Treat Your Shelf: Editor’s Picks

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Arts and Culture editor Delphie Bond discusses the best books to bond over with your new flatmates.

Making friends in Freshers is tough. Some friends are made in the Fruity toilets, others are made on the 5th, and probably last, vodka shot of the night. Others, however, are made with a shared love of books. As ridiculous as this sounds, sharing a book with your flatmate, or a simple ‘hey, have you read this?’ could cement those friendships which only seem to blossom after three glasses of wine. It also tackles the formidable problem that good fiction can be so hard to get your hands on! The going rate in Waterstones for a new piece of fiction is going to set you back at least £8, so book-sharing is not just economically beneficial, but could lay the runway for new relationships. Here then, is a list of 4 books worth a binge with your flatmates before the work kicks in.

Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

If you haven’t read Carty-Williams’s debut novel over the summer, you’d better ask someone to borrow it from as it will definitely be lying around. Candice Carty-Williams provides a voice sadly so seldom heard in literature. Set in South London, it follows the professional and personal life of protagonist Queenie, a strong, black, professional who embodies the intricacies of life as a black woman in journalism. Carty-Williams captures with talented accuracy the city landscape which Queenie has to wade through using engaging and humorous modes. Queenie embodies a version of the modern woman and is surely someone you and your flatmates will admire, laugh at, and relate to.

Paradise City – Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day deserves accolades for her attention to the minute detail, you can imagine the characters down to the cufflinks they wear. ‘Paradise City’ is her third novel, following an equally amazing ‘The Party’. Day does multiple-perspective narrative incredibly well, as you flick between each chapter the storyline so neatly and somewhat disturbingly comes together. Day refuses to shy away from the class structures sewn through our society and unpicks it so enjoyably. ‘Paradise City’ will make you question everything – making it perfect for a chat with a new mate!

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

A somewhat classic tale of Afghanistan which wrenches the heart. You never feel far from the action, and you certainly never want to put it down. Khaled Hosseini tells a painful story based on friendships and family dynamics which create the heartbeat of the book. Incredibly well known, and well deservedly so, if the Kite Runner hasn’t reached one of your friends you must recommend it now! In easy to follow but descriptive prose, you will be transported to a place of wreckage, hope and death. There is everything so truly inhumane inside this book, yet the humans jump out at you and disrupt everything you ever knew.

Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell

Throwing it back a bit, ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’, is certainly a talking point. George Orwell’s collection of observations from his first-hand experiences of homelessness is so poignant in portraying the underbelly of society we look at everyday but never see. It provides a fascinating insight into the restaurant trade and begs comparisons to our society now. Has much changed? The good thing about ‘Down and out in Paris and London’ is that it can be dipped in and out of. Lend it to a friend, read a few chapters, and perhaps let it teach you to be more generous and open.

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