Calling all Swifties and sellers to Swifties! Following the announcement of the 1989 (Taylor’s Version) release date, we have gathered a list of book recommendation per track title. Believe the hype—this list is just as good as the album.
WELCOME TO NEW YORK
Tender Maps: Travels in Search of the Emotion of Place by Alice Maddicott
September Publishing, 9781914613326, HB, £19.99, 6/7/2023
Ever wonder how a place can elicit such a feeling of euphoria? Whether walking down concrete pavements or relaxing on a lake, this travel memoir explores the symbiosis of person and place.
Tender Maps is an attempt to define the indefinable, and an exploration of why it is so crucial that we try. From the bluebell woods of Somerset to the freeways of LA, from Istanbul to Nashville, Tbilisi to Venice, Alice Maddicott has journeyed restlessly in search of the thing that meant the most to her: the feeling of a place. But this is more than a travelogue—it’s also a journey of ideas about our experience of place, which encompasses early mapmaking, radical land art, Celtic Christianity, Situationism, children’s literature, and much more. Our July Book of the Month, read more here.
The Son: A Novella by Gina Berriault
Counterpoint, 9781640095977, PB, £15.99, 27/4/2023
A song about a woman who (although ironically) moves between lovers, this book examines and delves further into that need.
First published in 1962, The Son introduces readers to Vivian Carpentier, confined by her role as an upper class woman in the 1940s, who gleans meaning only from erotic love. Troubled by the elusiveness of men, yet convinced that they run the world, she can barely conceal her desperation to entice. Struggling with motherhood and the failure of marriage, she takes jobs to bridge intervals between lovers. She sings in a hotel bar, sells dresses, and nurses her father’s friend through his last illness, hoping to atone for a self-centered life. The constant in Vivian’s life is her son, David. Having seen her worst and best moments, he provides her with consolation and a reason for living. Gina Berriault’s work as a storywriter of great psychological empathy and extraordinary elegance and subtlety was celebrated widely at the end of her life and, with this reissue of one of her more celebrated short novels, her work can be discovered by a new generation of readers.
They never go out of style!
Internationally bestselling husband-and-wife writing team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist are back with another smart, romantic adventure.
Three years after life got in the way of their long-distance relationship, Californian artist Zoe and English engineer Martin have an unexpected opportunity to reunite: a second chance to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims in Europe. This time, they won’t be walking the famous Camino de Santiago to north-west Spain but the less-travelled Chemin d’Assise and Via Francigena to Rome, along the mountainous paths from rural France. Two Steps Onward is the wise, witty, and wine-filled follow-up to Two Steps Forward, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist’s bestselling novel about walking the Camino. It’s about helping the people you love and knowing when to let go. Figuring out what you really want in life. And seizing your chances, before it’s too late.
OUT OF THE WOODS
How To Be A French Girl by Rose Cleary
Weatherglass Books, 9781739260125, PB, £11.99, 10/8/2023
Twisted and obsessive, How To Be A French Girl is a book of deception, manipulation in the face of seeking fulfilment.
She’s from Southend. She wanted to be an artist and ended up at the best art school in the country. But that didn’t work out. Now she works as a receptionist in an IT firm, where her only creative outlet is arranging the sandwiches she’s ordered in for other people s meetings. And she still lives in Southend. Outside work, soulless sex has become a symptom of her boredom. Then Gustav appears: older, perceptive, attentive. And French. He’s her way out, she thinks. But more than that, a chance to be creative again: to become someone new. How To Be a French Girl is a fierce, disturbing and funny debut novel about desire, art and what we’ll risk to change ourselves.
ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS STAY
That Summer Feeling by Bridget Morrissey
Berkley, 9780593549247, PB, £16.99, 30/5/2023
Sometimes, when they’re gone, they’re gone!
Turns out you’re never too old for a summer camp romance. Or a change of heart. When a divorced woman attends a sleepaway camp for adults only, she reconnects with a man from her past—only to catch feelings for his sister instead.
SHAKE IT OFF
One Tough Cookie: A Novel by Delise Torres
Alcove Press, 9781639103782, PB, £18.99, 18/7/2023
This Latina Fleabag was used to shaking it off, committing to her carefree single life before meeting the sexy new mechanic determined to break through her defenses, in this humorous and heartfelt foodie women’s fiction set at a cookie company.
All cookies are made with love — even if twenty-seven-year-old Karina Cortes doesn’t believe in the concept. For her, a simple life with no attachments is a good life. But work and play collide when she meets the company’s hot new mechanic, Ian Feliciano, who stirs up feelings she tends to avoid. Karina knows she shouldn’t date him, but she’s strong; she’ll never turn pathetic like her friends or, especially, her mom.
I WISH YOU WOULD
Flirting with Fire by Jane Porter
Berkley, 9780593438428, PB, £8.99, 25/7/2023
Sometimes, you wish someone would act the way you need them to… Love isn’t just an act in this captivating and flirty romance by New York Times bestselling author Jane Porter.
Forty-nine-year-old Margot Hughes has lived and breathed theatre for the past twenty-five years. But Margot’s suddenly thrown back into the theatre world she is tapped to take over the troubled summer production of Barefoot in the Park. But the play is no walk in the park—the leads and director have all quit, and Margot struggles to find new actors until Max Russo arrives. Max has a huge following and is the perfect hero to step up and save the play, provided Margot stars opposite him. Although adamant she would never return to theatre, Margot enjoys the long hours of rehearsal with a professional like Max, who is charming, witty, and passionate. But when the curtains close, can Margot allow herself to fall for Max when he represents everything she left behind?
What the Hex by Jessica Clare
Berkley, 9780593337585, PB, £12.99, 6/4/2023
Enemies-to-lovers has never been more enchanting in this witchy romantic comedy.
Penny Roundtree wants nothing more than to be a familiar to a witch. She’s been a member of the Society of Familiars ever since she was old enough to join the Fam. There’s just a small problem—no one’s hiring. Witches and warlocks are so long-lived that there are far more familiars available than witches to train them. So when an unorthodox arrangement to apprentice under the table to a forbidden warlock presents itself, she takes it.
Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth
Verve Books, 9780857308412, PB, £9.99, 22/6/2023
A first love to be remembered forever…
It’s the early 1990s, and in the Irish village of Crossmore, Lucy feels out of place. Despite her fierce friendships, she’s always felt this way, and the conventional path of marriage and motherhood doesn’t appeal to her at all. Not even with handsome and doting Martin, her closest childhood friend. Lucy begins to make sense of herself during a long hot summer, when a spark with her school friend Susannah escalates to an all-consuming infatuation, and, very quickly, to a desperate and devastating love. Fearful of rejection from her small and conservative community, Lucy begins living a double life, hiding the most honest parts of herself in stolen moments with Susannah. But with the end of school and the opportunity to leave Crossmore looming, Lucy must choose between two places, two people and two futures, each as terrifying as the other. Neither will be easy, but only one will offer her happiness. Read more on our June Book of the Month here.
HOW YOU GET THE GIRL
Seoulmates by Jen Frederick
Berkley, 9780593100165, PB, £14.99, 27/1/2022
A woman fights to be with the one she loves while coming to terms with her identity in this romantic drama.
Hara Wilson has finally discovered her roots, but the challenges she must face could destroy the love she has found.
Us by Sara Soler; Perea Silvia Labayen & Joamette Gil
Dark Horse, 9781506734187, PB, £17.99, 8/8/2023
Us is Sara and Diana’s love story, as well as the story of Diana’s gender transition. Full of humour, heartache, and the everyday triumphs and struggles of identity, this graphic memoir speaks to changing conceptions of the world as well as the self, at the same time revealing that some things don’t really have to change.
I KNOW PLACES
The Love of Singular Men by Victor Heringer, translated by James Young
Peirene Press 9781908670779, PB, £12.99, 11/7/2023
The life of a Brazilian boy living with monoparesis is suddenly thrown into chaos by his father’s misdeeds.
Camilo is a middle-class boy growing up in the sweltering suburbs of 1970s Rio de Janeiro, during Brazil’s often brutal military dictatorship. Disabled by monoparesis, he lives a sheltered life under the blistering sun, rarely venturing beyond his own back garden. But his predictable existence is interrupted when his father, a doctor complicit in the torture of political prisoners, brings home an orphan, Cosme, to live with the family. Who is this boy? What is he doing here? Camilo instinctively hates him but this hate soon turns to love, before, in an echo of the violence and intolerance of the society around them, their happiness is tragically cut short.
Fear and Lovely by Anjana Appachana
Verve Books, 9780857308320, PB, £10.99, 31/8/2023
Though Mallika is surrounded by love, her life is complicated by secrets that she, her mother and her aunt work hard to keep.
Mallika is a painfully shy young woman growing up in the heart of a lively, sometimes stifling New Delhi colony. After suffering a trauma aged nineteen, Mallika loses three days of her memory and slowly spirals into a deep depression. She must find a way out of the abyss, back to herself and those she cares about. But she must also hide her mental illness from her community. In a narrative that unfolds elliptically from the perspectives of Mallika and the seven people closest to her, the astonishing story of these characters lives emerges. For Mallika’s family, childhood friends and the two men she loves are also hiding truths. As each gives voice to contending with their own struggles, secrets and silences shatter.
Love At First Sight by Wislawa Szymborska,
Translated by Clare Cavanagh & Stanislaw Baranczak
Seven Stories Press, 9781644212233, HB, £15.99, 6/10/2022
Szymborska tells of two young lovers bound together in an instant—or were they?
Love at First Sight is a beautiful poem about love and chance and destiny by the 1996 Polish winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Illustrated by Italian artist Beatrice Gasca Queirazza, Szymborska’s poem comes to life in entirely new ways for her readers and for lovers everywhere in this oversized book perfect for gift giving. As the poem unfolds, the reader’s assumptions—like those of the lovers themselves—about certainty and destiny are utterly upended, revealing the paradox and mystery of fate. Here is randomness, tricks of memory, and chance, where noticing the smallest details of our intertwined lives is more essential than asking, “Are we meant for each other?”
YOU ARE IN LOVE
The Book of Desire by Meena Kandasamy
Galley Beggar Press, 9781913111366, HB, £14.99, 5/1/2023
The Book of Desire is the award-winning (and Women’s Prize-shortlisted) writer Meena Kandasamy’s luminous translation of the Kāmattu-p-pāl, a 2000-year-old song of love and pleasure and the third part of the Tirukkural—one of the most important texts in Tamil literature. Written by the poet Thiruvalluvar, the Kāmattu-p-pāl section of the Thirukkural focuses on love and female sensuality. It is the most intimate section of this great work—and also, historically, the part that has been most heavily censored. Although hundreds of male translations of the text have been published, it has also only ever been translated by a woman once before. The Book of Desire is Meena’s own feminist reclamation of the Kāmattu-p-pāl. Our full blog on this title is here!
After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz
Galley Beggar Press, 9781913111397, PB, £9.99, 7/13/2023
Lush and poetic; furious and funny; in After Sappho, Selby Wynn Schwartz has created a novel that celebrates the women and trailblazers of the past—their constant efforts to push against the boundaries of what it means, and can mean, to be a woman—that also offers hope for our present, and our futures. Our July 2022 Book of the Month, read our full review here.