Life

5 new books to read this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Help Wanted by Adelle Waldman and Before The Queen Falls Asleep by Huzama Habayeb.

New books to read this week
New books to read this week

This week features a sweeping new tale from Palestinian writer Huzama Habayeb…

Fiction

1. Help Wanted by Adelle Waldman is published in hardback by Serpent’s Tail, priced £16.99 (ebook £11.99). Available now

Anyone who’s ever worked on the shop floor in retail or out the back in loading and storage will find a lot of familiar territory in Help Wanted. And if you’ve haven’t, strap in for a delicious introduction. The story follows members of the ‘Movement’ team (whose job involves starting at 3:55am to unload deliveries) at a ubiquitous unnamed superstore in a small town in upstate New York. The work is tough, the pay is low, their line manager is a nightmare, and they’re not given enough hours to qualify for benefits and health insurance. Many work second jobs to make ends meet. But when store manager Big Will announces he’s leaving, there’s a glimmer of hope: can they get rid of their line manager? Could one of them get promoted? And what will it take to make that happen? There’s no main character – instead, Waldman takes us into the minds and lives of each team member as the plot unfolds, from their wry smoke-break banter to their hidden personal struggles. It’s funny, gloriously real and empathetic, and a moving reminder that everyone’s the main character of their own life.


9/10


(Review by Abi Jackson)

2. Before The Queen Falls Asleep by Huzama Habayeb, translated by Kay Heikkinen, is published in paperback by MacLehose Press, priced £10.99 (ebook £5.99). Available March 28

What a mother sacrifices for her child is immeasurable, but Palestinian writer Huzama Habayeb does a brilliant job at conveying such sacrifices in her novel Before The Queen Falls Asleep. Originally written in Arabic, the novel tells the story of Jihad, a Palestinian woman, who, along with her family, has been displaced from her homeland and lives in Kuwait. As Jihad shares stories of her childhood with her teenage daughter Maleka evert night – reminiscent of Scheherazade in One Thousand And One Nights – we come to find out more about the struggles she endured to give Maleka the life she currently lives. This moving novel highlights the hardships that displaced families endure, the fight for a better life and the love they share.


9/10


(Review by Maryam Munir)

3. Medea by Rosie Hewlett is published in hardback by Bantam, priced £16.99 (ebook £8.99). Available now

In this retelling of Greek mythology, sorceress Medea becomes the central narrative in this tragic tale. The novel unravels how the witch of Colchis begins life as an outcast before unleashing her power that spirals into darkness. Rooted in the story of Jason and the Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece, Medea takes their arrival as a way to escape her oppressed existence and forge a new path. Grappling with the female stereotypes of being a victim or villain, author Rosie Hewlett succeeds in offering a humanising voice to this notorious character. Hewlett lays bare the inner turmoil of Medea and her toxic relationship with Jason, ending with calamitous consequences.


7/10


(Review by Anahita Hossein-Pour)

Non-fiction

4. Why We Remember by Charan Ranganath is published in hardback by Faber & Faber, priced £20 (£12.99). Available now

Why We Remember provides a fascinating insight into how memories are formed, the reasons for remembering things and how these memories influence our general lives. The author is able to explain a complex subject, which has heavy dependence on physiological terms, with relative ease, demonstrating that you need not be a brain surgeon to get a good grasp of the inner workings of our brain. The structure of the book takes the reader on a journey through the different areas of the brain, their role in memory formation, and how we can better help the establishment and recall of memories. It is a truly wonderful journey and one which everyone should embark on if they want to understand and improve their own abilities in this area.


9/10


(Review by Frances Taylor-Cook)

Children’s book of the week

5. Animal All-Stars by Clare Balding, illustrated by The Boy Fitz Hammond, is published in paperback by Wren & Rook, priced £10.99 (ebook £5.99). Available now

Animal All-Stars is an entertaining (and educational) romp into all things animal and sport. The book follows eight sporting events played by animals and insects, which are then reported on by Balding and her two feline assistants through a very funny narrative. The conversational and chatty way that Balding writes in is truly engaging, making for a very engrossing read. The illustrations are plentiful and add to the comic nature of the book. It’s recommended for children with a reading age of nine and above, however due to the illustrations and the engaging writing, this would also be suitable to be read with younger children. It’s a very enjoyable read.


9/10


(Review by Frances Taylor-Cook)

BOOK CHARTS FOR THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 23

HARDBACK (FICTION)


1. Medea by Rosie Hewlett


2. Floating Hotel by Grace Curtis


3. The Wrong Sister by Claire Douglas


4. Until August by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


5. A Fate Inked In Blood by Danielle L. Jensen


6. The Sunlit Man by Brandon Sanderson


7. Dune by Frank Herbert


8. The List Of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey


9. The Warm Hands Of Ghosts by Katherine Arden


10. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros


(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)


1. Easy Wins by Anna Jones


2. The Trading Game by Gary Stevenson


3. A Very Private School by Charles Spencer


4. The Goddess Path by Kirsty Gallagher


5. Bored Of Lunch Healthy Slow Cooker: Even Easier by Nathan Anthony


6. Crypt by Alice Roberts


7. Who’s Afraid Of Gender? by Judith Butler


8. Blossomise by Simon Armitage


9. The Radfords by Sue Radford & Noel Radford


10. Vulture Capitalism by Grace Blakeley


(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)


1. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett


2. Atomic Habits by James Clear


3. Prima Facie by Suzie Miller


4. None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell


5. The Trading Game by Gary Stevenson


6. Unruly by David Mitchell


7. The List of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey


8. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu & Ken Liu


9. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Julie Smith


10. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken


(Compiled by Audible)