March Book Picnic Recommendations

On the first Wednesday of every month, GWL team members and volunteers share what we’ve read recently at our Book Picnic. In the current climate, our Book Picnic takes place remotely, giving all of us some valuable social interaction and providing us with many excellent book suggestions…

  • Time After Time by Molly Keane

    Recommended by Pauline, this book centers on the aging and eccentric Swift siblings (three sisters and their brother), who live in a crumbling Irish country house. Their cousin Leda, who is blind, comes to visit and remembers them, and their house, as they used to be before she lost her sight. Soon, childhood dramas, crushed dreams, and old wounds are dragged to the surface by her presence. Vividly detailed, and darkly comical, Keane has crafted a story that Pauline feels is “worth trying if you’ve never come across her work before.”

     

  • All Together Now by Gill Hornby

    Also recommended by Pauline, this work by Hornby takes place in Bridgeford, a small English town that is run down in both appearance and spirit. However, a motley crew of residents drafted into the local choir group may be the key to bringing the community together. Pauline enjoyed this charming novel, and felt it was a “comfort read” and “something to sink into.”

     

  • Charred by Andreena Leeanne

    Recommended by Doreen, who is in the process of reading it, this collection of poetry is a beautiful, honest, and bold statement on the authors personal tragedies. Doreen enjoyed that it was so accessible and open, as it is sure to resonate with readers, but warns that it may be quite triggering to some. Leeanne suffered childhood traumas, and now in adulthood struggles with PTSD and depression, and uses the therapeutic nature of poetry to relay their journey and inspire others to speak their own truth.

  • The Lost Lights of St. Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford

    Recommended by Anna, this stunning historical fiction novel begins on the most remote place in the British Isles: St Kilda. After 200 years, the hunter-gatherer population of the archipelago was evacuated in 1930 following undeniable struggles against nature. Three years previous to this event, Fred takes a summer job on the island with his friend Archie, and meets resident Chrissie. The storyline then follows the three characters through a dual timeline jumping from 1927 through to the Second World War and onwards, with St Kilda as the thread that binds their stories together. Anna complimented Gifford as a “very gifted writer” and enjoyed the mesmerizing storyline and well crafted characters.

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    Recommended by Annie, who found it “totally engaging”, this award winning classic depicts the lives of four African American women in early 20th century Georgia. An honest portrayal of unpleasant truths, the book touches on domestic and sexual abuse, repressed sexuality, misogyny, poverty, colonialism, and sexism through the letters of Celie and her sister Nettie. Widely considered a masterpiece, and for good reason, this work by Walker features a powerful and raw depiction of strong female characters who show the true resilience of the human spirit.

  • Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

    Also recommended by Annie, this Booker Prize winning novel examines the life and memories of former historian and journalist Claudia. As she lays dying of stomach cancer, reflecting back over her life, she decides to “write” (within her head) a history of the world. As it turns out, it is a history through her eyes, about her own relationship to the world. Far from fact and historical detail, it is nevertheless her own truth, as she experienced it, albeit in nonlinear fashion. Full of evocative writing and commentary on memory, love, mortality, and the individual history we leave behind, Annie recommends this “entirely different” read.

  • Wild Women and Their Amazing Adventures Over Land, Sea, and Air Edited by Mariella Frostrup

    Recommended by Gillian, this relatively new read (published in 2020) is a comprehensive and fascinating collection of essays, letters, and observations celebrating 300 years of “wild women”. Covering the 1700s to the present day, the often overlooked women depicted escaped restrictive societies, broke boundaries, and went on incredible adventures. Gillian is finding it to be an excellent read for lockdown, and is enjoying “imagining I’m somewhere different than home.”

  • One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    Recommended by Jenna, this engaging book is an excellent escapism read. Main character Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart in their mid-twenties, only to have him go missing on their first wedding anniversary when his helicopter goes down over the Pacific. In an effort to piece her life back together, Emma moves back home and begins to work her way through her grief. Years later, after finally falling in love again, a newly engaged Emma discovers that her husband is alive. Jenna was impressed with the way the author handled the passage of time in the book, as well as the insights on identity, and how it is tied to loving (and losing) someone.

     

  • Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

    Recommended by Gaby, this book aims to answer the titular question, why did humans first learn to swim, and why do we continue to do so? It covers swimming for survival, swimming for wellbeing, swimming for competition, and more, via real stories and the author’s own memories and experiences. Gaby found it to be “really interesting” and enjoyed this tribute to the enduring human relationship with water.

  • The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow by Emily Ilett

    Also recommended by Gaby, this lyrical and poignant magical realism story is authored by GWL Project/Admin Assistant Emily Ilett! Described as a middle grade book, it features 12 year old Gail, who is worried about her sister, Kay, as she is struggling with depression. When Gail and Kay’s shadows run away, Gail decides to embark on an adventure to find them in the hope that restoring her shadow will bring her sister back to her. Providing an accessible portrayal of mental health for a young audience, Gaby felt that the book was ultimately about “finding yourself and who you need to be, when things aren’t going as you expected.”

If you’re looking to pick up some interesting reads for yourself, GWL is delighted to offer our ‘Select and Collect’ service.

Request up to 6 books in advance, and we’ll have them ready for you to pick up. Or, if you’re not sure where to start, we can select some titles or make up a “book bundle” for you. Click here to find out more!

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