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
A selection of recent (and recent-ish) fiction swapped between the MW team.
Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan
Nolan finds a way to shape the messy relationship at the centre of the novel into an unflinching exploration of love, humiliation, and the prospect of losing sight of yourself in relationships. For fans of novels that construct imperfect characters.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
This novel follows a young woman in New York who decides to self-medicate her way into a year comprised almost entirely of sleep. She initially goes to a local cornershop and to her painfully inadequate (and funny) psychotherapist but as she gets deeper into her year, she starts to leave her apartment during her sleep.
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
Tsukiko bumps into her old high school teacher who she calls ‘Sensei’, and the two begin to meet up to eat and drink together. Deceptively unassuming in its gentle plot and subtle characterisation, this novel gains momentum as the reader ponders the nature and trajectory of their relationship.
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
Three sisters live on an island, following regimens set out by their father, King, until three strange men arrive on their shores. The Water Cure is strange and compelling, and has been referred to by critics as The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Virgin Suicides.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
This novel is written in the form of a letter addressing the speaker’s mother. It unpacks the story of a family that was heavily affected by the Vietnam War, which Vuong handles using fragments and a remarkable sensitivity to language (Vuong is also a poet).
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.
Will This House Last Forever? By Xanthi Barker
In its mix of memory, reflection, and hope, memoir is a hybrid form in itself and this engrossing book is exemplary. Will This House Last Forever? thinks about grief, fathers, and absence in ways that will stay with the reader long after they finish reading.
The Emperor’s Babe by Bernardino Evaristo
Perhaps you’re familiar with her best-selling novel Girl, Woman, Other (which we also highly recommend!) but you might not know this earlier work by Bernardine Evaristo. Caught between girlhood and womanhood; poverty and high society; modern London and Roman Londinium; prose and poetry, The Emperor’s Babe is funny, moving, and memorable.
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
The debut novel of poet Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station blends art, poetry, shared history, all through the eyes of Adam Gordon, a young poet with a grant to spend a summer writing in Madrid (…he does not spend his time writing poems).
Open City by Teju Cole
This novel is informed by visual art, history, and memory. A young doctor walks the streets of New York at night, as respite from the demands of his work. The reading experience unfolds slowly, with elements of both deliberateness and digression, much like walking through the city.
The Ginger Child by Patrick Flanery
This memoir is focused on the difficult personal story of adopting a child, but it blends this journey with queer readings of popular films. This approach matches the films’ interpretations of reproduction and parenthood with the frustrating adoption process in the UK.
Instant classics in a variety of flavours and styles.
One Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones
Here at MIRROR WATER we do what Anna Jones tells us to do, which seems to involve finding delicious ways to eat our greens. This book also thinks about sustainable measures within our kitchens and focuses on one pot meals for less washing up.
Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage
Make the za’atar cacio e pepe or the white bean mash with mushroom steaks or the bkeila… you get the picture; it’s a great book. Key flavours pop up throughout, making this book ideal for meal planning and overlapping ingredients.
The Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi and David Zilber
Yes this beautifully-designed book includes your homemade pickles as well as kombucha for the pros, but have you ever thought about making your own miso or soy sauce?
The Roasting Tin series by Rukmini Iyer
Iyer’s accessible, balanced and often speedy recipes are understandably popular. The recipes are clear and enticing, especially when accompanied with colourful photography. There are a handful of books to choose from in the series, with more to come.
Food Artisans of Japan by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
Cookbook meets coffee table book—this exquisite book includes portraits of cooks and artisans across Japan, sharing their traditions and recipes alongside elegant photography.
A selection of titles that can encourage understanding and growth.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
This book is designed as a guide for individuals for are stuck in terms of their creativity. Cameron outlines exercises and techniques to recapture the creative spirit. Readers can hope to understand more about what they enjoy, and why they became stuck in the first place.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
With a sub-heading of ‘Mind, Brain, and Body in the Healing of Trauma’, Kolk draws upon thirty years of experience as a trauma specialist to make the case for trauma as a crisis of public health, merging science with storytelling.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Although this book is ostensibly about grief, it is not the outpouring of emotion that one might expect. Instead, Didion unpicks her late-husband’s death through the lens of ‘magical thinking’, the idea that one person can change an unchangeable event through particular thoughts of actions.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Gay’s funny and searching essays loosely fall under the question of ‘How does feminism impact a life, for better or worse?’. This books explores ways that contemporary feminists might feel conflicted, and as such this book seems designed to discuss among friends.
Educated by Tara Westover
This memoir encourages the reader to think with the author, and to consider big-picture topics such as family, abuse, and education. The book is at times an attempt at reconciliation, prompting readers to reflect on the defining features of their lives, and the extent to which different aspects of a life can interact with or understand one another.