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Bookshelf: back-to-school reads • #104

Here in the UK we’ve got a petrol crisis, the days are getting noticeably shorter and the last two weeks of unbroken autumn sunshine seem to have come to an end. Things feel a little gloomy – but happily we have a new episode out to distract us.

We’ve got heavy hitters, like David Diop’s Booker International winner At Night All Blood is Black (beautifully translated by Anna Moschovakis) and travel writer Sara Wheeler’s beguiling tour through Russia in the footsteps of great Russian writers, Mud and Stars. We’ve also both read Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle and enjoy comparing notes on this 2021 Booker longlisted novel. Meanwhile we’re a little late to the party, but Laura fills us in on why if, like Kate, you still haven’t got around to reading Ocean Vuong’s novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous you shouldn’t miss it.

We’re partial to a good bit of YA fantasy, so Laura reports back on Naomi Novik’s enjoyable A Deadly Education, which she describes as like a mash up between Harry Potter and The Hunger Games – she recommends you read it secretly on your commute.

And fitting in with the current back-to-school mode we end with Re-educated, FT journalist Lucy Kellaway’s fascinating memoir about throwing everything in her life up in air when at the age of 58 she decided to retrain as a teacher. Not being one to do things by halves she also founded a charity, and moved to a modern Japanese house in Hackney in her search for a different, more satisfying way of life. Listen in to hear what we thought of it.

Listen via the media player above, or in your favourite podcast app here.

Book recommendations

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop

Mud and Stars by Sara Wheeler

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Re-Educated by Lucy Kellaway


We also discuss the property website themodernhouse.com

Drool over Lucy Kellaway’s Japanese-inspired house

Over to you

Have you read any of the books we cover in this episode? What did you think of them? Comment below and let us know.



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