February Literary Loves

This month I take pleasure in introducing our new contributor and resident book worm Laurel Waldron. Every month, Laurel will share her literary loves and showcase a #seLondon independent bookshop’s pick of the month. Over to you Laurel. Rosanna Head

A lifelong bookworm, I was thrilled to be asked to contribute a monthly column on my love of literature to the South East London Blog. As a new resident to SE after seven years in SW, exploring the area’s independent bookshops is high on my list of priorities once lockdown ends, but for now thankfully many are still open for order and collection to help us all get our fix. 

Each month I’ll be sharing my current literary indulgence and the most anticipated new arrivals to my bookshelf, as well as inviting one of South East London’s independent bookshops to tell us what their most looking forward to reading this month, starting with Sydenham’s Kirkdale Bookshop. I hope you enjoy my musings as much as I enjoy writing them.

Currently Reading:

Perhaps a little late to the party given it was published a year ago, but having received Booker Prize winner Shuggie Bain for Christmas I’ve only just got round to reading it. It’s a heartbreaking tale of growing up in the gritty tenements of Glasgow, seemingly with no escape, that broke my heart and my spirit but for all the right reasons. Utterly beautiful. £13.94 at bookshop.org

Buying this Month:

Insatiable: A Love Story for Greedy Girls, by Daisy Buchanan (Published 11th February. £12.99, Little Brown Book Group).

If Cosmopolitan calls something an ‘escapist romp’ it should tell you all you need to know. The (somewhat familiar) tale of broken-hearted Violet, whose life hasn’t quite turned out the way she’d planned and who becomes seduced by the life of her new friends. Insatiable is about women and desire, lust and longing and the need to be loved. I can’t wait to read it. 

All the Young Men: How One Woman Risked It All To Care For The Dying, by Ruth Coker Burks (£16.98, Orion Publishing Co.)

A timely release considering the recent impact of Channel 4’s new drama It’s a Sin. All the Young Men is the true story of how a 26-year old Ruth took it upon herself to help the young men afflicted by the growing AIDS crisis of the 1980s. After years of keeping her secret she’s now telling her story – and those who weren’t able to tell theirs.

Alexa, what is there to know about love? by Brian Bilston (£12.99, Pan Macmillan)

Those familiar with Bilston’s work will know he’s become something of a laureate for lockdown and this new anthology is a collection of poems encompassing all kinds of love. With names likes ‘Hold My Hand While We Jump Off This Cliff’ and ‘Remembrance of Things Pasta’, it’s irresistible. 

Girl A, by Abigail Dean (£14.99, HarperCollins).

This debut mystery thriller tells the story of Lex, who grew up in her parents’ House of Horrors and became Girl A when she managed to escape, now having to face her past after learning of her mother’s death in prison. It sounds utterly gripping.

Luster, by Raven Leilani (£14.99, Pan Macmillan) 

A much-lauded debut, Luster focuses on Edie, a young black woman who doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life and doesn’t think of much past her next hookup. After meeting middle-aged white archivist Eric, with his suburban life and somewhat open marriage, she finds herself becoming more and more entwined in his life. It’s been much hyped; listen to the author in conversation with author Diana Evans via the Southbank Centre later this month. Tickets available from www.southbankcentre.co.uk.

Our Indie Bookshop of the Month

Freddie from Sydenham’s Kirkdale Bookshop is looking forward to Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Published 4th February, £12.99, Penguin Books).

“Caleb lives locally and dropped a copy off back when we were allowed to be open! Since then, we have all read it and fallen in love with his writing. It offers a really potent and thoughtful look at love, race and masculinity and how these interact with each other…and it involves two people meeting in a pub, which, when you can’t physically do, is oddly comforting! We’ve ordered a slew of copies which Caleb has kindly offered to sign for us.”

Kirkdale Bookshop is open from 11am-4pm Monday – Saturday for orders and collections. To order email kirkdalebookshop@hotmail.com or call 020 8778 4701. Visit them on Twitter @KirkdaleBooks or Instagram @kirkdalebookshop.

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