5 new books to read this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Day by Michael Cunningham and Hard By A Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvili.

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

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham is back with his first novel in nearly a decade…


1. Day by Michael Cunningham is published in hardback by Fourth Estate on January 18, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99)

Day is the first novel in nearly a decade from Michael Cunningham, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Set on April 5 in three successive years – 2019, 2020 and 2021 – it delicately details the relationships of an extended family based in Brooklyn from each person’s point of view. Fractures are starting to show, particularly between husband and wife Dan and Isabel. Robbie, Isabel’s brother, has to move out to give their children more space. A year on, the world has gone into lockdown – and fissures are beginning to be more exposed as the enforced proximity takes its toll. Finally, a year later, we see the impact the pandemic has had on the whole family. Cunningham’s writing is compassionate and elegant with each person’s dreams, fears and desires tenderly described. He truly understands the vagaries of families, relationships and the human heart.


(Review by Bridie Pritchard)

2. Hard By A Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvili is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing on January 18, priced £16.99 (ebook £11.89)

Leo Vardiashvili’s debut novel sees a family separated over time between Tottenham and war-torn Georgia. A father and his two young sons flee their homeland and become refugees in north London, leaving behind the mother. Years later, the father, Irakli, leaves for Georgia, followed by one of the boys, both now fully grown. Protagonist Saba, the last remaining brother in London, travels to Tbilisi to find his family in what turns out to be a kaleidoscopic game of cat and mouse. Vardiashvili pushes the video game-like story on at fast pace as Saba searches for clues in the colourful enclaves of Georgia. The book is hampered by frequent cliches but overall is a heartfelt and lively story that is engaging and easy to read.


(Review by Pol Allingham)

3. The Beholders by Hester Musson is published in hardback by Fourth Estate on January 18, priced £16.99 (ebook £7.99)

Packed with period detail and engaging characters, The Beholders is a thoroughly engrossing Gothic thriller. Feisty, independent-minded housemaid Harriet has come to Finton Hall to wait on the enigmatic Clara Gethin. The house, which is the property of Clara’s husband, the much-admired, unimpeachably respectable Liberal MP Ralph Gethin, is as mysterious as its mistress, full of strange objects and ruled by a vicious housekeeper. There are other puzzles too: Why is Clara so cold towards her baby son? What happened to Harriet’s predecessor? And why does Clara keep firing housemaids? As the shocking truth emerges, Harriet finds herself in a race against time to help save Clara and her son from unspeakable evil. Although there’s a little too much going on in the earlier chapters and the main themes take a while to come into focus, the novel soon gathers pace to become an enjoyable and gripping read.


(Review by Jackie Kingsley)


4. The Showman by Simon Shuster is published in hardback by William Collins on January 23, priced £22 (ebook £12.99)

For decades as a superstar comedian in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky would lampoon the politicians who lived in luxurious mansions while their compatriots, like his own family, struggled to make ends meet. The standup launched his surprise presidential campaign by promising to be a servant of the people – and in 2019 they took him at his word and elected him. The Showman, crafted by Russia-Ukraine expert Simon Shuster throughout a year in close proximity to Zelensky and his government, as well as drawing testimony from his enemies, starts in February 2022 with the comic-turned-figurehead whisked away from his wife, children and palace to the Kyiv bunker, from which he continues to lead Ukraine’s defence against Russian invaders. Shuster skilfully charts Zelensky’s transformation into a war commander as his initial shellshock makes way for uncompromising bravery. We see how his charisma inspires both hope at home and vital international support as Ukraine strives to turn the tide in the ongoing conflict.


(Review by James Cann)

Children’s book of the week

5. Little Dinosaurs, Big Feelings by Swapna Haddow, illustrated by Yiting Lee, is published in hardback by Magic Cat Publishing, priced £14.99 (no ebook). Available now

This is a gentle, unique approach to exploring big feelings with little people. It’s a thoughtfully written collection of 10 short stories to be read together and shared – each can be read in isolation, in any order, making the book easily accessible and a great tool to help introduce and explore important emotions with young children. One element that sets this approach apart from other children’s books is the description and illustration of how emotions can physically manifest in our bodies. With playful drawings and friendly characters, everyone – irrespective of age – will take something away. The hardback edition is beautifully presented and is sure to be used time and time again to help support families navigate the “big feelings” in the early years.


(Review by Frances Taylor-Cook)



1. The Atlas Complex by Olivie Blake

2. Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros

3. The Last Devil To Die by Richard Osman

4. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

5. The Secret by Lee Child & Andrew Child

6. Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

7. Ruthless Vows by Rebecca Ross

8. The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith

9. Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

10. A Curse For True Love by Stephanie Garber

(Compiled by Waterstones)


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

2. Politics On The Edge by Rory Stewart

3. Deliciously Ella: Healthy Made Simple by Ella Mills (Woodward)

4. How They Broke Britain by James O’Brien

5. Unruly by David Mitchell

6. My Effin’ Life by Geddy Lee

7. SÍ SEÑOR: My Liverpool Years by Roberto Firmino

8. Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays The Rent by Judi Dench

9. Pinch Of Nom Express: Fast, Delicious Food by Kate & Kay Allinson

10. Emperor Of Rome by Professor Mary Beard

(Compiled by Waterstones)


1. Atomic Habits by James Clear

2. Unruly by David Mitchell

3. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

4. How They Broke Britain by James O’Brien

5. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken

6. The Diary Of A CEO by Steven Bartlett

7. Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

8. The Wager by David Grann

9. The Fellowship Of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

10. The Woman In Me by Britney Spears

(Compiled by Audible)