Our Diversity genre celebrates a wide range of inclusive narratives. It's about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin. As a team, we read widely and make sure that we offer intersectional representation in our book recommendations.
Super smart and a little weird (in the best possible way), Several People are Typing comes served with a huge dollop of darkly quirky, smirky humour. This novel, which comes in at under 250 pages, is all written in the workplace chat function of the app Slack. Gerald is uploaded into the Slack while working on a spreadsheet, his pleas for help initially go unanswered by his work colleagues. We use Slack at LoveReading, but you really don’t need to be aware of it in order to ‘get’ this book, anyone who uses a workplace communications channel, apps or social media will just slide into this book and within a couple of pages feel right at home. Gerald and his colleagues could be anyone, anywhere, the little darts of jealousy, humour, support, showboating, flirting, and all the other emotions that highlight office life can be found on display. In terms of characters, Slackbot is a particular favourite of mine, the horror of the situation is deftly handled with humour by Calvin Kasulke. While office politics and shenanigans are front and foremost, I really enjoyed the relationship element sneaking in to stir things up. And it really did stir things up as it also poked a thought-provoking elbow into sexual consent. Several People are Typing is a fabulously ballsy read that edges along a tightrope between provocative and humour.
It takes a certain skill to make a novel that’s part of a series feel like a standalone, while also pleasing loyal fans. It’s what Helen Hoang, with her latest release, has managed to pull off – and in style. At the start of The Heart Principle, we are thrown into the life of Anna. She’s a young violinist who’s found fame online. It quickly transpires, though, that she has a few problems on her talented hands. First there’s the professional one about anxiety around performing. And another: her boyfriend wants to sleep with other women. (To, you know, make sure she’s really the one, of course.) Understandably, this throws Anna into a state of chaos – and eventually into the arms of Quan. Pearl clutchers, best not to read much further. This book has all the hallmarks of a contemporary romance, plus the deleted bedroom scenes. It’s steamy, very steamy. Yet it’s incredibly tender, emotive and revealing too. Hoang doesn’t hold back on subjects other writers may shy away from, and she explores sensitive issues with a boldness that’s hard not to admire. The Heart Principle introduces newbies to her work (like me) to her confident and gutsy storytelling, and to characters you’ll want to revisit again.
Sensuous, lyrical, and suffused in the natural world, especially a sense of the ebb and flow of the ocean, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s The Dragonfly Sea shimmers with passion, humanity, and quickening waves of history. And all this unfolds and undulates through tracing the journey of a young girl, Ayaana, forming a novel to take your time over, to luxuriate in and return to. It’s a rich banquet of beautiful words. Beginning on an Indian Ocean island in the Lamu Archipelago, off the coast of Kenya, fearless Ayaana and her mother live a kind of lonely, haunted existence. She has no father, nor a father figure, until a sailor comes into their lives. Without her mother’s approval, Muhidin becomes Ayaana’s friend and teacher. Her life reels and realigns in cycles, seeing her voyage to China with the promise of education and a different future. As her journey surges and ebbs, ebbs and surges, the author lays bare conflicts of the both personal and political kind (colonialism, radicalisation) with individuals and nations caught in the nets of global forces. Through loss and longing, there’s a sense of becoming whole again, finding refuge, and finding oneself.
The latest instalment from the beloved THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY series Catch up on the latest from Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi and other favourites in this new instalment of Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. As the temperature rises in Gaborone, Precious Ramotswe, founder of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, wonders whether the heat could be the reason that business is particularly slow. Luckily, a slower pace in life is her natural preference, unlike her colleague Mma Makutsi, who is alert to every passing observation and inclined to making snap decisions. With fewer cases to handle, Precious has time to contemplate her new neighbours, a couple who, by the sounds of it, have a rather volatile relationship . . . But then a distant cousin of Mma Ramotswe's comes to the agency with a plea for help, and the ladies decide to pursue the issue together. Armed with Mma Ramotswe's circumspection and Mma Makutsi's sharp eye, they proceed with confidence and open hearts. What, after all, could be more straightforward than a family matter? Meanwhile, their colleague Charlie is behaving oddly, borrowing Mma Ramotswe's van and returning it in an unusual condition. Digging a little deeper, the explanation is both strange and extraordinary, and takes Charlie, along with Mma Ramotswe's husband, Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, on a hair-raising night-time expedition. In the end, Precious is reminded of the need to view a picture from every angle, to accept the imperfections in people and situations, and then find a solution - preferably over a delicious slice of her friend Mma Potokwani's fruit cake.
Faïza Guène’s Men Don’t Cry is an absolute triumph - wise, funny, enthralling, thought-provoking. At its heart, the novel explores the age-old (and sharply pertinent) pull between one’s land of heritage and one’s land of birth, in this case generational and family conflict between Algeria and France. It’s an incredibly powerful commentary on a very real conflict in contemporary France, perfectly summarised when the novel’s protagonist comments that “to be fully French you have to deny part of your heritage, part of your identity, part of your history, part of your beliefs, and yet when you succeed in achieving all that, you’re still reminded of your origins…So what’s the point?” Men Don’t Cry is also a superb coming-of-age story that sees an awkward young man, Mourad, find his feet, and his voice. He was born in Nice to Algerian parents, the youngest of three children. His eldest sister Dounia, a devoted feminist, leaves home without looking back, while his middle sister marries, has kids, and is happy. Mourad is between the two - neither desperate to leave home, nor especially looking to settle down. He’s insular, doesn’t have many friends, so he’s there when his dad has a hugely debilitating stroke. He’s there when his hypochondriac mum needs to vent (which she does a lot, about anything and everything, to comic and poignant effect). But then the time comes for Mourad to leave home too - he has a teaching job in Paris. A few weeks into his new post, he reconnects with Dounia, now a public figure feminist activist who’s stepped onto the political ladder. Her interviews in high profile publications and the book she writes about her upbringing and experiences rile Mourad. For example, she describes their dad as “authoritarian, change-averse, illiterate.” But, nevertheless, it’s Mourad who bridges the chasm between Dounia and the rest of the family, not least at the unexpected, heartrending end of this remarkable novel. Mourad’s voice is engrossing, and feels unfailingly authentic. On that note, deep appreciation must go to the novel’s award-winning translator, Sarah Ardizzone - rendering Mourad’s voice so dazzingly into English, is a tremendous achievement. The result is a novel that reads like a dream - vibrant, nuanced, thought-provoking, funny, and shot-through with Mourad’s wit.
Gosh, this original and thought-spinningly intricate yet quietly simple read speared my emotions. I found myself utterly consumed by The Origins of Iris and absolutely adored every word. When Iris leaves her abusive wife for the wilds of the mountains, she quite literally finds herself when she comes face to face with another version of Iris. Being described by Hodder Studio as Wild meets Sliding Doors was an immediate hook for me, yet there is so, so much more on offer here. Love of course isn’t simple, it can be complex, cruel, even dangerous, and as this novel allowed me access to the layers of emotions within Iris, it entered my inner thoughts too. Beth Lewis skirts the obvious to open unrecognised pathways, she gradually opens up the story and sets information free. Goosebumps skittered down my arms as I felt understanding enter my awareness. I love the way you’re left to explore the complexities, I didn’t question, just let myself and my feelings go. Come the end, the fascinating, wonderful end, I didn’t make a decision as to exactly where I had travelled, I just knew that I had. Delving deeply into what it is to be human, The Origins of Iris is a truly unique and wonderful read.
Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her - and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . . Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them - but Victorian society is no place for reckless women. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight. Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom? Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read! Perfect for fans of other bestselling historical novels The Binding by Bridget Collins, The Familiars by Stacey Halls, and Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield.
Setting out its stunning stall as “the story of how a Tizita musician stopped the Ethiopian-Eritrean war”, Mukoma Wa Ngugi’s Unbury Our Dead with Song casts a uniquely beguiling spell. Its narrator, tabloid journalist John Thandi Manfredi, has an engaging, down-to-earth style that shifts as he himself falls under the spell of tizita - usually translated as ‘nostalgia’, or ‘longing’, tizita is form of bluesy, folksy ballad music from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Through Manfredi we meet four musicians - The Diva, The Taliban Man, The Corporal and septuagenarian bartender Miriam - who are in Nairobi, Kenya, competing to be hailed the best tizita performer. Their music has Manfredi in their thrall, to the extent that he journeys to Ethiopia to discover more about them. During their meetings, Manfredi uncovers raw truths and secrets about each artist, and through them he learns to read the layers of life and longing he’s heard (and felt) in tizita performances: “I knew enough about telling stories - they were also about the storyteller,” he says. In this case, the four musicians have very different stories to tell - hugely different histories and longings - as imparted through their performances. Propelled by a subtly mounting sense of mystery and discovery to a stirring tizita soundtrack that plays out in your head, this captures the indefinable, almost magical, power of music and art to inspire awe - which is exactly what this novel does with sweeping verve.
Totally, completely, and utterly gorgeous, this is a beautifully written historical relationship tale with real bite. And can I just qualify the word relationship - this is about the relationships with family, community, fear, nature, as well as the more obvious love. A work of fiction inspired by history, the story begins on Christmas Eve in 1617 when a sudden and violent storm takes the lives of forty fishermen, leaving the stunned women folk learning to survive on their remote northerly Norwegian island. Still reeling from the tragedy, their lives turn in the most frightening direction when the King brings in sorcery laws and a commissioner is installed to root out evil. This is Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s debut adult novel, and I feel as though I have been waiting my reading life for it. The prologue hits with a huge sad inevitability. Kiran Millwood Hargrave writes with a sensitive and considerate pen, the descriptions are truly breathtaking. While there are some savage shocks in store, The Mercies is still a warm, thoughtful and touching read. Chosen as a Liz Robinson pick of the month, we also just had to include The Mercies as a LoveReading Star Book too. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
Amusing yet poignant, uplifting yet sharply pointed, this is a very contemporary look at a woman spiralling out of control in an effort to keep up appearances. When Tom is made redundant and says the family will have to live off of their savings until he gets a new job, Faiza panics, she has secretly spent all of their money and is determined that Tom won’t find out. Faiza is warm and engaging, I felt as though I was sitting by her side and she was telling me her story. While there were times I winced and was frustrated by her actions, I also cheered her on and if I could, would have given her the hugest of huge hugs. A truly exquisite balance is maintained throughout this novel, Aliya Alif-Afzal writes with wit, perception, and emotional integrity. While sitting as a wonderfully readable and entertaining novel, this is a smart take on some of the problems faced in our society. Would I Lie To You is an engaging and moving debut, it’s also a little bit feisty, I loved it! The LoveReading LitFest invited Aliya to the festival to talk about this fabulous debut. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Aliya in conversation with Deborah Maclaren and find out why everyone should read this book. Check out a preview of the event here
Our July 2021 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. This deliciously quirky, amusing and sharply-pointed debut novel slowly wormed its way into my heart and soul. Anxiety is plaguing Gilda, who also has death on her mind, she unexpectedly finds herself in a new job, fending off unwanted attention from men while keeping her girlfriend secret, and investigating a suspicious death. Emily Austin writes with such honesty and empathy, I found her words burrowed their way into my mind before reaching beyond thought, to feelings. It took me a while to get to know and warm to Gilda, she borders on awkward as she tells her story. I gradually found myself getting closer and closer to this fragile yet thoughtful and beautiful woman. The plot weaves a unique magic as it ranges from mystery to family drama to relationship story. The humour is pithy and smart, the observations can sting yet are compassionate, and the descriptions simply sing. I really have fallen in love with this book, and can’t wait to see what comes next from Emily Austin, she is a writer I will be looking out for. Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a compelling, provocative, and beautiful LoveReading Star Book.
Hugely entertaining and addictive, this psychological thriller presses all the klaxon alert buttons from the get-go. The diary of a murdered woman who had been monitoring her neighbours in Brighton holds some very dangerous secrets. Dorothy Koomson is such a consistent writer, her books are oh-so readable, smart and stimulating, and range from family drama and relationship right through to suspense and thrillers. This read is full of suspense and intrigue as it explores family, friendship, and just how well we really know each other. Different characters, all neighbours, head chapters with relevant dates, each person speaking in their own very distinctive voice. These are people who slowly reveal their secrets, and as an added lure the diary secrets are also gradually revealed. I was as hooked as a hooked thing can be as the tension increased, and the explosive ending was just fabulous. This would make a perfect summer read, and though you can just throw yourself in and let go, there are also some thought-provoking themes too. I Know What You’ve Done is a proper page-turner, you may never look at your neighbours in the same way again! Dorothy Koomson is our Summer 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to learn more
Summertime, 1935. On a lake near Berlin, a young man is out sailing when he glimpses a woman reclining in the prow of a passing boat. Their eyes meet - and one of history's greatest conspiracies is born. Harro Schulze-Boysen had already shed blood in the fight against Nazism by the time he and Libertas Haas-Heye began their whirlwind romance. She joined the cause, and soon the two lovers were leading a network of antifascists that stretched across Berlin's bohemian underworld. Harro himself infiltrated German intelligence and began funnelling Nazi battle plans to the Allies, including the details of Hitler's surprise attack on the Soviet Union. But nothing could prepare Harro and Libertas for the betrayals they would suffer in this war of secrets - a struggle in which friend could be indistinguishable from foe. Drawing on unpublished diaries, letters and Gestapo files, Norman Ohler spins an unforgettable tale of love, heroism and sacrifice.
In Baxter's Beach, Barbados, Lala's grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers. For Wilma, it's the story of a wilful adventurer, who ignores the warnings of those around her, and suffers as a result. When Lala grows up, she sees it offers hope - of life after losing a baby in the most terrible of circumstances and marrying the wrong man. And Mira Whalen? It's about keeping alive, trying to make sense of the fact that her husband has been murdered, and she didn't get the chance to tell him that she loved him after all. HOW THE ONE-ARMED SISTER SWEEPS HER HOUSE is the powerful, intense story of three marriages, and of a beautiful island paradise where, beyond the white sand beaches and the wealthy tourists, lies poverty, menacing violence and the story of the sacrifices some women make to survive.
Weaving between complex social issues, this is a powerful, tense, and striking second novel by Rachel Edwards. When Etta turns to online gambling her entire life begins to crumble, she is willing to do anything to stop her world from imploding. Rachel Edward’s wonderfully captivating debut Darling was a LoveReading Star Book which concentrated on the new wife and young daughter of a man as they each fought for his love and attention. Lucky is entirely different in plot, yet a strong central character again sits to the fore. Etta can be stubborn (determined), manipulative (smart), she’s also addicted (lost and confused), kind, thoughtful, and loving. I found her frustrating and appealing in equal measures which lead to me forming a complex yet fascinating relationship with her character. Suspense kept me company throughout this novel, at times I almost read between my fingers as I waited to see what Etta would do next. I explored online gambling, migration, identity, race, and relationship traps and pitfalls all on top of a plot that that had me edging along a towering clifftop of tension. Rachel Edwards has created an intriguing and compelling main character, a cracking plot and sub-plot which collide to create the most fabulous ending. Lucky is an intriguing, smart, and thought-provoking novel I can highly recommend.
Moth is absolutely gorgeous. Fair warning, it broke my heart, but is still completely and utterly gorgeous! Partition in India slices the country through its soul, one liberal family find themselves adrift and battling for survival. Set in 1940’s Delhi this story focuses on family, and in particular women as the world around them boils with political unrest and danger. The beauty and pain of the prologue turned my thoughts inside out, I had to stop for a moment before carrying on. The awareness of the prologue stayed with me as I continued to read, consume, feel. This is Melody Razak’s debut novel and was written on long train journeys across India. Here she takes an intimate story set in an epic, huge moment in history, and makes it feel real. Snippets and slices of all emotions are brought together to form the most wonderfully told story that highlights the tragedy that falls. Her writing caught me, lulled me, shocked me, seduced me. She writes with huge compassion, the smallest of details weave together to form a vivid and vibrant tapestry of life. It is all too easy to imagine this happening anywhere in the world, yet among all the pain is strength and hope. The moments of calm, love, humour, sharing, and kindness all combine to ensure that you can still feel delight among the pain. Oh, and I must just mention the stunning cover too, it matches the beauty within. Moth, so exquisitely emotional, powerful, and harrowing, will be one of my favourite books of the year, it is so special, I just had to choose it as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.
What do you do when you’ve reached 37 and your biological clock is ticking so loud you can’t hear anything else? Decide to change your fortunes by going out there and actively looking for Mr Right, of course. Symona’s journey through the dating world is as funny as it is frustrating and I had more than one laugh-out-moment. Smart and astute, I really enjoyed reading about her adventures in dating and often felt as though I’d met some of those men at certain points in my life. Selected by Dorothy Koomson, Our Summer 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece.
Filmmaker Ren and journalist Kayla meet through work in New York and are immediately attracted to each other. They do give in to their feelings, but with so many other complications in both their lives – what will they have to do and who will they have to hurt, to be together? Told from both Ren and Kayla’s point of view, this is a fantastic story that picks you up with the promise of love at first sight and sweeps you along with the rollercoaster of the main relationship. Selected by Dorothy Koomson, Our Summer 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece.
Best Friends Lyla, Maku and Theresa have a rock-solid friendship – it’s the other relationships in their lives that cause them heartache. When ambitious Theresa moves back to Accra with her husband, she doesn’t realise it’s going to show up the cracks in her relationship, and also make her friends look more closely at their lives. This drama is full of twists and turns some of them heartstopping, others heart-rending, all of them brilliantly played out and realistic. If you’re a fan of female-centered dramas, this is one for you. Selected by Dorothy Koomson, Our Summer 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece.
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Much like our Debut category has a variety of books from first-time authors, our Diverse Voices genre will highlight a wide range of Inclusive narratives.