The editorial team shares its top reads as the season of staying in with a hot water bottle and a good book beds in.

Winter always seems to see an uptick in our reading habits. As the colder days set in, it becomes harder and harder to resist curling up by the fire with a cup of tea and good book. These are the volumes keeping us diverted right now – and will doubtless doubly do so in the event of ever tightening restrictions.

Lucy Abletshauser, Shopping Editor

I'm currently re-reading Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I first read it about ten years' ago and adored it. I saw it sitting on the bookshelf, gathering dust, and thought I should read it again as it had me gripped first time round. The story is about a young man named Bunny who gets murdered on a New England University campus. This beautifully written story describes the events leading up to Bunny's death and the effects it had on his small group of undergraduate 'friends'.

Nancy Alsop, Editor

I’ve just finished Books, Baguettes and Bed Bugs by Jeremy Mercer, a Canadian writer now living in Marseilles. It’s a memoir of his time, around the turn of the millennium, spent at Shakespeare & Co, the legendary English language book shop on the Left Bank in Paris, then run by George Whitman, an eccentric book lover with communist sensibilities. An American who found France more tolerant of his political persuasions, Whitman would allow any waif or stray to stay in the ramshackle rooms of his shop, usually for as long as they liked (some for years); in return, they would work for him at Shakespeare & Co.

His literary credentials were impressive; he was a contemporary of Allen Ginsberg, Anais Nin and Lawrence Durrell, and a lifelong friend of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. By the time Jeremy Mercer, on the run from a potentially dangerous criminal in his native Toronto, took up his bunk at Shakespeare & Co, Whitman was well into his eighties. As Mercer notes, almost everyone Whitman took in was escaping something; all would find solace in the bookshop’s shelter and comradeship. I loved it, largely for evoking the particular thrill of being alone, overseas and making the kind of formative friendships with people from all over the world that you may not keep up but you’ll remember forever.

I’ve just started Elizabeth Gilbert’s so far very charming City of Girls, sent to me by a dear friend, and am also eyeing up brilliant Jessie Burton’s new book, The Confession. A flick through the first few pages and I know I’ll be hooked right away.

Annabel Jack, Contributing Editor

Defeated by gyms or yoga and struggling to get fit? Wanting mental clarity as well as a more toned body? Alexandra Heminsley’s book Running Like a Girl is a gut-wrenchingly honest account of her running journey with a little soul-searching thrown in for good measure. From blistered early runs, hilarious anecdotes and advice for novice runners, this book encourages you to live life to the full, to persevere and to become empowered. It might even prompt you to pop your trainers on.

Becky Ladenburg, Features Editor

I am reading The Monument by T. Behrens. Published in 1988, it is a rich and evocative retelling of the life story of a pair of artistic, passionate and doomed lovers.

Lydia, Lifestyle Editor

After the ringing endorsement from Adele, and pretty much every other woman I follow on Insta, I was intrigued to download Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Having read and loved her previous work, Love Warrior, and ravenously consuming all podcasts she guests on (bonus points if they’re with Elizabeth Gilbert and/or Brene Brown), I thought it was inevitable that I would love her latest tome… and I did. Sort of. I absolutely love the conversation that it represents for women around breaking free of social constructs and the weight of ‘expectations’ - to be a good mother, wife, friend, daughter – and to tune into our true, ‘untamed’ self. However, at times it felt disjointed and repetitive. Yes, the topics covered are important and need to be discussed, but did Untamed bring anything new to the debate? I’m not sure. Worth the read – even if it just inspires you to do your own ‘untaming’ work.

By Team GWG
November 2020


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