MIRROR WATER Reading List
05 08 21
At MIRROR WATER we like to think that reading enriches our lives by deepening the everyday, and drawing us closer to understanding ourselves. Reading offers a unique way to spot something of yourself that you have never seen anyone else describe, or to encounter boundless other experiences, stories, and ways of thinking.
We have compiled this recommended reading list, complete with annotations about each book. This list will grow over time. If you read anything from our list and would like to talk to us about it, or if you would like to recommend a book to us, contact our team here.
A selection of recent (and recent-ish) fiction swapped between the MW team.
Sorrow and Bliss, Meg Mason
Meg Mason’s debut novel in which we follow Martha come to terms with the breakdown of her marriage alongside a battle with an unnamed mental illness. Alongside the sorrow the title describes, there are intense highs of love and wit that will have the reader falling in love with this honest, chaotic and endearing protagonist.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2001, Kavalier and Clay is a great American epic about the glory years of the US comic industry (1939-1954). It is a true testament to Chabon’s writing that he manages to span multiple eras, travel multiple contents and cover everything from superheroes to war, without ever losing the reader’s grip. This novel is a must-read.
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
In Gyasi’s debut novel two half sisters are born into different villages, and consequently worlds. Gyasi does not shy away from the brutality of the slave trade she describes, nor does she paint characters solely as victims, instead each character is a carefully-crafted, multi-faceted being giving this tale an incredibly powerful emotional weight.
Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld
Sittenfeld asks ‘what if Hillary hadn’t married Bill?’ and provides a page turning escape into a what-could-have-been of US politics. Boldly counterfactual, Rodham insightfully explores the complexities of what it means to be a woman in US politics.
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
The recent TV series has shot Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale to fame, but Oryx and Crake is just as riveting. Atwood crafts a dystopian future in which a catastrophic global pandemic has left her protagonist Jimmy somewhat alone, wrapped in bed sheets and living in a tree reminiscing about a woman he once knew.
Crystallisations of thought and feeling worth spending time with.
Your Silence will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde
With accompanying material by Reni Eddo-Lodge and Sara Ahmed, this posthumous collection of Lorde’s poetry (and some essays) explores the notion of silence as violence, making this relevant reading in order to avoid complacency and maintain the momentum of major movements like BLM and MeToo.
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine
In this modern classic written in and about post-911 America, Rankine walks through life, death, race, popular culture, illness. Readers are introduced to what has now become Rankine’s established style, which blends poetry with visual art.
Modern Poets One / If I’m Scared We Can’t Win by Emily Berry, Anne Carson and Sophie Collins
This slim collection gathers work by three contemporary poets. It provides a cross-section of each poet’s career and as such is a useful introduction to their work.
Kim Kardashian’s Marriage by Sam Riviere
These poems match the different steps of Kim Kardashian’s beauty routine with reflections on privacy, artifice, and celebrity, all set against the backdrop of her brief and highly-publicised marriage in 2011.
Rendang by Will Harris
This debut collection explores intersections of identity, race, culture, cities, conversations. Harris reflects on the ways that we become ourselves through our interactions with things outside of ourselves, crafting a generous collection ideal for dipping into or rereading.
These books blend different types of writing and we think they’re greater than the sum of their parts.
A Manual for Cleaning Women, Lucia Berlin
This unique piece contains 43 short stories inspired by Berlin’s highly diverse life. Berlin chronicles through the vast number of jobs she has had during her life and explores some of the roles often taken for granted. She has astute powers of observation that make this collection a deeply-layered and dynamic reading experience.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Samantha Irby
With her signature sharp wit and self-deprecating humour, Irby shares stories from her life that will have you feeling every type of way.
The Collected Schizophrenias, Esme Weijun Wang
In this essay series, Wang shares unique insight on her life with multiple chronic conditions: schizoaffective disorder, bipolar and late-stage Lyme disease. By putting person before diagnosis, Wang looks directly at the reader and challenges them to confront their prior beliefs on what ‘being schizophrenic’ is.
In the Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado
At the surface, this is a powerful memoir about Machado’s experience in a same sex abusive relationship, however, as the book progresses, the reader is taken through multiple dimensions, from an academic take on female queerness, to a choose your own adventure book.
Negroland, Margo Jefferson
Born in 1947 Chicago, Jefferson outlines a life full of psychological and moral contradictions, as she takes the reader through her unique and multi-layered perspective of the civil rights movement and the evolution of the falsehood that is post-racial America.
Instant classics in a variety of flavours and styles.
East, Meera Sodha
Containing 120 easy and delicious asian-inspired vegetarian and vegan recipes, this book provides the perfect starting point for anyone looking to get into vegetable-based cooking. It’ll enchant even the most devot meat-eater.
Greenfeast: Spring, Summer, Nigel Slater
Other than being utterly stunning, this cloth-bound, bright pink cookbook full to the brim of how best to utilise summer produce. These recipes are vibrant and light, each providing that je ne sais quoi that no one but Slater can seem to deliver
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Norsat
This is more than just a collection of recipes, it is an education. Norsat explains how to execute a stunning meal based on four simple principles.
Honey & Co: At Home, Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer
Divided into chapters of ‘For Us Two’, ‘For Friends’, ‘For the Weekend’ and ‘For a Crowd’, this cookbook will help you deliver the delight of Honey and Co’s famous bloomsbury restaurant to your home.
MEZCLA: Recipes to excite, Ixta Belfrage
‘Mezcla’ meaning ‘to mix’ in Spanish describes Belfrage’s approach to food and cooking. Having worked closely with Ottolenghi in previous cookbooks, Belfrage is now taking centre stage and she is not holding back on the flavour.
A selection of titles that can encourage understanding and growth.
Art as Therapy, Alain de Botton and John Armstrong
This book introduces the reader to a new way of interpreting art. The authors believe that art holds a latent potential that is yet to be harvested, and that, by changing the way that you engage with it, art can help us find resolution to difficult issues that cannot be tackled via typical means.
Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino
Throughout this collection of essays Tolentino plays with the idea of ‘the self’ in the modern world and how the internet has changed the way that we think, interact with and present our identity, both online and offline.
Women Who Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Estés’ writing is incredibly dynamic, incorporating incredible poeticism with scientifically-backed research into a unique book analysing twenty myths and fairytales about women from around the world and providing insight on how to be a woman in the world today.
It Didn’t Start With You, Mark Wolynn
Exploring how inherited family trauma shapes who we are and providing insight on how to end the cycle, Wolynn provides a transformative approach on how to interact with and challenge familial trauma. If you’re a fan of The Body Keeps the Score, this one's for you.
The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf
A best-selling classic for good reason, The Beauty Myth explores how beauty, and our obsession with it, traps and limits the modern women between hope, self-consciousness and self-hatred. This is an empowering must read for every woman.