I’m on a bit of a book-buying ban. With over 100 books on my shelves that I have yet to read, I’m forcing myself to make a start with these, rather than purchasing any new books.
However, easier said than done.
There are so many new books that have been published recently that I want to get my hands on and see what the fuss is about.
I’ve seen Yellowface everywhere as a holiday read, Babel and Fourth Wing have taken over my TikTok feed and Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died has been on my ‘want to read’ list for too long now.
So while I can’t actually purchase any new books, here are the top 10 books that I’ll be purchasing once I’ve made a dent in the 100 I already have on my shelves.
1. Yellowface by R. F. Kuang
Athena Liu is a literary darling and June Hayward is literally nobody. White lies…
When Athena dies in a freak accident, June steals her unpublished manuscript and publishes it as her own under the ambiguous name Juniper Song. Dark humour…
But as evidence threatens June’s stolen success, she will discover exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves. Deadly consequences…
What happens next is entirely everyone else’s fault.
2. Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
I feel like when you get a divorce everyone’s wondering how you ruined it all, what made you so unbearable to be with. If your husband dies, at least people feel bad for you.
Maggie’s marriage has ended just 608 days after it started, but she’s fine – she’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s alone for the first time in her life, can’t afford her rent and her obscure PhD is going nowhere… but at the age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new status as a Surprisingly Young Divorcee ™.
Soon she’s taking up ‘sadness hobbies’ and getting back out there, sex-wise, oversharing in the group chat and drinking with her high-intensity new divorced friend Amy. As Maggie throws herself headlong into the chaos of her first year of divorce, she finds herself questioning everything, including: Why do we still get married? Did I fail before I even got started? How many Night Burgers until I’m happy?
3. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
Welcome to the brutal and elite world of Basgiath War College, where everyone has an agenda, and every night could be your last…
Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general – also known as her tough-as-talons mother – has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.
But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away… because dragons don’t bond to ‘fragile’ humans. They incinerate them.
With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter – like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant. She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.
Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom’s protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.
Alliances will be forged. Lives will be lost. Traitors will become allies… or even lovers. But sleep with one eye open because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.
4. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
‘First I got myself born.’
And so begins the tale of Demon Copperhead: a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, bucket-loads of charm and a talent or two the world is yet to discover. We befriend Demon on this, his journey through the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, the dizzying highs of true love, and the crushing losses that can accompany it.
It’s impossible not to fall hard for this hero who has just made your acquaintance, as you hurtle through these pages wishing you could reach into the pages save him from hardships or steer him to the rays of light that shine through even his darkest days.
5. Close to Home by Michael Magee
Sean’s brother Anthony is a hard man. When they were kids their ma did her best to keep him out of trouble but you can’t say anything to Anto. Sean was supposed to be different. He was supposed to leave and never come back.
But Sean does come back. Arriving home after university, he finds Anthony’s drinking is worse than ever. Meanwhile the jobs in Belfast have vanished, Sean’s degree isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and no one will give him the time of day. One night he loses control and assaults a stranger at a party, and everything is tipped into chaos.
Close to Home witnesses the aftermath of that night, as Sean attempts to make sense of who he has become, and to reckon with the relationships that have shaped him, for better and worse.
6. The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn
This is the story of an old English manor house by the sea, with crumbling chimneys, draping ivy and a library full of dusty hardbacks. It’s the story of the three children who grow up there, and the adventures they create for themselves while the grown-ups entertain endless party guests: the worlds they imagine from books they aren’t supposed to read, and the lessons they learn from eavesdropping through oak-panelled doors.
This is the story of a whale that washes up on a beach, whose bones are claimed by a twelve-year-old girl with big ambitions and an even bigger imagination. An unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young woman, chafing under the confines of her traditional upbringing and fiercely determined to do things differently.
But as the children grow to adulthood, another story has been unfolding in the wings. And when the war finally takes centre stage, they find themselves cast, unrehearsed, into roles they never expected to play. They raised themselves on stories. Now it’s time for them to write their own.
7. Babel by R. F. Kuang
Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.
Oxford, 1836. The city of dreaming spires. It is the centre of all knowledge and progress in the world. And at its centre is Babel, the Royal Institute of Translation. The tower from which all the power of the Empire flows.
Orphaned in Canton and brought to England by a mysterious guardian, Babel seemed like paradise to Robin Swift. Until it became a prison… but can a student stand against an empire?
8. In Memoriam by Alice Winn
It’s 1914, and talk of war feels far away to Henry Gaunt, Sidney Ellwood and the rest of their classmates, safely ensconced in their idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. At seventeen, they’re too young to enlist, and anyway, Gaunt is fighting his own private battle – an all-consuming infatuation with his best friend, the dreamy, poetic Ellwood – not having a clue that Ellwood is in love with him, always has been.
When Gaunt’s German mother asks him to enlist as an officer in the British army to protect the family from anti-German attacks, Gaunt signs up immediately, relieved to escape his overwhelming feelings for Ellwood.
The front is horrific, of course, and though Gaunt tries to dissuade Ellwood from joining him on the battlefield, Ellwood soon rushes to join him, spurred on by his love of Greek heroes and romantic poetry.
Before long, their classmates have followed suit. Once in the trenches, Ellwood and Gaunt find fleeting moments of solace in one another, but their friends are all dying, right in front of them, and at any moment they could be next.
9. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.
In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail-just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true.
Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer.
Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.
10. The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Winter, 1561. Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferrara, is taken on an unexpected visit to a country villa by her husband, Alfonso. As they sit down to dinner it occurs to Lucrezia that Alfonso has a sinister purpose in bringing her here. He intends to kill her.
Lucrezia is sixteen years old, and has led a sheltered life locked away inside Florence’s grandest palazzo. Here, in this remote villa, she is entirely at the mercy of her increasingly erratic husband.
What is Lucrezia to do with this sudden knowledge? What chance does she have against Alfonso, ruler of a province, and a trained soldier? How can she ensure her survival?