What we’re reading: Lockwood, Jackson & Offill

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on, or the music we’re loving.


Lian Hingee is reading Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Patricia Lockwood’s book Priestdaddy is a favourite of our booksellers and often appears on our blog as a recommended read. I don’t read much memoir myself so it’s always passed me by, but a couple of weeks ago Lockwood’s tweet about her cat Miette popped up in my feed and after I finished laughing I ordered myself a copy of her book. A single year-and-a-half-old tweet is a terrible reason to read a book, so it serves me right that Priestdaddy had virtually nothing about cats in it; but joke’s on you because the real story – that of Lockwood’s fascinating childhood growing as the daughter of an honest-to-god Catholic priest – was an unexpected delight. Fantastically funny and wry, Priestdaddy is at once an almost anthropological look at life inside America’s bible belt, a coming-of-age story, and an engaging family memoir. Imagine Louis Theroux meets David Sedaris, with the clever sting in the tail of Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette.


Bronte Coates is reading Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson

Back in 2017, I read and really loved Ruth Franklin’s biography of Shirley Jackson. Since then, I’ve found myself picking up Jackson’s books at odd moments – including late one night last week when I was browsing our home bookshelves, looking for the right book for that moment, and spotted Life Among the Savages tucked in there. Described by the author as ‘a disrespectful memoir of my children’, this semi-fictionalised work brings together a collection of stories Jackson published in Women’s magazines sharing snapshots of her life with a husband and two, then three, then four small children in rural Vermont. It is a terrifically funny book, spiked with notes of dread and malevolence that work to sharpen the humour. Jackson makes fun of her own ineptitude at acting the accomplished housewife of her era, while also slyly critiquing the exception to be one at all and the impossible standards at play. I had such a good time reading this deliciously tangy book, and highly recommend for anyone else feeling themselves at the slippery edge of a slump.


Chris Gordon is reading Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

I know I’m late to the party – again. I know that everyone has been talking about this novel for years already. And I also know that Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation is one of the most spectacular novels I have ever read. For those that haven’t picked it up yet: imagine a love story filled with bittersweet observations. Imagine a love story that – at its core – is not romantic, is not sickly sweet, but rather, a transcript of love itself in all its purest forms. This novel is written in a series of gasps and there are passages I have had to reread again and again to fully grasp Offill’s ability to say so much with so few words. The story centres on a good marriage that is rocked by an indiscretion. Taller? Thinner? Quieter? Easier, he says. Oh, the heartbreak described in this quite short novel will hurt you. I only wanted you to adore me. Truly, Dept. of Speculation is poetry in motion. You’ll read it in one sitting, and you will spend the rest of your days quoting lines.

Dept. of Speculation

Dept. of Speculation

Jenny Offill

$19.99Buy now

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