Chosen by booksellers, these are the books to read each month! Every month we will add a children’s and adult fiction title, so make sure to keep checking back.
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Still Life by Sarah Winman
1944, in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening. Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the wreckage and relive memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in a particular Florentine room with a view.
Evelyn’s talk of truth and beauty plants a seed in Ulysses’ mind that will shape the trajectory of his life – and of those who love him – for the next four decades. Moving from the Tuscan Hills and piazzas of Florence, to the smog of London’s East End, Still Life is a sweeping, joyful novel about beauty, love, family and fate.
China Room by Sunjeev Sahota
Read the heart-stopping new novel from the Booker-shortlisted author of The Year of the Runaways.
Mehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. She and her sisters-in-law, married to three brothers in a single ceremony, spend their days hard at work in the family’s ‘china room’, sequestered from contact with the men. When Mehar develops a theory as to which of them is hers, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk.
Spiralling around Mehar’s story is that of a young man who in 1999 travels from England to the now-deserted farm, its ‘china room’ locked and barred. In enforced flight from the traumas of his adolescence – his experiences of addiction, racism, and estrangement from the culture of his birth – he spends a summer in painful contemplation and recovery, finally gathering the strength to return home.
By Ash, Oak and Thorn by Melissa Harrison
Three tiny, ancient beings – Moss, Burnet and Cumulus, once revered as Guardians of the Wild World – wake from winter hibernation in their beloved ash tree home. When it is destroyed, they set off on an adventure to find more of their kind, a journey which takes them first into the deep countryside and then the heart of a city. Helped along the way by birds and animals, the trio search for a way to survive and thrive in a precious yet disappearing world …
By Ash, Oak and Thorn
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip William
In 1901, the word ‘bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.
Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutter to the floor unclaimed.
Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.
The Dictionary of Lost Words : The International Bestseller
Weirdo by Zadie Smith and Nick Laird
Meet Maud: a guinea pig who inexplicably wears a judo suit – and not everyone understands or approves. When Maud is thrown into a new and confusing situation, it takes brave decisions and serendipitous encounters for her to find her place and embrace her individuality. The charming characters of Magenta Fox, whose work is evocative of Raymond Briggs and Janet Ahlberg, perfectly offset Zadie and Nick’s warm, wry prose.
Weirdo is an endearing story about the quiet power of being different by two veteran writers, and introduces an exciting debut illustrator. Together they have created a picture book that adults and children alike will treasure.
Body of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter
A bold and dazzling exploration of fate and female agency in a world where women own the future but not their own bodies. Like every woman, Celeste Morton holds a map of the future in her skin, every mole and freckle a clue to unlocking what will come to pass.
With puberty comes the changeling period – when her final marks will appear and her future is decided. The possibilities are tantalising enough for Celeste’s excitement to outweigh her fear. Changelings are sought after commodities and abduction is rife as men seek to possess these futures for themselves.
Celeste’s marks have always been closely entwined with her brother, Miles. Her skin holds a future only he, as a gifted interpreter, can read and he has always considered his sister his practice ground. But when Celeste’s marks change she learns a devastating secret about her brother’s future that she must keep to herself – and Miles is keeping a secret of his own.
When the lies of brother and sister collide, Celeste determines to create a future that is truly her own. Body of Stars is an urgent read about what happens when women are objectified and violently stripped of choice – and what happens when they fight back.
Body of Stars : Searing and thought-provoking – the most addictive novel you’ll read all year
Can You Keep A Secret? by Melissa Castrillon
If you met a dragon, could you keep it secret? One day in the forest, Winnie discovers the last dragon in the whole world. His fabulous friends, the gryphon, the winged lion and the tree-man, are the last of their kind, too. They’ll be in danger if grown-ups discover them.
But can Winnie really keep them secret? With its brave, resourceful heroine and magical endangered animals, this exquisite picture book is a perfect story for our time.
Can You Keep a Secret? PB
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence. At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, Caleb Azumah Nelson has written the most essential British debut of recent years.
‘A love song to Black art and thought’ Yaa Gyasi, bestselling author of HOMEGOING ‘An amazing debut novel. You should read this book. Let’s hear it for Caleb Azumah Nelson, also known as the future’ Benjamin Zephaniah’A very touching and heartfelt book’ Diana Evans, award-winning author of ORDINARY PEOPLE ‘Caleb is a star in the making’ Nikesh Shukla, editor of THE GOOD IMMIGRANT and BROWN BABY’A stunning piece of art’ Bolu Babalola, bestselling author of LOVE IN COLOUR’For those that are missing the tentative depiction of love in Normal People, Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Open Water is set to become one of 2021’s unmissable books.
Utterly transporting, it’ll leave you weeping and in awe.’ Stylist ‘An exhilarating new voice in British fiction’ Vogue ‘An intense, elegant debut’ Guardian
Vi Spy: Licence to Chill by Maz Evans
A hilarious new adventure from the author of the bestselling Who Let the Gods Out? series! Divorce is tough for any kid. But when – like Vi’s parents – your mum is ex-secret service and your dad is a retired bad guy, ’till death do us part’ takes on a whole new meaning. And with her parents’ focus on each other, the real super-villains are having a field day.
To save her family – and the world – from evil domination, Vi must turn spy … Praise for the WHO LET THE GODS OUT? series: ‘I totally fell in love with Elliot and the gods, and I think you’re all going to love them too.’ ROBIN STEVENS ‘One of the funniest new voices in children’s literature. The laughs come thick and fast’ DAVID SOLOMONS ‘[A] relentlessly witty, fast-paced middle grade adventure’ M.G.LEONARD.
Vi Spy: Licence to Chill
The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood
The first in a stunning new series introducing the Marlow Murder Club!
Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and to keep herself busy she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper. One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar. Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club. When another body turns up, they realise they have a real-life serial killer on their hands. And the puzzle they set out to solve has become a trap from which they might never escape…
The Marlow Murder Club
The Boy Who Met A Whale by Nizrana Farook
From the author of The Girl Who Stole an Elephant comes another brilliant escapade. A thrilling adventure set in fictional Sri Lanka, jam-packed with peril and kidnap and a huge blue whale! Razi, a local fisherboy, is watching turtle eggs hatch when he sees a boat bobbing into view. With a chill, he notices a small, still hand hanging over the side…
Inside is Zheng, who’s escaped a shipwreck and is full of tales of sea monsters and missing treasure. But the villains who are after Zheng are soon after Razi and his sister, Shifa, too. And so begins an exhilarating adventure in the shadow of the biggest sea monster of them all…