At Willoughby HQ we've been busy this month preparing orders for Christmas, so we've found ourselves really looking forward to the escape of opening a good book in the evenings. When I get the chance to sit and read I love thinking of all our subscribers also reading their new books. Maybe here and there we've sent one of those life-changingly great books? Here's hoping!
Here's what we've been reading recently.
Haven by Emma Donoghue
Set in the 7th Century, this is the imagined story of three monks setting out to found a monastic community on Skellig Michael off the coast of what is now County Kerry.
Led by the charismatic visionary Arte, who recruits young monk Trian and elderly Cormac, they undertake their perilous journey and begin to carve an existence on the inhospitable rock.As the summer months begin to give way to the storms of Autumn the intensity of their isolation and the growing fanaticism of Arte test Cormac and Trian's vows of obedience and their conception of faith.
I loved the themes of isolation, devotion and our relationship with the natural world, and the compassion with which Emma Donoghue writes about flawed characters. This book comes highly recommended!
Honour by Elif Shafak
I was drawn to this book as I like reading stories set in different locations. I’ve also enjoyed books by Khaled Hosseini & Christy Lefteri before and thought this may have similar tones.
It follows Pembe & Adem Toprak who leave their home in Turkey for a new life in London with their young children, bringing with them their religion and beliefs. The story flits between this and later years when their children are grown up with their daughter Asha picking up her brother Iskender from prison for murdering their mother in an honour killing.
The growing relationship between Pembe and Elias was truly heartbreaking and I was really hoping for it to work out, for Pembe to find happiness. The story between a 7 year old Yunus falling in love with Tobiko, a 20 year old squatter, and her looking out for him, was so sweet and touching.
This book gave an honest and difficult insight into different cultures and values, and the different standards that people live by. A real thought-provoking book that stayed with me long after it ended.
Permafrost by Eva Baltasar
Permafrost is a slim slice-of-life novella written from the perspective of a depressed woman in her early forties, who is contemplating ending her life and looking back at her life thus far.
She has a controlling mother, an insincerely positive sister and a string of failed romantic relationships trailing behind her.
Don’t let the premise put you off though.
It’s quick-witted, dark and sensual. Think Fleabag (if Fleabag were gay and Catalan). Baltasar has also recently published another book titled ‘Boulder’ and I’ll definitely be checking that one out in the new year!
Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates
From Incels to pick up artists, Laura Bates explosive examination of the rapid rise of secret extremist communities who hate women across the globe.
Both shocking and eye-opening, Men who Hate Women is a hugely important book which needs to be spoken about. Often, books detailing horrifying topics can be complex and confusing, yet Bates has a talent for describing detailed processes simply and easily.
Talking of misogyny, hate crime and other serious topics details how the threat of such populations and groups online need to be taken more seriously. Bates courage to write this book is awe inspiring and gives important takeaways in the real-life implications of the topics mentioned in the book.
A necessary read for all, Bates reveals how the small minority of men who form these groups online have such huge impact in our day-to-day life.
The Lost Storyteller by Amanda Block
I was drawn in by the premise of The Storyteller: Rebecca, 25 and stuck in a job that's going nowhere is visited by a mysterious journalist asking questions about her father. All she knows about him is that he was a well-known TV presenter, and he is never spoken about by her family. As she begins to dig into her past she is given a book of fairy stories, penned by her father and dedicated to her, using her pet name. Through these stories she draws closer to the father she has never known.
This is a book about father daughter relationships, the stories families tell and the power of fairy stories, and I really enjoyed it. Touching on generational differences it is a thoughful book about how things we remember from childhood may not be quite as they seemed.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
I loved this bright and summery romcom from Emily Henry. Delicious escapism in every page, it made me laugh out loud and (shh!) shed a tear too.
This is a classic 'opposites attract' scenario, but contains enough depth of character to be properly engaging. Written with warmth and heart, this turns tropes on their head to great effect, and provides a nice glimpse into the world of publishing at the same time.