While the shop’s reopened, and we’re delighted to welcome you in again, we realise not everyone can make it here at the moment, so here’s a selection of books that everyone can get their hands on, whether in person at the shop in Bloomsbury, or by mail order via London Review Bookshop Staff Picks. Find out more about a few of our favourites below, or browse the whole selection here.
New natural history and travel writing recommendations from David:
I read this poetic, funny, sensual and ebullient celebration of springtime around the world while largely confined to a smallish house in North London. It was almost good enough to make up for not being able to get out and enjoy the real thing.
With very little sailing experience, Marsden resolves to navigate from his Cornish home to a remote archipelago in NW Scotland, along Ireland's rugged West Coast. Unforgettable characters, mesmerising prose – destined to become a classic of travel literature.
Poetry recommendations from John:
Grieving, calm, attentive to the natural world, Tongues of Fire is a cracking debut collection. I like best Hewitt’s wild garlic: ‘the world is dark / but the wood is full of stars’.
A flawless debut. Gin & whiskey & Tabasco soaked, heaving with catfish, howling dogs, Merle Haggard – for heaven's sake, get on this.
Plus a couple of classics:
If you haven't read a James Baldwin yet, here's a good one to start with. He's as good as everyone says he is – one of the best prose stylists of the twentieth century – sensuous, sinuous and unforgettable.
One of the most joyful novels I know. Impossibly buoyant and fragile: sunshine, spring, the Italian riviera.
Natalia recommends three great works of fiction in translation:
The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriel Cabezón Cámara, translated by Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre
Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes
I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me by Juan Pablo Villalobos, translated by Daniel Hahn
Three books in translation from Latin American authors that show the incredible forces of corruption, colonialism and the embedded forces of misogyny, racism and xenophobia attached to language. From the beautiful rendition of the Pampas to the ultimate catastrophe of homophobia in a desolate Mexican town via a crime thriller that showcases the powerlessness we face over the violence of prejudice and exploitation.
Rachael recommends Catherine Lacey's latest:
The beautiful, crazy lovechild of Franz Kafka and Shirley Jackson. Our hero Pew awakes in a church somewhere in a small town, with no idea who they are or how they got there, and no particular interest in finding out – unlike the rest of the town, who will not rest until they have worked out who and what exactly the stranger is. Pew speaks brilliantly to the needs of society to assign labels, sort and categorise, and above all, fill the silence with noisy clatter even as we claim we crave quiet.
Gayle picks two recent reads:
I read almost nothing during lockdown, due to being entirely unable to focus on anything for more than five seconds, but Exciting Times was one of the few things that managed to cut through the lockdown brain fog. The story of a young Irish woman navigating life and love during a year abroad in Hong Kong, written in spare, drily funny prose, and littered with razor-sharp observations about language and class.
Even if, intellectually, you understand all the concepts Layla F. Saad covers in this book – white fragility, cultural appropriation, tokenism… – methodically working through and examining your own complicity in them is another thing entirely. I’ve been working through Me and White Supremacy with a group of friends, and it’s been eye-opening. Essential work for all white people.
And some perennial children's favourites:
Katherine Rundell is one of the best children’s writers going. Every one of her books is a joy to read, packed full of excitement, adventure and wonderful characters, but this is my favourite. The Wolf Wilder tells the story of Feo and her mother, who help guide tamed wolves back into the wild, against a backdrop of revolutionary Russia. (And if you, clever adult reading this, think this recommendation isn’t for you, pick up a copy of Rundell’s essay Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise to find out how wrong you are.)
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give pulls no punches in dealing with its difficult subject matter - it's shocking and heartbreaking, and offers no easy conclusions, but still manages to be so full of hope. A vital read.
And finally, KP recommends an unusual love story:
A love story between an aging protagonist (Hrabal himself) and the stray cats that welcome themselves into his home – or is it theirs?
There are lots more books available to order directly via the London Review Book Box – browse the selection here. And there’s thousands more books available from the Bookshop – just email us with what you’re looking for and we’ll get back to you.