There’s no doubt – the beginning of 2018 has started with a cultural bang. I seem to be at the cinema most nights watching the most incredible films, and the pile of books and new releases next to my bed seems to be climbing by the day. Here, I’ve compiled a neat list of the books coming out in the next few months that are worth noting in your diary so you can hit Waterstones hard.
Journalist Dolly Alderton is fast becoming a household name, thanks to the hit weekly news and pop-culture podcast The High Low, which she co-hosts with fellow journalist Pandora Sykes. The pair’s camaraderie and witty repartee make for an entertaining and simultaneously enlightening listen, and I, along with many others, am utterly hooked.
Her debut memoir, Everything I Know About Love tracks her relationships and friendships over the years, no doubt supported by her stint as dating columnist for the Sunday Times Style.
Discussing the struggles of becoming an adult and overcoming the obstacles involved in this, the prose could have come across as gimmicky or contrived, particularly given the vast amount of content out there dealing with similar such “millenial” issues. Dolly Alderton has instead succeeded in coming across as both witty and genuine, and the release of her book cannot come soon enough.
Rose McGowan, BRAVE (HarperOne)
The actress Rose McGowan has recently reentered public consciousness, following her allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, with whom she reached a $100,000 settlement in 1997 after he allegedly sexually assaulted her. She now spearheads the campaign supporting the charges against Weinstein, becoming the face of the rebel movement.
Rose McGowan was born into a cult called Children of God, famous for advocating incest with underage children, using sex to show God’s love. She describes how she moved from one cult to another upon entering Hollywood as an actress in supernatural drama Charmed.
Her memoir and manifesto, Brave, exposes not only Weinstein, but also the misogyny that is still rife in Hollywood, and is likely to fly off the shelves.
Tara Westover, Educated (Hutchinson)
There’s nothing like a good ol’ Bildungsroman to get you prepped for the year ahead. Tara Westover’s new release is about as extreme a coming-of-age story as you can imagine. She was born on a junkyard in Idaho as the youngest of seven with no birth certificate. Her father, a deeply religious man, was preparing for the End of Days, so with no parental influence she was left to fend for herself.
Education was what helped her escape, but she had to walk away from her family in order to pursue this. Tara Westover’s debut novel explores what education offers us, and has been praised by the likes of Stephen Fry, who has said ‘There is no feeling like discovering a young writer who is springing up fully armed with so much talent’.
Ruby Tandoh rose to fame in the 2013 series of The Great British Bake-Off, and has
gone on to become a top food writer, penning articles and recipes for the Guardian, Elle and Vice. This is her third book, and rather than being a conventional recipe book it is a narrative-led novel about the joys of food, with a few recipes thrown in for good measure.
This girl knows how to write; she uses extremely evocative, visceral language without being hyperbolic and flowery, and it’s a fabulous read even for someone not particularly interested in cooking.
We have such a complex relationship with food because of the constant bombardment of loaded messages we are faced with. Eat Up comes at the perfect time – we all have a hostile relationship with food and need to learn to love it again, even if it’s just a packet of bourbons in front of the telly. Ruby encourages us to think of cooking as a classless act, breaking down the barriers and feel joy, regardless of one’s background.
This new release from Leni Zumas likely takes inspiration from the two major cultural phenomenons of 2017; The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, stunningly portrayed in the Hulu series, and The Power by Naomi Alderman, winner of the 2017 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, both of which were immensely successful and timely female-centric dystopias.
Red Clocks follows the stories of five women living in future America, where both abortion and IVF are illegal and foetuses have more rights than women (sound familiar, Margaret Atwood?!). The characters are nuanced and witty, and present the juxtaposition of women who are forced to have babies they don’t want and women who are stigmatised because of their desire and inability to have children.
Leni Zumas’ writing is sharp, humorous and uncomplicated, and the formula she has chosen to follow with her narrative will inevitably lead to mass appeal.
Zadie Smith, Feel Free (Hamish Hamilton)
We may primarily know Zadie Smith as a writer of fiction, after she leapt to fame with her multi-award-winning White Teeth, but she returns this year with non-fiction, more specifically a collection of essays. Don’t be put off – it’s far from dry literary theory. Instead, she brings us her observations on a variety of subjects from both high and low culture, be it politics, social media, rap music or the loss of public libraries.
Zadie Smith is a writer who is incredibly engaged with issues of social injustice, and can write about them in a very nuanced and evocative manner. In Feel Free, she dissects all issues pertaining to her surroundings in a way that makes us feel as though we’re right there with her. There are no efforts made to heighten the language, and it is this relatability for the reader that will make this book an essential winter project for either anyone, princes and paupers alike.