Golden Hare manager Julie and bookseller David were recently asked for their summer read recommendations by The Observer newspaper. While being superstar-level famous types is part of a normal day at Golden Hare, we thought we’d share this one for those looking for some compelling holiday reads!
You can find the Observer article here or, if you want to get a little more detail for each recommendation, continue reading below…
Julie Danskin, manager
When shoppers ask me for holiday reads, they often want something engrossing for a plane journey. I highly recommend the immersive Vivian by Christina Hesselholdt (Fitzcarraldo), about the life of photographer Vivian Maier, or merman romantic comedy The Pisces by Melissa Broder (Bloomsbury). For those who prefer nonfiction, The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells (Allen Lane) is an unflinching look into our climate catastrophe. When you’re by the pool or relaxing on a terrace, I recommend short stories and essays, especially Nicole Flattery’s Show Them a Good Time (Bloomsbury) or Emilie Pine’s vivid Notes to Self (Penguin).
Anthologies make such great holiday reads, as you can discover new authors to seek out on your return to reality: see especially Being Various: New Irish Short Stories, edited by Lucy Caldwell (Faber & Faber); The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story , edited by Philip Hensher; and either volume of The Bi-ble, edited by Lauren Nickodemus and Ellen Desmond (Monstrous Regiment) – essays about bisexuality.
If, however, you prefer a doorstop novel, I absolutely loved The Parisian by Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape), a sprawling, Middlemarch-ian historical epic of love and resistance between France and Palestine.
David Bloomfield, bookseller
Getting away from it all doesn’t mean avoiding socially conscious books, especially when they’re addictive page-turners like Booker prize-nominated Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail): imagine Jules Verne’s globetrotting style, but told from the perspective of a black slave, chronicling his story from backbreaking field labour to airship adventurer. Hopping from one place to the next, this book marries two unusual elements in a way that I previously wouldn’t have thought possible; the effect is very impressive and has made me want to read everything Edugyan has written up to this point!
For those with a taste for the curiously curated, Edward Carey’s Little (Aardvark Bureau) charts the rise of the small girl who would become the famed Madame Tussaud. Initially penniless, she is taken under the wing of a cripplingly shy doctor who teaches her how to make perfect wax heads for the guillotine-wielding leaders of the French Revolution. The pace is relentless but its a deeply charming book, with the historical backdrop and carnival of famous figures not getting in the way. A constantly intriguing historical fiction curio, especially with Carey’s hand-drawn illustrations gracing many of the pages!
Brilliant, readable nonfiction is out there too: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (Penguin) examines how white people attempt to prevent anti-racism measures, knowingly and unknowingly, and suggests how to challenge such behaviour in ourselves and others. Tracing the origins of racism from slavery to the present day, DiAngelo lucidly points out the way white people still support racist culture, daring to question the culturally safe narrative about racists always being obviously “bad people”, showing how people who consider themselves non-racist can also engage in white fragility. Written in a no-nonsense, concise fashion, this is a must-read if you want to be an ally rather than an enemy.
And for those who want to be in the know, Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language by Paul Baker (Reaktion) is a compelling history of the linguistic lengths to which gay people had to go to hide in plain sight within an aggressively homophobic culture. With Pride now so visible and celebrated, it can be easy to forget that, for a long period of time, the mainstream attitude in the UK was often quite brutal and oppressive to gay people; Polari is a brilliant, engaging reminder of that truth.