In Part Two of our bookish tour through 2016, inspired by BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge, we focus on the often-overlooked short story format, as well as those books that just don’t seem to fit in anywhere!
A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers and Other Badass Girls
You can hide a lot of weaponry under a hoop skirt…
If that title doesn’t have you hooked, allow us to explain. Female authors including Marissa Meyer (Cinder), Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity) and Robin Talley (Lies We Tell Ourselves) present 15 American girls who overcome historical expectations to fight racism, sexism and pirates! Undoubtedly inspired by real heroines, these fictional girls sound seriously tough and highly inspirational. We think that Belles and Bank Robbers sound great, and other stories are said to feature writers, teachers, homeless girls, bodyguards and psychics. That’s the beauty of short stories- if you don’t like one heroine, just turn over to the next one!
Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran
Caitlin’s experiences may not match your own, but her columns are undeniably funny
Not *technically* short stories, but rather a collection of essays. This follow-up to Moran’s 2012 best-seller How to be a Woman focusses less on feminism, though feminism informs all of Moran’s work- regular Times readers or Twitter followers will recognise her essays and insights on everything from benefit cuts to Benedict Cumberbatch. Not everyone relates to Moran- she is a white, straight, affluent woman and her experiences can be limited as a result. Her sense of humour is impeccable, but she utilises facts to bring the reader back to earth after a punchline. Sometimes it’s good to laugh about the big stuff- but shouldn’t we really get down to work and fix it? Moranifesto is released in the UK in March 2016.
This Census-Taker by China Miéville
How much information would you reveal if a census-taker knocked at your door?
China Mieville’s books contain immaculately-crafted worlds, meaning they are often rather long. This Census-Taker is short by comparison, and fans who have been waiting for an epic follow-up to 2012’s Railsea are already voicing disappointment. TCT sounds to us like a classic, creepy Mieville tale: a young boy lives in isolation with his murderous father. When a census-taker comes to interview his father, the boy- who has been ignored by the local police- tries to expose his father as the man behind his mother’s disappearance. Who exactly is this census-taker working for? Mieville will release a second novel in 2016, called The Last Days of New Paris, in which a group of anarchists in occupied France release a ‘surrealist bomb’ that turns the city of Paris into an artistic nightmare. This Census-Taker should keep you going until then!
Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Is there a band that you would kill- or die- for?
The first of our novels for 2016 that defies categorisation! Nowadays fans can observe almost every move their crushes make, and connect with other fans on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. In Kill the Boy Band, an all-female gang sets out to kidnap their favourite Rupert of the band The Ruperts. Instead they end up with Rupert P, universally regarded as the weakest of The Ruperts. This book examines the lengths that people go to to get close to people who barely know they exist, and what they’re willing to do, or forgive, in the name of fandom. Early reviews have called this novel “hilarious” and “pitch black”- it sounds like a story for fans of Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring or Hard Candy. The author’s sarcasm is poorly disguised- it’s easy to spot One Direction and 5SOS- but as online fandom grows and grows it’s good to come across some relatable satire. Kill The Boy Band is available for Kindle now.
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Can Sam stop history from repeating and save the sinister inhabitants of Salem?
Conversion by Katherine Howe was one of our favourite novels from the 2016 Writer’s Centre Brave New Reads longlist- How to Hang a Witch covers similar ground, with a few stark differences. Girls descended from the Salem witches clash with the descendant of Cotton Mather, the man who sentenced some of them to hang. Breaking the curse that has plagued the town’s high school might cost Sam Mather her ghostly boyfriend. We can’t help but notice the author’s surname- is she in fact connected to the Mather family? Teen witchery is coming back as 90s fashion, inspired by films like The Craft, appears in stores. The addition of magic makes this novel seem more than a high school story- the high school setting replaces some of the fantasy tropes associated with novels about magic. There are few things more feminist than a witch, so if Caitlin Moran and the Belles described above have sparked your interest, we recommend HTHAW (released on 26th July)
Burning by Danielle Rollins
Something’s burning- is it safe for Angela to investigate?
Prison is frightening even before you count the other inmates. Angela has almost served her sentence in juvenile detention and plans to keep her head down until she can return to the outside world. Her probation officer orders her to “buddy up” with Jessica, a ten-year old who has just left solitary confinement. Jessica seems like a sweet girl- she even has a teddy bear- but the rumour mill suspects she’s behind some terrible crimes. Reviewers have compared this novel to Carrie, Stephen King’s grisly story about a telepathic teen. Netflix’s Orange is the New Black is raising questions about the treatment of women in prison, but follows a large ensemble cast rather than one individual. In Burning, Angela must try and conduct her own investigation within the harsh confines of “the system”. The novel has been described as ‘tense’ and ‘claustrophobic’, so if you enjoy murder-thrillers with a supernatural edge, try Burning (due for release in August 2016)
What’s on your reading list for 2016? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or speak to staff for more recommended reads!
Patrick Q Tour Guides accessed at https://flic.kr/p/mNkj4 on 22/12/2015
cathredfern Phone photos: Feminism in Stylist magazine Caitlin Moran 05/2011 accessed at https://flic.kr/p/dEK444 on 22/12/2015
O’Neil, D 1900 Census for 2000 Block of St. Paul accessed at https://flic.kr/p/aeNbTp on 12/01/2016
Pycock, L China Miéville Reading accessed at https://flic.kr/p/8kxsZL on 22/12/2015
Rinaldi, E One Direction accessed at https://flic.kr/p/byaabo on 22/12/2015
Mennerich, D Salem, MA- Entering Salem accessed at https://flic.kr/p/g47R9h on 22/12/2015
Dickinson, Bill Tortured accessed at https://flic.kr/p/ahZN2H on 22/12/2015