Thursday, 27 June 2013

What have we been reading recently?

It's a wonder we got any writing done at all this month with all of the reading we've been doing. Here's what we've had our noses in this month.

Sian: After falling completely head over heels with The Night Circus, I had a bit of a book hangover and I couldn't settle on a new book for a while. I opted for a classic I've been meaning to read for years: Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I'm right in the middle, loving every single second of it. It's epic but utterly compelling.

I'm also reading a collection of Ted Hughes' letters, but only in very small doses. They're absolutely going to break my heart.

I have no idea what's next bookwise, but I do have my eyes on some magazines: I am really looking forward to reading new women's magazine Libertine and I'm itching to get my hands on It's Nice That's Printed Pages.

Frances: I’ve read some fab books this month. Capital by John Lanchester was the first book I read on my Kobo and was perfectly suited to the format. Focusing on a street in south London, it features short sections on the everyday lives of each of its residents, from the Polish builder to the banker eagerly awaiting his bonus. It’s horrendously sad, hilarious and heartwarming.

Going back in time, Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart is a bonbon of a book. It’s her memoir of a sweet summer spent working in New York in the 1940s, at Tiffany. Celebrities, jewellery, friendship and heartbreak, there’s no great dramas in this story and the tale is even more lovely for its simplicity.

I’m now reading Jane Maas’s Mad Women – her memoirs from working as an advertising woman in New York in the 60s. If you’ve watched Mad Men, you’ll have already guessed that her experience of the city won’t be quite as innocent as Marjorie Hart’s, but it’s inspiring reading none the less. Jane Maas and her contemporaries were some ballsy women.

Laura B: My month of reading has been somewhat stymied by the fact that I'm knee-deep in books about HTML, CSS, SEO and other mind-frying initialisms. However, I have managed to squeeze in a little light literary relief. I re-read Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, a slim volume and an easy read, but one which is inspiring for runners and non-runners alike (or lapsed runners, like me). Then, I finally got round to reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green after hearing everyone raving about it, and now I understand what all the fuss was about. Terrific. You'll read it in a night but remember it for years.

Next up, I'm going to read The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales, ahead of seeing Sofia Coppola's film of the same name. The true story of Hollywood's notorious celebrity-obsessed burglary gang? Yes please.

Laura H: This month, I've been drawn in and completely fascinated by Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus. Err, what, parsnip and anise? Olive and white chocolate? Segnit explains the reasoning behind often-combined flavours and lifts the curtain on some surprising pairings. With a great tone of voice and recipes embedded in the text, what starts off as a quick dip into the pages to check out a flavour combination turns into hours of revelation.

Next I'm carrying on my Crime spree and reading The Instance of the Fingerpost by Ian Pears. I'm looking forward to a bit of Victorian mystery and mayhem. Anyone read it?

Hazel: I have read Katrina Meynink's Kitchen Coquette book from cover to cover. This is really rare for me as I usually just skim over the blurb and get straight to the recipes but this book is hilarious. It's divided into meals and drinks for life events from first dinner dates (apple crumble soufflés), what to take to a work do (spice doughnut muffins with rhubarb jam - YUM!) to breakups (mostly booze fuelled). I really can't recommend this one enough, the recipes are brilliant, the photos are gorgeous and it's genuinely really funny and heartfelt, total top cook book I've seen in a long time.

When Ian Banks died recently it reminded me how much I loved his first book The Wasp factory so I have started re-reading that a good ten years after my first visit. I struggled with some of Bank's other books but there is something quite wonderful about his very first, it's dark and explicit and not for the squeamish.

What have you been reading this month? Share your recommendations with us!


  1. Laura - An Instance of the Fingerpost is brilliant, but it's set in the17th Century so no Victorian mayhem I'm afraid. I think you'll enjoy it nonetheless.
    Hazel - Love Iain Banks so much, can't believe he's gone :(

    I'm currently reading Mantel's Wolf Hall and am enjoying it more than I expected. I would also totally recommend Kate Atkinson's Life After Life which is utterly brilliant!

    1. I know, I'm now going to re-read everything again :)

  2. Seventeenth century, even better! It flew into my hands the other day, so I haven't had a chance to look properly yet, glad it has some positive reviews! And I've heard a lot of good things about Life After Life...

    1. Life after Life made my heart soar. Read that one next!

  3. I love your book recommendations, although they make me poorer (why is Kitchen Coquette so expensive?);-) I'm currently totally engrossed in Katherine, the Anya Seton classic, and I can understand why there are women who've read 9 times, as Camilla Long confessed in the Sunday Times.

    1. The book posts usually plan my reading list! The Fault in our Stars has been in my Kobo preview for a while. I might need something a little short next time 'round, so that's next for me!

    2. Oh I love Katherine! My friends and I got every so obsessed with it at 6th form and I think I have probably read it about 8 times (probably now time for the 9th!).

      Also, did you know there was a Katherine Swynford society?

    3. I hadn't heard of Katherine until today! I'm adding it to my list.

      I love our book posts.

    4. Sian, yes you must read it. It's a wonderful historical romance. I haven't read any Anya Seaton in ages - that's what my life has been missing!

  4. HOW have I never come across Katherine either?! *slapped wrist* Now on my to-read titles too.

  5. @ Frances, no, I didn't know, thank you!


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