Five new books to read this week

Five New Books To Read This Week
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By Prudence Wade, PA

This week sees Sixties fashion icon Penelope Tree release her first work of fiction…


1. Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen is published in hardback by Swift Press. Available June 4th


In a work of fiction that feels like a memoir, Tiananmen Square is a beautiful and devastating read into one girl’s life growing up in China, culminating in her involvement in the 1989 student demonstrations that ended in bloodshed. Based on the (pseudonym) author Lai Wen’s own experiences, her debut and only novel is a contribution to history and a tribute to those from her former life. The protagonist, Lai, tells her coming-of-age story in four parts throughout the book, weaving in her personal relationships and struggles in adolescence against China’s political landscape of the 1970s and 1980s. While this makes it a lengthy read, it takes you on Lai’s journey, which you become invested in. Its bombshell ending makes it well worth it, and will be one for book clubs to discuss. I can’t stop thinking about it.
(Review by Anahita Hossein-Pour)

2. Piece Of My Heart by Penelope Tree is published in hardback by Moonflower Publishing. Available May 23rd


While a work of fiction, many elements of Piece Of My Heart might sound familiar – it follows a young girl born into a wealthy family, who escapes and becomes a model in 1960s London, falling in with a bad boy photographer. On paper it sounds almost identical to supermodel Penelope Tree’s story – including the arrest and how protagonist Ari’s modelling career ended – but this is a colourful work of fiction. Doubtless inspired by her own experiences, first-time author Tree creates a fizzing world of new characters and scenarios, rollicking across London, New York and Nepal. It captures the glamour of the Sixties, while revealing what it was really like at that time with gritty realism. Regardless of what is fact and what is fiction, Tree’s debut is captivating – a cracking read you’ll race through.
(Review by Prudence Wade)

3. Real Americans by Rachel Khong is published in hardback by Hutchinson Heinemann. Available now

Real Americans by Rachel Khong
(Hutchinson Heinemann/PA)

Real Americans is a story of three parts: the first focuses on unpaid intern Lily Chen at the turn of Y2K, who falls in love with an extraordinarily wealthy young financier; the second is set in 2021, where high school student Nick is keen to find his long-last father; and the third fast-forwards to 2030, told from a new perspective. Rachel Khong’s writing is evocative and gripping – she paints colourful characters who feel totally real. While it does feel a bit of a shame to shift perspective when you’ve really settled into one character, it’s still a beautifully told multigenerational story about the Chen family, and what identity really means.
(Review by Prudence Wade)


4. This Is Why You Dream by Rahul Jandial is published in hardback by Cornerstone Press. Available now

This Is Why You Dream by Rahul Jandial
(Cornerstone Press/PA)

Uncovering the reasons for dreaming – a topic that lies on the intersection of psychology and neuroscience – could present as an abstract and overly-theoretical inquiry, but handled by neurosurgeon Dr Rahul Jandial, it’s accessible and interesting. The points he makes in This Is Why You Dream are explained in clear, choppy excerpts, and it’s an insatiably curious investigation – the ‘why’s’ Jandial asks are a springboard for him to explore the vast unknown. He comes to his conclusions through the process of elimination, using concrete evidence, such as case studies, research, and even his own experiences of performing awake brain surgery. The main insight that Jandial draws is that dreams serve a purpose – such as providing fresh insights, long-searched-for answers, and advocates that dreams serve as preparatory devices, existing as a means for humans to adapt and survive, but also, to help us become who we truly are.
(Review by Sophie Goodall)

Children’s book of the week

5. Queens Of The Jungle by Dr Carly Anne York, illustrated by Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong, is published in hardback by Neon Squid. Available now

Queens Of The Jungle by Dr Carly Anne York, illustrated by Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong
(Neon Squid/PA)

In Queens Of The Jungle, biologist Dr Carly Anne York has taken her expertise about how animals interact with their environment to celebrate girl power in the wild, while busting a few myths that it’s the males who are the bravest and strongest. With fun facts and incredible artwork by Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong, this celebration of jungle queens, from amphibians to primates, introduces the reader to range of wonder-women species. These range from bonobos – close relatives of chimpanzees – whose troops are commanded by older females; lady trap-jaw ants, who boast the fastest bite in the animal kingdom; and lionesses who catch and kill most of the prey while defending their territory (all while the males go from pride to pride, mostly fighting each other). Aimed at children aged eight to 10, this informative, colourful guide is guaranteed to get them (and any adult readers) turning the page to find out more about these fascinating species.
(Review by Caroline Duggan)


1. The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley
2. You Are Here by David Nicholls
3. Table For Two by Amor Towles
4. Funny Story by Emily Henry
5. All Fours by Miranda July
6. Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
7. They Thought I Was Dead: Sandy’s Story by Peter James
8. Dragon Rider by Taran Matharu
9. The Instruments of Darkness: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly
10. The Puzzle Wood by Rosie Andrews
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. How to Eat 30 Plants a Week by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
2. Down with the System: A Memoir (of Sorts) by Serj Tankian
3. The Invisible Doctrine: The Secret History of Neoliberalism (& How It Came to Control Your Life) by George Monbiot and Peter Hutchison
4. Bored of Lunch Healthy Air Fryer: 30 Minute Meals by Nathan Anthony
5. The Garden Against Time by Olivia Laing
6. So Good by Emily English
7. Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk by Kathleen Hanna
8. Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder by Sir Salman Rushdie
9. Less: Stop Buying So Much Rubbish: How Having Fewer, Better Things Can Make Us Happier by Patrick Grant
10. Nuclear War: A Scenario by Annie Jacobsen
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. My Favourite Mistake by Marian Keyes
2. The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell
3. Atomic Habits by James Clear
4. None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell
5. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken
6. Prima Facie by Suzie Miller
7. Unruly by David Mitchell
8. The Fellowship Of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
9. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
10. The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith
(Compiled by Audible)

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