Bob’s Recommended Reads for Summer

Bob is currently taking a break from running his online book club. Instead, he’s spent his time curating a list of recommended reads for the summer. Keep reading for Bob’s current favourites and most anticipated reads!

 

Non-Fiction 

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge 

For Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge became the first Black person to top the British book charts.  

This is an important and insightful exploration of what it means to be Black in Britain today. With topics ranging from eradicated black history to intersectional feminism, from white privilege to the inextricable link between race and class, this book is an essential piece of antiracist literature. 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

In this Pulitzer Prize nominated book, Ta-Nehisi Coates asks some of the biggest and most difficult questions about race in American history. And yet, he attempts to answer these questions in one of the most personal ways: through a letter to his adolescent son.  

In Between the World and MeCoates explores what it means to be Black in America. Weaving together personal narrative and reimagined history, this book is a must-read 

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi 

“Not being racist is not enough. We have to be antiracist. 

In this rousing and deeply empathetic book, Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, shows that when it comes to racism, neutrality is not an option: until we become part of the solution, we can only be part of the problem. 

Using his extraordinary gifts as a teacher and story-teller, Kendi helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not, and by describing with moving humility his own journey from racism to antiracism, he shows us how instead to be a force for good.” – Vintage Books

Educated by Tara Westover 

Born in rural Idaho to survivalist parents, Tara Westover spent her childhood preparing for the end of the world and stockpiling food. She never stepped foot in a school and remained isolated from the world, surrounded by an increasingly alien and violent family. 

Despite never receiving a formal education, Tara’s quest for knowledge took her on a journey from the desolate mountains to some of the most prestigious schools in the world. In this heartbreaking and moving memoir about family, Tara discovers what education really means: the willingness to change your perspective. 

In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park 

“This is the incredible, true story of thirteen-year-old Yeonmi Park, who risked her life when she and her family fled North Korea. Revealing what it was like to live under a brutally repressive regime, which starved and terrorized its people, Yeonmi tells of her family’s courageous decision to escape and of the extraordinary, heartbreaking journey that followed, culminating in a daring night-time trek across the Gobi Desert to freedom. 

It is a story of astonishing endurance – both physical and mental – which has already inspired people all around the world.” 

Shadow State by Luke Harding 

Shadow State is a gripping investigative account of how Russia’s spies helped elect Donald Trump, backed Brexit, murdered enemies and threatened the very basis of western democracy. The operatives come in disguise. They pose as tourists, journalists and businessmen. Utterly ruthless, sometimes bungling and always ambitious, they roam from Salisbury to Helsinki, Ukraine to the Central African Republican, London to Washington. 

Shadow State is a riveting and alarming investigation into those spies and the way Russia has used them to wage an increasingly bold war in the UK and beyond. The Kremlin has attempted to reshape politics in their own mould; the future of Western democracy is at stake as a result.” – Waterstones. 

People Like Us: What it Takes to Make it in Modern Britain by Hashmi Mohamed

“What does it take to make it in modern Britain? 
 
Ask a politician, and they’ll tell you it’s hard work. Ask a millionaire, and they’ll tell you it’s talent. Ask a CEO and they’ll tell you it’s dedication. But what if none of those things is enough? 
 
Raised on benefits and having attended some of the lowest-performing schools in the country, barrister Hashi Mohamed knows something about social mobility. In People Like Us, he shares what he has learned: from the stark statistics that reveal the depth of the problem to the failures of imagination, education and confidence that compound it. 
 
We live in a society where the single greatest indicator of what your job will be is the job of your parents. Where power and privilege are concentrated among the 7 per cent of the population who were privately educated. Where, if your name sounds black or Asian, you’ll need to send out twice as many job applications as your white neighbour. 
 
Wherever you are on the social spectrum, this is an essential investigation into our society’s most intractable problem. We have more power than we realise to change things for the better.” – Profile Books Ltd. 

Fiction

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 

If you were a fan of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman or Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding, you MUST read Queenie! 

Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five year old Jamaican-British woman from London, struggling to straddle two cultures in her professional and personal lives. After breaking up with her long-term white boyfriend and struggling to work at a national newspaper alongside her white middle-class colleagues, Queenie explores what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.  

A Song of Wraiths and Ruins by Roseanne A. Brown 

“The first in a gripping fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction—from debut author Roseanne A. Brown. This New York Times bestseller is perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Renée Ahdieh, and Sabaa Tahir.” – Harper Collins Publishers 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty 

From the author of Big Little Lies, now a hit TV series starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep, Nine Perfect Strangers is a psychological thriller sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.  

Moriarty gives an insight into the lives of nine strangers who gather at a remote health resort. Despite all the pampering and meditation, none of these nine perfect strangers really understand how challenging the next ten days will be. 

What the ILF team say: “Her observations about self-improvement and how easy it is to see other people’s faults, but not our own mistakes, makes for an interesting read. You find yourself wanting to go to the spa retreat… and then you don’t. You really don’t. It’s an easy read, light-hearted, fun, sad, touching and thought-provoking.” 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 

“The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect? 

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.”” – Little Brown 

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead 

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2020 and Time’s #1 Novel of the Year 2019. 

Author of The Underground RailroadColson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in 1960s Florida. 

[…]  

Based on the history of a real reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped and destroyed the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative by a great American novelist whose work is essential to understanding the current reality of the United States.” – Little Brown 

Hashim & Family by Shanaz Ahsan

“It is New Year’s Eve, 1960. Hashim has left behind his homeland and his bride, Munira, to seek his fortune in England. His cousin and only friend, Rofikul, introduces Hashim to life in Manchester – including Rofikul’s girlfriend, Helen. When Munira arrives, the group must learn what it is to be a family. 
 
Over the next twenty years, they make their way in the new country – putting down roots and building a home. But when war breaks out in East Pakistan, the struggle for liberation and the emergence of Bangladesh raises questions about identity, belonging and loyalty. 
 
Hashim & Family is a story of family ties, of migration and of a connection to home, and is the debut of an extraordinary new talent.” – John Murray Press 

You People by Nikita Lalwani

“The Pizzeria Vesuvio looks like any other Italian restaurant in London – with a few small differences. The chefs who make the pizza fiorentinas are Sri Lankan, and half the kitchen staff are illegal immigrants. 

At the centre is Tuli, the restaurant’s charismatic proprietor and resident Robin Hood, who promises to help anyone in need. Welsh nineteen-year-old Nia, haunted by her troubled past, is running from her family. Shan, having fled the Sri Lankan civil war, is desperate to find his. 

But when Tuli’s guidance leads them all into dangerous territory, and the extent of his mysterious operation unravels, each is faced with an impossible moral choice. 

In a world where the law is against you, how far would you be willing to lie for a chance to live?” – Penguin 

The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray

“2059. The world has stopped turning. 

One half suffers an endless frozen night; the other, nothing but burning sun. 

Only in a slim twilit region between them can life survive. 

In an isolationist Britain, scientist Ellen Hopper receives a letter from a dying man. 

It contains a powerful and dangerous secret. 

One that those in power will kill to conceal… 

 
THE LAST DAY: an utterly original debut thriller, perfect for readers who loved Robert Harris’ Fatherland, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station 11, and The Wall by John Lanchester.” – Cornerstone 

Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke

“When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules – a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home. But when his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders—a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman—have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes – and save himself in the process – before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.  

A rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas, BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD, is an exhilarating, timely novel about the collision of race and justice in America.” – AtticaLocke.com  

The Abstainer by Ian McGuire

“From the acclaimed author of The North Water comes an epic story of revenge and obsession. 
 
Manchester, 1867 
 
Two men, haunted by their pasts. 
Driven by the need for justice. 
 
Blood begets blood. 
In a fight for life and legacy. 
 
Stephen Doyle arrives in Manchester from New York. He is an Irish-American veteran of the Civil War and a member of the Fenians, a secret society intent on ending British rule in Ireland, by any means necessary. Now he has come to seek vengeance. 
 
James O’Connor has fled grief and drink in Dublin for a sober start in Manchester as Head Constable. His mission is to discover and thwart the Fenians’ plans. When his long-lost nephew arrives on his doorstep, he never could have foreseen how this would imperil his fragile new life – or how his and Doyle’s fates would come to be intertwined.  
 
The rebels will be hanged at dawn, and their brotherhood is already plotting revenge.” – Simon and Schuster 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamlet is one of William Shakespeare’s most famous and enigmatic plays. However, few know that he and his wife, Anne Hathaway, had a son: Hamnet.  

Hamnet was born in the 1580s and had two sisters, Susanna, and a twin, Judith. Hamnet died in 1596. Four years later, Hamlet was written.  

Based on the life and death of this enigmatic family, Maggie O’Farrell’s latest work paints a portrait of marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child. 

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

“Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become? 
 
The fastest milk bottle-delivery girl in East Yorkshire, Evie is tall as a tree and hot as the desert sand. She dreams of an independent life lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). The two posters of Adam Faith on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’) offer wise counsel about a future beyond rural East Yorkshire. Her role models are Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen. But, before she can decide on a career, she must first deal with the malign presence of her future step-mother, the manipulative and money-grubbing Christine. 
 
If Evie can rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save the farmhouse from being sold off then maybe she can move on with her own life and finally work out exactly who it is she is meant to be.   
 
Moving, inventive and richly comic, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is the most joyful debut novel of the year and the best thing to have come out of Yorkshire since Wensleydale cheese.” – Simon and Schuster 

Poetry

My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long

“Rachel Long’s much-anticipated debut collection of poems, My Darling from the Lions, announces the arrival of a thrilling new presence in poetry. 

Each poem has a vivid story to tell – of family quirks, the perils of dating, the grip of religion or sexual awakening – stories that are, by turn, emotionally insightful, politically conscious, wise, funny and outrageous. 

Long reveals herself as a razor-sharp and original voice on the issues of sexual politics and cultural inheritance that polarize our current moment. But it’s her refreshing commitment to the power of the individual poem that will leave the reader turning each page in eager anticipation: here is an immediate, wide-awake poetry that entertains royally, without sacrificing a note of its urgency or remarkable skill.” – Pan MacMillan