Play Hard

9 new-in books to read this month & next

Now more than ever is the time to escape briefly to another world, via the best new books hitting the shelves this month and beyond. These are the reads that everyone will be talking about…

Written by High Life North
Published 28.04.2020

By Jenny Brownlees

Bookworms unite – we’ve compiled a list of the best new-in books that will help you unwind and temporarily escape the current situation.

These unmissable novels and non-fiction picks will ensure you’re thoroughly entertained, and will happily take your mind off things for at least an hour or so.

If you had no time to read before, now is the chance to update your bookshelves with these just-dropped reads before they hit the mainstream.

The following page-turners are what we have been soaking up in our downtime, and in order to give you the latest and greatest picks ahead of time, we’ve included the upcoming can’t-put-them-down reads that are released throughout April.

If you can’t wait to hunker down and delve into an alternate universe, get pre-ordering now so they land on your doorstep ASAP.

Things I Learned From Falling by Claire Nelson

This harrowing account of a life-changing accident is told to us first-hand by author and narrator, Clare Nelson. A riveting read, it has much to teach us about determination and survival against the odds, managing to be both nail-bitingly tense and warmly inspirational in equal measure. Things I Learned From Falling tells the story of the lone hike Clare took in the Californian desert in 2018, after leaving her life and job in London to travel. Whilst hiking, she fell 25 feet – the impact of which shattered her pelvis and left her stranded in a secluded gully. She was in excruciating pain, feared she would never be found and soon ran out of water. The time Clare spent facing death and examining her life and regrets is monumental, and can teach lessons to us all. Clare’s story is full of emotion, as much about accepting help and kindness as it is a gripping account of survival. Whilst many of us will not fall quite as literally as Clare did, we can all take something away from this life-affirming, uplifting story.

The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré 

The Girl With The Louding Voice transports us into the life of Adunni, a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. Removed from school and sold as a third wife to an old man, Adunni’s life amounts to four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens and a new TV. When tragedy strikes in her new home, she is secretly sold as a domestic servant to a wealthy household, where no one will talk about the strange disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. Repeatedly told she is nothing, but unwilling to be silenced, Adunni gives a voice to girls like Rebecca who came before her, and for all the girls who will follow. This novel, the debut for Daré – was award-winning before it had even been published, and the buzz is precedented. With its own distinct style and rhythmic prose, this read is equal parts heartbreaking as it is inspiring. Adunni’s humour shines throughout, and through her character, Daré gives a voice to all victims of child marriage and modern slavery. This is a story that needs to be heard the world over.

My Wild and Sleepless Nights by Clover Stroud

Mother to five children, Clover Stroud has navigated family life across two decades, both losing and finding herself. Charting the course of one year, the first in her youngest child’s life, Clover searches for answers to questions that many of us would be too afraid to admit to – not only about motherhood but also about female sexuality and identity. Provocative and honest, this looks at the intensity of motherhood through a realistic looking-glass – the joys and highs, boredom, loneliness and bleak moments all entwined. Spotted on the bedside table of many of HLN’s favourite writers, this is a must-read for all – mothers or not.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Already a number 1 New York Times bestseller, the cover alone had us excited to read this just-released gem. From activist, speaker and bestselling author Glennon Doyle comes a ground-breaking book that explores the joy and peace we can discover when we stop striving to meet the expectations of the world and start trusting the voice within us. Doyle explains, “Women try so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We quickly silence these worries, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent – even from ourselves.” Doyle shares that for many years, she had denied her own discontent. Her life radically changed while speaking at a conference, where she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. This revelation was something Doyle buried for decades beneath numbing addictions and cultural conditioning. In this intimate memoir, Doyle tackles tough subjects including navigating divorce, forming a blended family, and showing children how to live as their authentic selves. Untamed shows us how to be brave and will leave you reflecting on your own desires. Ultimately, it wants to help its readers feel at peace with themselves.

Hamnet by Maggie O Farrell

Already being hailed as a masterpiece of historical fiction, Hamnet explores the true story behind Shakespeare’s most famous play. Hamnet delves into the story of Agnes, (who we know as Anne Hathaway) and her marriage to a younger man with few obvious prospects, who dreams of becoming a poet. The pair make an odd couple in 16th Century England but marry for love. As Agnes’ husband seeks his fortunes in London, one of the couple’s twins, Hamnet, tragically dies at just 11-years-old. It is four years after Hamnet’s death, when the family has been pushed to breaking point, that the now world-famous play Hamlet is written. The story behind the story, however, has remained untold for over four hundred years. O’Farrell brings this to life beautifully, with rich descriptions and expert storytelling – prepare to be enthralled. Shakespeare is never named – he left no documentation about his personal life behind and accounts of his wife written by male writers at the time were less than complimentary. O’Farrell has given Agnes her own narrative through vivid imagination. Famous surnames and legend aside, this is a tale of family, marriage and grief that is sure to stay with you long after you finish reading.

Trivial Pursuits by Raven Smith

If you need a laugh, and boy do we ever, may we prescribe you Sunday Times Style contributing writer and former Vogue columnist Raven Smith’s Trivial Pursuits? In his hilarious and smart debut, Smith explores the minutiae of everyday life and culture – asking the important questions such as, ‘Am I the contents of my fridge?’ And, ‘Does yoga matter if you’re not filthy rich?’ We follow Smith’s amusing and eccentric trains of thought, as he reflects on the importance we place on the least important things. Despite delving into subjects such as IKEA meatballs and turtlenecks, Trivial Pursuits isn’t all laughs, it also examines Smith’s single-parent upbringing, lonely teenage years and experience of coming out. Witty and sharp with a unique perspective, Raven’s irresistible writing has been described as ‘David Sedaris for the Instagram generation’ – a fitting endorsement.

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan 

22-year old Ava finds herself in Hong Kong, teaching English to the children of rich families, and debating the age-old question, ‘What Should I Do With My Life?’ She sets on a path that sees her intermeshed in the lives of fellow ex-pats Julian – a rich banker, and Edith – an enigmatic lawyer. We knew this book was going to be a real treat, as it was endorsed by the author of our favourite read of 2019, Normal People’s Sally Rooney, who ran an excerpt from Exciting Times in the literary magazine, The Stinging Fly. Living up to the hype, this shining debut from Dolan explores our current culture with witty, dry humour and stylish prose. The hotly-tipped novel is written so cleverly, it perfectly explores the social commentaries surrounding modern love today. 

Clothes…and other things that matter by Alexandra Shulman      

Former British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman explores clothes and all their meaning in this honest, funny and opinionated read. Shulman takes everyday clothing items and examines the role they’ve had in her own life, and in the lives of women worldwide with her wonderfully self-deprecating humour and expert fashion insight. Reading Clothes…and will have you looking back at your own wardrobes-past, asking yourself what your favourite, (and least favourite) clothes mean to you, and questioning why we dress the way we do. Full of Shulman’s own anecdotes, fashion history lessons and social observations, here style intersects with the larger world – motherhood, romance, careers, sexual identity, body image and celebrity. Helena Bonham-Carter said of the book, “It observes everyday feelings with a joy-sparking turn of phrase. But better still, she has made me feel so much better about owning too many clothes.” Praise from HBC is incentive enough for us to give any book a whirl.

What Have I Done? By Laura Dockrill 

When Adele stated that What Have I Done? Is, ‘A book to save a whole generation of women’ it went to the top of our reading list. This at times upsetting, yet truly heartfelt memoir is being hailed as a tonic for new parents experiencing struggles with their mental health. A traumatic birth, sleep deprivation and anxiety about her newborn led to Laura Docrill feeling frighteningly overwhelmed. The new mother’s situation escalated quickly into post-partum psychosis, leading to Laura being institutionalised for a fortnight without her baby. Whilst Laura’s experience was devastating, What Have I Done is a hopeful book. Not only has she slowly recovered, but has come out the other side stronger and determined to break the silence around post-natal mental health. Humbling, honest and human, Dr Heron, CEO of Action on Postpartum Psychosis has commented that ‘This book will give women and their families confidence that the brain and body will heal. It will encourage other women to speak out.’ Postpartum psychosis survivors have already praised What Have I Done? As a comfort, as have many mothers in the spotlight including Paloma Faith, Sophie Dahl and Caitlin Moran.

Released: May 7th

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