Elizabeth Morris writes my favourite book recommendation newsletter; Crib Notes. She writes and reads in the margins of motherhood and her reviews and selections are impeccable. I always end up ordering a couple of books after reading her round-ups so I've made it easier for us all by hosting her lists here. Crib Notes, we're thrilled to have you...
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Luiza Sauma£8.99 £8.36
Elizabeth says: Everything You Ever Wanted is at once lush and urgent: it skewers the emptiness of 21st century culture, giving it a shrewd sci-fi twist; and — in achingly lush prose — captures the melancholy of millennial living. It reminded me of the gentler episodes of Black Mirror. It is also just as bingeable as a Netflix series. Zeitgeisty, smart and sensuous, this novel might be the ticket if you need to escape (to another planet) for a while.
Francesca Segal£8.99 £8.36
Elizabeth says: Mother Ship glows with courage, humanity and humour: I adored it. This is one of the finest motherhood memoirs to be published recently.
Sandra Newman£8.99 £8.36
Elizabeth says: The Heavens is a shape-shifting, dizzyingly ingenious book about love, time travel and madness, jumping daringly between centuries. It’s pure magic — probably one of the very best books I have read in the last five years, if not the last decade!
Lara Williams£8.99 £8.36
Elizbeth says: I devoured Supper Club in 48 hours, reading in greedy snatches at every chance I got: it is tart, provocative and visceral. If you’re looking for some satiating feminist fiction, with the wit and candour of Fleabag and the propulsive readability of Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends and Normal People, Supper Club is the book for you. The novel is also sprinkled with some delicious food writing: lip-smacking passages on caramelized onions, thai curry and sourdough bread. It gave me some much-needed cooking inspo for the new lockdown.
Megan K. Stack£14.99 £13.94
Elizabeth says: Women’s Work is political, but deeply personal too: it unravels the emotional and economic ties between Stack and three women who looked after her home and her children. I picked this book up because the subject matter interested me but I was amazed by how engrossed I became. Women’s Work is an eye-opening read: a super readable choice when you want to feel politically-engaged.
Eva Ibbotson£8.99 £8.36
Elizabeth says: These books make perfect comfort reading: cosy stories with sweeping romance at the heart. My friend Melissa recommended both Magic Flutes and The Morning Gift to me when I was suffering from a bad bout of depression about five years ago. Now Ibbotson is one of my go-to writers when I want some literary self-care.
Natalie Haynes£8.99 £8.36
Elizabeth says: This is an extravagantly fun read — I adored its tongue-in-cheek humour! Yes, it is empowering and epic, but it is also a pleasing pisstake of the vanities of men. Penelope’s loving, but often long-suffering letters to her husband Odysseus, who has not yet returned from Troy, are full of snark and wry humour. With its mythical setting, A Thousand Ships is also pure escapism!
Aoko Matsuda£9.99 £9.29
Elizabeth says: Beguiling and brief, these stories are great for dipping out of if you are feeling jaded. Where The Wild Women Are is irresistible: witty and gently spooky, all the while turning sexism on its head.
Lily King£14.99 £13.94
Elizabeth says: Writers & Lovers is a heartfelt look at grief and female creativity. Warm, wise and lovingly written, this is a good choice if you need some kindness.
Brit Bennett£14.99 £13.94
Elizabeth says: This is a gripping, elegantly-plotted novel — perfect when you are looking for something captivating to climb into bed with after a long day looking after a small person. Additionally, if you are making a conscious effort to read more titles by Black writers and to educate yourself about racism, The Vanishing Half — one of 2020’s most talked about novels — is a must! Compassionate and generous, with pain shimmering beneath its surface, The Vanishing Half is a deeply felt exploration of identity, race, prejudice and belonging. It is one of the best books I have read this year!
Bethany Rutter£7.99 £7.43
Elizabeth says: With its seaside snogs, mouthwatering fish and chips, exuberant body positivity and guaranteed happy ending, Melt My Heart is a true feel-good read.
Julia Armfield£8.99 £8.36
Elizabeth says: Ferocious and shimmering, Julia Armfield’s Salt, Slow features gorgeously weird stories which blend the Gothic and mythic with the contemporary. It reeled me in and refused to let me go until I had finished the final, mesmerising story.
Samantha Irby£9.99 £9.29
Elizabeth says: Wow, No Thankyou gives off a brand of negative energy which can, paradoxically, only be described as delightful. It is is edgy, charming and very funny. Read it when you are in need of the kind of laughter that makes your body convulse, your eyes water and your bladder empty involuntarily (okay, maybe not that last one).
Megan Hunter£14.99 £13.94
Elizbeth says: One of the most exceptional novels I have read this year, The Harpy is a brilliant choice if you want to read one of 2020’s literary highlights but you can’t face something as dense as Hilary Mantel’s 1000-page, The Mirror and the Light. It is a feather-light 256 pages and demands to be devoured in a single sitting.
Nora Ephron£9.99 £9.29
Elizabeth says: A breezy delight, perfect if you need a pick-me-up. The essays in this book are also super short -- a little like meandering jokes with pithy, pitch-perfect punchlines -- so this is a good choice if you want something you can return to during quick feeds (I kept a copy next to my nursing chair) or when you have a minute to yourself.
Ana Sampson£14.99 £13.94
Elizabeth says: It is a lovely book: here, you’ll find shouts of joy, whoops of laughter and words of courage. Introducing She Will Soar, Sampson writes, 'for the days when the struggle seems fiercest, I hope you will find a parachute in these pages.' Around 6 years ago, whilst suffering from depression, I found poetry to be a powerful tool. Flipping through my favourite anthologies, I'd choose one poem to meditate on for a few minutes. It could be transformative in dark moments.
Kate Young£15.00 £13.95
Elizabeth says: With delicious musings on books, food and rituals The Little Library Christmas is more than a cookbook: it is a wonderful, wintry delight to curl up with, ideally with a glass of port in hand.
Elizabeth Jane Howard£9.99 £9.29
Elizabeth says: Elegantly plotted, charming and poignant. They are sweeping, immersive books and it was soothing to return to their warm familiarity again and again.
Malorie Blackman and Laura Barrett£12.99 £12.08
Elizabeth says: Clever and provocative, with a wicked twist! This is a fabulous book to share with an older child.
Amina Cain£9.99 £9.29
Elizabeth says: This novel made my mind feel alive with the possibilities of literary fiction. Each precise, perfectly crafted sentence is redolent with meaning: I wanted to underline almost every single one. At times, I felt like this book was written just for me and I’m certain that you will too.
George Eliot£8.99 £8.36
Elizabeth says: A passionate and entertaining novel, Middlemarch is full of soapy drama, sharp insight, wry wit and sublimated desire. There is still something restorative and cosy about delving into a classic at this time of year.
Maggie O'Farrell£20.00 £18.60
Elizabeth says: Written in luscious, gold-lit prose and laden with historical detail, this is one of the most profoundly moving books I have read all year. And although I am sure my word is recommendation enough, I should add that it very deservedly won this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction!
Huma Qureshi£12.99 £12.08
Elizabeth says: An emotional, cathartic read, which lifted me right out of my funk. At only 244 pages, and possessing the pull of the novel, How We Met is also relatively easy to read alongside the demands of children, home and work.
Danielle Dutton£7.99 £7.43
Elizabeth says: I could write pages of rapturous praise for Danielle Dutton’s Margaret the First, I love it so much. A bright, gem-like portrait of a woman who dared to defy convention.
Nell Frizzell£14.99 £13.94
Elizabeth says: Hilarious, moving and wise. Not only does The Panic Years offer the warmth and humour to get you through this bleakest of winters, it will also make you feel seen, understood and empowered.
Clare Chambers£14.99 £13.94
Elizabeth says: This is very much a box of chocolates on a rainy day kind of read. Every stolen moment with this book felt like a luxurious break from the endless monotony and exhaustion of parenting through the pandemic.
Samantha Ellis£9.99 £9.29
Elizabeth says: Conversational, fresh and full of heart: it is a wonderful antidote to the lockdown blues. I also found it as bingeable as Bridgerton.
Monique Roffey£9.99 £9.29
Elizabeth says: Untangling female sexuality and transgression — and setting these themes against the Carribean landscape: lush, but unpredictable and scarred by centuries of violence and conquest — this is a daring and fiercely imaginative book.