January signals the beginning of a new year and often brings with it quite a long list of new book publications. A few years ago we were bombarded with books about weight loss, diets and ‘new you’ mentality. Now it’s more thoughtfully done and instead dietary suggestions, you can nurture yourself by reading a good book instead. Whether it sets you on a new course or creates a meaningful intention is another story. Here are my personal star reads from the first month of this year.
Dawn French “Because Of You”: Truth be told, I knew Dawn as an actress with a wonderfully wise & soothing voice, but I didn’t know she was a writer too. So this is a first book of hers that I have actually read, but she got my initial attention not with her word, but with her book cover. The book blew me away with its painful tenderness. A powerful and skilful storyteller, Dawn’s book will have a particularly strong pull on those of you who are mothers. A story of tragic loss, family relationships, bereavement and consequences of impulsive actions.There is a lot of sadness coming from the pages, which is not something you might think you need right now, but it’s also moving, funny, human and uplifting. So I think reading it now, before we all emerge from the duality of winter and pandemic hibernation into spring, will feel timely…and good for the soul.
Bryan Washington “Memorial”: I have never read a book like this one – and I say this as a voracious and curious reader. A story of an unlikely gay couple, every page continuously adding depth to the emotional layers of each character. A modern relationship, bias, painful communication (or lack of) with parents and its effect on everyone involved. A story of race, love, betrays, loneliness and healing. “You shouldn’t make a home out of other people. Is that right? I think so. You speaking from experience? You could say that, I said. What if you’ve met the wrong people, said Tan. Or you’ve met the wrong people for you. Maybe, I said. But people change. And then you’re stuck in whatever your idea of home was.”
Sanae Lemoine “The Margot Affair”: a debut novel of an extraordinary observant young writer that has the most spectacular gift with words and story-telling. Not only that – Sanae bravely allowed her own life’s experiences to be distilled into a novel that will stay in your mind long after you finish reading this book.
“The Margo Affair” also reminded me of President Francois Mitterrand and the sudden emergence of his daughter Mazarine (a child born from his extra-marital affaire) into the press spotlight – something that was a first for a multitude of reasons in the pre-social media era, unlike our present time of overblown celebrity personal life sensationalism.
A story of family life’s duality and of painful lessons imparted on young minds and elder bodies. Of growing up and dialogue between parents and their children. Life’s twists and turns like ferocious gales bending and shaping the characters. The story flowing so naturally, its grip on you so strong, you get lost in time like Alice did in Wonderland. I have only read 2/3 of this book at the time of writing this, but it is and will undoubtedly remain my personal star read of 2021.