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Weekly no-longer-in-lockdown newsletter #13

Hello lovely people—and what a joy it is to be able to say that to you in person again! We're finally back open for browsing again and, touch wood, we hope to stay that way. Whiling hours away in a bookshop is a singular pleasure it's tricky to replicate online (charming and funny newsletters notwithstanding), and we're delighted we can offer it to you once more.

Speaking of the newsletter, now we're out of lockdown we're going to switch to a fortnightly format, which means we can focus on selling you things. Which brings us onto the matter of books! Our display tables are chocka with new titles, but we've selected a handful to highlight for you, from fiction to children's, plus some recommendations from our staff who we hope you'll be exceedingly polite to. Let's have at it!

New this week

Crystal Jeans's The Inverts is a queer take on a Nancy Mitford novel: Bettina and Bart are childhood best friends, both gay, who marry out of convenience before tearing off on a riotous, sexy romp through 1920s social mores. This One Sky Day, the latest novel from Leone Ross, is a a magical realist tale in the Márquez or Rushdie mold, as two lovers seek each other out on a fictional Caribbean archipelago during a day of celebration. There's a similar sense of sun, sea and suspense in Polly Samson's A Theatre For Dreamers, a coming-of-age tale set amongst the artistic milieu of sixties Greece.

Finally out in paperback, M John Harrison's The Sunken Land Begins To Rise Again is difficult to describe and impossible to shake, beginning as a perceptive novel of recentering oneself in middle-age...before hints of a Lovecraftian incursion into middle England begin to crop up. Also new in paperback is Graham Swift's Here We Are, a comic novel about the backstage drama between a magician, his assistant and their MC in 1950s Brighton. Finally, Katheine Heiny's Early Morning Riser is an unconventional romantic comedy, following lovestruck Jane's struggles with her new beau's promiscuous past. Jo loved her debut, Standard Deviation, comparing her sharp wit to Nora Ephron.
Craig Taylor's Londoners was an eye-opening investigation of the city and its people, interviewing everyone from market stall owners to merchant bankers to provide a vivid portrait of the capital. His New Yorkers looks to do the same for the Big Apple! Further afield, Reem Kassis' The Arabesque Table explores the history of Arab cuisine through recipes offering a contemporary twist on tradition. Further histories are uncovered in The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym, Paula Byrne's biography of the English novelist whose struggle for literary recognition took in being dropped by her publisher, being nominated for a Booker, several doomed romances with gay or married men, and much more.
For a long view on the looming climate crisis, look no further than David Farrier's Footprints, which speculates on the "future fossils" -- from plastic and nuclear waste to infrastructure -- which may linger on Earth 100,000 yeas from now. The Art of Repair is the wonderful debut (and we're not just saying that because she's Josh's sister) from Molly Martin, a beautifully illustrated guide to everything from mending clothes to the Japanese art of Sashiko. Last of our non-fiction picks this week is Lamorna Ash's Dark, Salt, Clear, a memoir of leaving city life behind for the Cornish fishing town she visited as a child. 
While we're at it, we'd be remiss not to highlight Rab MacWilliam's new history of our neck of the woods, Stoke Newington: The Story of a Dissenting Village, which pays particular attention to the more radical inhabitants from the Quakers to the Angry Brigade (who have a particular relationship with the bookshop...)
On the picture book front, the enormously charming The Neighbourhood Surprise by Sarah Van Dongen, an inclusive story of a going away party for a cherished elder neighbour. Danny Dodo's Detective Diary is part mystery, part children's non-fiction, as Dr Nick Crumpton explores the history and future of endangered creatures with quirky illustrations by Rob Hodgson. Hannah Alice's The Body Book is another great non-fiction book for younger readers, with see-through pages revealing the various systems which keep us ticking over.
For older readers we have the second instalment of L.D. Lapinski's The StrangeWorlds Travel Agency, The Edge of the Ocean, where Flick uses her magical dimension-traversing suitcase to come to the aid of Pirate Queen Nyfe. Nicola Skinner's Bloom was big hit, and Starboard is a similarly switched-on and surprising adventure, as a tween YouTube star becomes captain of a living ship! Pages & Co: Tilly and the Map of Stories is the third in Anna James's magical series, this time (literally) exploring the worlds inside the books of the Library of Congress.
Collective action is absolutely crucial to piecing together this week's jigsaw pick: a 1,000 piece puzzle featuring the Penguin Classics cover art for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Communist Manifesto, designed by Patrice Killoffer and absolutely packed with detail!

What we're reading

  • Anya is reading Sleeping Beauties by neurologist Suzanne O'Sullivan, "an exploration of psychosomatic disorders" for fans of Oliver Sacks!
  • Paul is halfway through Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta, an exploration of indigenous thinking about the environment similar to Braiding Sweetgrass, but brilliant in its own right
  • Tom loved Charlie Fox's This Young Monster, a collection of essays on "monstrous" figures from pop culture which covers everyone from Alice (of Wonderland) to Rainer Werner Fassbinder
We don't know about you, but we're knackered. It's been a blissfully hectic week, and being able to advise, recommend and gossip with you all in person again has been a dream. Keep sanitising, keep wearing your masks, and above all, keep buying books, and we'll be out of this before you know it. Take care of yourselves, and see you soon!
We are once again open for business Monday to Saturday, 10am-6pm! That means browsing, chatting, the whole kit and caboodle. You can also still email or call (020 7249 2808) to place an order to pick up if you'd rather not hang around the shop. If you're unable to get to us in person for any reason, you can also order books to be delivered to you through our friends at (and we receive a decent commission!)
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