What we're reading - 9 August 2019

Opinion - Books Friday, 09 August 2019

The BookBrunch team reveal what's on their bedside tables


Jo Henry
I'm engrossed by Julian Rathbone's novel The Last English King (Abacus). Having spent some years at school near Hastings, I'm fascinated to read his revisionist account of King Harold's short reign and almost mythical ending on the battlefield. Although the book was published in the late 1990s, the author manages to get in some sly digs about our relationship with Europe that seem rather prescient now.

Lucy Nathan
I've just finished Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell (Macmillan). It's a young adult novel that's a spinoff from another novel of hers, Fangirl - Carry On is the book that Fangirl's protagonist obsesses about. It's a very loose satire of the Harry Potter series, about a "Chosen One" at a magical boarding school. The twist here is that the main character, Simon Snow, is the worst "Chosen One" ever, isn't very good at doing magic, and also has an extremely complicated relationship with his Draco Malfoy-esque roommate, Baz. The book is charming, witty and full of life, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Wayward Son, when it's released in October.

Julie Vuong
I'll read anything that comes through the post from Lamorna Elmer from Granta: there's always a guarantee of quality. Granta 148 landed recently, and it's a fiction-only issue for the first time in a decade, featuring Haruki Murakami and David Means. "Visitors Welcome" by Thomas Pierce and "Longshore Adrift" by Julia Armfield are particular standouts for me so far.

Nicholas Clee
Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay (HQ, 5 September). I am a fan of Linwood Barclay's thrillers, and I enjoyed this one, but I'm not sure that in entering Patterson territory he is playing to his strengths.

David Roche
Like many others I'm sure, I discovered Colson Whitehead through his last, Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Underground Railroad. His latest novel, The Nickel Boys (Fleet), focuses on the early Civil Rights movement and the shocking experience of his optimistic and resilient protagonist Elwood Curtis in a juvenile "correctional facility" in Florida. A shocking and wonderfully written emotional journey that will make me dig deeper into this author's backlist.

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