Title: Dear Reader – The Comfort and Joy of Books

Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Picador

The Blurb

Dear Reader is a love letter to stories and reading from one of our very best memoirists . . . a book to cherish’ – Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina

For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books kept her afloat. 

Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help.

Dear Reader is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another.

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Last Act of Love.

The Review

I have a strange love for books about books. I love how writers express just how much books and reading have had such a powerful almost religious influence on their lives. I love these books because the authors of them could be talking about my own life and how books have held me under their cosmic power.

Cathy Rentzenbrink has returned to her non-fiction format explaining how books have been a constant in her life. How her life, growing up, her career choices have all been guided in a bookish form in one way or another. 

Even without the bookish element, Cathy Renzenbrink has led a fascinating life. It hasn’t been without its moments of sadness but it (and indeed she) has been inspirational as well. 

Another titillating facet to this type of memoir is ticking off the books that you have in common and adding the ones that the writer recommends to you TBR pile.

I really enjoyed reading Dear Reader. It is a love letter to books but also to book lovers. Our common affection for the novel binds us together. 

The Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink is available from 17th September 2020.

For more information regarding Cathy Rentzenbrink (@CatRentzenbrink) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) and Picador Books (@picadorbooks) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Furiously Happy

Author: Jenny Lawson

Pages: 329 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

For fans of David Sedaris, Tina Fey and Caitlin Moran comes the new book from Jenny Lawson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Let’s Pretend This Never Happened… 

In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best. As Jenny says: ‘You can’t experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.’ It’s a philosophy that has – quite literally – saved her life. 

Jenny’s first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

The Review

In Jenny Lawson’s book, Furiously Happy we learn about daily struggle with her mental health. This kind of subject is hardly new but what is refreshing is Lawson’s unashamedness about her condition. There is so much negativity surrounding the discussion of mental health that here Lawson is saying ‘hello, look at me and my stonking issues’ and I personally feel we need more literature like this. 

Furiously Happy helps to take away the stigma and the sting of mental health and provides a fresh perspective on mental health and how personal acceptance can be very helpful. Besides being really enlightening, Furiously Happy is just damn funny. The situations that Lawson finds herself in had me chuckling aloud and getting some funny looks because I couldn’t keep the laughter inside. 

A very funny look at a very serious subject.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson is available now.

For more information regarding Jenny Lawson (@TheBloggess) please visit www.thebloggess.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Carry On

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 529 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

Based on the characters Simon and Baz who featured in Rainbow Rowell’s bestselling Fangirl, Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters. Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his room-mate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savour anything.

The Review

Carry On is the story of Simon and Baz who were first mentioned in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. In Carry On, Rowell has given them a full story in their own rights rather than being the fan fiction that it was presented as previously.

If I am totally honest, it took a while for me to get into Carry On. I think because I knew it was a story based on the fictional fan fiction (whew, this could get confusing) I think I kept myself separated from it, I didn’t allow myself to fall for the characters too much. Equally, the story is told from multi-perspective which I think allowed me to stop myself getting too attached. I think that because the setting and the back story had a lot of similarities to another wizarding world I was able to keep myself at a distance. However, Carry On is an epic sized novel and gives you time to change your mind. Before long I was fully invested in Baz and Simon’s story.

What I really loved is that Rowell put herself completely outside of the world she knows. This is a very British book – curry, rich tea biscuits, tea. It is all very British and Rowell did really well to convey that level of reality in a fantasy YA novel.

Reading Carry On has made me really eager to read the sequel Wayward Son.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is available now.

For more information regarding Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell) please visit www.rainbowrowell.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Little Deaths

Author: Emma Flint

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.

Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation.

Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.

Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?

Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths by Emma Flint is a gripping debut novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all.

The Review

Hmmm…Little Deaths. I don’t really know what I want to say about this story. It is a fictional story that has been inspired by real life events that looks closely at the relationship between women and the societal standards that they were held to in the 1960s.

Ruth Malone is a working class single mother of two. When she is accused of murder her whole life is scrutinised to determine whether she is guilty or not. They don’t just look at the evidence they look at her personally.

Whilst the writing in Little Deaths was very good, I personally felt that the pacing let it down. In one respect it allowed you to reflect and really empathise with Ruth but in the other respect it meant that the punchier storyline of a crime that had been committed lost some of its importance to the plot.

Little Deaths is an interesting read if you look at it as a social construct of how women are perceived by society and the expectations of how to be a woman.

Little Deaths by Emma Flint is available now.

For more information regarding Emma Flint (@flint_writes) please visit www.emmaflint.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: The Girl who reads on the Metro

Author: Christine Feret-Fleury

Pages: 175 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

For fans of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Elegance of the Hedgehog, The Girl Who Reads on the Métro is the French phenomenon by Christine Féret-Fleury ready to charm book-lovers everywhere . . .

When Juliette takes the métro to her loathed office job each morning, her only escape is in books – she avidly reads on her journey and imagines what her fellow commuters’ choices might say about them.

But when, one day, she decides to alight the train a few stops early and meets Soliman – the mysterious owner of the most enchanting bookshop Juliette has ever seen – she is sure her life will never be the same again . . .

For Soliman also believes in the power of books to change the course of a life – entrusting his passeurs with the task of giving each book to the person who needs it most – and he thinks Juliette is perfect for the job.

And so, leaving her old life behind, Juliette will discover the true power a book can have . . .

The Review

I really love books that have been translated into English. That probably sounds a bit weird but the books that I have read in this category over the past few years have always surprised me with their originality and quirky nature. The Girl who reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury fits seamlessly into this collection.

Whilst I know the story of Juliette will not change my life, it certainly changed my day when I read it. The one thing I take from it is that other people can articulate the love of books and the love of reading so well. Frequently I stopped reading just to pause and fully take in the line that I had just read. The writing – and indeed, the translation – was magical.

The Girl who reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury is available now.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.