Friday Book Debrief Vol 15


Every week we’re sharing what our some of our writers are currently reading.




Severance by Ling Ma - Jessica


I'm reading this because I'm a sucker for a pandemic book at the best of times, so couldn't resist immediately pushing aside my TBR pile for this when a friend mentioned it over dinner. So far this also appears to incorporate the popular late-00s literary trope of 'millennial woman stuck in bullshit job', which I'm also a sucker for. A winning combination.


Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.




Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - Karen


A layered story about time, displacement, and what it means to be living in the moment. We follow this story through interweaving chapters with Nao (a 16 year old girl that has decided to end her life but first she must write about her 103 year old anarchist, feminist, Buddhist nun great grandmother) and Ruth (a novelist, who just lost her mother to Alzheimer's and left a bustling New York City for a remote island). Their story is connected through a Hello Kitty lunch box that washes up onshore and that Ruth collects. Inside she finds Proust's In Search of Lost Time, which in turn, hides a journal filled with the complex, myriad, and profound thoughts of Nao as she navigates life back in Japan after growing up in the United States. Ruth is able to empathize with many of Nao's thoughts and we are following their chapters as Ruth continues reading Nao's journal, introspecting on her life, and as we see what course Nao's life took.



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.



A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand - Melissa


I haven't started this one yet, but there's no chance Elin Hilderbrand will let me down. Spring is trying to come to Chicago, and this summery book will hopefully help it along!!



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.



Inland by Téa Obreht – Iva


The Wild West meets magical realism. Might be my own fault because I dislike anything western-like, but quite underwhelming and uninteresting so far. Too many characters, too little to occupy your attention fully.



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.



Educated by Tara Westover - Nikki


Taking a brief and unusual break from fiction with this Obama-praised memoir. A beautiful read so far — gorgeous descriptions of nature and a fascinating look into a forgotten pocket of America.



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.





Bone China by Laura Purcell - Cat


I love a gothic tale and Purcell's The Silent Companions was one I really enjoyed last year. Bone China is laying on the gothic tropes in thick, melodramatic flourishes, but I'm absolutely here for it. It's a quick and compelling read so far.



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.



I Have The Answer by Kelly Fordon - Maggie


This short story collection I’ll be reviewing later this month for The Book Slut is a simmering display of adulthood and the challenges the people face around us in silence and in shame. It is incredibly human and eloquently full of emotional truth.



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.




Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - Victoria


Seeking something long and inescapable in our current time of chaos. It's too soon to tell if this will be the one.



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.



González and Daughter Trucking Co. by Maria Amparo Escandón - Marian


I am only a couple chapters in but this one is proving to be a uniquely told story about the inner workings of a Mexicali women’s prison, and the stories told by Libertad González to pass time. The story within the story propels this one to distant lands far from the confines of the prison walls. Escandón’s writing is spare, but powerful.



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.



Cherry Beach by Laura McPhee-Browne - Courtney


A book about the most simple story around: two friends. But Browne focuses on the inner workings and complexities of friendships and what happens when things don’t seem to be going to plan. A stunning Aussie debut that is worth reading by readers around the globe!



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.



The Octopus Museum by Brenda Shaughnessy - Jessica Maria


I decided to take a break from the current dark novel I was reading during these existential times and pick up another book on my bedside table that offered a calming, pretty cover and the promise of poetry. Not sure it was the right choice to avoid mentioned mental dread, as it’s about humanity’s extinction due to environmental factors, but… it’s damn good so far.



Buy it here - US, UK, AUS.



Learning to Talk to Plants by Marta Orriols - PL


Not a book on horticultural tips (something I am desperate need of tbh) it follows a neonatologist in the months following her partner’s sudden death. Whilst surrounded by all-encompassing grief, the packed boxes of his belongings, dying plants and an empty fridge. She is also circumnavigating the knowledge only beknown to her, that he was intending to leave her for another woman. Expertly translated with stunning precision from Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem. Vivid imagery delicately dances of the page and bewitches you from the onset. Out this September from Pushkin Press and not to be missed.




What have you been reading this week?