Having spent the last few days at the Social History Society conference in Lincoln, I’m flying off tomorrow to Tokyo and then Sydney for two weeks on a work trip (Society for the History of Childhood and Youth conference in Sydney, stopover in Tokyo for a week beforehand). This means this blog will be out of action until July! So before I go, I thought I’d answer the most important question: what am I going to read on my travels?
Four Books of Summer
20 Books of Summer wouldn’t be a challenge if I finished it too fast, so I’m only taking four of the list on my travels (the ones I could get cheaply on Kindle or have as e-ARCs): The Chalk Artist, Pulp, Starling Days and Winter Sisters.
Our Latest Book Club Read
I currently run Sisters Read the World, an all-female book group that only reads books by people of colour, in Newcastle; this group was originally the brainchild of my friend Ramla, but she is on ‘maternity leave’ at the moment. Our latest choice is Never Far From Nowhere by Andrea Levy; having read The Long Song and Small Island, I was keen to explore some of Levy’s earlier work after her untimely death earlier this year. This sounds like it might have parallels with Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, which I loved; it’s about two sisters of Jamaican heritage growing up in Finsbury Park in the 1970s.
I’ve also acquired two e-ARCs to read from NetGalley, and am hoping that my two pending requests will come through while I’m away! Nikesh Shukla’s and Sammy Jones’s edited collection Rife: Twenty-One Stories from Britain’s Youth has been a must-read for me ever since I heard it was being crowdfunded via Unbound. This book of essays by writers under 24 addresses politics, education, renting, gender, class and race, and is hugely relevant to my own work on young people’s writing. Secondly, I have William Prendiville’s novella Atlantic Winds, another offering from Fairlight Books, who published the Women’s Prize-shortlisted Bottled Goods. I was intrigued by its synopsis; set in 1970s Canada, it looks at the ‘small island community of Bear Lake [which] is awash with rumours of lay-offs and wildcat strikes at the mill’. I’ve also requested Tea Obrecht’s Inland (possibly my most anticipated read of 2019) and Patrice Lawrence’s second YA novel, Rose, Interrupted, which stars a black teenage girl who’s recently escaped a strict religious sect.
In short, the rest are books that I’ve acquired through those ever-seductive Kindle deals. First, John Boyne’s A Ladder to the Sky, which I picked up after enjoying The Heart’s Incredible Furies so much; I love the idea of a book based around an insatiable plagiarist. Second, Hanna Jameson’s The Last, which has an irresistible synopsis: twenty people survive holed up in a hotel after the end of the world. Third, Alex White’s A Big Ship at the End of the Universe sounds like it might be fun, light SF; recommended for fans of The Expanse series, it stars a crew of outcasts hunting down a legendary spaceship. Fourth, I snapped up Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo after loving her more recent Daisy Jones and the Six; I wasn’t inspired by the idea of a novel about a classic Hollywood star, as I’m not a fan of classic Hollywood movies, but Rachel persuaded me to give it a go. Finally, Nathan Hill’s The Nix, about a failed American writer researching his mother’s radical past, looks like a good, chunky holiday read.
Can I read all these books in three weeks? Probably not – but I do have three very long plane journeys ahead!
Are you off anywhere this summer?