We're well over half-way through 2021, and with so many outstanding books published mid-lockdown at the beginning of the year, we thought it was good time we hauled them back up and gave them some more well-deserved love.
Bring on 'So Far So Very Good': a series of round-ups of our booksellers' favourite books published so far in 2021.
I realised that my reading has been even more Hydra-headed than usual these last six months, but also that most of what I've been reading was published before the beginning of 2021. It's easy, as a bookseller, to get regularly excited about new books coming out, adding and adding to the tower, but as the tower grows some of them begin to lose their initial appeal.
Not so with these. These are titles from the first half of the year which keep pulling with new strings, new areas of relevance, and which I very much will read in the months to come. It seems that there's even something of a pattern: two novels, two poetry collections, two gems on climate justice and inequality.
Tessa McWatt wrote the disarmingly honest, many-layered and insightful memoir Shame On Me: an anatomy of race and belonging. As I've never read any of McWatt's fiction, I can't wait to follow this wise voice into new territory with The Snow Line. Then there's the book which keeps being recommended, and from all sorts of quarters: Elena Knows by Argentinian writer Claudia Piñeiro, which promises the best kind of transgression between personal and political.
On the poetry front, I feel in perfectly unsafe hands with A Blood Condition by Kayo Chingonyi and Rotten Days in Late Summer by Ralf Webb. I've read a line or two out of each and I'm not letting them out of my sight.
The roots of the climate crisis in racism and colonialism can't be emphasised enough, which is why Jeremy Williams's Climate Change is Racist is such a very welcome addition to understanding of climate justice. Let's keep spelling it out! Add to that The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World by Kehinde Andrews, and I'm convinved the next wee while of reading will be more than splendid.