DD Reading List: Tradition

Each month we pick four books relating to our theme that we think you should read. Here’s this month’s suggested reading, all linking to TRADITION.

Each month we pick four books relating to our monthly theme that we think you should read. Here’s this month’s suggested reading, all linking – in one way or another – to this month’s theme of TRADITION.



The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

dystopia; change; gender roles

In Margaret Atwood’s famous feminist dystopia, the world the reader is introduced to has echoes of the traditions in our own society – but here they are pushed to the utmost extremes. Gender roles are set in stone, as is the separation and marginalisation of class and sexual promiscuity. Atwood creates new traditions that are harrowing and terrifying, always staying on the verge of something too close to home.

‘This is the kind of touch they like: folk art, archaic, made by women, in their spare time, from things that have no further use. A return to traditional values. Waste not want not. I am not being wasted. Why do I want?’
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
marriage; family; romance; retelling
Curtis Sittenfeld takes Jane Austen’s novel of manners and places it in modern day Cincinnati, where five unmarried daughters living at home with their parents actually seems an accurate presentation of modern times. Despite featuring a reality TV show, enough is preserved of the original to make this a comfortingly familiar read – although be prepared for a thoroughly American experience.
Well before his arrival in Cincinnati, everyone knew that Chip Bingley was looking for a wife.’
The Emperor’s Babe by Bernadine Evaristo
form; history; Londinium; coming of age

A novel, but not as you know it: written entirely in verse, Evaristo certainly breaks with tradition in her novel set in Roman London. Zuleika is the feisty daughter of Sudanese immigrants, married to (and neglected by) an old, fat Roman. This is a tale of her coming of age and discovery of herself as a woman – as well as of forbidden love in Roman society.

‘You’re either a figure for fucking or a fucking freak.’
Ulysses by James Joyce
modernism; classic; language
A book that we’re featuring here as a classic, but actually a prime example of modernism (which Wikipedia helpfully defines for us as ‘a self-conscious break with traditional styles’). Although Joyce alludes throughout to Homer’s epic Greek poem The Odyssey, in most other ways he throws tradition out the window. It remains revolutionary in style – one of the reasons, along with its length, that makes it so difficult for readers to get through. This is a book for your bucket list…
‘History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.’

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