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BOOK CLUB: The Top Literary Releases of November

21 November 2018 | Freya Parr

At this time of year, we’re all frantically scratching our heads wondering what to get notoriously-difficult-to-buy-for friends and relatives. Rather than resorting to 'smellies' they’ll never use, perhaps a shiny, new book with a quasi-thoughtful inscription in the front page might be a better idea?

Daniel Rosenthal, Dramatic Exchanges: The Lives and Letters of the National Theatre (released 1st November)
The National Theatre has welcomed the world’s greatest actors come through its doors over the past 50 years. This collection brings together the correspondence of these incredible actors, directors and playwrights, many of whom are familiar household names. It is a fascinating insight into the world of the theatre and the developments of legendary productions.



Maggie Smith writing to Laurence Olivier, Michael Frayn to Ian McKellan, Judi Dench to David Hare and James Corden to Richard Bean: the great and the good are all found within the pages of this book. The National plays host to more premieres than most other stages in London, so in this collection we are able to see how plays are written and transferred to the stage for the first time. The exchanges are all incredibly candid and open, so this collection really is the perfect nosy read for any budding thesp.

For more information, visit the National Theatre book shop


Roxane Gay, Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture (released 1st November)
Roxane Gay has become a cult feminist figure since the publication of her recent collections of essays Bad Feminist and Difficult Women, as well as her writing for The New York Times. This is possibly her most hard-hitting collection of essays to date. The introduction sees Gay relive the time she was gang raped at the age of 12, so we are immediately aware of the severity of the subject matter. The essays are written by a mix of well-known actors, writers and experts, as well as newly-published voices, all exploring harassment in various environments.



This book could not come at a more critical time. The world is fraught with conversations of sexual assault and abuse and gender inequality, and this collection gives a voice to those who have been silenced. It is a deeply personal and affecting read, providing the ‘call to arms’ we all need.


Tara Westover, Educated (released 1st November)
This unusual Bildungsroman has taken the literary world by storm this year, and rightly so. It is an unbelievable story that will stay with you far beyond its pages. Tara Westover was born into a family of nine on a junkyard in Idaho to survivalist parents. Receiving no education, she was brought up working on the junkyard, injuring herself severely and relentlessly in the process but receiving no medical treatment. Her mother was a herbalist and her father terrified of the establishment, so the family’s life-threatening injuries were healed at home.



Westover taught herself enough to get her into college, where she then progressed to such an extent that she ended up at Cambridge University. The move from a survivalist family to civilisation was no easy ride though. Educated is a story of the power of education and the complex issue of family loyalty, and you’ll struggle to not be heavily affected by Westover’s narrative.

 

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