Each month we pick four books relating to our monthly theme that we think you should read. This month, a few people from the book industry (*taps nose*) have provided their recommendations, all linking – in one way or another – to the theme of TRANSIT. If you’d like to review or recommend a book for our next theme, NERVE, get in touch!
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
grief, adventure, youth
Kara Rennie, Social Media & Community Manager at Books Are My Bag:
“Twenty-six years old, a broken marriage, and the death of her mother – Cheryl Strayed was at a loss with life. But, what do you do when you’ve got nothing else to lose? You walk. Far. After living recklessly for a while, the impulsion to have at least a little control over her life led her to walk eleven hundred miles of the west coast of America, alone. Leaving a trail of self-destruction behind and with no experience in long-distance walking, she takes her monster of a backpack and walking boots and sets off on a life-changing journey.
This is a book about grief. This is a book about adventure. This is a book about youth. This is a book about trying to re-build yourself. This is a book about trying. This is a book about fucking up. This is a book about being human. I read this at twenty-six years old and it will never leave my mind.”
“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.”
Recollection of My Life as a Woman by Diane di Prima
bohemia, change, cultural shifts
Jane Bradley, Founder of For Books’ Sake:
“This book chronicles the first three decades of this incredible author in such a vivid but loose way that reading it feels like a hallucination or a dream. And perhaps that’s all to the good, because there are drugs aplenty in the 1950s bohemian Manhattan arts scene that she documents. From setting up indie theatres, magazines and small presses to becoming a single mother, this book shows a woman and a world literally and figuratively in transit, and I couldn’t love it more.”
“We carried a world in our hearts. In our mind’s eye. And cast a glimmer of it, half visible, on the streets around us. Where these worlds overlapped and pooled their light, we stood sometimes as if in a follow-spot. Avoiding blinking lest the whole thing disappear. We watched our hearts’ glow flicker on and off.”
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
family, reflection, discovery
Emily Kitchin, Commissioning Editor at Hodder:
“The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is about the very simplest form of travel: walking. One ordinary day, Harold Fry leaves his house to post a letter. He starts walking . . . and never stops. He ends up walking from one side of the country to the other, reminiscing about his life, and making sense of the many happy and sad things which have happened to him, on the way.
As his journey catches the attention of the media, the walk comes to symbolise many things for many people: freedom, stoicism, spirituality, determination. I love this book because of the way that walking becomes a metaphor for a more personal journey of discovery – for Harold, and for everyone who he meets along the way. Although it’s rather sad in places, it’s tender, life-affirming and ultimately very moving, too, and there’s something very lovely in the fact that, by walking away from his family, Harold ultimately ends up finding his way back to them emotionally.”
“The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and a life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had been doing so for a long time.”
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
time, nostalgia, music
Bridie Wilkinson, Dear Damsels Co-founder:
“This collection of interweaving short stories based from Egan is constantly on the move. From one character to the other, from the 1970s to 2020, from second person narrative to a powerpoint presentation – the experimental perspectives and the rich writing keep you guessing, on your toes, and fully engrossed in the reality in which they exist.
“Time is a goon,” one of the characters tells us, and, with that in mind, the stories are exactly what the title promises; visiting the pasts, the presents and futures of this motley crew of people.”
“Sure, everything is ending,” Jules said, “but not yet.”
If you’d like to review or recommend a book for our next theme, NERVE, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.