an astrological look at yentl, barbra streisand, reading, book, reading list, recommended books, autumn reading list

Your Autumn reading list

1. What, you haven’t read it yet? Where have you been?

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: TV took The Handmaid’s Tale to a whole new audience and enshrined 70-something Atwood as an icon among younger women. Not surprisingly this sequel, pacier and more thriller-ish than the original, co-won the Booker Prize, even though it’s not quite as good.

2. You’re a sucker for a sophisticated spy story with a Brexit twist…

Agent Running In The Field by John le Carre: Another ingeniously-constructed thriller from the veteran master of espionage. This time, spy Nat is juggling how to make things right with his disaffected wife and daughter, while dealing with every kind of betrayal at work, with walk-on parts from Trump and Putin.

3. You need woke aversion therapy…

The Madness of Crowds by Douglas Murray: If you’re getting fed up with all that woke-speak, and reckon you’ll scream if you hear one more snowflake declaring they’ve got PTSD because of something you, or anyone else, said, this perceptive, brave book will restore your sanity and put the smile back on your face.

4. You fell in love with Olive Kitteridge…

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout: Olive Kitteridge, who first appeared in print in 2008, and was then brilliantly portrayed on HBO by Frances McDormand, is back. She’s older now, getting used to life with a second husband, still living in Crosby Maine and still as loveably stroppy as ever.

5. Searching for this year’s actual best novel?

Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: Toby Fleishman is a five foot five, Jewish New York doctor who specialises in liver transplants. His alpha wife has left him with split custody of his two children and he spends his new-found free time on dating apps. A whole new world of opportunity reveals itself, but does he really want it?  

6. You’re a fact fiend…

Britain By Numbers: A Visual Exploration Of People And Place by Stuart Newman: You’re most likely to get divorced in your forties, according to this fascinating and beautifully-designed collection of statistics about everything in Britain, from the number of live births and living centenarians by decade, to the cost of a cup of tea, from how much time we spend exercising to how many grams of vegetables a day we eat.

7. Colourful history at its best…

Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister by Jung Chang: The bestselling Wild Swans historian is back with another blockbuster, this time examining the influence of the three Soong sisters from Shanghai on twentieth century China, exerted both through their incredible marriages and powerful personalities. Think Eastern Mitford girls.

8. A slow burn fairytale…

The Confession by Jessie Burton: This is the author who wowed at least a million of us with The Miniaturist in 2014 and does so here again. In a narrative that weaves back and forth in time, the story begins in 1980 on Hampstead Heath, where a chance meeting results in a turbulent love affair. Easily digestible commercial fiction this; you’ll gulp it down in one.

9. Short stories from a storytelling titan

Grand Union: Stories by Zadie Smith: This is the first short story collection from the inimitable Zadie Smith, whose great gift is to express the interior life. Her 19 short tales cover almost all of today’s top topics, from addiction and identity politics to climate change and sex, and the characters are engagingly rounded, sometimes autobiographical.

10. If you loathe every second you spend in the gym…

In Praise Of Walking by Shane O’Mara: This is one of those books that will make you feel cleverer and healthier the minute you start reading it. What happens to your brain when you walk, why you have better ideas when you walk, why every organ in your body improves when you walk. Anytime, anywhere, wearing anything. Just walk.

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