5 new books to read this week

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5 New Books To Read This Week 5 New Books To Read This Week
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Prudence Wade, PA

After two decades, Pankaj Mishra is back with a new novel…

Fiction

1. Run And Hide by Pankaj Mishra is published in hardback by Hutchinson Heinemann. Available February 24th

(Hutchinson Heinemann/PA)

Pankaj Mishra’s first novel in 20 years is an unusual read, as it uses first person direct address, with the “you” suggesting the narrator Arun is speaking to a close acquaintance. This can prove disconcerting, but overall doesn’t detract from a well-written and engaging tale. It follows Arun and his friends from their time at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in the Eighties, to their involvement in the emergence of modern India – with some becoming embroiled in financial and sexual scandals. Arun is a wholly believable character and the description of his impoverished childhood in a small railway town is evocative and poetic, skilfully conjuring a sense of place – among the most effective writing in Run And Hide. Covering caste, religion, politics and the impact of technology amid the globalisation of India, this sweeping novel is, at its heart, about family ties and relationships.
8/10
(Review by Laura Paterson)

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2. Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes is published in hardback by Michael Joseph. Available now

The sequel to fan favourite Rachel’s Holiday (1998) has felt like a long time coming – and it doesn’t disappoint. In Again, Rachel, the lovable protagonist is her same funny, slightly neurotic self, who, 20 years on from her stint in rehab, has a new boyfriend Quin and a counselling job at the Cloisters. Readers will love meeting (and rooting for) a whole new set of addicts, and trying to figure out what exactly happened in her marriage to Luke. Keyes’ wonderful ability to deal with messy relationship issues, grief and imperfect, but ultimately good, people uncovering painful truths, somehow sits perfectly alongside her comedic touch and warmness towards her characters – and that’s what’s so special about her writing. There was always a danger the sequel wouldn’t live up to the hype, and although it takes a while to draw you in, this is Keyes at her best. It’s honest and vulnerable but, just like Rachel’s Holiday, treats the issue of addiction in a compassionate way that skilfully forces readers to take stock of their own judgements and biases.
8/10
(Review by Lauren Taylor)

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3. The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka is published in hardback by Fig Tree. Available February 24th

Julie Otsuka’s third novel begins with the strict order and hierarchy of a swimming pool, where the regulars have their obsessive routines and swift judgments of those who do not respect them. But when a crack appears underwater, that world is thrown into chaos. But Otsuka swiftly switches focus – the real crack is the dementia that has set in for one swimmer, Alice. When she loses her pool, the dementia takes over, as Alice’s long-estranged daughter – a Japanese-American novelist whose resemblance to the author is obvious – takes over the job of chronicling her mother’s decline, and the care system managing it. The novel is written in an incantatory style – there are times where it spins so fast, gaps are left. The spinning rhythms are both addictive but, at times, a stylistic straightjacket.
6/10
(Review by Ian Parker)

Non-fiction

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4. Outside, The Sky Is Blue by Christina Patterson is published in hardback by Tinder Press. Available now

As a writer by trade, there was no doubt Christina Patterson was going to pen a beautiful book. And she has – but what it’s lacking is a bit of light and shade. As Patterson cleans through her recently dead brother’s belongings, she reflects on her life – growing up with a schizophrenic sister, finding God, and struggling with serious ill health while building a career in the arts. The Patterson family is plagued with bad luck – mental illness, cancer, and all manners of unexpected plights. It makes for quite depressing reading, and feels like one blow after another as the family battles on – ultimately leaving Patterson alone. While she is a talented writer, as a reader, it feels like you’ve been invited into a too personal world of family struggles.
6/10
(Review by Prudence Wade)

Children’s book of the week

5. Like A Charm by Elle McNicoll is published in paperback by Knights Of. Available now

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Elle McNicoll takes us on a journey through the magical underworld of Edinburgh in Like A Charm. Ramya Knox is our brilliant, beret-wearing hero with bravery as big as Loch Ness – and she also happens to have dyspraxia (McNicoll is a big advocate for better representation of neurodiversity, and continues to do just that in her novels). There are gripping twists and turns as Ramya tries to navigate a muddling menagerie of magical creatures and people with powers, in order to follow through on her grandfather’s final wish. A story that delves into diversity and promotes perseverance, there are great messages for kids weaved into every chapter. Beautifully written and hard to put down, it may be better suited to teenagers or stronger readers, as there are quite a few unfamiliar words, and it can be tricky for a child to follow in places. But it makes for a fabulous feelgood read, which any family members will cherish enjoying together – and feel positively unstoppable by the end.
9/10
(Review by Claire Spreadbury)

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Book charts for the week ending February 19th:

Hardback (Fiction)

1. House Of Sky And Breath by Sarah J. Maas
2. Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes
3. The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
4. The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
5. Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman
6. Daughter Of The Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
7. The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths
8. The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews
9. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
10. To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara
(Compiled by Waterstones)

Hardback (Non-fiction)
1. Otherlands by Thomas Halliday
2. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith
3. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
4. Tired And Tested by Sophie McCartney
5. This Is Vegan Propaganda by Ed Winters, Ed
6. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
7. Big Panda And Tiny Dragon by James Norbury
8. Block, Delete, Move On by LalalaLetMeExplain
9. Pinch Of Nom Comfort Food by Kay Allinson & Kate Allinson
10. Stolen Focus by Johann Hari
(Compiled by Waterstones)

Audiobooks (Fiction & Non-fiction)
1. Atlas Of The Heart by Brené Brown
2. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith
3. Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes
4. This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay
5. Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
6. The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain
7. The Sound Of Laughter by Peter Kay
8. Atomic Habits by James Clear
9. House Of Sky And Breath by Sarah J. Maas
10. Windswept & Interesting by Billy Connolly
(Compiled by Audible)

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