I was always that annoying child who would announce in her nasally voice (and a lisp until I was eight) that books shouldn’t be judged by their covers. In my twenties, I’m now at the other end of the spectrum, and fully acknowledge that I will read a book purely because I fell in love with the design on the front cover. I think it’s best my eight-year-old self can’t see me now…
The Inland Sea
By Madeleine Watts
I was sent a digital copy of this about a month ago, just after it was published, but after seeing the cover I couldn’t resist ordering the hardback. The beautiful colours spilling over the page, reminding me of the Venetian marbling techniques and the texture of oil in water. The palette, one of my favourites, the shades of pinks, blues, purples and the bright streaks of orange. If I could frame a book to hang above my sofa, this would be the one I would choose. Reading this post the Australian wildfires that ripped through the country earlier this year, the relation of the emotional crisis the narrator is going through to the ecological ones the country is facing is a clear comparison. It made me ache for her, and for the country as a whole.
BY T. C. Boyle
This was one of those, late-night, drunk-slightly-too-much-wine, ordering things off Amazon purchases, which I totally forgot I ordered until it arrived the next day. As it turns out, drunk Alice-Rae knows exactly the kind of books I love.
Taking inspiration from true events, specifically the Arizona based Biosphere 2 experiment in the early 90s. After a competitive year to win the ultimate prize, eight people are locked into a dome together, for two years, creating their own food supply, maintaining the atmosphere and caring for the wildlife. The maintenance of the dome comes second to how the interpersonal relationships are affected by the constant closeness and proximity to each other, something I find myself thinking back to during this lockdown!
by Diana Evans
I’m a sucker for books with cover art that could be my own designs. This was one of them. Looking for a book to fill the Sally Rooney shaped hole in my life, I paid for this one before I even read the back of it. During the heat of last summer, I loved reading the descriptions of London and how these four people were living in it, identifying traits in myself and in my friends, it felt so realistic and truthful, despite the characters being at least a decade older than me. It’s an intimate reflection on life in a city, love, parenthood, grief and friendships.
By Lucy Ellman
I bought this for two reasons, the first one, obviously, I loved the cover, secondly, my nickname throughout my childhood was Mimi, unless you’re my Dad, where he calls me that so often I’m starting to doubt if he remembers my actual name. This book gave me the same feeling that I get whenever I watch Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and I suppose that’s to do with Mimi herself, an eccentric woman who helps Harrison Hanafan - the narrator - off the ground when he sprains his ankle on Christmas Eve and takes him back to her apartment where she has a stray cat called Bubbles, and an extensive collection of Bette Davies DVDs. They fall hopelessly and obsessively in love, the kind of love that seems to only happen in New York.
By Sally Rooney
Like almost everyone, I fell completely in love with Connell and Marianne as well as Sally Rooney herself, in the summer of 2018. If you have the luck of not having read it yet, I’m envious, it is one of those books I wish I could wipe from my memory just so I can read it afresh! The book follows the confusing and complex relationship between Connell and Marianne, their struggles and successes throughout the end of school and during university. I cry at very few books, but I found myself weeping on the train after finishing this.
The Female Persuasion
By Meg Wolitzer
I only read this recently, when I was given a copy by a close friend, who told me it was her all-time favourite book, and I shamefully admitted I’d been sent a proof over a year before yet it had fallen to the bottom of the pile. Inspired by her, one of my most well-read friends, claiming it to be a favourite, I started it as soon as I got home. The book follows introverted, shy Greer Kadetsky and the woman who changes her life, Faith Frank, a glamorous and celebrated feminist. Greer’s life changes completely once she becomes entangled with Faith, and the life she had pictured with her high school, hometown boyfriend Cory, suddenly seems quite distant.
All That Man Is
By David Szalay
Call Me By Your Name is one of my favourite books, and now I buy any book that looks like it would even vaguely echo the feeling it created in me. I bought this in the middle of last winter, when everything was grey and everyone was constantly cold and grumpy, feeling the need to be transported to somewhere else. I wasn’t expecting short stories, but I’m so glad it was. Each story was so different yet had a central feeling running through it, like permanently looking through an 8mm camera at how life affected these men, each away from home and at different stages in life. A new portrayal of what it means to be a man in the 21st century.
Rules of Civility
By Amor Towles
New York is one of my favourite places to read about, most likely because I know how much I would have loved to have lived there during the ’20s and ’30s, so seeing a book with bright pink writing and a black and white photo of a woman sunbathing in front of the Empire State Building, of course, I was going to buy it. This book was incredible, and I’ve reread it at least three times since buying it, it’s stylish, it’s glamourous, the main character feels like the original Carrie Bradshaw, only with silk stockings, fur coats and drinking gin martinis at jazz bars until 3 am.
Despite the phrase, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ it appears to be something I’ve gotten pretty good at over the years, rarely do I buy a book because I fall in love with the cover, before reading the back, then not enjoy it. Besides, they’ve got to fit in with my colour coordinated bookshelves!