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Wednesday 13 November 2013

What have we been reading recently?

We have been reading up a storm this month but before we get to that, take a look at Authors for Philippines, organised by YA author Keris Stainton. It's a collection of author/editor/agent offerings up for auction to raise money for the recent Philippines disaster (and it's a fast growing list). If you want your manuscript read by an agent, or fancy having a character named after you in a book, head over and donate to an excellent cause.

Now, what have we been reading recently?

Sian: I seem to be on a 'kick-ass women who adore New York' spree and I'm absolutely fine with that. Z: A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald was a fun read (and the cover is a triumph). Zelda fascinates me and this little dip into the jazz age was enjoyable even though it frustratingly glosses over the darker parts of Zelda's life.

My 'I miss New York' phase continued with Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone but I didn't love it. The best bits were about silent movie star Louise Brooks but as the title may suggest, she wasn't the leading lady in the book. Sadly the leading lady bored me to tears and I've already forgotten the ending. I whizzed quickly onto Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck and devoured it in an afternoon. I must now read everything she's ever written.

What next? I'm in the middle of Rona Jaffe's The Best of Everything. It's hard to believe that this book (which Don Draper reads in Mad Men) was written in the 50s. I'm enjoying it so much that I've started to be a little disappointed when my friends are on time.

Kat: A feminist book about living the Bible's advice to women, you say? No really, do carry on. I first read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by the ace blogger Rachel Held Evans last year and zipped through it again in a day for a discussion evening. She's a liberal, Democrat evangelical (three words I did not know worked together) from the US, and this snappy, funny book is intriguing on how women have to reconcile their faith with the fact that the Bible is frequently used as a tool to keep them down.

As well as picking a different tenet of the Bible to live by each month (some are completely mental - camping out in the garden during your period? Thanks, the Bible), Evans interviews women from all over the world from different faiths about what being a religious woman means to them, and how it works. This book also highlights women in the Bible who tend to get ignored, highlighting their achievements, and mourning the tragedies. Fascinating, pro-women and intelligently thought-out, this is a must-read - not least because of the uproar it's caused among atheists and the religious right.

And how could I forget The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt! Utterly amazing. It's bloody long and utterly terrific, and also the size of a house. Finishing that monster in under two weeks is my Best Achievement Of 2013.

Holly: I've just finished The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, a book I had to wait forever for but it was entirely worth it. It's the third in a series of tales following a group of thieves and con men calling themselves The Gentlemen Bastards and I've adored every second of it, ridiculous costumes, shadowy intrigue and plots and flashbacks that twist and turn so brilliantly you start to doubt even the words on the page, really can't recommend these books enough, definitely for lovers of adventure and inventive swearing.

Frances: I've been completely lost in The Backward Shadow by Lynne Reid Banks, the sequel to the marvellous 60s classic L-Shaped Room. She writes about relationships in such an honest and realistic way it's hard to remember the characters aren't real. I can imagine how refreshing it must have felt to read this as a woman in 1970 when it was first released. I may have stayed up to 2am, red-eyed from crying, to finish it.

In complete contrast, I also read IT by Alexa Chung. It's no slog (it took me a bus journey) and, while definitely not heavyweight, I found Chung's scribbles on heartbreak, karaoke and - most importantly - her trademark eyeliner really quite charming. And I'm probably about 20 years older than the intended readership.

Laura B: I haven't had much time for reading recently - big woe - but I zipped through a re-read of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays, which reminded me how much I love a bit of Dids. She's ace. I've also been dipping in and out of How Sassy Changed My Life by Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer. It's a love letter to the American teen mag whose short life made a lasting impression on the publishing industry.

And now? I'm finally able to get stuck in to the copy of The Goldfinch I got for my birthday last month. I am a massive Donna Tartt fan, and reviews - including our Kat's - suggest I am not going to be disappointed by her latest offering.

What have you been reading? Tell us in the comments!


  1. I have to read The Goldfinch next. I feel like I'm missing out on a secret club of book readers.

    1. A Sluttery Book Club? Hmmmm I would bloody love that!

    2. We actually had one! But then Sara made us read a book about rape and incest and we didn't do another one after that...

    3. Soooo not unlike English GCSE then? It wasn't DH Lawrence by any chance?

    4. OH MY GOD I have still not forgiven Sara for that (I have, as had clearly forgotten about it since, and she is one of my spirit animals, but still). Most horrible, ghastly, awful book I've read in ages. It was called Never Mind by Edward St Aubyn. We did, quite a lot.

  2. Joan Didion is ace. I haven't read Play It As It Lays yet though, so that's definitely going onto the reading list.

    After The Goldfinch, of course.

    1. I haven't heard of Joan Didion! *adds to the list*


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