-by Emma Bilsborough, Sales & Marketing Coordinator
Every year, around this time, we put together a big ol' reading list ahead of anticipated holiday reading. You know the kind - you're lazing about on the beach, everything smells like sun cream and the sea, and you're thumbing through a (slightly sandy) novel, with no responsibilities on the horizon for at least a few days.
This year, our reading list will be a little different, as our Summer is looking to be a strange one. There's unlikely to be much beach reading, unless you get imaginative with a sandpit and a paddling pool. So instead, use this list to provide you with something to read in the garden, in front of a sunny window, in a quiet park, or on your lunch break as you hide from your coworkers.
We hope these recommended reads provide you with something to take your mind off of the craziness, off of missing your family and friends, and off of the desperation for a pint in the beer garden of your favourite pub. Books have been a constant friend to us for many, many years, and they've really stepped up their game these last few months. Never has the strength and steadiness of books been more comforting.
Plus, we've picked a few of our favourite Children's books, because what better way to not only occupy your little ones, but also settle their worried little minds and get them through the tough stuff than to read them a story or to let them loose on a classic.
I honestly recommend this book to everyone I know and meet. I think Jon Klassen's illustrations are magic - though he uses earthy, almost dull colours, the characters are so alive. There's a page in this book that makes me laugh every time - the expression on the bear's face is just too much to handle. Read this with your little ones for a good giggle.
I reread this during the deepest stage of the lockdown, as it reminds me of being a young girl and only having to worry about the next adventure. Pippi is an inspiration - bold, boisterous and big-hearted, and the hero we all need in our lives.
I mean, obviously we aren't really going anywhere at the moment. But this is the perfect story, I read it to my nephew long before he could even sit up straight - I think it's a necessary story to tell your children as they grow and learn. Remind them that they're capable of anything they set their little minds to. The children are our future!
The world is in a deep state of change at the moment. Those who have been silent on important matters are finally speaking up, people are taking to the streets and laws are being changed to protect and care for people who have (unfairly, ridiculously, inhumanely) been ignored and discriminated against for too long. Julian is a Mermaid is the perfect story to tell your children right now, to teach them the importance of respect and kindness to others.
We're all a little disappointed in the author of one of our favourite Children's series', but don't worry, we've got a fantastic alternative. Rick Riordan's fantasy world is inclusive, diverse and representative of people of all shapes and sizes - literally, there's a centaur, a mixed bag of gods, and our boy Percy, a demigod with ADHD - plus, the stories are brilliant and an excellent crash course in Greek Mythology.
Becky Albertalli, of Simon vs the Homosapiens fame, teams up with Adam Silvera to write this wonderfully simple little love story between two teenage boys. Plus, it'll take you on that NYC Summer holiday you've always wanted.
Cressida Cowell has had her time as Children's Laureate extended, and thank goodness for that. She continues to bring creative, magical and fantastical worlds to Children, and throws herself into her role, encouraging a love of reading in young people from every angle she can find. The Wizards of Once series is another excellent alternative to the Harry Potter series - if you loved Harry's adventures, you're sure to love those of Xar and Wish too.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
Charlie Mackesy's gorgeous and endearing illustrations have had a resurgence these last few months, with his drawings in support of our wonderful NHS and key workers, and it's no wonder. His art is filled with a unique warmth, and the sentiments in this sweet little story are so simple and kind, and have a truly brilliant effect that leaves you feeling centered and calm. We recommend enjoying this one at the end of a long, sunshine-y day, or in the garden on a Summer Sunday.
The Female Persuasion
Another one of my lockdown reads was Meg Wolitzer's The Female Persuasion. I thought that I'd known what this book was, but I couldn't have been more wrong. A novel, yes, but also an insightful and honest look at feminism and it's constantly changing attitudes. Greer, our main character, meets legendary activist Faye, and it changes the entire trajectory of her life.
The Little Paris Bookshop
Another perfect one for travelling a beautiful country - in this case, France - without having to move your feet. A deep, heartwarming story, a journey taken by a mismatched group of people, searching for love, understanding, closure and more. Plus, a bookshop on a canal boat, in which works a book doctor, prescribing the perfect read for each and every ailment, woe, and feeling.
Queenie is an excellent read, diving into the life of a woman who is complex and complicated, and we follow her journey into lessening that weight, into understanding herself and respecting herself. A brilliant commentary on race, mental health and personal growth.
Keeping An Eye Open
This collection of essays is a must-read for any art lover, or in fact just anyone. Bringing art history to its readers in a digestible, humorous, honest way, and highlighting a lifelong love of Art and Artists. My personal favourite is the Degas essay - it has me looking at his paintings in an entirely different way. It's wonderful when this happens - when someone helps you learn to read paintings, but also to just take them as they are too. Barnes helps you know which questions are the right ones to ask, and why it's a great thing that we're still learning, all the time, about art and its meanings and its purpose.
Over the Top
Queer Eye has graced our screens once again this last month, bringing us a fifth season filled with sweet, kind humans who need a little love. In Over the Top, one of the fab five, Jonathan Van Ness, opens up to us readers about life, love and living as your best self, no matter the odds. Sweet, sassy and warm-hearted, just like the author himself.
A Queer Little History of Art
After reading Julian Barnes' essays on Art, I found myself on a bit of an Art History kick. Naturally, as with most things, the art history canon is flooded with the works of straight white men, and just peppers in the odd woman or queer person to hit a quota. I wanted something a little more, so found this little treat online. Pages of beautiful art by brilliant people, sculptures and paintings and photography and fashion, all a feast for the eyes. I'd have liked a little more in depth commentary - but nonetheless it's a brilliant read.
So - that'll do for now, and I hope we've given you some ideas for what to read in the coming months. We love recommendations and we love sharing our favourite books with you, so if you're ever in need of reading suggestions or if you've got some to share with us, don't hesitate to get in touch, or pop in and see us.
As always, we thank whatever higher power we believe in for the creation of books.