Let’s face it, nothing really happens in August. One day we are in the midst of a heatwave, struggling to survive. The next we are trapped inside, rain beating against the window. So, it would seem now is the perfect time to compile your end-of-summer reading list – and to give you a helping hand, Kate Goldsmith from Epsom’s Waterstones has curated this month’s top picks…
Whiskey When We’re Dry, John Larison
A Western in the tradition of Lonesome Dove and True Grit, this is the tale of Jessilyn Harney, a seventeen year old girl who finds herself orphaned and alone and decides to cross the frontier to find her fugitive brother. To protect herself from outlaws and gunslingers looking for easy prey, she disguises herself as boy – yet she still finds herself in continuous peril as the ‘Governer’ and his militia are also seeking out her brother, looking to take him in dead or alive. The characterisation in this novel is truly breathtaking; Jessilyn is an unforgettable protagonist with a unique voice, and the atmosphere and sense of scale are astoundingly well wrought. John Larison deftly captures the spirit of the frontier and the time-honoured Western, whilst creating a fresh and vibrant take on it through subtle yet profound commentary on gender and masculinity.
Three Women, Lisa Taddeo
Lisa Taddeo spent ten years interviewing, researching and living alongside three very different women in a bid to tell their stories, which – although varying greatly in circumstance – all share the commonalities of unfulfilled female desire, feelings of shame and alienation, as well as the difficulty of finding a true identity within the trappings of femininity and motherhood. Like Truman Capote’s classic In Cold Blood, Taddeo writes in a mesmerising, novelistic style, inhabiting each woman’s perspective in turn and getting you to deeply feel and empathise with their pain and struggles. It’s also exceptionally insightful – revealing thoughts and desires we all feel but dare not voice. This is a completely absorbing, moving and fascinating read and unlike anything else you’ll read this year.
Recursion, Blake Crouch
This book does something special – a stunning blend of page-turning, action-packed thriller with cerebral, mind-bending sci-fi. The plot follows a detective named Barry Sutton who witnesses a tragic event caused by a mysterious and ominous disease called ‘False Memory Syndrome’, a condition which causes its sufferers to experience memories from lives they haven’t lived, but which nevertheless feel completely real. These false memories cause a disconnect from reality and a longing for the other lives that becomes all-encompassing. As Barry looks further into the possible causes and origins of False Memory Syndrome he quickly finds himself in mortal peril, as the fabric of his world starts to dissipate. Epic in scale, breathless in pace and full of staggering twists and turns, this book will consume your waking hours until it reaches its explosive and exhilarating conclusion.
The Monster Who Wasn’t, T.C. Shelley
They say that fairies are born from a baby’s first laugh; in this book we find out how monsters are born…with a person’s last sigh. The bigger and deeper the sigh, the bigger and more fearsome the monster born from it. But what happens when a last sigh overlaps precisely with a baby’s first laugh? ‘Imp’ is born, a monster who looks just like a human and can traverse both worlds, blending into the human world so he can steal chocolate and treats for the grumpy gargoyles who adopt him. But this ability is noticed by the king of the ogres who has big, dangerous plans for Imp. An exciting, charming and funny story, this book is all about accepting your differences and celebrating them, and learning that fitting in is definitely overrated!