April 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…

  • The Binding by Bridget Collins 

    Set in a time vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England, this intriguing book recommended by Celia deals with some most unusual bookbinders. In this world, people rid themselves of painful memories by having them bound within the pages of a book. A young man who has recently suffered a mental break that rendered him unable to do his previous job, arrives to begin an apprenticeship with a book binder. Although he starts to slowly heal, his curiosity is piqued by a certain room he has been forbidden from entering. Celia was captivated by this magical tale and thought it was “absolutely wonderful.” 

  • The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney

    Recommended by Pauline, this mystery centers on the disappearance of a woman from a Romany traveler family 7 years earlier. Set in the 80s, the story is told in two voices; the half-Romany detective hired to find Rose Janko, and a teenage boy and relation of Rose. Family secrets are fiercely protected as detective Ray Lovell attempts to uncover the truth. Pauline “read it quite quickly, as the mystery is so intriguing.”


  • Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker

    Recommended by Annie, this book tells the impactful story of Tashi, an African woman severely traumatized by the female genital mutilation she was subjected to as a child. She spends her adult life in North America being treated by various therapists in an attempt to understand and overcome her past. This book is a strong and poetically written statement by Alice Walker, giving a voice to the women who have experienced FGM, and questioning the patriarchal societies that encourage this practice. An extremely tough but important read, it was described by Annie as “quite traumatic, but extraordinarily powerful.”

  • Fair Play by Tove Jansson

    Also recommended by Annie, this delightful novel shares snapshots of the lives of two creatives, Jonna and Mari, who live in the same apartment building. With each chapter a different event or happening, it is a light, easy, and joyful read. Annie commented that the two women at the heart of the book are “fantastic, you want to get to know them, and you want to talk about them.”

  • The Women Who Ran Away by Sheila O’Flanagan

    Two women traveling alone form an unlikely friendship and set out on a road trip across France and Spain. A story of friendship, with a touch of mystery and romance, this is a refreshing novel perfect for some much needed summer-is-on-the-horizon escapism. This book was recommended by Elaine who found it to be “really good fun”, and an easy read with enjoyable characters.

  • Brave Your Day Magazine  (Charley Gavigan)

    This magazine is recommended by Doreen, who recently attended an online Story Cafe Special featuring Brave Your Day. This magazine shines a light on everyday stories, in Scotland and beyond, with a focus on learning to be brave after going through traumatic events. With articles and personal stories about leaving your comfort zone, a school that experienced a shooting, and much more, it provides a human connection when processing fears and emotions in a difficult time. Doreen thoroughly enjoyed it and said it was “lovely.” (Brave Your Day can also be found as a podcast)

  • A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan 

    Recommended by Angela, who is in the process of reading it, this striking novel takes place over 24 hours as a neurodivergent young woman gets ready for a party and her evening unfolds. Author Madeleine Ryan was diagnosed with autism while writing this book, and has stated that the protagonist is probably also autistic. With very short chapters and a vivid, stream of consciousness first person narrative, it is an accessible read that Angela is finding fascinating, stating that it “feels like you are in someones head.” Intimate, honest, unique, and startlingly beautiful, it is not to be missed.  

  • The Ninth Child by Sally Magnusson

    Recommended by Anna, this spellbinding novel centers on Isabel Aird, a young doctor’s wife who has suffered a succession of miscarriages. When her husband is hired to tend to workers building the Loch Katrine aqueduct in 1856, Isabel comes to appreciate escaping from the city. But unbeknownst to her, a sinister figure watches her every move, and the fairy realm blurs with reality in the highlands. Magnusson merges Victorian historical fiction with magical realism to create a haunting and captivating tale. Anna is in the process of reading it, but has quite enjoyed it thus far. 

  • The Street by Ann Petry

    Recommended by Gaby, this work was originally published in 1946, but continues to resonate with readers. Set in Harlem in the late 1940s, the novel tells the often heartbreaking story of Lutie Johnson, a young, divorced black woman, and hard-working mother. Although Lutie has faith in the American Dream, she is stuck in a trap of poverty, violence, and racism. Though she tries to escape it, society is designed to be stacked against her. Gaby felt Petry was particularly skilled at showing the additional discrimination and inequality Lutie faces as a black woman, vs the black men in her neighborhood. Lutie is an engaging character; smart, determined, and brave, and despite her grim situation there is hope throughout the book. A very realistic picture of the cycle of systemic oppression, The Street is still just as relevant and impactful today as it was 80 years ago. 

  • The Guest List by Lucy Foley 

    A wedding takes place on an atmospheric island off the coast of Ireland. Guests arrive ready to drink, let loose, and celebrate. And then someone turns up dead. Lies, secrets, resentments, and revelations abound in this slow burning mystery. This book was recommended by Jenna, who enjoyed the classic red herrings, the twists and turns, and how the island itself was almost a character.

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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