New year, new books, 2021 edition

Another quick post to celebrate the stack of beautiful new books I received for my birthday that I’m eager to get stuck into (what about my existing TBR of 140, you say? I mean, they’re also great books I’m sure, but less new and shiny!). Yes, I did also receive a lamp in the shape of a book, with a remote control to change the colour.

birthday books

Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh – a travelogue of train journeys, many of which I am sure I will be adding to my future travels wishlist (though like most people, right now I would settle for any travel at all if it was safe).

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman – the memoir on which the hit TV show was based. This was actually recommended in one of the BLM reading lists I found, because though Kerman is white, she apparently does a good job of covering the disproportionate number of women of colour in prison, as well as the racism she witnessed from her more privileged position.

Black and British by David Olusoga – I don’t watch live TV except at New Year, but last summer I saw a lot of social-media chatter about Olusoga’s BBC TV show A House Through Time and managed to watch it before it disappeared from iPlayer. I was impressed by the historian and decided to check out more of his work.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold – a biography of the five confirmed victims of Jack the Ripper that purports to centre the women, rather than their murderer. This was a gift from a good friend who is a Jack the Ripper nerd, so I am sure will lead to some very interesting discussions after we’ve both read it.

This Winter by Alice Oseman – I keep seeing Oseman’s books recommended, particularly on Instagram. This one is a Christmassy novella based on the characters from her Heartstopper graphic novels, which I have not read, but I think I can manage it before next December and make this a “next Christmas” read.

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N K Jemison – people keep recommending Jemison to me so I am really glad to have this collection of her SF short stories. Also, what a great title! Both Tim and our lockdown buddy T are keen to read this too, so this might have to be another one where I have a mini book club to discuss it.

The Woman Next Door by Yewande Owotoso – one of the programmes the BBC quickly threw together last summer was Africa Turns the Page: the Novels That Shaped a Continent (presented by David Olusoga – him again!). This excellent show added a bunch of classics from the continent to my wishlist, but also got me hunting for contemporary African novelists I should know about. Which brought me to Owotoso, and this South Africa-set novel is about octagenarian women who are bitter rivals.

The Biscuit: the History of a Very British Indulgence by Lizzie Collingham – as a certain advert used to say, this is just what it says on the tin. I picked this up entirely based on the recommendation of Felicity Cloake, who is my favourite Instagrammer as well as being an excellent food writer. I’m hoping my old haunt Reading gets plenty of mentions as it is, after all, famous for the “three Bs”: beer, bricks and biscuits.

The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson – a memoir in comic form. I have enjoyed Stevenson’s art in Lumberjanes and I am a big fan of her TV show She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Seriously, if you have Netflix, I urge you to watch it.

Bitch Planet Book One by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro – a feminist dystopia set in an “off-planet” women’s prison. I read and enjoyed the first issue last year, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the first volume.

Cook Korean! A Comic Book With Recipes by Robin Ha – another example where the title says most of what you need to know. I’ve read the first quarter or so of this book and it’s short, clear recipes with fun artwork and cultural/historical details. I just need to buy myself some Korean staples before I can get started on finding out whether the recipes are as easy to follow as they seem.