The Ruins by Mat Osman
I’m currently in the middle of reading The Ruins and it’s consuming me in much the same way Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk engrossed me as a teen. It’s giving me so much joy; bus journeys have become shorter and spending time in doctor’s waiting rooms feels like a hobby with this book in my hands. As a dedicated Suede fan for the past 25 years (Osman is the bass player), some would consider me biased but I think this book stands apart from my long term admiration and just is a remarkable debut.
Royals by Emma Forrest
This is one of my favourite books of 2019. I always spend the first couple of paragraphs fighting friendly envy whenever I read anything by Emma Forrest — her writing is one of a simple sophistication only rivalled by Eve Babitz. I’m a huge fan of Emma’s memoir Your Voice in My Head, and Royals serves as a dazzling companion piece, perfectly capturing loneliness and the dysfunction of beauty. Hollywood has Eve Babitz, London has Emma Forrest.
Never Mind by Edward St Aubyn
I’m making my way through everything Edward St Aubyn has ever written since falling in love with the Patrick Melrose series screened on Sky Atlantic last year. I hate being late to the game — catching a book post television/film adaptation — but I believe books find you when you most need them. My favourite writers are always those who stick as close to the truth as possible, where the line between memoir and Roman-à-clef refuses to exist; Edward St Aubyn achieves that like no other.
Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth
Heatstroke took me by surprise. I was hanging out in my agent’s office, rummaging around for something new to read and was handed a copy of Hazel Barkworth’s debut. I read it in one sitting, blown away by the toxic elegance of her storytelling. This is one of the most anticipated books of 2020 and it’s easy to see why.
An American Dream by Norman Mailer
I read (and adored) a lot of Mailer back in my twenties but a friend of mine was appalled when I recently revealed I’d never read An American Dream — so she bought me a copy for Christmas. This feels like the right book to throw myself into once I’ve finished The Ruins.
What’s Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer by Jonathan Ames
I recently disposed of my smartphone, having finally realised that the internet chasing you around town 24/7 is bad for your equilibrium. However, smartphonelessness has meant I’ve often found myself awaiting friends in restaurants/police custody suites just staring into space. Without a machine to scroll, I was literally sitting there engrossed in my own thoughts like someone from the early 90s, which caused waiters and solicitors a great deal of alarm. To avoid creating such social tensions I’ve learned it’s best to keep a book on my person at all times, so I always have something by Ames in my rucksack. I love how you can just dip in and out of his short, crude and performative pieces without commitment. And he never gets boring.