5 new books to read in lockdown

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and How To Avoid A Climate Disaster by Bill Gates.

Prudence Wade
Wednesday 10 March 2021 09:32

Kazuo Ishiguro is back with his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in literature, and Megan Nolan releases her highly anticipated debut…


1. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro is published in hardback by Faber & Faber, priced £20 (ebook £8.32). Available now

Klara And The Sun is Kazuo Ishiguro’s first work since being awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, and tells the story of an Artificial Friend called Klara. She watches the behaviour of those on the street outside her store, waiting for a customer to choose her as a companion. When 14-year-old Josie and her mother enter, the manager warns Klara not to put too much faith in humans. The unfolding story is a slow burn, but still thrilling. Fans of Never Let Me Go will be delighted by Ishiguro’s hotly anticipated new offering, which feels like it is set in much the same world. He looks again at cloning and robots, and through the eyes of an outsider, explores to what extent they are human, and what it really means to love. Beautifully written, Klara makes for an insightful narrator and the novel is layered with intrigue. Once again, Ishiguro proves himself a master of storytelling as he delicately unveils this futuristic world, piece by piece. Every sentence feels deliberate, making for a truly absorbing read.9/10(Review by Megan Baynes)

2. Acts Of Desperation by Megan Nolan is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Acts Of Desperation is not an easy read, but it is worth it. It is the intense and painful tale of a 20-something woman living in Dublin, embroiled in a deeply toxic relationship. The chapters are short, but powerful. Megan Nolan’s writing is gorgeously nuanced, there are paragraphs you will want to swim in. The nameless narrator speaks frankly of sex, self-disgust, messy nights out and unrequited love, as she details her time with the beautiful but cold Ciaran. There are hints of Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year Of Rest And Relaxation about it, and it is as compelling as anything by Sally Rooney. A mesmerising debut that is a masterpiece from the opening sentence to the bitter end, and everything in between.9/10(Review by Frances Wright)

3. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi is published in hardback by Viking, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.49). Available now

Yaa Gyasi’s stunning debut Homegoing was a sweeping historical look at a multi-generational family; her new book Transcendent Kingdom, zeroes in on two siblings and their mother. Neuroscientist Gifty is a Ghanaian first generation immigrant looking back on her childhood in Alabama, and the opioid addiction that claimed her older brother’s life as a teenager. Now an adult in California, her mother – who became depressed in the years following her brother’s death – has come to visit, and spends her days in silence, lying in bed. This isn’t a plot-driven novel, but is an opportunity to reflect on weighty topics like religion, love and addiction. Beautifully written, it’s a raw look at the personal destruction caused by the opioid crisis. The reality of addiction rarely has moments of levity, but Transcendent Kingdom starts with devastation and continues on in the same manner, and would perhaps benefit from the odd moment of contrast.8/10(Review by Prudence Wade)


4. How To Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have And The Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates is published in hardback by Allen Lane, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now

A manifesto for action, Bill Gates’ How To Avoid A Climate Disaster breaks down the monumental issue of climate change, and lays out a vision for reaching zero carbon emissions globally. Gates acknowledges his immense wealth and privilege, while expressing that any advances in global warming need to help lift the world’s poorest – the most affected by climate change – out of poverty. Gates manages to take the least glamorous aspects of halting global warming, such as cement production, and create an exciting manual for implementing green policy. However, as a reader it is hard not to feel overwhelmed by Gates’ focus on big picture fixes for large companies and world leaders, and it would have been a relief to see more of what can be done by individuals. The book is a refreshingly straightforward read on the climate crisis – with not only the world’s environment in mind, but its people first and foremost.8/10(Review by Emily Chudy)

Children’s book of the week

5. The Dragon And Her Boy by Penny Chrimes is published in paperback by Orion Children’s Books, priced £7.99 (ebook £4.99). Available now

Penny Chrimes takes us on an adventure exploring freedom, identity, friendship and loss. We’re transported to a London of the past in this coming of age tale, with a playful use of ‘gutterling’ tongue throughout. Homeless and living hand to mouth as a street performer with his fellow gutterlings, Stick begins to investigate some unusual disappearances. He stumbles across a grumpy old dragon, who is stuck underground with a yearning for crumpets and a fear of what comes next. Brave Stick promises to help, but their dark path forces the boy to face the demons of his traumatic past. The book soon becomes difficult to put down, with many colourful characters and a sweet story illustrating the mighty bond between friends. It’s an entertaining read that leaves you hungry for more.8/10(Review by Karen Sykes)


HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro2. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell3. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart4. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman5. The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex6. Flappy Entertains by Santa Montefiore7. Daughters Of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson8. A Court Of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas9. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett10. Acts Of Desperation by Megan Nolan(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. Tap To Tidy by Stacey Solomon2. Beyond Order by Jordan B Peterson3. Tales From The Farm By The Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen4. No One Can Change Your Life Except For You by Laura Whitmore5. One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones6. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy7. The Complete Gardener by Monty Don8. All Dogs Great And Small by Graeme Hall9. A Promised Land by Barack Obama10. Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. Beyond Order by Jordan B Peterson2. Later by Stephen King3. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman4. A Promised Land by Barack Obama5. The Infirmary by LJ Ross6. Becoming Bulletproof by Evy Poumpouras7. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig8. Humankind by Rutger Bregman9. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro10. Atomic Habits by James Clear(Compiled by Audible)