Somehow, we’re already over half-way through 2018 and as the summer holidays approach I’ve had lots of people asking me what books they should read on holiday. So for this blog, I thought I’d try and pick my five favourite books from the first half of 2018, whether or not you fancy reading them on holiday is up to you.
Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
Let’s start with one I actually read on holiday, shall we? My general rule is that if a book is recommended to me by two or more people in a short space of time then I should ignore the pile of unread books next to my bed and read it immediately. As was the case with this beautiful book. Homegoing traces two parallel family trees through every generation from the colonised Gold Coast to twenty-first century Mississippi. The stories in this book intertwine seamlessly, to reveal how slavery and colonialism leave indelible traces. So much happens in so many different places (in the world and in time) and yet every character in Gyasi’s book is fully formed and deeply complicated. Homegoing is a really special book.
There’s also lots of interesting period commentary in this book if you’re here for the #Periodically blogs.
The Cows – Dawn O’Porter
I’ve talked about this book a lot since I read it in January, so why would I stop now? Everyone I’ve recommened The Cows to so far has loved it and it always kickstarts some really interesting conversations about motherhood, womanhood and, for want of a better word, unmotherhood. The book has a twist that literally dropped my jaw – I’ve had texts of shock as each of my friends have reached this page. Want to know what the twist is? Well, you’ll have to read it.
Read my full review of The Cows here.
Chanson Douce – Leïla Slimani
In English this book is called Lullaby – you’ve probably heard of it as it’s been all over the place with headlines like, “The Killer-Nanny Novel that Conquered France.” It’s such an unusual, gripping and dark book. Thrillers are not usually my cup of tea, but I might have to reconsider that after Chanson Douce. The social, political and moral issues it explores give this book a real edge. This was one of the first contemporary French novels I’ve read and now I must read more.
Hag-Seed – Margaret Atwood
This half-play half-novel is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and is Atwood like you’ve never read her before. Set in a Canadian prison, this contemporary retelling uses Shakespeare’s themes and Atwood’s skill to create something brand new and brilliant.
Read my full review of Hag-Seed here.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
If you’re looking to swatt up on BME history in the UK this book is a great place to start. Eddo-Lodge’s voice is so refreshing and hard-hitting, informed yet digestible that it creates something truly unique. Her chapter on White Feminism was particularly poignant to me, as well as her discussion about how it’s no longer enough to simply just not be racist. I loved it so much that I then binged her podcast About Race, which I also recommend.