9 Books you can talk about with your grandma
Reading is as indulgent as it is solitary. Me Time = Reading Time and i’m never happier than when I’ve got my head buried in a new book! The summer season is when I allow myself to read the most — I pop my book in my handbag and it goes wherever I go, whether it be at a local café drinking a nice cool beer or when I have my feet buried in sand somewhere far, far away. I cherish this time to switch off and allow myself to be carried away by the characters in my book, appreciating how simple my life is in relation to these fictional characters embroiled in some fabulous drama or other.
But with the number of bookish accounts taking social media platforms by storm, I have started to recognise that some books are just too good to keep to ourselves. If you’re lucky enough to have a book club near you, that’s a great place to indulge in your love of books, but if like me your nearest book club is a 40 minute country drive away, I recommend a more familial crowd — your grandma! If she’s anything like mine, she’ll have read all the latest releases and she’ll have burnt out her Kindle by it’s first year.
Today, we’re celebrating #GourgeousGrandmaDay with 9 of the latest book releases that you can read and discuss with your grandma. These stories of love, marriage, and family will introduce you to women you wish you knew, a few you’ll be glad you don’t, and maybe some characters that you recognise in your own family. As you finish each one, discuss over carrot cake and a cup of tea or perhaps some wine and cheese — your grandma may just let you in on a few stories of her own. These are the 9 books I highly recommend for reading and discussing with the incredible female role models in your life:
What You Did by Claire McGowan
It was supposed to be the perfect reunion: six university friends together again after twenty years. Host Ali finally has the life she always wanted, a career she can be proud of and a wonderful family with her college boyfriend, now husband. But that night her best friend makes an accusation so shocking that nothing will ever be the same again.
When Karen staggers in from the garden, bleeding and traumatised, she claims that she has been assaulted—by Ali’s husband, Mike. Ali must make a split-second decision: who should she believe? Her horrified husband, or her best friend? With Mike offering a very different version of events, Ali knows one of them is lying—but which? And why?
When the ensuing chaos forces her to re-examine the golden era the group shared at university, Ali realises there are darker memories too. Memories that have lain dormant for decades. Memories someone would kill to protect.
Click here to buy What You Did by Claire McGowan.
2. A Fire Sparkling by Julianne Maclean
After a crushing betrayal by the man she loves, Gillian Gibbons flees to her family home for a much-needed escape, but when she finds an old photograph of her grandmother in the arms of a Nazi officer, Gillian’s life gets even more complicated. Rattled by the discovery, Gillian attempts to unravel the truth behind the photos, setting her off on an epic journey through the past…
1939. England is on the brink of war as Vivian Hughes falls in love with a handsome British official, but when bombs begin to fall and Vivian’s happy life is destroyed in the blitz, she will do whatever it takes to protect those she loves…
As Gillian learns more about her grandmother’s past, the old photo begins to make more sense. But for every question answered, a new one takes its place. Faced with a truth that is not at all what she expected, Gillian attempts to shine a light not only on the mysteries of her family’s past but also on her own future.
This gorgeously written multigenerational saga is a heart-wrenching yet hopeful examination of one woman’s struggle to survive, perfect for fans of The Nightingale and Beneath a Scarlet Sky.
Click here to buy A Fire Sparkling by Julianne Maclean.
3. The Best Girls by Min Jin Lee
Inspired by a true event, this powerful short story from the author of National Book Award finalist Pachinko explores the meaning of patriarchy and the cost of female silence through the eyes of a dutiful young girl.
An excellent student from a poor, traditional family in Seoul, the narrator has absorbed the same message her whole life: Only a boy can provide the family with dignity and wealth. Not her. Not her three sisters. Receiving approval only for uncomplaining sacrifice, she has resolved to take on her family’s troubles. She is a good girl. And she knows what good girls must do.
The Best Girls is part of Disorder, a collection of six short stories of living nightmares, chilling visions, and uncanny imagination that explore a world losing its balance in terrifying ways. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single disorienting sitting.
Click here to buy The Best Girls by Min Jin Lee.
4. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
"Life is both fleeting and dangerous, and there is no point in denying yourself pleasure, or being anything other than what you are."
From the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love.
In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves - and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest.
Now eighty-nine years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life - and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. "At some point in a woman's life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time," she muses. "After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is." Written with a powerful wisdom about human desire and connection, City of Girls is a love story like no other.
Click here to buy City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.
5. Mother Dear by Nova Lee Maier
Helen lives a decent, uncomplicated life. Satisfied in her career, she’s raising three happy teenagers, and her family has the most envied house on the street. Admittedly, she’s growing just a little disenchanted with her marriage to her workaholic husband, Werner. But that’s nothing she can’t fix. Then one day Helen comes home to something completely unexpected that threatens to shatter her carefully cultivated world.
For disaffected, young petty criminals Ralf and Brian, it was a scheme to make some cash: a quick home invasion. The targets they’ve chosen are Helen and Werner. With Ralf as lookout, Brian disappears into Helen and Werner’s house. But he never comes out.
And Helen’s nightmare is just beginning. She can’t possibly imagine how much worse it can get or just how far she’ll need to go to protect her family.
Click here to buy Mother Dear by Nova Lee Maier.
6. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.
Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.
When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out.
A joyful, hilarious, and hope-filled debut, Evvie Drake Starts Over will have you cheering for the two most unlikely comebacks of the year—and will leave you wanting more from Linda Holmes.
Click here to buy Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes.
7. Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
“Mrs. Everything is like "Beaches" but with mothers and daughters and sisters. I may never recover.”
- Jill Grunenwald, author of RUNNING WITH A POLICE ESCORT and READING BEHIND BARS.
Do we change or does the world change us?
Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.
Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect 'Dick and Jane' house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.
But the truth ends up looking differently than what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and Women's Lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture, and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, or has a life that feels authentic, or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?
In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history - and herstory - as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.
Click here to buy Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner.
8. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
"I can't even express how much I love this book! I didn't want this story to end!"
- Reese Witherspoon.
For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life--until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Click here to buy Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
9. Still I Miss You by Inês Pedrosa
From the acclaimed author of In Your Hands comes a heartrending novel about the struggle to hold on to what you’ve lost, and knowing when it’s time to let go.
In this keenly observant dissection of a love affair in limbo, award-winning author Inês Pedrosa masterfully draws readers into the feverish, unsparing dual confessions of a man and a woman who are finally baring their hearts, souls, fury, and grief over a relationship that was abruptly shattered and never forgotten. Until now, there was so much between them left unspoken.
With each new unguarded, darkly funny, and emotional disclosure, they’re brought back together—though impossibly so. Through the intimate voices of these unforgettable narrators unfolds a remarkable love story of regret and reconciliation, of loss and wrenching truths, told across lines few have ever considered crossing.
Praised by the New York Times for the “incantatory prose . . . absorbing in its history, as well as in its family dynamics” of her multigenerational saga In Your Hands, Pedrosa casts a seductive new spell with Still I Miss You, her second novel to be translated into English.
Click here to buy Still I Miss You by Inês Pedrosa.