New Books To Add To Your Reading List

If you’re after a new read, we’ve rounded up the best books out there – from highly anticipated debuts to non-fiction page-turners…
By Heather Steele

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Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton

Birnam Wood is a gripping psychological thriller from the Booker prize-winning author of The Luminaries. Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice – on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks, and neglected backyards. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then, Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned. But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, an enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker – or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira, Birnam Wood and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work his land. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?


In Memoriam by Alice Winn

This debut novel from Alice Winn is a gripping, heart-shattering story of love between two soldiers in WWI. 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 17, they're too young to enlist, and anyway, Gaunt is fighting his own private battle: an all-consuming infatuation with his best friend, Ellwood – all while not having a clue that Ellwood is in love with him. 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. An epic tale of both the devastating tragedies of war and the forbidden romance that blooms in its grip, In Memoriam is a truly impressive first novel.


Mother Hens by Sophie McCartney

Leaving kids, partners, broken hearts and guilty secrets behind them at home, four best friends are heading for Ibiza for the mother of all hen dos. Mums on tour: what could go wrong? Three days and nights of blissed-out sunsets, bottomless Sangria and sun-soaked lie-ins to sleep off the hangovers sounds like heaven – but it turns out you can get into a hell of a lot of a trouble, very fast, on the island where rules are made to be broken. It's a chance to forget about dodgy exes, feuding families and the 9-5, and realise sometimes your friends are the family you choose. But even on holiday, your past has a way of catching up with you, and when a chance to get revenge on the people who've hurt them in the past appears, the friends decide this hen do is going rogue. A rollercoaster ride from Ibiza to Vegas, via Lancashire, Mother Hens will make you wonder what any of us are really capable of, when push comes to shove.


Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh

Elodie is the baker's wife. A plain, unremarkable woman, ignored by her husband and underestimated by her neighbours, she burns with the secret desire to be extraordinary. One day a charismatic new couple appear in town – the ambassador and his sharp-toothed wife, Violet – and Elodie quickly falls under their spell. All summer she stalks them through the streets: inviting herself into their home, eavesdropping on their coded conversations, longing to be part of their world. Meanwhile, beneath the tranquil surface of daily life, strange things are happening. Six horses are found dead in a field, laid out neatly on the ground like an offering. Widows see their lost husbands walking up the moonlit river, coming back to claim them. A teenage boy throws himself into the bonfire at the midsummer feast. A dark intoxication is spreading through the town, and when Elodie finally understands her role in it, it will be too late to stop.


Maame by Jessica George

Meet Maddie. All her life, she's been told who she is. To her Ghanaian parents, she's Maame, the one who takes care of the family. Her mum's stand-in. The primary carer for her father, who suffers from Parkinson's. She's the responsible sister, the quiet friend. The one who keeps the peace – and the secrets. Now it's time for her to speak up. Maddie knows what kind of woman she wants to be: one who wears a bright yellow suit, dates men who definitely aren't on her mum's list of prospective husbands, and stands up to her boss's microaggressions. Someone who doesn't have to Google all her life choices and who demands a seat at the table. But will it take losing everything to find her voice? Unique, unfiltered and unforgettable, Maame is a deeply moving, funny debut about finally finding where you belong.


Old Babes In The Wood by Margaret Atwood

This is an epic collection of 15 stories from Margaret Atwood, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments. Atwood is celebrated as one of the most gifted storytellers in the world, and these stories explore a huge range of experiences, from two best friends disagreeing about their shared past, to the right way to stop someone from choking; from a daughter determining if her mother really is a witch, to what to do with inherited relics such as WWII parade swords. They feature beloved cats, a confused snail, George Orwell, philosopher-astronomer-mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria, a cabal of elderly female academics, and an alien tasked with retelling human fairy tales. At the heart of the collection is a striking sequence that follows a married couple as they travel the road together, exploring the moments big and small that make up a long life of love – and what comes after.


Milk by Alice Kinsella

Alice Kinsella was in her mid-20s when she became pregnant with her first child, newly engaged and about to embark on a life in an unfamiliar town on the west coast of Ireland. After her baby arrived, Alice's world began to expand and contract in ways she could never have imagined. With her body struggling to recover, darker intrusions ran through the days and nights of new motherhood. For the first time, she considered the experiences of her mother, her grandmother, and the generations of women who came before them. She asked herself questions. How does this country treat its mothers? What does it mean to be forever tethered? Forever in love? Set against the backdrop of a seemingly changed Ireland, Alice draws readers her own map of motherhood, a crucial reflection spanning nine months of pregnancy and the first nine months of her child's life. Intimate, warm, startlingly vivid and gentle, this is both a delicate reflection on a moment of gigantic change in body and mind, and a powerful, often painful confrontation of the politics of a country deeply unsure about its women.


Strong Female Character by Fern Brady

Comedian Fern Brady found out that she was autistic as an adult. Growing up, she was told repeatedly that she was very, very clever but also very, very bad. When she mentioned the possibility of having autism to her psychiatrist as a teenager, she was dismissed because she made eye contact and had boyfriends. In her debut memoir Strong Female Character, Fern uses her voice as a neurodivergent, working-class woman from Scotland to bring her experiences with sex work, abusive relationships and her time spent in a teenage mental health unit to the page. Written with unflinching honesty, the book is a game-changing memoir on sexism and neurodiversity.

Available at

Why Women Grow by Alice Vincent

Women have always gardened, but the stories have been buried with their work. Gardener and writer Alice Vincent is on a quest to change that – and to understand what encourages women to go out, work the soil, plant seeds and nurture them, even when so many other responsibilities sit upon their shoulders. Why Women Grow is a much-needed exploration of why women turn to the earth, as gardeners, growers and custodians. This book emerged from a deeply rooted desire to share the stories of women who are silenced and overlooked. In doing so, Alice fosters connections with gardeners that unfurl into a tender exploration of women's lives, their gardens and what the ground has offered them, with conversations spanning creation and loss, celebration and grief, power, protest, identity and renaissance. Want more? Check out Alice’s new podcast of the same name.


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