everyone is wearing them, from the bus driver to the shop assistant!
In Smiley Eyes, Smiley Faces, they can take an interactive journey through the town, meeting different face-mask-wearers along the way. Toddlers can then lift the mask-shaped flaps to reveal the smiley faces underneath the bright, colourful masks. They can even lift their own mask at the end of the day with the surprise mirrored finale!
The Yearbook, by Holly Bourne (UK, 13th May)
Most likely to…be forgotten
Working on the school newspaper, Paige is used to dealing with fake stories. How popular girl Grace is a such an amazing person (lie). How Laura steals people’s boyfriends (lie). How her own family are so perfect (lie).
Now Grace and friends have picked their “best” high-school moments for Paige to put in the all-important Yearbook. And they’re not just fake. They’re poison.
But Paige has had enough of all the lies in her life. And with the help of Elijah – the only boy who could ever understand her – she’s going to reveal the truth,
Slug, by Hollie McNish (UK, 13th May)
From Finnish saunas and soppy otters to grief, grandparents and Kellogg’s anti-masturbation pants, Slug is a book which holds a mirror lovingly up to the world, past and present, through Hollie’s driving, funny, hopeful poetry and prose. Slug is about the human condition: of birth and death and how we manage the possibilities in-between.
Mother Mother, by Annie MacManus (UK, 27th May)
Mary grew up longing for information about the mother she never knew. Her brother could barely remember her, and their father numbed his pain with drink.
Now aged thirty-seven, Mary has lived in the same house her whole life. She’s never left Belfast. TJ, who’s about to turn eighteen, is itching to see more of the world.
But when his mother disappears, TJ begins to realise what he’s been taking for granted.
Mother Mother takes us down the challenging road of Mary’s life while following TJ’s increasingly desperate search for her, as he begins to discover what has led her to this point.
Cut from the Same Cloth, ed. Sabeena Akhtar (UK, 27th May)
Perceived as the visual representation of Islam, hijab-wearing Muslim women are often harangued at work, at home and in public life yet are rarely afforded a platform on their own terms. Whether it s awkward questions, radical commentators sensationalising our existence, non-Muslims and non-hijabis making assumptions, men speaking on our behalf, or stereotypical norms being perpetuated by the same old faces, hijabis are tired.
Cut from the Same Cloth? seeks to tip the balance back in our favour. Here, twenty-one middle- and working-class women of all ages and races look beyond the tired tropes, exploring the breadth of our experience and spirituality. It s time we, as a society, stop with the hijab-splaining and make space for the women who know.
You Are a Champion, by Marcus Rashford (UK, 27th May)
Marcus Rashford MBE is recognised worldwide for his journey both on-and-off the pitch – but how did a boy from south Manchester become not only an International footballer but also one of the leading activist voices in the UK? In this inspiring, positive and practical guide, Marcus gives YOU the tools you need to reach your full potential and will show you that your possibilities really can be endless.
In You Are A Champion: Unlock Your Potential, Find Your Voice and Be the BEST You Can Be, Marcus Rashford MBE draws on stories from his own life to show you that success is all about the mindset. You’ll find out how positive thinking can change your life, build mental resilience, learn how to navigate adversity and discover the unstoppable power of your own voice. You already have the tools you need to achieve your dreams; you just might not know it yet.