New Authors, Debut Novels and 700+ Pages: A Recent Trip To Waterstones
Waterstones is possibly one of my favourite places to spend time. The staff are reliably friendly and helpful, the titles that line the shelves are treated with the care and attention of people who love books as much as you do, and when you walk in you feel as though you are entering a place where your imagination can run free.
It was glorious to spend a few hours in Waterstones Piccadilly in London last month, browsing the shelves for new reads. Below are the four books I chose during this trip, the majority I have now read and will be reviewing in more depth in 'A Year of Reading: June 2022'.
Open Water, Caleb Azuma Nelson
I'd heard about this short novel from friends and various 'book tubers', but I hadn't got round to picking up a copy for myself.
I had the privilege of hearing Caleb in conversation with Tice Cin at this year's Daunt Books Festival in London. Hearing him speak about the way his writing has been informed by different creative mediums and of Tice's love of the novel, I could not wait to pick this up the following week. I have since read the book, which I will be reviewing in full in 'A Year of Reading: June 2022', but I'll say here that it is a beautiful, touching and tender novel that deserves all the acclaim it has received. This was my first exposure to Nelson's work, and I can't wait to read more.
Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams
In recent months, I have listened to Candice speak on various platforms, including on Elizabeth's Day podcast How To Fail, the Waterstones' Podcast alongside Marian Keyes, Dr Julie Smith and Nihal Arthanayake, and when spotlighting her latest novel on the BBC's Between The Covers.
Queenie has been on my radar for a while now, and after hearing Candice speak about her debut, her writing process and more, I was itching to pick it up. It did not disappoint. It is witty, moving, anger-inducing and memorable all at the same time. You simply fall in love with Queenie, and it is this that makes you root for her as she deals with the trials of life. Check out 'A Year of Reading: June 2022' for a more comprehensive breakdown of the novel.
Before The Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Having been overwhelmed by the wonder of Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman and Cho Nam-ju's Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 in 2021, fiction in translation is one of the genres I would love to read more of.
I chose Kawaguchi's debut novel for it's brilliant premise: in a cafe in Japan, you can go back in time and have a conversation with someone from your past, but only for the time it takes for your coffee to get cold.
Having now read it, I can describe it using only three words: charming, heartbreaking, and timeless. It is a magical story, written in a magical way, with a simplicity that is rare for a book that packs so much in within a short amount of time.
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
Everyone and their dog seems to have read this tome of a novel, except me. On this trip, I thought it was about time I picked it up for myself, and I can't wait to dig into it.
This novel features in my '30 Before 30' list, not only because of the unparalleled love the book community have bestowed upon it, but because it sounds like a book I can be thoroughly immersed within. It is known to provoke an emotional rollercoaster in readers, described by Jon Michaud as a novel that can 'drive you mad, consume you, and take over your life', and deemed as 'uneven, unusual, [and] unrelenting' by Sarah Churchwell; I would by lying if I said I was not absolutely intrigued in this 700+ page journey.