February 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 Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami      

    (translation by Allison Markin Powell)

    This amusing, heartwarming story is recommended by Pauline, who absolutely loved it and described it as “kind of a social comedy.” Set in a small thrift shop in Western Tokyo, the story follows two young employees, and their eccentric boss, Mr. Nakano. This book has an episodic structure, connected to items that enter the thrift shop, rather than the story being driven by a continuous plot. The characters are well-written, with all of the quirks, charms, and flaws that anyone who has worked in a small business with a small number of staff will relate to. 

  • Love by Toni Morrison + Tar Baby by Toni Morrison

    This month Annie is urging you all to read something by Toni Morrison! She has recently read both Love and Tar Baby, and cannot say enough about Morrison’s beautiful writing. In Annie’s own words, because she put it so eloquently, “life isn’t a story, it’s something that just happens, and Toni Morrison captures that so well. She creates characters who seem to live beyond the pages of the book, and completely immerses you in their lives.”

    Love – Hazy facts, anachronistic timelines, and the deservedly complicated, and sometimes unsavory, facets of “love.”

    Tar Baby – A story of tensions; over race, outward and inward identity, responsibilities, relationships, old secrets, and forbidden desires. 

  • Marriage by Susan Ferrier 

    This recommendation is from Anna, who describes author Susan Ferrier as a “Scottish Jane Austen” in regards to theme. This book in particular focuses on struggles with courtships, social standing, and parental authority. Ferrier observed the often ridiculous society of gentrified people that she existed in. There is no fast-paced plot, but rather very judgmental, but very clever, commentary. Anna found it quite humorous, and believes it is “a good book to get your mind off of everything.” If you are interested in reading about Ferrier, and other female Scottish authors from that time, click here!

  • Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

    Recommended by Ronja, Convenience Store Woman follows the life of 36-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukura, a social outcast who has trouble connecting with others. She has worked in the same convenience store for 18 years, and finds that her job helps her understand the world around her. However, her family and friends believe she is wasting her life without a “proper career” and a husband. She has known since childhood that she was different, but throughout the book we observe Keiko attempt to appease others and become “normal.” Ronja read this book in one sitting, and found it to be a “marvelous read,” and appreciated the journey of Keiko finding her own kind of joy. 

  • The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich 

    This magical realism story, based in Native American Ojibwe mythology and culture, was recommended by Gaby. In the nineteenth century, a baby is saved from an attack on her Native American village by her mother, who straps her to the back of a dog. Scranton Roy, a man who was part of the attack finds her the next day and, feeling guilt from his actions, decides to care for her. The book is written with a non-linear narrative, telling the generational stories of the Roy and Shawano families, who will be linked by one woman. The book is packed with metaphors, symbolism, history, and sociology, all relayed with a unique lyrical voice. Gaby particularly enjoyed the mythical elements and the accessible, but unusual, writing. 


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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