What we’re reading: Solnit, French & Stuart

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.


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Mark Rubbo is reading Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

I took last week off and greedily devoured a number of books. The one I enjoyed most was last year’s Booker Prize winner, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. Set in Glasgow in Thatchers era, this is the grim story of a dysfunctional family and their struggles with alcoholism. It might not sound like a holiday read but this exceptionally fine novel is utterly compulsive. Stuart writes so beautifully about his characters, and with such empathy and insight, that they come alive in your head. His descriptions of the decline of working class Britain are powerful and timely. I am loving it – only 30 pages to go.


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Angela Crocombe is reading re-imaginings of fairy tales

Just before Christmas, Penguin Random House released four intriguing re-imaginings of classic fairy tales by well known authors, which they have called A Fairy Tale Revolution. I read Rebecca Solnit’s Cinderella Liberator and was impressed with its beautifully written, as well as a kinder and more contemporary retelling of the story. The prince and Cinderella stay friends and pursue their own careers, as well as forgiving the ugly sisters.

Jeanette Winterson has also rewritten Hansel and Gretel, Malorie Blackman rewrites Bluebeard with the woman in the position of power in Blueblood, and Kamila Shamsie rewrites the ugly duckling story as Duckling. These are great read-aloud fairytale revisions for kids or adults.


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Chris Gordon is reading The Searcher by Tana French

Yes, yes, it is true that one of the enormous gifts of working at a bookshop is that all of your colleagues read. It is also true that we talk about books – what they mean, why they work or don’t work, and especially why everyone should immediately start reading a particular title. The distance created by COVID-19 did not stop us. We wrote to each other, chatted via our computer screens, and took note of each other’s reviews in our wonderful Readings Monthly newsletter. In need of a beach read, I was prompted by the near-universal adoration of Irish crime author at Readings and purchased The Searcher. Well, what a brilliant read.

French takes you through the hills of Ireland, gently introducing characters and teasing the moral compass at the narrative’s centre. Around the halfway mark, you feel like the answer to a missing young man is right there – but you are still not sure how it all strings together. I read the novel quickly and my partner did as well. We have since purchased The Wych Elm and he is waiting for me to finish, sad that I’m back at work and have less time.

So, if you need to escape doomscrolling on your device and are looking for something that will completely engulf you, please do listen to the Reading’s experts. Tana French, perhaps one of the most accomplished and famous of all crime writers, is a joy to read. It works because you know French understands that justice is so much more than a rule created and a crime read should be so much more than a series of misdemeanours.

The Searcher

The Searcher

Tana French

$32.99Buy now

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