October 23, 2021

Bestsellers 16th-23rd October

by Team Riverside

John le Carre – Silverview

Roma Agrawal and Katie Hickey – How Was That Built?

Stanley Tucci – Taste: My Life Through Food

Sally Rooney – Beautiful World, Where Are You?

Elizabeth Strout – Oh William!

Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women

Elena Ferrante – The Lying Life of Adults

Colm Toibin – The Magician

Bernadine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

Suzanna Clarke – Piranesi

Rumaan Alam – Leave The World Behind

Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad – Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Florence Given – Women Don’t Owe You Pretty

Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House

October 18, 2021

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

by Team Riverside
Stanley Tucci Taste

Hardback, Penguin Fig Tree, £20, out now

You must be careful when reading this book.  You might end up with a shopping list that suddenly includes good vodka, Valtellina cheese, and bushels of fresh tomatoes.  I read it on a Sunday afternoon, snacking enjoyably throughout, and had a deeply relaxing time.

Tucci is just as funny, smart and interesting in Taste as he is on his excellent TV show Searching for Italy (https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/stanley-tucci-searching-for-italy-restaurants/index.html).  He gives an enjoyable account of moments in his life through food, including hilarious dialogue with his family, right the way through to a surprisingly relatable account of being stuck indoors in London with his kids during the first lockdown.  Aged about six, watching a food show on television, his mother tells him that the presenter is cooking a duck.  He says “A duck?!!!… From a pond?”  His mother says “I guess so.  I don’t know”.

Dotted throughout are hungry-making recipes.  Achievable cocktails accompany grand epics like the timpano (as seen in the movie Big Night), which turns out to have been a source of both joy and stress in the Tucci household over a run of Christmases.  Jay Rayner has a smashing time cooking it with Stanley Tucci though (see https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/oct/17/the-day-i-cooked-timpano-with-stanley-tucci-jay-rayner).

Fans of Big Night and Julie and Julia will find cheerful behind the scenes gossip here.  Tucci namedrops with abandon, which is the only possible way to do it with style.  Ryan Reynolds, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Marcello Mastroianni and endless friends from the world of food pop up.  Taste is both thoughtful and sweary, one of my favourite combinations.

I agree that battered family cookware can be heirlooms, as Tucci notes.  There are often things that we associate strongly with the important cooks in our lives.  A friend’s mum always made toffee in the same tin: it had hammer marks where years of toffee bashing had occurred.  These things are precious.

Tucci’s account of his cancer, which leads him to have terrible trouble with food and eating during his treatment and recovery, is moving and important.  That food for him is about connecting with others is clear throughout the book, and his deprivation of this key aspect of life during his illness hurts.  His joy at surviving and being able to get back to eating with the people he loves leaps off the page.

I suspect that many people will buy this lovely thing for other people this Christmas.  Do this by all means, but read it sneakily yourself first.  It’s like being on a sunny food holiday with a generous and entertaining friend.  We have signed copies!

Review by Bethan

October 18, 2021

Signed copies in store!

by Team Riverside
Stanley Tucci Taste

Bernardine Evaristo – Manifesto

Elizabeth Strout – Oh William!

Amor Towles – Lincoln Highway

Karina Lickorish Quinn – The Dust Never Settles

Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad – Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Shelf Love

Stanley Tucci – Taste

Maggie Shipstead – Great Circle

Oliver Jeffers – There’s a Ghost in this House

Matt Haig – A Mouse Called Miika

Richard Powers – Bewilderment

Colm Tóibín – The Magician

Roddy Doyle – Life Without Children

Ruth Ozeki – The Book of Form and Emptiness

Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice

Sarah Hall – Burntcoat

Leïla Slimani – The Country of Others

Catherine Madden and Anthony Elliott – Folds

Roma Agrawal and Katie Hickey – How Was That Built?

October 15, 2021

Bestsellers 9th – 15th October

by Team Riverside

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad – Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love

Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women

Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice

Sally Rooney – Beautiful World, Where Are You?

Bob Mortimer – And Away…

Marion Billet – Busy London

Sosuke Natsukawa – The Cat Who Saved Books

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche – Notes on Greif

Suzanna Clarke – Piranesi

Frank Herbert – Dune

Florence Given – Women Don’t Owe You Pretty

Judith Kerr – Mog the Forgetful Cat

Jeremy Paxman – Black Gold

Jonathon Franzen – Crossroads

October 13, 2021

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall

by Team Riverside

Hardback, Particular Books, £20, out now

Rebecca Hall Wake

This new graphic novel and memoir charts historian Rebecca Hall’s search for women rebel slave leaders in archives in the UK and US.  It is gripping, moving, and compelling.

Formerly a social justice lawyer, Hall’s work starts in New York in 1999, and Hugo Martínez’s illustrations show the slaving past literally reflected in the city as Hall walks through it.  It’s a brilliant way of showing how the past is inescapable in the present.  The graphic novel format lends itself to this so well, literally illustrating the similarities in some behaviour and surroundings between then and now. A smartly dressed white man barges into Hall without seeing her, and in a window reflection a white man in a tricorn hat pushes past another Black woman.

There are newly found stories of women-led revolts here, showing that her exhaustive work has paid off, and they are told with deep humanity.

As with Saidiya Hartman’s work on transforming and disrupting the archive, Hall does the work of interrogating why archives are as they are (anyone who loved Wayward Lives and Lose Your Mother will find this essential reading – see https://riversidebookshop.co.uk/2020/09/23/wayward-lives-beautiful-experiments-by-saidiya-hartman/).  The realisation that current racism and sexism have some of their roots in slavery is manifest. The historian as human is very present – “This work I’m doing is hard, and it hurts.”

Wake gives a vivid account of the difficulty of finding people in official archives when their voices are not recorded, being considered of no importance, or when their only seeming presence is as property.  She is also explicit about the UK archives which barred her from access, and those which felt they held nothing about slavery.

Hall describes herself as being haunted by slavery.  This really is a haunting book, necessarily violent and painful, showing that hard and committed work by historians can be revolutionary. 

Review by Bethan

October 12, 2021

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan

by Team Riverside
Index, A History of the

Hardback, Allen Lane, £20, out now

I did not expect to laugh out loud while reading a proper scholarly history of the index.  But I did, several times. And I now know that the little pointing hand in the margin is a manicule: ☞ (see also https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/manicules).

I did not realise that an index might be more than a handy tool.  In the course of Duncan’s account, we find out than an index can be so many other things.  For example, a means of revenge, a strange addition to fiction, or a way to satirise an author.  We get information on the first things organised by alphabet, the first page numbers, and all kinds of natty anecdotes.  One of my favourite bits is 19th century historian J. Horace Round’s extensive diss-fest index entry on his nemesis Professor Edward Freeman, which includes “his ‘certain’ history”, “misconstrues his Latin”, “his failure” and “his special weakness” (p. 14-15).

I am a fan of a good index.  They can drive you nuts if they are absent or shoddy.  Why would anyone make a travel book without at least a location index?  Am I supposed to memorise the location of every café that makes the best bath buns or Black Forest gateaux?  One of the most enjoyable I’ve seen recently is the one for Rob Halford’s Confess, in which the Judas Priest frontman’s life is summarised under the entry for Halford, Rob.  But this leads to another topic covered in the History, namely the suggestion that students might cheat (gasp) by reading only the index instead of the actual book. Another favourite is in Donald Knuth’s The Art of Computer Programming (volume 3 from 1973). He references “royalties, use of”, and this refers to the purchase of his dream pipe organ (see https://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/organ.html).

Index, A History of the has been added to my list of relaxing and entertaining non-fiction that I have found helpful during the pandemic.  During the first lockdown, I realised that the most engaging reading I was doing was well written non-fiction on topics about which I knew nothing (lots of scope here, obviously).  Top hits for me were Born to Kvetch, Gathering Moss, and Entangled Life.

Make time to work your way through this book’s own index.  It is enormous fun and had me cackling.  This is what I’ll be getting for my bookish people for Christmas this year.

Review by Bethan

October 9, 2021

Bestsellers 2nd – 9th October

by Team Riverside

Sally Rooney – Beautiful World, Where Are You

Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice

Karina Lickorish Quinn – The Dust Never Settles

Sosuke Natsukawa – The Cat Who Saved Books

Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women

Shon Faye – The Transgender Issue

Roma Agrawal and Katie Hickey – How Was That Built?

Merlin Sheldrake – Entangled Life

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Pat Barker – The Women of Troy

Stanley Tucci – Taste: My Life Through Food

William Boyd – Trio

Richard Osman – The Thursday Murder Club

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

Bob Mortimer – And Away…

October 6, 2021

Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor

by Team Riverside

Paperback, Daunt Books, £9.99, out now

Filthy Animals is the new collection of short stories from Booker Prize shortlisted writer Brandon Taylor, fans of his characteristically vivid prose and razor-sharp observations will not be disappointed by this stunning collection.

Taylor has a gift for portraying social discomfort in excruciating detail and this is perhaps best on display in the first story in the collection ‘Potluck’. Lionel, a character recovering from a suicide attempt becomes caught up in the world of Charles and Sophie, both dancers involved in an open relationship. Their encounters are ambiguous but powerful, affectionate but also distant and strange. In stories such as ‘Mass’ there is often an emphasis on the characters physicality, many of them are training to be professional dancers and there is an acute, Degas-like focus on their muscular bodies as a site for potential greatness and also a possible site of disaster. There is a kind of slipperiness throughout the book, many of the interactions between characters turn rapidly from friendly to hostile and back again. But love is always present, after so much anxiety and fraught relationships, the tenderness of ‘Anne of Cleves’ caught me off guard, it’s a beautifully realised story about a relationship blossoming between two women.

The stunning, cinematic quality of Taylor’s prose never fails, each story has a complete world within it, even when the characters fail to communicate verbally, the atmosphere is palpable. I recommend this book especially for fans of Lucia Berlin.

Review by Phoebe

October 2, 2021

Bestsellers 25th September to 2nd October

by Team Riverside

Sally Rooney – Beautiful World, Where Are You

Roma Agrawal and Katie Hickey – How Was That Built?

Shon Faye – The Transgender Issue

Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women

Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice

Tom Chivers – London Clay

Maggie O’Farrell – Hamnet

Suzannah Clarke – Piranesi

Frank Herbert – Dune

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche – Notes on Grief

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

Colson Whitehead – Harlem Shuffle

Bob Mortimer – And Away…

Marion Billet – Busy London

September 24, 2021

Bestsellers 17th-24th September

by Team Riverside

Sally Rooney – Beautiful World, Where Are You

Suzannah Clarke – Piranesi

Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women

Bernadine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

Frank Herbert – Dune

John Cooper Clarke – I Wanna Be Yours

Monique Roffey – The Mermaid of Black Conch

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Colm Toibin – The Magician

Nadifa Mohamed – The Fortune Men

Sally Rooney – Normal People

Eoin McLaughlin – The Hug

Kazuo Ishiguro – Klara and The Sun

September 19, 2021

How Was That Built?

by Team Riverside
How Was That Built window

We were so delighted to welcome the author and illustrator to install a lovely window display for the new children’s book How Was That Built? by Roma Agrawal and Katie Hickey.

We have signed copies and we are so delighted with our window!

September 18, 2021

Mindful Mr Sloth by Katy Hudson

by Team Riverside

Paperback, Raintree and Curious Frog, £6.99, out now

Mindful Mr Sloth

Sasha has an enviable treehouse and a bunch of activities that she’s ready to do at high speed.  She even has lists of books she’s read – including a personal best reading time of 20 seconds!  This is all excellent fun, but when a sloth bonks down on the treehouse roof, she learns that slow can be fun too.

This very appealing children’s picture book shows a lovely day being had while also providing a useful way in to mindfulness (or just to slowing down and paying good attention).  The illustrations themselves provide a great reward for attending: vibrant and cheerful, and little details that repay seeing rather than just looking.

There is a helpful focus on the natural world (and not just sloths), showing that mindfulness and its rewards are possible everywhere.  Offering quiet and stillness as positive ways to enjoy the smell of flowers or the sound of birdsong, rather than just as corrections to what adults consider ‘too much’ noise or activity, is also welcome.

Who would not want to learn mindfulness from a sloth?

Review by Bethan

September 12, 2021

Ethel Rosenberg by Anne Sebba

by Team Riverside
Ethel Rosenberg cover

Hardback, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, £20.00, out now

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in the United States for treason in 1953.  A married couple, and the parents of two young children, their case became a cause célèbre as a miscarriage of justice, a cultural reference point, and a symbol of US domestic attitudes during the Cold War.  Amid all of this, the human story of Ethel Rosenberg has been lost, and this is what Anne Sebba’s engrossing biography corrects.

With access to new information from Ethel’s sons and others who knew her, as well as scrupulous archive research, Sebba meticulously reconstructs the life of this ordinary and extraordinary woman.  We find out about her upbringing in a New York Jewish family facing hard times.  We are left with the impression of an intelligent, talented and hardworking woman from a difficult family background, who was determined to make her way in life – in education, in singing, as a trade unionist, and as a wife and mother.

The book offers a vivid account of how some Americans came to communism in the 1930s, and how ordinary people started spying for the Soviet Union.  Sebba unpicks what Ethel Rosenberg did and didn’t know about the leaking of atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, and gives a detailed analysis of her trial.  She conveys the swirl of McCarthyism and anti-communist fever, and the impact of ingrained anti-Semitism.

Sebba spares us nothing, so it can be a tough read at times, but it is so worthwhile.  It is no wonder that the biography has been praised by Claire Tomalin, Simon Sebag Montefiore and Philippe Sands, among others.  Among the moments of light in the frequently grim story that Ethel’s two young children live through, are the moments of solidarity and care shown to them from unexpected quarters (including at one point W. E. B. Du Bois).  Outstanding.

Review by Bethan

September 9, 2021

Bestsellers 2nd to the 9th of September

by Team Riverside

Sally Rooney – Beautiful World, Where Are You

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Pat Barker – The Women of Troy

Kazuo Ishiguro – Klara and The Sun

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

Emily St. John Mandel – The Glass Hotel

Caitlin Moran – More Than a Woman

Fran Lebowitz – The Fran Lebowitz Reader

Bernadine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

Rutger Bregman – Humankind

Clare Chambers – Small Pleasures

Charlie Macksey – The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse

Merlin Sheldrake – Entangled Life

Sebastian Faulks – Snow Country

Elena Ferrante – The Lying Life of Adults

September 7, 2021

Signed copies of new Sally Rooney…

by Team Riverside
Sally Rooney book signed picture

… are going fast!

Come down to nab yours today.

September 7, 2021

Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles

by Team Riverside
Small Bodies of Water book cover

Hardback, Canongate, £14.99, out now

I have just had my first swim in a year and a half.  It was a completely joyous experience, and I was reminded how important swimming is for me.  Many memories of places and people are bound up with it.

Nina Mingya Powles’s essays, collected in Small Bodies of Water, were the perfect thing for me to read just after this memorable swim.  She combines memoir with nature writing, weaving strands about family, identity and home through the work.  Swimming features, as do sensory delights of food and travel.  Her essay on cold water swimming, Ache, was one of my favourites.  She is a generous writer, sharing experiences with us, even painful things like personal and shocking experiences of racism. 

Born in Aotearoa New Zealand, spending time in China and now living in London, the author’s experiences and interests coalesce in her writing: “Mum collects mandarin peels and cut lemon skins and places them in the dish after cooking, so that as the oven cools, it gives off a bittersweet, hot-sugar scent.  The rinds begin to dry out and curl in the warmth while the dog sleeps at our feet.  Not far away, we can hear waves roaring in a southerly gale.  Our skin smells of salt and oranges.” (p. 124)

A poet who won the Nan Shepherd prize for nature writing, Nina Mingya Powles writes as beautifully as you’d expect, and wears her thoughtfulness and reading lightly.  References to some of Riverside’s favourite books kept popping up.  Braiding Sweetgrass, Crying in H Mart, Mixed Race Superman, Wayward Lives and The Living Mountain all feature, and gave me the pleasurable feeling of having a very intelligent friend talking about things I had just read.  Her discussion of old family objects and writings as a sort of enduring but complicated archive usefully echoes Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory. 

I know I will read this again, and I have already lined up two people to lend it to.  It feels like a gift someone has given you, and that you want to share with others.

Review by Bethan

September 6, 2021

Bestsellers 30 August to 5 September

by Team Riverside

Pat Barker – The Women of Troy

The Women of Troy book cover

Bernardine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

Stephen Fry – Troy

Charlie Mackesy – The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Bella Mackie – How to Kill Your Family

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Notes on Grief

Kazuo Ishiguro – Klara and the Sun

James Mayhew – Katie in London

Mary South – You Will Never Be Forgotten

Caitlyn Moran – More Than a Woman

Sayaka Morata – Earthlings

Merlin Sheldrake – Entangled Life

Matt Haig – The Midnight Library

Elena Ferrante – The Lying Life of Adults

Janice Hallett – The Appeal

Olivia Petter – Millennial Love

Elif Shafak – The Island of Missing Trees

Richard Osman – The Thursday Murder Club

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September 2, 2021

Bestsellers 24 to 30 August

by Team Riverside

Pat Barker – The Women of Troy

Women of Troy cover

Elif Shafak – The Island of Missing Trees

John Kampfner – Why the Germans Do It Better

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Pat Barker – The Silence of the Girls

Bernardine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

Simon Lelic – The Search Party

Fran Lebowitz – The Fran Lebowitz Reader

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

Rutger Bregman – Humankind

Delia Owens – Where the Crawdads Sing

Clare Chambers – Small Pleasures

Michelle Zauner – Crying in H Mart

Ottessa Moshfegh – Death in her Hands

Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women

Pen Vogler – Scoff

Bessel Van Der Kolk – The Body Keeps the Score

Judith Kerr – The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Philippa Perry – The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

Dolly Alderton – Ghosts

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August 31, 2021

Gemma Reeves visit

by Team Riverside
Gemma Reeves

We were delighted to meet Gemma Reeves today when she came in to sign copies of her novel Victoria Park, which is now out in paperback.

Victoria Park has been a bestseller in Riverside for some weeks now. It was lovely to meet Gemma and we wish her all the best with the book!

August 30, 2021

Penguin Green Ideas series just in

by Team Riverside
Penguin Green Ideas dispaly

The very beautiful and well curated new Penguin Green Ideas series has just arrived. We are delighted with the inclusion of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s work, as she is a Riverside favourite ( see https://riversidebookshop.co.uk/2020/07/14/braiding-sweetgrass-indigenous-wisdom-scientific-knowledge-and-the-teachings-of-plants-by-robin-wall-kimmerer/).

Immediately added to our booksellers’ personal reading lists are Michael Pollan’s Food Rules (Phoebe) and Wangari Maathai’s The World We Once Lived In (Bethan).

August 28, 2021

Bank holiday Monday

by Team Riverside

Dear friends, we will be open 11am to 5pm on Monday 30 August.

August 27, 2021

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

by Team Riverside

Jonathon Cape, Hardback, £14.99, out now

The narrator of Katie Kitamura’s Intimacies is adrift in a sea of language. She works as a translator in the courts of The Hague, and her work, allowing others’ voices to flow through her own is mirrored in her personal relationships. She often acts as a cipher for the other characters, as she herself is uncertain of where she belongs, their voices are channelled through their interactions with her. At times the novel behaves like a series of monologues, many of them on the theme of violence.

A fellow translator relays an encounter she has translating for a man accused of being high up in a genocidal regime, a man is mysteriously attacked in the same neighbourhood where the protagonists’ friend lives. The sense of the narrative being troubled by violence intensifies when the narrator takes a job translating the testimony of a former dictator. Their interactions are tense and ambiguous, bureaucratic and yet laden with meaning.

Sometimes I felt as if I was observing the world of the novel through the protagonists’ eyes as she viewed the events, at once passive and watchful. Kitamura controls the pacing of the novel masterfully, and every interaction is flawlessly rendered, not one phrase is wasted. I would highly recommend Intimacies for fans of Rachel Cusk and Brandon Taylor.

Review by Phoebe

August 24, 2021

Bestsellers 17 to 23 August

by Team Riverside
Victoria Park

Gemma Reeves – Victoria Park

Elif Shafak – The Island of Missing Trees

Matt Haig – The Midnight Library

Elif Shafak – How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division

Fredrik Backman – Anxious People

John Kampfner – Why the Germans Do It Better

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Notes on Grief

Stephen Fry – Troy

Robert Harris – V2

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Bradley Garrett – Bunker

Jack Guinness – The Queer Bible

Raynor Winn – The Wild Silence

Bella Mackie – How to Kill Your Family

Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the Shore

Natasha Brown – Assembly

Dolly Alderton – Ghosts

Kazuo Ishiguro – Klara and the Sun

Dav Pilkey – Dog Man: Grime and Punishment

Jessica Love – Julian is a Mermaid

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August 23, 2021

Signed copies in store

by Team Riverside
Weirdo

We have some lovely signed copies in store:

Elif Shafak – The Island of Missing Trees

Leïla Slimani – The Country of Others

Mary Paulson-Ellis – Emily Noble’s Disgrace

Maggie Shipstead – Great Circle

Mary Lawson – A Town Called Solace

Rachel Roddy – The A to Z of Pasta

Michelle Zauner – Crying in H Mart

Eimear McBride – Something Out of Place

Meriel Schindler – The Lost Café Schindler

Jackie Polzin – Brood

Olivia Laing – Everybody

Tomi Adeyemi – Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Zadie Smith, Nick Laird and Magenta Fox – Weirdo

Ellie Pilcher – What Planet Can I Blame This On?

Omar El Akkad – What Strange Paradise

Ruth Jones – Us Three

August 18, 2021

Emily Noble’s Disgrace by Mary Paulson-Ellis

by Team Riverside
Emily Noble's Disgrace

Hardback, Mantle, £16.99, out 19 August

Edinburgh’s seaside Portobello district in 2019, and Essie Pound is part of a specialist cleaning team clearing a flat after an elderly woman’s body is found two years after her death. Part of Essie’s job is to look out for objects in the flat that might explain more about who the person was and why she died.  But Essie gets pulled into a deeper mystery, one that takes her back into Portobello’s pasts as well as her own.  Investigating more formally is young police officer Emily Noble.  Their work is bound to coincide. 

Essie says: “Just like Isabella Dawson, my whole life is hidden.  From me.  And from everyone else too.  But not because I’ve buried it in someone else’s rubbish.  More because I don’t have anything or anyone to remind me of what it might have been.”

Mary Paulson-Ellis is a new crime and mystery author for me, but I will definitely be seeking out her other standalone novels (which feature some characters from this book).  I’m a fan of Elly Griffiths and Ann Cleeves, for their readable characters and good plots, and Paulson-Ellis definitely delivers on these.

Emily Noble’s Disgrace made me remember the excellent biography The Trauma Cleaner, in which author Sarah Krasnostein covers not only Sandra Pankhurst’s life in trauma cleaning but also her transition (https://wellcomebookprize.org/book/trauma-cleaner).

There are strong women characters, and reflections on women’s lives.  Some of the themes in the book make for hard reading – for example, suggested child death, and fat phobia.  But the story is compelling, the writing is strong, and I read this cover to cover in a day.

Review by Bethan

August 17, 2021

Bestsellers 10 to 16 August

by Team Riverside
The Island of Missing Trees

Elif Shafak – The Island of Missing Trees

Gemma Reeves – Victoria Park

Raynor Winn – The Wild Silence

Clare Chambers – Small Pleasures

Emily St John Mandel – The Glass Hotel

Elena Ferrante – The Lying Life of Adults

Philippa Perry – The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

Bernardine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

Tom Burgis – Kleptopia

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

James MacLaine – First Sticker Book London

Elif Shafak – How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division

Riku Onda – The Aosawa Murders

Bella Mackie – How to Kill Your Family

Clara Vuillamy – Marshmallow Pie The Cat Superstar

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Notes on Grief

Helen Macdonald – Vesper Flights

Matthew Walker – Why We Sleep

Charles Dickens – Pictures from Italy

Donna Tartt – The Secret History

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August 10, 2021

Bestsellers 3 to 9 August

by Team Riverside
Hamnet

Maggie O’Farrell – Hamnet

Elif Shafak – How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division

Emily St John Mandel – The Glass Hotel

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar – The Longer the Wait the Bigger the Hug

Delia Owens – Where the Crawdads Sing

Clare Chambers – Small Pleasures

Matt Haig – The Midnight Library

William S Burroughs – The Finger

Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders

Oliver Jeffers – Book of Numbers

Tom Burgis – Kleptopia

Haruki Murakami – Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Elif Shafak – The Island of Missing Trees

Otegha Uwagba – We Need to Talk About Money

Dolly Alderton – Ghosts

Frank Herbert – Dune

Kazuo Ishiguro – Klara and the Sun

Rachel Ingalls – Mrs Caliban

Lavinia Greenlaw – Some Answers Without Questions

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August 8, 2021

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

by Team Riverside

Picador, Hardback, £16.99, out now

Michelle Zauner is perhaps best known for her music, produced under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, but this memoir proves that her talent stretches across multiple mediums. Zauner was in her 25th year and a struggling artist when her mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She upended her life and returned to her hometown of Eugene, Oregon to take care of her as her illness became terminal. The memoir is told as a kind of non-linear narrative, moving through Zauner’s reminiscences about her relationship with her mother which was extremely close yet often challenging, a familial relationship knotted with cultural differences (Zauner’s father is white and she was raised in America) and deep love.

Food becomes a touchstone throughout the book, Korean food particularly became a way for Zauner to connect with her mother, Chongmi, and other members of her mother’s family even after their deaths: ‘When I go to H Mart, I’m not just on the hunt for cuttlefish and three bunches of scallions for a buck: I’m searching for memories. I’m collecting the evidence that the Korean half of my identity didn’t die when they did.’

The result is a touching and sensual book. I felt Zauner’s profound love for her mother radiating off the page at every turn, but particularly in her depictions of her mother’s small acts of care. When Zauner tells her mother she wants some cowboy boots, Chongmi not only buys her some but carefully wears them in first. I thoroughly recommend Crying in H Mart for fans of creative non-fiction and contemporary food writing.

Review by Phoebe

August 3, 2021

Bestsellers 27 July to 2 August

by Team Riverside
Cover of Notes on Grief

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Notes on Grief

Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women

Caitlin Moran – More than a Woman

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

Dolly Alderman – Ghosts

Richard Osman – The Thursday Murder Club

Bernardine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

Philippa Perry – The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read

Matthew Walker – Why We Sleep

Clare Chambers – Small Pleasures

James Maclaine – First Sticker Book London

Charlie Mackesy – The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

James Hawes – The Shortest History of England

Sophy Henn – All the Fun of the Fair (book 2)

Bella Mackie – How to Kill Your Family

Chris Chatterton and Rhiannon Fielding – Ten Minutes to Bed Little Unicorn

Natasha Lunn – Conversations on Love

Ali Smith – Summer

Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris – The Lost Words

Daniel Lieberman – Exercised

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August 2, 2021

Arlo the Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep by Catherine Rayner

by Team Riverside
cover of Arlo, a picture book

Paperback, Macmillan, £7.99, out now

Lions need a lot of sleep, as everyone knows… but for Arlo it’s too hot, too cold, too prickly, too noisy.  Like everyone who struggles with their sleep, Arlo wonders if he will ever sleep again.

Catherine Rayner’s beautiful picture book sets the tone for a peaceful bedtime for small children.  Arlo’s friend Owl swoops down to offer advice on how to relax and get ready for a restful night.  Rayner’s exquisite pictures with their soothing but still vibrant colour palette give life to a simple and effective bedtime story.  The lions and owl are not cartoon or comic book, but are natural.

As a veteran struggler with sleep, I found this book comforting and helpful (and I am clearly about 40 years over the target audience age).  It’s helpful without being prescriptive or preachy. I would also be delighted to have any or all of these stunning pictures on my wall.

The only potential problem I foresee is tired parents and carers dozing off before any children who are being read to!  It’s a treat for the end of the day.

Review by Bethan