What We Read in May

29th May 2014

As the summer draws ever nearer, we’ve been seeking out the latest new titles that will have you turning the pages long after the sun goes down. From family cookbooks, to inspiring feminist essays, to tender poetry, this month’s selection has something for everyone.



Top Bananas! The best ever family recipes from Mumsnet by Clare McDonald and Lucy McDonald

As an online community of parents, Mumsnet has become a place not only to share advice and opinions on parenting, but also a platform for swapping tasty family recipes that are loved by both adults and children. Described by Yotam Ottolenghi as the “ultimate collection” of reliable, useful and delicious recipes, this cookbook has chapters dedicated to cooking with kids, getting creative with packed lunches and making healthy fast food. Over 300 Mumsnet users helped out by contributing and testing recipes, which were then retested and rewritten by the authors. The result is a handy guide to inspire new summer recipes and excite even the pickiest of eaters.

Recommended For: Anyone who enjoys following tried and tested recipes like those in The River Cottage Family Cookbook.


Academic Non-Fiction


Ecofeminism by Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva

This straight-forward introduction to ecofeminism uses interview material to bring together the perspectives of women from the global North and South on environmental deterioration. It considers the links between patriarchal structures and ecological degradation, as well as those between global militarism and the destruction of nature, and criticises prevailing theories about these issues. Providing an insight into the views of women from around the world, it seeks to explore the key strands of ecofeminism and offers historical accounts of women’s environmental activism. Mies and Shiva’s arguments are centered on the everyday needs of real people and committed to the development of new ethics.

Recommended For: Anyone looking for an introduction to ecofeminism, or anyone who enjoyed Mary Mellors Feminism & Ecology.




She Rises by Kate Worsley (paperback release)

Worsley’s debut novel is a turbulent, thrilling adventure of a love story, set in Essex in 1740. It follows the story of Louise Fletcher, a young dairy maid who leaves her home to seek excitement and new employment in the naval port of Harwich. There she meets her new mistress, the daughter of a widowed captain, who cannot manage a household but can rival the sailors with her coarse language. She finds a love interest in 15-year-old Luke, who is press-ganged into joining the Navy and must find a way to survive and make his way back across the ocean. This is an exotic thrill-ride that combines adventure, romance and the unexpected.

Recommended For: Anyone who enjoys the historical revisionism of Sarah Waters.


Young Adult Fiction

Love Letters to the Dead

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Dellaira’s incredibly moving YA novel takes the form of a collection of letters written by Laurel, who has just started high school. Laurel is asked by her English teacher to write a letter to a dead person, and she chooses Kurt Cobain because he was her sister May’s favourite musician. As the letters progress, the story of May’s death is revealed and Laurel begins to explore her grief. She writes about her fractured family, the difficulties of starting high school and, finally, of the abuse she suffered when May was meant to be looking after her. Through her writing, Laurel begins to accept what happened to May, to forgive her and to find her own path.

Recommended For: Anyone who loves stories of discovery and recovery, such as Tess Sharpe’s Far From You.




Ikhda by Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi

This collection of fresh, tender poems captures the intensity of the emotions tied to sex, love and family. Ayuning Maharsi’s masterful use of language draws her readers in and shows them human truths that they simply cannot deny. Sometimes surreal, sometimes everyday, the poems focus on the relationship between mother and son, as well as considering those between family members and lovers. Awash with diverse characters and adventurous settings, the collection picks apart the joys and tragedies of humanity and celebrates the uniqueness of our individual lives.

Recommended For: Anyone who loves anthologies from The Emma Press, such as The Emma press Anthology of Motherhood.

Photograph by Jenn Wrenn