What We're Reading - 20 September 2019

Opinion - Books Friday, 20 September 2019

The BookBrunch team reveal what's on their bedside tables


Neill Denny
I've just started on Jean Manco's The Origins of the Anglo-Saxons (Thames & Hudson). Time for some hardcore history: this is a look at Dark Ages England and where exactly all those Anglo-Saxons came from, and where they are now, using the latest techniques of DNA analysis. Each chapter ends with a handy overview bullet-point summary - perfect for the knowledge-hungry, time-poor modern world.

Nicholas Clee
I thought I had left behind the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, but I find that I am still a sucker for it - those lovely, jazz-inflected Californian harmonies. What a bunch of dicks they are, though! Peter Doggett's scrupulously written Crosby, Stills Nash & Young (Bodley Head) supports the point - Kate Aldridge in The Archers is another embodiment of it - that the more you advertise your new age values, the less likely you are to live up to them.

Lucy Nathan
I'm reading the YA novel Internment by Samira Ahmed (Little, Brown). It's a near-future dystopia that follows the story of Layla Amin and her family, who are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens, and of how Layla fights back against the camp's director and his guards. So far it's a powerful and shocking read that feels all too close to home in our current political climate.

Jo Henry
It's not always - as we all know - that a book being raved about lives up to the hype. This is absolutely not the case with Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber). I was gripped, amused and devastated by the on-off-on relationship between Marianne and Connell, caused not just by circumstances but by their inability to communicate. They only want to be "normal people" - but does such a state exist?

David Roche
Sweet Sorrow (Hodder) by David Nicholls is not my usual cup of tea, but I am once again impressed by his rare skill in combining good writing with really accessible story telling. The saccharine is dialled up just a tad too much for my taste on this occasion, but the book demonstrates the author's talent; to release this in the same year that he won the Best Drama Writer BAFTA for his adaptation of the Patrick Melrose novels (and against incredibly strong competition) shows extraordinary breadth.

Julie Vuong
Being in the mood for a book I could rattle through without too much hard work, I'm reading Lethal White by Robert Galbraith, aka JK Rowling. While the title makes it sound like a soft rock band, it's the latest instalment in the Cormoran Strike crime novels. It picks up after the last one and, again, it's addictive reading, showing all the elements (a will-they-won't-they romance, intriguing whodunnit etc) of another thrilling ride.

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