May 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…

  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead      

    Recommended by Wendy, this epic saga (about 600 pages) is shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize. The story begins with Marian Graves, a young woman growing up in prohibition America, who becomes obsessed with the idea of flying. We then follow her journey to become a pilot, and her experiences as a young, daring aviator. A century later, a young actress, Hadley Baxter, is cast to play Marian in a film about her life. The stories of the two women are interwoven with richly detailed prose, in intriguing parallels. Wendy found the writing to be “quite beautiful,” and enjoyed the focus on “what it is like for a woman of that time who wanted to work in aviation.” 

    CW // Abuse


  • Dragonfire #1 by Anne Forbes

    This is book one in a fantasy series aimed at middle grade readers, but enjoyable by all. It was recommended by Joyce, who just started it but is already quite enjoying it, and has described it as “a good read.” Neil and Clara Maclean have always been aware of the MacArthurs, magical folk who live under Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. However, they soon find themselves swept up in a whirlwind adventure of magical creatures, mayhem, mystery, and a dragon. 

  • Dangerous Women by Hope Adams

    Elaine has recommended this historical fiction drama, based on the 1841 voyage of the convict ship Rajah from London to Australia. 180 women file aboard for a three-month journey, with most of them condemned for petty crimes. One of them, however, has a deadly secret, and will do anything to escape their fate. When a young mother is mortally wounded in the middle of their voyage, the hunt is on for the assailant. A heartbreaking and thought-provoking locked-room mystery that respectfully portrays its flawed characters.

  • Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie

    This historical fiction novel is set against the backdrop of the Titanic, and was recommended by Anna, who hasn’t started reading it, but is looking forward to it. The story begins in France in 1911 and follows the lives of three main characters. The first is Marcella, a young mother of two who is seeking a divorce from her husband. The second is Micheal, the husband in question, who smuggles their two toddlers aboard the ship under false names in an attempt to evade Marcella. And the third is New York socialite Margaret, who is on a European tour with friends, but decides to cut her trip short and head home. They all find themselves aboard the doomed Titanic. A very well-researched piece, with rich and authentic characters.

  • Abolition. Feminism. Now. by Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, Beth E. Richie

    This collection of essays was recommended by Ren, who really enjoyed the “more world-wide view” this literature contained, rather than being entirely US-focused. Only just released in January, 2022, it covers abolition feminist movements (including police and prison abolition), historically and in the present day. By synthesizing a genealogy of the people, efforts, and contexts of feminist-informed abolitionist movements, the authors remind readers that we must be anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and anti-racist in order to protect our communities. Ren cannot praise Angela Davis in particular, enough, saying “her writing has changed my life.” Educational, insightful, and an important read.

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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