Looking for a book recommendation? Staff from Readings bookshop share what they’ve been reading this month.
Leanne Hall, Grants Officer for the Readings Foundation:
This month I’ve noticed that teens in our Hawthorn shop have been swarming enthusiastically over a particular book: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. (It has a really great cover – a cold, hard silver crown dripping with red blood.) This week, I gave in to my curiosity and now I know what all the fuss is about.
Red Queen is a delicious cross between Game of Thrones, Divergent and a Marvel comic. There’s a gutsy female underdog, treachery, backstabbing, lusty feelings, two hot princely brothers, terrifying superpowers, and a revolution that NEEDS TO HAPPEN. I don’t even know how to describe the complex world Aveyard builds (post-apocalyptic neo-medievalism?) but it’s compelling and fun.
Chris Gordon, Events Manager:
I’ve just finished an early copy of local author Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry, which is due for release in June. What a tremendous, evocative read. The book’s plot is intriguing, even chilling at times, and Harper’s depiction of the Australian outback community is completely believable.
Think crime – but not straightforward. Think bush – but not with long descriptions of gum trees. Think romance – but not with happy endings. I’m already wanting a follow-up story.
Ed Moreno, Bookseller:
Dom Casmurro is a brilliant classic of Brazilian literature. It’s a sharp, smart and witty mix of nineteenth-century social commentary and postmodern authorial commentary. The first-person narrator’s voice and rambling storytelling style are rich and lyrical, tending towards excess at times, but only in the most lighthearted way. The plot revolves around a lifelong love story, friendship and jealousy. A+, 5 stars, top-notch, must-read.
Annie Condon, Bookseller:
I’ve just finished neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air. This book was published posthumously – Kalanithi was diagnosed with cancer, and died at the age of 37. The memoir was started when Kalanithi knew his diagnosis was terminal, and describes his life in medicine. Kalanithi’s first love was words, and he had pictured himself becoming an English professor prior to discovering the beauty in surgery. This is an honest memoir about the difficulties when a doctor becomes the patient, and also the recalibration of life priorities in the face of death. The writing is breathtaking, and I’m not surprised this book is a New York Times bestseller. It’s a book that will remain with me for a long time.
Alan Vaarwerk, Editorial Assistant for Readings Monthly:
I’m reading Daniel Clowes’ new graphic novel, Patience, which tells the story of a man who goes back in time to stop the murder of his pregnant wife. Clowes’ art style is vibrant and psychedelic, almost garish, which clashes with the grim, almost noir atmosphere – as well as the bloody-minded determinism of the protagonist, Jack, who will stop at nothing to change the course of history. It’s a mind-bending, multi-layered story full of secrets and paradoxes, and a striking and quite beautiful visual experience.
Nina Kenwood, Marketing Manager:
I recently read an interview with author Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney where she said she likes unlikeable characters. I do too, which is lucky, because her debut novel is full of them. The Nest follows the Plumb family through various trials and tribulations (mostly fighting about money), and they’re awful, but awful in a really compelling, enjoyable way. I’ve become a little fatigued of the dysfunctional-New-York-family novel, but all the hype around this one intrigued me, and after devouring it in a couple of days, I can confirm it is a cut above most of its peers. I was completely absorbed from start to finish. It’s a terrific read, and perfect for anyone looking to get lost in a book.
Lian Hingee, Digital Marketing Manager:
I first discovered Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series after falling down a Gone Girl-shaped hole. I wanted to find another contemporary crime novel that was smart, didn’t revel in graphic depictions of violence against women, and had interesting, flawed, but ultimately sympathetic characters. There are five books in this series so far, and each novel follows a different detective through a different case.
The Secret Place is number five in the series. Stephen Moran sees his chance to escape Cold Cases for the high-profile world of the Murder Squad when a former witness presents him with a mysterious note. Discovered on a noticeboard at the prestigious girls’ school the witness attends, the note reads: ‘I know who killed him.’ Moran soon finds himself partnered with the abrasive Antoinette Conway – the lead detective who has previously investigated the murder of a popular teenage boy on the grounds of the very same school.
Over the course of a single day the two detectives attempt to unravel the truth from the secrets and lies, all the while navigating the complicated social dynamics of a girls’ school. The narrative switches from Moran and Conway’s investigation, to the story of four teenage girls whose all-consuming friendship is at the heart of the mystery.
Mike Shuttleworth, Children’s Bookseller:
The last time a novel for teenagers and older children won the overall Costa Prize was in 2001, when Philip Pullman was awarded the then-Whitbread Award for the third and final book of the His Dark Materials trilogy. Now, 15 years later Frances Hardinge has joined him in this distinction for her novel The Lie Tree.
This is the richly-imagined story of 15-year-old Faith whose father – England’s most renowned scientist – disappears amid a deepening scandal. Set in the nineteenth century in the heart of debates about evolution, science and religion, the novel really crackles with energy and ideas, while fine editing keeps the reader well and truly on the hook. Hardinge modulates a number of themes, including the role and status of women, class and authority, and the narrative is masterfully held together through the always engaging character of teenage Faith. The Lie Tree is surely now being measured up by the BBC drama department. Fabulous stuff!
Bronte Coates, Digital Content Coordinator:
I recently read, and loved, Scot Gardner’s new YA novel, The Way We Roll. Like so many of the best books that end up on my shelves, I was recommended this author by a work colleague. She lent me a copy of The Dead I Know and I raced through it in one sitting, leading me to seek out more of his books immediately.
Gardner’s stories of boys moving from childhood to adulthood are subtle and realistic, often gently delving into tough subjects such as homelessness and domestic violence. (Gardner formerly worked as a counselor and youth worker before becoming a full-time writer.) The Way We Roll is no exception and the same colleague who recommended Gardner to me has written a rave review of this novel here. I hope she convinces even more readers to seek this author out.