Archive for August, 2021

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