From alluring anthologies to gripping novels, these are the books we’re reading this winter

With the mid-winter weather making the thought of tucking into bed early more appealing than ever, we have been turning to the latest and greatest in newly-released literature for our evening entertainment. After all, what better time than now to lose yourself in a good book? The kind of book that keeps you up into the wee hours, and gives you something to talk about at midwinter dinner parties. From a series of anthologies that offer fresh perspectives to some inspiring novels, these are our editors’ picks of the books of the season. Read at your leisure.

Anthologies


A Life of One’s Own: Nine Women Writers Begin Again
by Joanna Biggs

This book explores the unconventional paths taken by the likes of Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, George Eliot and Toni Morrison in carving out intellectual freedom for themselves. Joanna Biggs delves into the lives of these women, and the conditions necessary for them to produce their best work. It is a radical and intimate examination of the pursuit of intellectual fulfilment by women writers throughout history.

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Quietly Hostile: Essays 
by Samantha Irby 

Dubbed one of the most anticipated books of the year, the newest work by Samantha Irby is a hilarious series of essays that give insight into the reality behind the author’s newfound popularity and fame. From flop sweats on red carpet premieres to adopting a deranged dog over the pandemic, Irby’s singular perspective and no-holds-barred approach will have you laughing out loud until the very last page.

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In Vitro: On Longing and Transformation 
by Isabel Zapata

Challenging the traditional narratives around pregnancy, Isabel Zapata offers a thought-provoking meditation on in vitro fertilisation. Through diary and essay forms, this book presents as a candid and intimate account of bodily transformation and disruption, exploring the complexities of conception and motherhood that are often kept private. It will prove an important literary companion that opens up space for nuanced conversations around pregnancy.

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Novels


Yellowface 
by R.F. Kuang

Exploring the consequences of cultural appropriation, erasure of Asian-American voices and racism in the publishing industry, this compelling story follows June, a struggling author who steals her friend Athena’s just-finished manuscript about Chinese labourers in World War I and publishes it under a pseudonym Juniper Song. As her book becomes a New York Times bestseller, June must confront the consequences of her actions and the emerging evidence threatening to shatter her lies. 

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The Happy Couple 
by Naoise Dolan

Told with the author’s signature sparkly humour and ferocious wit, this new book charts the path of a soon-to-be-married couple, the best man, the bridesmaid and a guest. As the wedding approaches, the five lives intersect, as each grapples with personal struggles, searching for their own version of a happy ending. 

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The Late Americans 
by Brendon Taylor

In this new novel by the award-winning author of Real Life and Filthy Animals, a group of young people in Iowa City navigate self-discovery, love and ambition over a volatile year. From Seamus, a frustrated poet, to Ivan, an aspiring banker, to Fatima, an independent worker whose relationships are complicated by her work ethic, and Noah, who experiences sex in a different way, the group is preparing for an uncertain future when they are forced to face a moment of reckoning that leaves them changed forever.

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The Wind Knows My Name
by Isabel Allende

The newest novel by lauded author Isabel Allende weaves together the stories of two children separated by time and circumstance. From Nazi-occupied Vienna to present-day Arizona, the novel explores the devastating impact of war and immigration via richly-drawn characters and masterful storytelling, and is a poignant testament to the unbreakable spirit of those who survive unimaginable hardships and never lose hope.

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Dances 
by Nicole Cuffy

This exceptional debut novel is centred around Cece Cordell, a young Black ballerina who becomes a principal dancer in the New York City Ballet. Despite her success, Cece feels like she doesn’t belong and begins to unravel the threads of her past. When faced with a difficult choice, she embarks on a journey to find her missing brother and reclaim the parts of herself lost to the traditional ballet world. This spellbinding and lyrical book speaks to women, art, power, and the quest for self-liberation.

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The Celebrants 
by Steven Rowley

Twenty-eight years after a group of college friends make a pact to throw each other ‘living funerals’ after the tragic loss of one of their own, the pact takes on new meaning when one member receives an unexpected diagnosis, forcing them to confront old secrets and the realities of their middle-aged lives. A tribute to self-discovery and the enduring power of friendship, this novel is moving, thoughtful and deeply honest. 

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Non-Fiction


The West: A New History in Fourteen Lives 
by Naoíse Mac Sweeny 

Penned by a prize-winning historian, this fascinating book challenges the origins of Western civilisation (namely, the notion that it stemmed from a single cultural inheritance) from ancient Greece to modern times. By exploring the lives of 14 remarkable individuals, the author debunks the myths and origin stories that underpin the story we thought we knew, and offers a bold new account of Western history that will reshape the way readers see the world around them. 

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What an Owl Knows 
by Jennifer Ackerman

Delving into the captivating world of owls, renowned science and nature journalist Jennifer Ackerman explores the complex biology and natural history of these mysterious birds, and reveals new scientific discoveries about their brains and behaviours. Featuring over 260 species of owls, Ackerman describes the difficulty in studying and finding them due to their cryptic nature and nocturnal behaviour. Through personal field observations and scientific research, she provides insights into owls’ hunting skills, communication and sensory abilities, offering a fascinating picture of these enigmatic birds.

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The Perfection Trap: Embracing the Power of Not Good Enough 
by Thomas Curran

This illuminating book, written by a renowned professor at the London School of Economics, explores how the pursuit of perfection can lead to burnout and depression and prevent us from achieving our goals. Highlighting the societal pressures that fuel our obsession with perfection (from workplace competition to social media comparisons and the quest for elite credentials) Curran offers a range of solutions for resisting this pressure and discovering a more purposeful and contented life. 

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Anatomy of a Breakthrough: How to Get Unstuck and Thrive when it Matters Most
by Adam Atler

For anyone feeling stuck or overwhelmed in their career, in relationships or in their personal growth, Anatomy of a Breakthrough by Adam Alter is the ultimate roadmap. This book offers invaluable insight on how to break free from unhelpful thoughts, habits and patterns via the inspiring stories of those who have achieved incredible breakthroughs. Ultimately it asks the question, why settle for mediocrity when you can thrive? Essential reading if you want your life to change. 

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Tokens: The Future of Money 
by Rachel O’Dwyer


Tokens are the digital assets that, are transforming the way we perceive and interact with money. And as platforms take over the role of banks, we’re witnessing the emergence of a new economy, but is it a blessing or a curse? In this book, Rachel O’Dwyer proposes a collective approach to money as a transformative power. A must-read for anyone seeking to navigate this new world and shape a fairer future.

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Dark Matter: The New Science of the Microbiome 
by Dr James Kinross

This is a fascinating and accessible book by scientist and surgeon Dr James Kinross about the importance of the microbiome, a genetic universe inside us that influences every aspect of our health. The book explains how the microbiome helped humans evolve and how it is being destroyed through modern lifestyles, antibiotics, and environmental damage. With scientific research and practical advice, Kinross explores the brave new world of the microbiome and its impact on human health, offering insight into how we can nurture this delicate ecosystem. 

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