Edinburgh's Radical Bookshop

What We read in July 2023


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Welcome! You've reached the place where we, on a monthly basis, gather up what the Lighthouse team are currently reading. You can check out round-ups from previous months amongst our Read Think Act posts.

July 2023 offered histories of sapphic romance, a Japanese thriller from the 1920s, a reckoning with how capitalism shapes notions of mental illness and much in between:


Lesbian Love Story by Amelia Possanza is such a tonic for the soul – a queer history of sapphic romance that is expansive, creative and personal. To read love letters from women of bygone eras and find familiarity in their feelings, hopes and fears is so fun and so affirming.

The Queens of Sarmiento Park by Camila Sosa Villada broke me open and stitched me back together simultaneously. It’s the most breathtaking fiction about chosen family, collateral beauty, brutality and resilience. I’ve underlined so many exquisite lines and ingenious, funny turns of phrase. Read it! Catch the author at the Edinburgh Book festival!


Trumpet by Jackie Kay – at it’s core, grief as the tangible presence of absence.

'The Whale Rider' by Witi Ihimaera – Unfortunately not in print in the UK so look out for second-hand copies! Adored the 2002 film so had to pick up this 2nd hand international anniversary edition when I saw it. It's a beautiful Maori tale (mix of modern and creation stories) for all ages but written for 11+, and part of the inspiration for Moana.


Misunderstanding in Moscow by Simone de Beauvoir - questions growing older and which misunderstandings, personal and political, actually matter.


Mad World by Micha Frazer-Carroll is a brilliant and absolutely needed look into the history of Mental (Ill) Health/Madness, and how the demonisation of the working class, disabled and undesirable has led us to where we are now.


This month I read Beast in the Shadows by Edogawa Ranpo (translated by Ian Hughes), a superb Japanese detective novel from the 1920s reissued by Penguin Random House. Anticipating many noir tropes and shot through with a deeply eerie atmosphere, it still feels as fresh today as 100 years ago.


Ducks by Kate Beaton is the first graphic novel I've read in a LONG time and it's a perfect re-introduction to the form. Following the author's experiences of working as a young woman in the Alberta oil sands, it's nuanced, full of curiosity as well as heartbreak.

I love it when books meet you where you are, offering space and new angles on knots you may feel like you're untangling in darkness. I was very grateful to Quiet by Victoria Adukwei Bulley for providing such a space for questions about how personal, private stories of the everyday may co-exist with the vastly systemic, and doing it with such grace and resolve.


Haruko/Love poems by June Jordan

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