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The Best Recent Novels & Non-Fiction Books To Lose Yourself In

Image © Waterstones via Facebook

Immerse yourself in these great reads


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Daisy Jones and The Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid 
Fans of the cult classic Almost Famous (2000) will adore this unique fiction, released this year by The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo author Taylor Jenkins Reid (also a great read). The story follows Daisy Jones and rock band The Six, spanning their musical careers throughout 1965-1979. A hedonistic LA it-girl meets a serious rock band and the group set out to make records. Despite their commercial success, egos, attitudes and addictions get in the way of their overriding success and relationships crumble from within. What sets this novel apart is its unique style, where the narrative is told throughout various interviews with different people involved in the story. This fun way of following the events of those 14-years shows how valuable hindsight can be and offers a nostalgic reminiscing on events gone by. Be sure to pick up a copy before the story hits our screens as a TV mini-series directed by Reese Witherspoon. 

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Candice Carty-Williams
A brand-new voice in British fiction comes from Candice Carty-Williams with her debut novel Queenie. A coming of age story set-in South-East London, Queenie is caught between her London life and her Jamaican British family, having suffered a recent break up and being forced to move out of her flat. Covering the topics of London’s ever-prominent gentrification, mental health struggles, racism and consent, this book is a refreshing addition to the grown-up young adult fiction. In the world of the ‘chaotic woman’ (see Fleabag, Bridget Jones etc) it’s an invigorating change to hear the voice of a young, black, British woman, and Candice Carty-Williams has truly earned her place on the Waterstones Book of the Year 2019 list along with other well-deserved critical acclaims. An enjoyable book from start to finish, this one is a great choice to devour on a rainy day in January. 

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The Testaments
Margaret Atwood 
It’s impossible to mention 2019’s literary successes without a brief mention of The Testaments, the long-awaited sequel to the feminist masterpiece The Handmaid’s Tale. It won 50% of the Booker Prize 2019 (along with Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other) and topped plenty of lists for best read of 2019. The novel picks up 15 years after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, telling the story of the infamous Aunt Lydia, a young Gilead woman named Agnes and a young Canadian woman named Daisy. It’s a rollercoaster of a story that’ll have you perched at the edge of your seat throughout, slowly trying to piece together the decade and a half since we last saw Offred bundled into the back of a van. It stands-alone as a quality dystopian novel and offers an evolved reflection of society today. 

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Queer Intentions
Amelia Abraham

Over in the non-fiction section, Amelia Abraham's insightful take on the current state of queer culture. At a point where the vast majority of LGBT+ people living in the Western world have achieved many of the rights they have been fighting for, the queer question turns into 'what next?' Abraham has searched far and wide for the answers, from RuPaul's Drag Con in L.A. to Turkey's underground queer club scene, and her strong investigative skills are backed up by a touching personal thread of a story which weaves in and out of these international tales. Over the course of the book, Abraham's investigations start to form an answer to the question of what it means to be queer in 2019.

Girl, Woman, Other
Bernadine Evaristo
This year, Girl, Woman, Other made Bernadine Evaristo the first black woman to win the Booker Prize. Her eighth novel is an expertly woven tale of twelve black women of different ages, religions and backgrounds, all with their own struggles, whose lives gently overlap with one another's. With prose as fluid and poetic as the characters, this book is the perfect balm for these chaotic years, reminding us with its closing words that 'this is about being/together'.

Words by Billie Manning and Maisy Farren