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 had my heart (willingly) ripped open by Sarah Crossan’s verse novel – which has won or been shortlisted for an inordinate number of prizes this year, including being awarded the Carnegie Medal. One tells the simple and moving story of conjoined teenage twins, Tippi and Grace, as they attend high school for the first time. School delivers all the predictable terrors of judgement and spectacle, but also brings the possibility of greater freedoms and new friendships.
The fact that Tippi and Grace are literally joined at the hip is only one facet of a nuanced story told in beautiful and balanced free verse. Tippi and Grace have both separate and shared desires and identities, and their family of five is only very barely holding itself together. Crossan has managed to show the reader the specificity of being physically entwined with another human being, as well as exploring universal teenage experiences. I cried several times in public places while reading One (mostly on trams), and it’s likely you will too.
Nina Kenwood, marketing manager:
If you enjoyed the Olympics and would like to stay in that headspace a little longer, I recommend you pick up You Will Know Me. Like all of Megan Abbott books, this one is about teenage girls and involves a page-turning mystery, but at its heart, this is a book about sport, and what it means to be at the top of your game. The sport in question is women’s gymnastics and You Will Know Me perfectly captures the physicality involved in the sport, from the toll it takes on your body to the gruelling training schedule and the discipline you need to keep going every day. You Will Know Me is a book about obsession, competition and talent, and reading it will make you rush to watch clips of gold medal winning American gymnast Simone Biles – if you haven’t already.
Lian Hingee, digital marketing manager:
I’m a huge fan of Irish crime writer Tana French and have been eagerly waiting for the next instalment of her Dublin Murder Squad series – The Trespasser. This novel isn’t due for release until late September but (lucky me) a colleague was able to score me an early proof copy.
The Trespasser features the same detectives from The Secret Place – Stephen Moran and Antoinette Conway – but while that story was told by the easy-going Moran, The Trespasser is very much Conway’s story. Acerbic and angry, with a chip on her shoulder the size of Gibraltar and an axe to grind, everything in Antoinette’s life is a battle. The Murder Squad is a boys’ club, and there seems to be a campaign to force Conway out: paperwork goes missing, evidence is tampered with, and Conway has to contend with constant, insidious bullying from the other detectives. When yet another domestic violence case lands on her desk it seems to be a slam dunk, but there’s something off that Conway feels sure that they’re missing… And it’s something that leads directly back to her own workmates.
The Trespasser is a very different novel to The Secret Place, but then, all of Tana French’s novels are very different from one another. This one is a twisty, hard-edged thriller that leaves you feeling uneasy and on-edge and desperate to find out where the line lies between truth and fiction
Kara Liddell, bookseller:
I’m in the final weeks of my postgraduate study and have found that reading for pleasure is proving far more alluring than writing for academia. My procrastination tool/book of choice at the moment is The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis.
Let me preface this by saying that for years I’ve had colleagues and customers recommend Davis’ work to me, and for no discernible reason, I’ve never read any of her writing. It hasn’t been for a lack of interest, she has always intrigued me, rather I’ve just been distracted by other authors. However, I’m currently experiencing excessive amounts of reader-regret. I feel as though Davis would have informed so much of my early- and late-twenties if I’d only read her work sooner. She has an innate ability to write about the awkward, uncomfortable, secretive thought processes we’ve all had in such a way that you don’t feel as though you’re alone with them anymore.
A majority of the stories in this collection are short (some only a quarter of a page long), often uncomfortable and always thought-provoking and strangely reaffirming. I’m taking my time with each story and I loath to finish this book. But, academia calls, I suppose…
Sharon Peterson, assistant shop manager at Carlton:
I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or even by its title, but sometimes it pays to go with what looks or sounds good. It just so happens that I couldn’t resist picking up a book with a title like Three-Martini Lunch and fortunately it’s turned out to be a great read. This second novel by author Suzanne Rindell is set in New York in the late 1950s and follows the lives of a group of young 20 somethings as they try to make it in the world of writing and publishing despite the constraints and prejudices of the time.
Chris Gordon, events manager:
I’ve been reading Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s debut story collection, The Love of a Bad Man, rather slowly as I’ve had to pull away between each story to have a little rest before tackling the next – the book is making me that anxious!
Each story in this collection imagines the inner thoughts of a particular woman who was a lover of a notorious real-life murderer. Some women are foolish, and some are not, but all their stories are horrific. Woollett covers a range of true crime accounts from all over the world and her ability to render each of these women’s experiences as familiar and responsive is truly a gift. Reading this book will allow any voyeuristic tendency you may have to simply go overboard.
Bronte Coates, digital content coordinator:
Songs That Sound Like Blood is a great coming-of-age story for aspiring teen musicians, filled with references to music genres, artists and songs. Author Jared Thomas is a Nukunu man from the Southern Flinders Ranges and, as he did with his award-winning YA novel Calypso Summer, here he again confronts the questions and contradictions that teenage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people come across in their daily lives.
Throughout the book, our protagonist Roxy contends with racism on multiple fronts – from a frightening interaction with police officers, to being forced to explain why it’s important that programs with an exclusively Aboriginal focus exist. She’s also dealing with being a teenager in general – how to balance her study with part-time work, how to decide what to do in the future, how to tell your family you’ve fallen in love with a girl. While this book doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable situations, it ultimately becomes a story of hope.