This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Inside Story by Martin Amis and Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates.

Settle down with Nick Hornby’s latest love story, or learn about the dark underworld of male extremists…


1. Inside Story by Martin Amis is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Packaged as a follow-up to the memoir Experience, this new ‘novelised autobiography’ focuses on one romantic entanglement and three significant deaths in the life of one of Britain’s most feted and vilified living writers. The relationship is with Phoebe Phelps, who sounds like the model for Nicola Six in London Fields. She puts the narrator through exquisite torment for years, before her own terrible secret is revealed. The three deaths are of Amis’ literary heroes: Nobel laureate Saul Bellow, essayist Christopher Hitchens and poet Philip Larkin. Some of the material in the book, including the regular interludes addressing aspects of writerly style, will be familiar to readers of Amis’ essays, interviews and reviews. Many themes and motifs are familiar too: Nabokov, his father Kingsley Amis, posterity, death, Stalin, 9/11, the Holocaust. There is much to infuriate here and his style is as uniquely melodramatic as ever. But there is much to admire too – extraordinary turns of phrase, compelling insights and observations, courage, tenderness; and above all, an undimmed passion for the written word.


(Review by Dan Brotzel)

2. Just Like You by Nick Hornby is published in hardback by Viking, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Just Like You is another classic romcom from the brilliantly observational Nick Hornby. Set in London just before the Brexit referendum, it negotiates subjects of race and politics with relationships, ageism, class and families. It’s an easy, light-hearted read – a will-they-won’t-they tale centred around a white, 41-year-old teacher called Lucy and a black, part-time butcher called Joseph, who is almost half Lucy’s age. There’s infidelity, racism, an alcoholic ex and a mother who’s unbelievably hard work. The chapters are broken down into seasons, and you’ll eat up the pages in no time at all, envisaging every character and scenario in vivid colour, thanks to Hornby’s gorgeously descriptive prose. Like many he’s written before, there’s no doubt this could be made into a film – all it’s lacking is a bigger ending.


(Review by Claire Spreadbury)

3. Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier is published in hardback by HQ, priced £12.99 (ebook £5.99). Available now

Set in Jean Kyoung Frazier’s hometown of Los Angeles in the Noughties, Pizza Girl follows Jane, an 18-year-old who’s pregnant, working at a pizza shop and grappling with the death of her alcoholic dad, whose behaviours she can’t help but copy. Her seemingly boring, rudderless life is upended when she develops an unlikely obsession with 39-year-old Jenny. It’s a desperately sad picture of a lonely young woman who feels like motherhood is about to be thrust upon her, and is dealing with her emotions by blocking out those who love her, and instead indulging in self destructive behaviour. Frazier’s style is at its best when describing the lives of the people who buy pizzas from Jane, but less convincing when it comes to her own personal life. You’re left unsatisfied at the end, but this may be Frazier’s point – we’re all always reaching for more.


(Review by Prudence Wade)


4. Men Who Hate Women: From incels to pickup artists, the truth about extreme misogyny and how it affects us all by Laura Bates is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster, priced £16.99 (ebook £8.99). Available now

The woman who made us all aware of everyday sexism has turned her attention to a new subject: the manosphere. In this exposé Laura Bates goes undercover to lay bare the various communities of men with extremist, misogynist views, who she believes pose an increasing threat to women’s safety and wellbeing. From pick-up artists to so-called incels (involuntary celibates), Bates meticulously unpicks the ways members of these groups are galvanising and intensifying their beliefs and luring young recruits into their fold. She also explores the link between the psychology behind domestic violence, an everyday terror plaguing hundreds of thousands of women, and terrorist atrocities. If you don’t know your MGTOW from your foids, or your brigading, be prepared to get to grips with a radical and broad lexicon. An illuminating read, bringing urgent attention to the hatred quietly building in the shadows.


(Review by Jemma Crew)

Children’s book of the week

5. Dare To Be You by Matthew Syed, illustrated by Toby Triumph is published in paperback by Wren & Rook, priced £8.99 (ebook £6.99). Available now

Dare To Be You is a follow-up to the bestselling You Are Awesome, written by former table tennis champion, Matthew Syed. Promising to help its readers defy self-doubt and fearlessly follow their own path, the book recalls times from Syed’s childhood that really challenged him. But mostly, it reveals how he overcame them and why being yourself is really the most important trait of all. Perfect for tweens and teens, my 11-year-old gobbled this up and revealed she ‘didn’t like the word normal anymore’. It teaches kids it’s good to be different; there will be lots of bumps in the road, but you can figure out a way to get through them. It’s chest-beating and powerful, and full of facts – like humans shed 600,000 particles of skin every hour. It talks about ‘kid doubt’ and how that can lead to poor decision making and feeling rubbish, and tells stories about famous musicians, companies and sports stars who have stayed true to themselves, done things differently and massively succeeded. It’s hugely inspiring, and should be read by every teen on the planet.


(Review by Claire Spreadbury)



1. Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

2. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

3. The Evening And The Morning by Ken Follett

4. V2 by Robert Harris

5. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

6. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

7. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

8. The Left-Handed Booksellers Of London by Garth Nix

9. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

10. The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves

(Compiled by Waterstones)


1. 7 Ways by Jamie Oliver

2. Guinness World Records 2021 by Guinness World Records

3. It Takes Blood And Guts by Skin & Lucy O’Brien

4. Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day by Captain Tom Moore

5. Diary Of An MP’s Wife by Sasha Swire

6. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

7. The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn

8. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

9. My Garden World by Monty Don

10. Agent Sonya by Ben MacIntyre

(Compiled by Waterstones)


1. Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

2. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

3. Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty

4. The Collector by John Fowles

5. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

6. Watermelon by Marian Keyes

7. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

8. The Killing Room by Peter May

9. The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

10. Killing For Company by Brian Masters

(Compiled by Audible)


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