• Abbi Bayliss

What we’re reading this: May 2020

All the best books to binge in isolation

Like most of us, we go through periods where we read multiple books back to back, and then don’t read anything but the back label of shampoo for months. With my wavering appetite for delectable reads varying throughout the seasons, this lockdown has given me the perfect opportunity to start reading again. Despite the stacks of thick novels and 100 page short stories stacking up around my house, I have acquired some new books to keep me alert and entertained during this time of self reflection. As to not disturb the peace of the book piles being used as tables and home accessories, this new list of bucket list books for May range from the vast volumes of American poetry to the untapped magic of Japanese literature. This segment “What we’re reading this month” will offer a list of vital reads for this online book club, the perfect space for every book lover. Without further ado, we’re putting the lit back into literature with May’s month of exceptional books:

What a Time to Be Alone by Chidera Eggerue

Chidera Eggerue, more popularly known online as The Slumflower, the outspoken, movement making feminist, who’s books are unapologetically triumphant. After realising the effect of social conditioning from body image to body hair, Slumflower’s narrative is the big sister you need, affirming women of our existing self worth. Full of personal life lessons stemming from her experience as a young black woman born and raised in Peckham of Nigerian heritage. As the champion of diversity and inclusion, Slumflower shares her message of positivity that unlike other reads, is comforting and realistically attainable. Including the author's own original artwork, Eggerue’s visual aesthetic radiates acceptance. Bursting onto the scene with attitude and optimism, Chidera Eggerue proves she’s not going anywhere. And what a better way to spend our time in isolation than learning to love and accept ourselves. As the unfathomable pressures loom on us daily, The many works of Slumflower break all doubts, that we are not only coping, but thriving as women, on our own.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

As humans we’re obsessed with the idea of time travel. It’s been done and overdone so many times the very idea can become tasteless, however Japanese playwright Toshikazu Kawaguchi has demonstrated the very simplicity of the concept beautifully. Before the Coffee gets cold is a story where a quaint coffee shop in the back alley of Tokyo gives customers the chance to travel back in time. It epitomises hope and perception, framed with the inevitable risk, that they must return, before the coffee gets cold. With rules laid down, the characters are bound to the present by a sense of magical realism. The people we meet delicately pose a self reflection on whether we’re living with full intent and no regrets. Despite the author's debut in 2015, “Before the Coffee gets cold” has now been published in English, a delightfully whimsical read.

Life of the Party by Olivia Gatewood

One of the best poets on the scene hands down. With her liberating, sarcastic and empowering attitude, Olivia Gatewood is a voice for all women. From spoken word to page poetry, Gatwoods message comes alive, visually dancing across the page. The American poet is an activist and educator, with her first book “New American Best Friend” a diary of descriptions, championing women as being “teen girls'' our whole lives. Weaving in the good, the bad and the ugly, Gatewoods poetic rawness reflects the inner mind of a woman's psyche. Her poems such as “Girl”, “Ode to my bitch face” and “Ode to the Women on Long Island'' showcase the strength in ownership, integrity and unity, a social commentary of the Phoenix rising from the ashes, reclaiming ourselves. As 1 in 4 women experience a form of abuse in their lifetime and over 80% are victims of sexual assult, the poet's passionate presence calls out the male patriarchy and it’s reputation of violence and fear whilst inherintly celebrating and comforting all in the modern feminist movement.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Winner of last year's Booker Prize, “Girl, Woman, Other” follows the lives of twelve characters, mostly women, across Britain throughout the last 100 years. Rich, poor, urban and rural, the stories are diverse in character and ego, whilst exploding with humour. All individually intertwined, the characters share a bond, discovering their personal journeys through a century of change. Flowing with charm, ambition and enlightenment, the story is candidly honest, turning history into fiction, an anthology of anecdotal truths. Each on their own mission to find fulfilment from the past, present and future, the book captures black womanhood in Britain. The black british author hailing from London, is the success story for conquering the “unachievable” after repeatedly being told there was no market for her work. Inspired by writers Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Bernadine Evaristo wanted to see herself represented in Literature. As an activist for inclusion, she has set up mentorship schemes and literary prizes for BAME writers, going above and beyond being an author, but a game changer.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

YA crime novels have reinvented themselves in the last few years, becoming some of the most captivating reads on the scene. Similar to E. Lockhart’s shocking “We were liars” and McManus’s brilliant “One of Us is Lying”, author Holly Jackson’s thriller “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” is the addictive phenomenon everyone is talking about. The authors debut novel follows the story of student Pippa Fitz-Amobi uncovering secrets of a murder that seems odder than it should. With cover ups and manipulation, Pip unravels the lies of the closed case, revealing 5 years of mystery. With the killer possibly still on the loose, the gripping novel keeps you guessing till the very end. And the best thing is, the sequel is already out, so no need to wait around, but dive straight into the storyline of unanswered questions. This New York Times bestseller is sure to fascinate and riddle your mind full of suspense.

If you see your favourite book of the month missing be sure to get in contact with any recommendations.

Happy reading this May!