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Monthly Hits: March 2014

1st Apr 2014

Angelica Huston reading
Hello and welcome to your first ever installment of Monthly Hits, in which we talk you through the most exciting, awesome and downright kick-ass books-by-women that we’ve read each month...

Here at For Book’s Sake, we’re a gang of voracious readers. From fiction and comics to smut and opinion, we take our literary hits any way we can.

So if you’re looking for new authors or ideas, read on. Think of it like the staff picks section in your local bookstore, only fiercer, more eclectic, and woman-centric.

This month we’ve been filling our brains with myths and the macabre, mind-blowing memoirs, and history. And there’s a bit of punk thrown in for good measure.

The Invisible Woman by Claire Tomalin (1991)

I’ve spent the last 3 years living in London and ploughing my way through Charles Dicken’s 800+ page novels; which was edifying but frankly I wish I’d spent it reading Tomalin!

Invisible Woman is about Dickens long term love, Ellen Ternan – but it’s as much a detective story as straightforward biography. Who was Nelly T? Why has she been written out of his life? Did they have a child? Uncovering the hypocrisy and humanity of Britain’s great Victorian novelist surely shouldn’t be this much fun! [Beulah – Features Ed]

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde (1983)

A memoir that Lorde herself described as ‘biomythography,’ Zami is a gorgeously written confessional history of Audre’s childhood and early adulthood, charting her experiences growing up in the Harlem projects, the suicide of her best friend at age sixteen, a traumatic abortion, first loves and lusts, adventures from New York to Mexico and beyond, and Lorde’s searches for romance, creativity and independence. Definitely recommended. [Jane – Founder and Editor-in-chief]

Susceptible by Genevieve Castree (2013)

This is the story of Goglu, a disillusioned little punk growing up in Quebec in the 80’s and 90’s. Struggling with her drunk single mother, the memory of her ‘egg-head’ father, and her mum’s hostile boyfriend, Goglu goes through bouts of anger, depression and drug use. Castree’s precise black-and-white drawings are spectacular, and she navigates the turning points of childhood with disorientating honesty. Undoubtedly the best comic I’ve read in months. [Jenn]

Think of it like the staff picks section in your local bookstore, only fiercer, more eclectic, and woman-centric.The Singer by Cathi Unsworth (2009)

A cracking mystery which takes place in Hull, London and beyond. It’s set in both the punk era and the turn of this century, when a punk revival generates new interest in the story of a missing front man. Atmospheric and engrossing, with a believable cast of oddball characters. [Alexis]

Postfeminist Education? by Jessica Ringrose (2013)

I’ve been writing about girls and schools and sexuality this month, and Jessica Ringrose’s book Postfeminist Education? has been invaluable. A fascinating analysis of the pressures on girls navigating a world that often presumes feminism is obsolete – which it totally isn’t, as Ringrose makes clear! A great read even if you’re not usually into academic texts. [Ayana]

Season to Taste by Natalie Young (2014)

It’s the story of a lonely, oddly likeable woman who kills and eats her husband, and is unlike anything else I’ve read. Macabre (obviously), and replete with – er – *recipes* that definitely aren’t for the very squeamish, it’s a poignant, funny, thoughtful read. Linguistically, it’s spare but still visual – revoltingly so at times! Well worth reading if only because it’s so rare to come across something genuinely different. [Jennie]

Mr Fox and Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (2011, 2014)

I’ve been gorging myself on the works of Helen Oyeyemi this month. The two novels I’ve read (Mr Fox and the recently-published Boy, Snow, Bird) are both subtle reworkings of fairy tales, each filled to the brim with feminist musings.

Mr Fox takes on the tale of Bluebeard and brilliantly critiques the perceived replaceable nature of womanhood, whereas Boy, Snow, Bird uses Snow White as inspiration, telling the story from the point of view of the Evil Stepmother whilst also addressing issues of race.

Both are worthy of merit, and if you haven’t yet found yourself immersed in one of Oyeyemi’s beautifully realised worlds, then you better rush out and get yourself a new book. [Aimee]

Soppy by Philippa Rice (2012)

A gorgeous comic about sleeping, eating, cooking, video-gaming, chores, and cuddling in couple-dom. Relationships can be a drag, except for when they’re not and you live in perfect partnership with another person and fall into little habits and in-jokes.

Philippa Rice’s work warmed my heart and I found myself laughing aloud in my favourite Soho comic book shop as I recognised the exact adorable exchanges I have with my partner: “This t-shirt doesn’t fit you… can I make it my pyjamas?”. My copy has pride of place on my bedside table currently. [Marie-Claire]

If you like the sound of any of the above, add them to your reading list! And look out for next month’s Monthly Hits for more awesome picks.

Comments

  • Alice Slater says:

    Loved reading this! I’m definitely adding Season to Taste, The Singer and Soppy to my reading list.

  • Beulah Devaney says:

    Brilliant, although I’m surprised that none of us are reading anything written prior to 1980. Might dig out some Elizabeth Gaskell when I get home.