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Weekly lockdown newsletter #15

Hello lovely people! It may be miserable outside, but we've had a great first few weeks back open properly (although we're not quite used to this whole "working full days" thing again...), with the readers of North East London coming out in droves. Let's keep it up!

This issue is jam-packed with new releases that are more than worth braving the weather for. If for whatever reason you can't visit us in person, or you'd like to send a book-shaped gift to someone, we'll now be including a list on of all the titles featured in each newsletter. We get a percentage from every purchase made through our page on their site!

New this week

Following the completion of her trilogy of autobiographical novels, Rachel Cusk's latest work of fiction Second Place takes a different tack: rather than a roman-à-clef of reported speech, this is an allegorical duel of intellects between the narrator and a famed artist she invites to her coastal home. The Son of the House, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut, also takes on issues of class divide and privilege, as two Nigerian women from different social strata are kidnapped and tell each other stories from their starkly different lives to pass the time during their imprisonment. New in paperback, Latitudes of Longing is Shubhangi Swarup's epic survey of contemporary India, moving deftly between an ensemble of characters which includes a Nepalese drug dealer, a young botanist, and the ghosts of former colonialists.

Death In Her Hands, Otessa Moshfegh's irresistible whodunnit -- or, was-anything-even-dun? -- is now in paperback, the spare and stylish story of an elderly widow who thinks she's found evidence of a missing woman near her rural home...or is her foggy memory playing tricks on her? The much-anticipated follow-up to The Doll Factory, Elizabeth Macneal's Circus of Wonders finds the humanity in a Victorian freak show, as birthmark-covered Nell looks for love and friendship in the circus her father sold her to. Utopia Avenue is more grounded than we're used to seeing from David Mitchell, but his evocation of swingin' sixties London has all the colour and narrative invention as his more fantastical works.
The third and final part of her trilogy of memoirs, Deborah Levy's Real Estate is a characteristically idiosyncratic meditation on the titular topic, from women's place in a patriarchal society to what desires really underpin the yearning for a "dream home." Looking upwards and outwards, Sarah Gibson's Swifts and Us is a gripping natural history of a bird species under threat, whose tendency to eat, sleep and mate while flying has baffled and enthralled for centuries. Around the World in 80 Plants is Jonathan Drori's enlightening journey through botanical history, science and folklore, replete with colourful illustrations by Lucille Clerc.
A trio of non-fiction bestsellers are out in paperback this week! Picking up where Utopia For Realists left off, Rutger Bregman's Humankind is a clear-eyed and convincing argument against the perceived wisdom that humans are self-serving and individualistic. A Thousand Ships author Natalie Haynes continues her feminist inquiry into Greek myth in the wonderful Pandora's Jar (it only became a box came in later tellings, apparently!). Left Out is the ever-relevant inside story of Jeremy Corbyn's tenure as Labour leader, written with insider knowledge by journalists Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire.
It may have the look of a standard celebrity autobiography, but Jay Blades' memoir Making It is anything but. It's the story of his life from growing up in Stoke Newington, struggling against dyslexia and institutional racism, to becoming the face of The Repair Shop. Jo and Lauren both read and loved it! In a similar vein to Lemn Sissay's tremendous My Name Is Why.
Leading off our children's recommendations this time around is The Time-Thief, Patience Agbabi's follow-up to The Infinite, with 13-year-old Elle leaping through time to recover a priceless heirloom stolen from the Museum of the Past, the Present and the Future. Noah's Gold is the latest from the prolific Frank Cottrell-Boyce, a rollicking adventure story of six treasure-hunting kids marooned on a desert island after a school trip gone wrong. The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife is the first in a new series from Who Let The Gods Out? author Maz Evans, so expect laugh-out-loud slapstick comedy and groan-worthy puns. 
A touching story with beautiful illustrations, Grandad's Camper follows a road trip between a granddaughter and her recently-widowed grandad, who regales her with stories about his beloved husband. For younger readers, Christopher Franceschelli and artist collective Peskimo's Shark Block is a stylish introduction to the sea creature. Finally, Charlie Chooses is a funny, eminently relatable picture book about an indecisive child, from Lou Peacock and Leaf Thief artist Nicola Slater.
For this week's jigsaw recommendation, we're highlighting this 1,000 piece puzzle featuring a painting by Nel Whatmore, a poet, fine artist and regular exhibitor at Chelsea Flower Show. A nice splash of springtime colour for a rainy afternoon indoors!

What we're reading

  • Paul recommends Finding The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard, a beautiful blend of biography, scientific consideration of the interconnectedness off all things through invisible undergrowth, and familial connections
  • Tom is part-way through LA Kauffman's Direct Action, a propulsive history of political rabble-rousing in the US from the anti-Vietman war protests through ACT UP and Black Lives Matter
  • Josh can actually vouch for the aforementioned Pandora's Jar, Natalie Haynes' fascinating look at Greek mythology's most controversial women, dismantling the miosgynistic lens they're often viewed through with empathy and wit
And with that, it's high time we put the kettle on and get back to it. As always, we are open for business and keen to see you all, with full details on opening hours, ordering and our page. Take care of yourselves, and we'll see your inboxes again in a couple of weeks! 
We are open for browsing 10-6 Monday to Saturday, and 11-5 on Sunday. You can also email or call (020 7249 2808) to place an order, then pick up your items from the shop. If you're unable to get to the shop for any reason, you can order books to be delivered to you through our friends at (and we receive a decent commission!)
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