It’s definitely heating up for summer right now (I AM MELTING as I write this) and I’m so excited to spend my time in the sun crossing titles off my summer reading list. Before that, though, here’s a quick round-up of some of the books which I’ve really enjoyed reading in 2018 so far.
Eat Up – Ruby Tandoh
I met Ruby Tandoh at a free donuts + meet + greet event (we ended up having a great chat about queering domestic spaces like the kitchen) and really, really loved reading her book. I can also recommend her caramel brownies recipe – delicious!! I adore cookbooks, and Ruby’s book combines my favourite things – it is like a scrapbook of funny and touching memories and anecdotes, interesting research, and very yummy recipes. Plus, I love the message of the book, eat what you like! Currently munching on a packet of hula hoops, so it wasn’t exactly a hard sell for me. I think that Ruby is doing really important work, aiming to remove some of the anxieties and pressures surrounding clean-eating and diet culture in the media. Ruby has written the perfect antidote to this negative aspect of society and it’s a very important addition to my bookshelf!
White Teeth – Zadie Smith
This was the first Zadie Smith novel which I approached and I found it totally absorbing. Zadie has an incredible way of totally getting into characters’ heads and voices. It is also very, very funny. The structure and heavy emphasis on the London setting reminded me a lot of Dickens, whom I really loved when I was younger (and still do!) and for this reason I especially enjoyed the spiderweb nature of the plot lines and the anticipation of seeing how everything would intertwine and end. I was especially interested in reading about the protagonist’s experiences of biraciality/biculturalism as a young teenager, as well.
Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor is one of those authors who is really active on Twitter and she’s so much fun to follow. It’s just as well that her books are equally as amusing to read! Lagoon is a fantasy novel featuring all kinds of aliens, mysteries, and drama. Apparently it was originally conceived as a screenplay, and its style does feel quite cinematic. I enjoyed it a lot, and although I don’t think that it’s as good as The Book of Phoenix, which I would recommend reading first if you fancy a bit of postcolonial fantasy, Lagoon really hits the spot for suspense and light-hearted entertainment!
The Word for Woman is Wilderness – Abi Andrews
It’s a cliché, but I first picked this up in Waterstones because I was drawn to the fantastically beautiful cover. The Word for Woman is Wilderness is absolutely one of the best things that I’ve read this year. It’s a tale which aims to challenge the stereotypical narrative of “Man in the Wild” – throughout literature, men have trekked into the wild, returning to their wild roots, and yet this narrative does not really exist for women. It’s an interesting concept, but the book is so much more than that – I was genuinely blown away by the intricateness of Abi Andrews’ writing. I found all of the anecdotal research and information fascinating, and I loved the experimental style, switching from speech in the style of film scripts to journal entries. I loved getting inside the protagonist’s head, reading about everything from NASA to Henrietta Lacks, Bear Grylls to the environmental issues of the midwest. As a study of narrative, it is a fascinating read.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
I was fortunate enough to win a 4th Estate Twitter competition to go and see Reni in conversation with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre and it was an incredible evening. Having read all of Chimamanda’s novels, I was already familiar with her work, but I was very interested in hearing about Reni, too. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race book is a fascinating read and it’s easy to see why it’s really rocked the charts this year. Reni’s podcasts are also great – I would strongly recommend them.
The Vegetarian – Han Kang
I borrowed this from my friend, Kathy, and it’s the perfect short read for a weekend with good weather. In fact, Kathy’s copy was slightly damaged because she read it on such a scorching day last summer that the binding melted! I handled the fragile copy with care, and it was indeed a tale worth looking after. Dark and provocative, it haunted me for a fair few days afterwards. It’s set in South Korea and explores mental illness, art, and relationships.
Loop of Jade – Sarah Howe
I’m including Loop of Jade on this list for reference (because it’s great!) but I’ve already written about it here!
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
I received Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls from my friends for my birthday and have been picking it up for a story or two every so often, so as to savour it. It is beautiful. The stories are, of course, illuminating – but the illustrations are also stunning. If they made a poster series of merchandise based on the book, my wallet would be worried.
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
I read this as part of my Master’s course and it was definitely my favourite from my academic reading lists. Published in 1952, Ellison considers so many difficult social questions of the beginning of the 20th century – it is a discussion of the black power movement, American identity and nationalism, Marxism, music, and so much more. It’s not only an important classic to read, but it is also beautifully written – intricate, witty, and complicated. It remains extremely relevant reading for today’s turbulent political times.
If you’re looking for something to add to your TBR list for this sweltering heat, I hope that this post has come in handy and something on here has perhaps caught your eye. Or if there’s something that you think I should read, let me know!
More updates coming soon – stay tuned! Have a wonderful day :)