In these uncertain times, it is vital to our wellbeing to take time out and enjoy the small things that bring us pleasure.
For us, that means books. Books allow us to reflect on the world we are in while allowing us to escape into someone else’s. A good book can do a world of wonders and will help settle the mind. (something we all need a bit of right now!). So after if you are in need of a good read, we have put together a list of books that are helping us take our mind off things.
(And if you want to check out more recommendations from us, give us a follow on goodreads.com/fashionquarterly!)
These are the books the FQ editors currently have on their bedside table.
”I’m juggling a lot of books right now, dipping in and out of each, and I’m treating the current situation as a period of reflection.
Trick Mirror is a great catalyst for contemplation and critique as it explores society, culture and self in the overwhelming world that we’ve created. Observant, funny and frank, Jia Tolentino is such a great writer and I love that the book is in essay format, which makes it easy to dip in and out of, alternating with the pile of other books on my coffee table right now.
I picked up a New Zealand Mysteries book at a second hand bookshop in Blenheim over Christmas, and it’s full of odd tales.
Lindy West’s The Witches are Coming is a good read – depending on how I’m feeling that day it’s either satisfying or overwhelming.
I’m still chipping away at I’ll be Gone in the Dark, the late Michelle McNamara’s book about The Golden State Killer; it’s taking me ages because me e-reader is glitchy, I’m pivoting to real books for a while.
Next up for me is Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, who was meant to attend the now-canceled writers festival. I love sprawling books with multiple narrators and time periods, so I anticipate that this will become a favorite.
The Conscious Closet is a great tome for engaging with fashion in a responsible way – and in light of the current world situation, assessing your wardrobe and shopping habits is a productive distraction.”
– Emma Gleason, features director
“I started 2020 with a bang, smashing through several books in a matter of days. And then I finally started reading a book that I’ve had on my bookshelf since 2007: Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (he of The Virgin Suicides fame) which slowed me down a bit and in fact, is what I am still stuck on mid-March. It’s not because it’s not good; so far it has been beautifully written and I love an intergenerational saga, which this certainly is. However, I’m finding it’s a story I am taking my time to digest and work through – there’s a lot of background history to unpack and sometimes I find I just need a few days in between before picking it up again.
The story focuses on Calliope Stephanides, whose grandparents were caught in the middle of the Greek-Turkish war and fled to the United States where they lived through Prohibition-era Detroit and the race riots of 1967. A rogue gene that passed down through the generations means Calliope or “Callie” as she is known, is born a baby girl in 1960, but after an accident, is born again as a teenage boy in an emergency room in 1974. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003 and I hope by the time I reach the end, I’ll be able to fully appreciate why.
I also started Little Fires Everywhere (by Celeste Ng) late last year but kind of lost momentum with it, so will be revisiting that next to polish off the last few chapters. I want to do that quickly as I’m keen to get stuck into two other books that have also been sitting on my shelf for longer than necessary: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton, and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.”
– Kelly McAuliffe, digital director
“Reading is the perfect way to practice mindfulness because you can’t read if you’re distracted. While I have a lot on my to-read list at the moment, I am focussing on books I can easily dip in and out of when I need to find some calm.
I may not be travelling for a while, but Eat Your Heart Out: Love Stories From Around the World by Peta Mathias, Literary Places by Sarah Baxter, and Penguin Classic Magic Books from Mexico, are all beautifully presented books that transport me a chapter at a time.
That being said, I do love the sense of achievement I get from finishing a classic novel. Who knows, I might finally take on Tolstoy’s (1,225 pages of) War & Peace if we all end up spending more time at home, alone.”
– Jessica-Belle Greer, features editor.
“Clearly, I like books of essays…a reflection of my short attention span right now. I’m part way through Emily Nussbaum’s wonderful I Like to Watch, a collection of her reviews/essays/features about modern television.
I haven’t started the Louis Theroux yet but he immediately gets a gold star for his book title. Nora Ephron’s Crazy Salad and Wallflower at the Orgy (a metaphor for journalism objectivity, not about being shy at orgies) are comfort reads for me; I tend to return to her books/essays in moments of stress, or when I’m not feeling particularly creative.
Same with Fran Lebowitz – a genius writer and observer of life, her work is cynical and dark-humoured, and a good laugh is important in unsettling times. The Baby-Sitters Club book is from an amazing set of the first six in the series, a nostalgic gift from my sister. The type is huge; I’ll probably read it in half an hour.” – Zoe Walker Ahwa, editor.
“Over the last two years since finishing uni, I have rediscovered my deep love and habit of reading books for pleasure. A huge part of what we do at Fashion Quarterly is talking, reading and writing about the many facets of fashion and culture and there is something so deeply satisfying about reading something, loving it and talking about it with others. I am a huge fan of being recommended a book and think it’s such a special thing when someone says “I read this book and I really think you will enjoy it” or “I think you need to read this”.
So I will start off with my thoughts on Three Women by Lisa Taddeo: It seems as though it was on every book list in 2019. So naturally, I wanted to know what everyone was talking about! I was left wanting so much more from this book unfortunately and was hoping it would leave more of an impression but regardless, at least I know what everyone was on about now.
Next up on my list is Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur – I had heard someone talking about this on a podcast and immediately added to growing list of books to read this year. It is a really captivating memoir about how the people closest to us can break our hearts, simply because they have access. It’s about family ties, the extreme complexity and dysfunction that exist within intimate family relationships and how important it is to remember that we don’t have to be our parents. I am halfway through and it breathtaking.
After I am finished with that, I am going straight into Trick Mirror which has been passed around our FQ Book Club. The essays are an explorative critique on the world and culture right now, and I think it’s provide a bit of comfort and perhaps deeper understanding into how the world is right now.”
– Ruby Hamilton, digital content producer
“At the moment I am alternating between Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight and Charles, Victim or Villain by Penny Junor – I often like to mix a self help book up with a salacious read.
In Get Your Sh*t Together, author Sarah Knight says she will help me mentally de-clutter and organise the f**ks I want and need to help me quit my day job and move abroad.
Meanwhile, Charles, Victim or Villian is an oldie but a goodie since it was first published in 1998, only a year after Diana died. I’m thinking naughty Charles was definitely a villain in 1998 but I’m open to Penny Juror potentially swaying me.”
– Marcel Gull, creative director.
“The Golden House by Salman Rushdie was on my ‘to read’ for years after being recommended by my step mum, and I finally picked it up three months ago and am loving it. Reading is such a treat since having kids, I try to sneak into my bedroom on a Sunday afternoon with a glass of Pinot or a tea for an hour and get stuck in!
The Golden House is narrated by the neighbor of a mysterious and extremely wealthy family who have recently moved to New York. I can’t say too much without spoiling it, but I absolutely recommend.”
– Tori Ambler, stylist.
“I really did not like this Rabbits for Food. It follows Binnie, an author living in New York who is battling depression and ultimately is admitted at a mental health institution. I loved Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher and thought this might have a similar vibe e.g offering an insightful and vulnerable look into mental health and addiction issues with a little bit of comic relief injected into it. The blurb mentions how sidesplitting funny this book is meant to be but the only time I laughed was when I read bits aloud to my GF to illustrate what a drag this book is. I love a snarky character normally but this just got tedious. Also, I couldn’t get past the fact the author’s name is Bunny and the protagonist’s name is Binnie… who was also an author.
I have just read Mean, which I loved. Part autobiographical with another biography weaved throughout the book to create a really rich look into what it means to be a queer, mixed-race Chicana in the USA. Dealing with issues such as sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia while managing to make me laugh out loud with insanely intelligent dark humour. Big fat recommendation from me.
Uncanny Valley was a massively enjoyable, easy read while offering an inside look how bonkers Silicon Valley/start-up culture is. It also takes a look at the bizarre nature of work and employment under a greedy capitalist model, illustrating the huge disparities of wealth in San Francisco created by tech companies. It is very much a ‘privileged white lady’s journey through the patriarchal world of tech bros’ so I think this is definitely most suited to women in reasonably cushy jobs (aka me) desperately trying to establishing themselves in their career. The memoir starts in New York with the author working in publishing then follows the journey through the tech world and all the while you know it ends with the author writing the very book you’re reading aka back to the publishing world and there is something really satisfying about that. ”
– Imogen Temm, art director.