What's your lockdown literary style?
Have you been buried in a book at all times as a distraction from the cruel world, or has the impending doom rendered you unable to focus with words swimming chaotically across the page?
Either way, July brings with it an easy to dive into pile of book launches. From millennial podcaster Emma Gannon’s delightful debut fiction novel about the should-I-shouldn't-I dilemma of motherhood, to a juicy guide on how to crash the coolest celebrity parties by a former Page Six gossip columnist.
Read on to see our picks of the best new books to hit shelves this month.
Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
Set in the south-east suburbs of London in 1957, we meet our protagonist Jean Swinney - an unlucky in love thirty-something features writer for the local paper. When a young Swiss woman contacts her to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, their lives slowly become entangled until there’s no way out. A gripping and ideal summer read for fans of Tessa Hadley and Jane Austen.
Olive by Emma Gannon
A whip-smart and fresh fiction debut from podcaster/author/writer Emma Gannon. Here, the reader meets early thirty-something protagonist Olive who has just cut ties with her long time love and is doubting her decision. Fertility is at the centre of this book, with Olive grappling with her instinct to be child-free while her three closest friends each portray a different aspect of motherhood: one has fertility issues, the other is newly pregnant and the third had kids young. It’s an easy read but one that will stick with you long after you’ve put it back on your bookshelf.
Finders, Keepers by Sabine Durrant
This summer’s most anticipated thriller, Finders, Keepers is deliciously slow-burning and hard to put down. After Ailsa Tilson moves her family to a new suburb to find a house to renovate, she meets her new neighbour, Verity, who begins to work her way into the Tilson family’s lives. Fans of Durrant's previous novels will relish the smart twists and turns and will be left guessing until the very end.
How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? by Pandora Sykes
A timely collection of essays from journalist and podcast host Pandora Sykes that touch on everything from happiness to wellness; womanhood to consumerism and the anxieties and agendas that consume our lives. What could be seen as middle class woes is made relatable by Sykes’ sharp and observant writing - resulting in a manifesto for the millennial woman.
Curveballs: How to Keep It Together when Life Tries to Tear You a New One by Emma Markezic
Australian comedian and columnist Emma Markezic was in her early thirties when a nasty form of cancer landed on her lap (well, breasts) in 2016. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Markezic learnt to embrace the positive side, even through a mastectomy and gruelling chemotherapy. This book is part-memoir, part-self help manual and the reader can’t help but feel uplifted by Markezic’s sunny outlook, and cheer her on when she joins the dating scene again.
The Hungover Games by Sophie Heawood
When journalist Sophie Heawood found herself pregnant and single in LA, half a world away from her London home, she decided to return to the UK to raise her daughter. The Hungover Games is Heawood's wry account of her journey into motherhood when she finds herself pregnant and single with a penchant for partying.
Gatecrasher: How I Helped the Rich Become Famous and Ruin the World by Ben Widdicombe
With bylines in Page Six, TMZ, and The New York Times, Ben Widdicombe knows a thing or two about celebrity gossip, and now he’s sharing his examination of celebrity culture with us. In Gatecrasher, Widdicombe spill sensational stories from the rich and famous that never made it to print as well as sharing his guide to crashing the coolest parties and making small talk with Anna Wintour. There’s also a chapter dedicated to explaining how Paris Hilton gave us President Donald Trump - which is fascinating in itself.
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
From the author of Room (later made into a 2015 film which actress Brie Larson won an Academy Award for), Emma Donoghue’s latest novel is set in Dublin in 1918 on a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. Set over three days, and told mostly through the mind of 29-year-old nurse Julia Power, she grapples with a group of expectant mothers who are quarantined together with a new flu. It’s timely, punchy and gripping.
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
From the award-winning author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, Utopia Avenue is David Mitchell’s long-awaited new novel - and it doesn’t disappoint. It follows the band of the same name who emerge from London's psychedelic scene in 1967 and chronicles their brief, blazing glory from Soho Clubs to the stages of America. It’s a true rock’n’roll novel filled with sex, drugs and how idealism faded as the ‘60s came to a close.
Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
With endorsements from Hilary Clinton and Roxane Gay (Clinton called it ‘wonderful’ and Gay said it was ‘deeply compelling’), Big Friendship could well be the feel-good, non-fiction book of 2020. From the hosts of hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, Big Friendship examines how to nurture friendships for the long haul - close friends are the key to happiness, after all. The authors tell the story of their own decade-long friendship, the joys and the pitfalls, and it’s a clear reminder of how important friendship is - and will make you want to call you pals after for a chat.