The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

Set on an unnamed island, Yoko Ogawa’s novel follows an unnamed writer as she navigates her life around The Memory Police – a tyrannical group that has the authority to make anything and anyone disappear. Birds, roses, perfume, calendars; all these things no longer exist on the island, yet because the citizens can no longer remember them, they are not missed. Yet there are some who cannot forget and The Memory Police won’t rest until they too have disappeared. Interspersed with the narrator’s own novel – which has some uncomfortable parallels – about a typist who loses her voice, this is a cleverly crafted book that focuses on what we become as we slowly lose everything. But unlike other dystopian novels where we often see an uprising, the islanders are accepting of their fate. A thought-provoking read. 

My favourite quote. ‘My memories don’t feel as though they’ve been pulled up by the root. Even if they fade, something remains. Like tiny seeds that might germinate again if the rain falls. And even if the memory disappears completely, the heart retains something. A slight tremor or pain, some bit of joy, a tear.’

My three-word review. Melancholic, ambiguous, dreamlike.

Imogen, Website team

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

I must admit, I’m shamefully late to Levy’s work - despite the buzz, Hot Milk is still on my to-read pile. But Levy's third Booker nomination has arrived to spur me into action. It’s 1988 and a narcissistic young man named Saul is hit by a car on the infamous Abbey Road zebra crossing. We follow him to a hazy, polaroid-hued Berlin and watch as he feverishly experiments with love, lust and life in his new-found communist environment. Timelines, perspectives, accuracies and truths slowly reveal all is not as it seems in Saul’s dizzying world. It’s a tangle, and at times surreal, but that’s part of the fun. Why does Saul seem to be on an endless quest for a tin of pineapple? Is there really a jaguar prowling the city? The Man Who Saw Everything is a curious number, where Levy conjures up time and place using evocative storytelling and unreliable narrators. I guess it’s time to pick up Hot Milk after all. 

My favourite quote. ‘The sound of her worn-out shoes shuffling across the floor stayed with me for a long time. I had to get to another world. To Walter. To Luna, who tried to dance away her panic. To the phosphorescent woman and her cello. To the astronaut driving his Lunar Roving Vehicle across the surface of the moon.’

My three-word review. Mysterious, innovative, playful.

Donna, Website team

State of the Union by Nick Hornby 

Tom and Louise’s marriage is on the rocks. Every week, they meet in the pub across the road from their counsellor and pick apart their problems while they wait for their appointment. Through short, snappy scenes and clever, witty dialogue, their relationship is laid bare in front of us in a way that’s unflinchingly honest and unnervingly relatable. It’s Hornby’s eye for the little details – those everyday quirks, foibles and flaws – that give his characters their humanity, give his writing such heart and make State of the Union such a delight to read. I loved it.

My favourite quote. ‘The trouble is, marriage is like a computer. You can take it apart to see what’s in there, but then you’re left with a million pieces.’

My three-word review. Hilarious, insightful, poignant.

Rhiannon, Website team

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

It may be one of the hottest summers on record but it doesn’t stop me indulging in something a little dark and chilling. With echoes of Henry James’ classic The Turn of the Screw, Ware’s new book is part ghost story part murder mystery. Rowan has found the perfect job as a live-in nanny in an idyllic manor house nestled in the Scottish Highlands. Although Rowan should be able to manage three young children, there are darker forces at play. Ware’s skill at weaving domestic life with the supernatural as well as gothic troupes with a modern spin makes for a compelling read. 

My favourite quote. ‘For the thing she had called over her shoulder seemed almost too preposterous to be true – and yet the more I brooded over it, the more I was sure of what I’d heard. The ghosts, she had sobbed. The ghosts wouldn’t like it.'

My three-word review. Chilling, mysterious, atmospheric.

Sarah, Website team

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

This book is everywhere. It recently won the public poll on Jimmy Fallon’s Summer Book Club over in the USA and comes highly recommended by Lisa Taddeo (the author of Three Women, who also seems to be everywhere at the moment), Meg Wolitzer and Liane Moriarty. When something gets this much hype, it’d be easy to shun it in a righteously disagreeable manner but I’d strongly encourage you not to do that with this book which, unsurprisingly, is as brilliant as everyone says it is. Ask Again, Yes is a beautifully observed novel of two suburban families who are inextricably linked, and how what we think we know in childhood doesn’t always seem quite so certain in adulthood.

My favourite quote. ‘The thing is, Peter, grown-ups don't know what they're doing any better than kids do. That's the truth.’

My three-word review. Redemptive, empathetic, moving.

Indira, Social team

Related articles