26 recommends

Stories of subjugation and surrogate wombs
I’m enjoying The Handmaid’s Tale based on Margaret Atwood’s novel. I shall definitely be re-reading this one soon.

Adam Buxton in conversation with the documentary film maker and journalist Adam Curtis. The two Adams talk the ‘age of the individual’, the power of music and a whole host of other interesting stuff.

I loved Tony Walsh aka Longfella’s poem This is the Place, which he performed after the Manchester attack last month. It reminded me of just how powerful and uplifting words can be, even in the face of such sadness and despair.

Laura Hunter


Eleanor Oliphant is Not So Fine

Here are my favourite things this month:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This debut novel from Glasgow-based writer Gail Honeyman features the socially awkward, loner Eleanor who works in accounts receivable, has no friends, speaks to her mother every Wednesday night for fifteen minutes, buys meals for one and vodka for many every weekend. Here she talks about her favourite mug: “I purchased it in a charity shop some years ago, and it has a photograph of a moon-faced man. He is wearing a brown leather blouson. Along the top, in strange yellow font, it says ‘Top Gear’. I don’t profess to understand this mug. It holds the perfect amount of vodka, however, thereby obviating the need for frequent refills.

Anna Quindlen’s Miller’s Valley to which the New York Times gave a big thumbs up. The Pulitzer prize-winning Quindlen is one of those writers whose books I always buy. She writes beautifully and intelligently.

And for a laugh – we all need them these days – We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. Samantha Irby, the comedian and blogger behind “Bitches Gotta Eat”, has chosen a group of essays with winning titles like, “I’m in Love and It’s Boring”, “You Don’t Have to Be Grateful for Sex”, and “The Real Housewives of Kalamazoo”.

And I can’t wait to see Rachel Weisz in the film adaptation of My Cousin Rachel, Daphne Du Maurier’s atmospheric novel set in 19th century Cornwall. A naïve young man is convinced that his beloved guardian has been poisoned by his Italian wife. Then he meets the beautiful Italian and falls for her exotic charms.

Final recommendation: David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, for which he was shortlisted the Man Booker Prize will talk about imagination and empathy at this School of Life event on 11 July. As the father of a non-verbal autistic son, Mitchell has deep insight and will be talking to clinical psychologist Tanya Byron.

Elena Bowes


I’ve been enjoying the podcast Kind World. Each episode is only six or seven minutes long and tells of a moment or incident where one person shows kindness to another, and as a result changes their life or their outlook on things. The voices and stories are wonderful, and a much-needed antidote to all the horrors in the headlines at the moment.

Jill Hopper

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