February flew by for all of us. Yes, it's the shortest month of the year, but is the world spinning faster? Time definitely seemed to have sped up. As usual we've still found a little time for reading, whether on the bus to work, nursing a coffee at the weekend or curled up under the blankets at night, there are always a few stolen moments to spend with a book if you're keen.
As it's International Women's Day at the beginning of March, we've decided to highlight some of the books by women we've been particularly enjoying recently.
What have you been reading? We're always interested to hear what's on your current reads pile!
A Horse at Night: On Writing by Amina Cain
In an attempt to be more creative, I picked up Amina Cain’s unusual but beautiful little book, ‘A Horse at Night: On Writing’, which muses on different ideas, from the books Cain loves, to how she endeavours to write truthfully. Part-memoir, part essay, part diary, it’s a book to devour in one go, but to return to again and again, preferably with a pencil for underlining her amazing sentences. She writes early on that she feels most comfortable in her spare, sentence-focussed prose and you can really see why! If you are interested in the creative processes of authors, or fancy a go at writing yourself, this is an inspiring little gut-punch of a thing.
Night by Edna O'Brien
Where has this book been all my life? I picked up a battered Penguin Classics edition in a second-hand bookshop thinking it would be a nice quick read for a weekend away, but was so wrong. This is a book that demands your full attention from the first page. Narrated by Mary Hooligan as she lies on her bed throughout a sleepless night, this is a stream of consciousness about her life, loves, adventures and misadventures. Earthy, full of joie de vivre, and compelling, this is writing that calls to mind Flann O'Brien or James Joyce. I found myself reading passages aloud for the sheer delight of the language.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years...
I have come very late to the bestselling phenomenon that is Convenience Store Woman. First published in 2018 it has been a bestseller since, blazing through prize nominations for both it's writing and translation.
I loved the deadpan humour, the quirky protagonist and the sly take on society's expectations of single women, and the pressures of conformity and work. I also loved it's slightly unsettling depiction of the convenience store as almost a living organism, yet it also made me long to be back behind a till, pasting on a smile and dispatching a queue with ruthless efficiency.
Surprising and engaging throughout, this is a fun and slickly written novel whose oddness will stay with you.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
This is the story of Queenie, a 25 year old British-Jamaican, living in London, who doesn’t feel like she fits into either culture. When her boyfriend calls a break on their relationship, everything starts to go wrong. She finds herself on temporary leave from her job at the local newspaper, she ends up living in a tiny room in a shared house and gets into a vicious circle of attracting the wrong men.
There were a lot of times in this book where I just wanted to shout ‘what are you doing?’. Queenie’s decisions were frustrating most of the time but she was a really lovable character.
I liked how the chapters were broken up with text message exchanges and emails between characters…it just gave something a bit different.
The book did make me feel quite sad a lot of the time with how Queenie was treated and how she let people take advantage of her, but there was a lot of hope and definitely humour, whilst dealing with racism, neglect and mental health.
The Birdcage by Eve Chase
I’ve previously read and loved all of Eve Chase’ books so I was really looking forward to reading this one too.
A story of 3 half-sisters Lauren, Flora & Kat who spent their childhood summers together at Rock Point, a big house on the Cornish cliffs. Now 20 years later and having drifted apart, they are unexpectedly summoned back, where they have to face secrets of what happened during that last tragic summer they were there.
I really enjoyed the split timeline and the chapters being told from different characters' perspectives.
I would recommended this book to anyone that enjoys Kate Morton, Hannah Richell, Emily Gunnis etc. and I will look forward to more from this author in the future.