From the news cycle to our own existential crises, this has been quite the year for trying to find any semblance of peace. If you need some time away from screens and some escapism books are your best bet.
Plus, if you can afford to support local and independent book shops at times like these you’re doing a good deed too! Here’s some of my recent favourite best new books worth checking out.
Wonderland – Juno Dawson
Juno Dawson’s a successful author who, like any true media maven, has plenty of other side hustles. From being a necessary trans voice up against the hostile British media, dabbling in acting (Oh yes, just a role in I May Destroy You, NBD) and even co-hosting a podcast (So I Got To Thinking offers a fun, 2020 take on Sex and the City), we can’t forget that Dawson is an author who has a loyal following for a reason.
Her latest YA novel is a gripping modern take on Alice in Wonderland. Lead character, Alice, is a young trans teen who decides to find missing pal Bunny before ending up at the super decadent and super exclusive Wonderland party. Recalling the hedonistic teen realism of Euphoria and Gossip Girl, Wonderland’s got sex, swearing and shocking moments – but it’s also got clever dialogue and a beating heart.
It’s a joy to read a three dimensional trans character take the lead in a story and it’s a joy to be sucked into the twists of a novel as well-crafted as this. Along the way the book tackles real world issues with aplomb while never taking its feet off the storytelling pedal. Wonderland is fast-paced, engaging and the kind of book that’s made to be devoured.
Trixie and Katya’s Guide To Modern Womanhood – Trixie Mattel and Katya
While I’m a huge fan of Trixie and Katya’s long-running YouTube show, Unnhhh, I wasn’t sure how it would translate into a book. Thankfully this channels their absurd, quirky humour brilliantly. Parodying self-help titles, the book has gallons of glossy high end photos and text that allows both queens to shine. Cleverly dividing up sections means each queen writes chunks solo with their own style and flair apparent. Most enjoyable are sections that are just long form chats between the two that even on paper capture the free flowing hilarity of their web series.
This new look into the Drag Race faves is breezy, silly, fun and one of the best kind of books to pick up from your coffee table whenever you need a belly laugh.
Sophie White – Unfiltered
I was a big fan of White’s first novel, Filter This – a clever and hilarious take on the weird world of Irish influencers. With this sequel, Sophie White has outdone herself with a book that speaks to a very specific moment in pop culture.
Following the fallout of Filter This, influencer Ali is struggling to rebuild her life while dealing with being publicly shamed. Meanwhile uber-influencer Shelly is battling a stalker, a divorce and the demands of her audience.
White isn’t afraid to parody insta-antics and pop culture (the nod to Fyre Fest in the last act will have you screaming) but also infuses her storytelling with real heart too. Ali and Shelly are flawed, believable women existing in an increasingly unbelievable world. A book that will make you think as much as it makes you laugh, Unfiltered is perfect Irish escapism.
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