Back to Cool: September Reads

New pencil case, new stack of books: nerd out with our new term picks! 10% off all September pre-order titles, including some hot signed editions. Yes, Sally Rooney & John Cooper Clarke touched some of our books. You're welcome.

Raymond Antrobus, All the Names Given (signed) (book for the launch here)

Celebrating all the love given and all the places that love connects, All the Names Given honours the gaps between the said and unsaid with [Caption Poems] partially inspired by Deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim. A modern classic. 

Tom Chivers, London Clay: Journeys in the Deep City

Eight walks that go deep through two millennia and multiple geological strata, revealing the many ways to live, move and leave a trace in London's clay. Tom Chivers brings a poet's eye to the extraordinary and everyday of the city. 


Tice Cin, Keeping the House (signed)

A love song sung between mothers and daughters, a story with a secret heart where cabbages are king. Tice Cin's blazing debut wraps you up tight in its intergenerational trauma & recovery, and spins you round to its layered N17 beats.

John Cooper Clarke, I Wanna Be Yours paperback (signed - book plates)

"Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean / That’s how deep is my devotion": John Cooper Clarke sounds out an amazing life dedicated to the deep beat of language, truth, movies, drugs & Manchester in this wild ride of a memoir.


Lucie Elven, The Weak Spot (signed) (book for the launch event here)

Like The Magic Mountain in exquisite miniature, Lucie Elven's debut novel delves deep from its European mountain heights into the human drama of power and passion as seen through one charismatic pharmacist. Fabulous and fabular.

Shon Faye, The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice (signed)

If anyone can hit home all the arguments for justice under the trans umbrella, it's Shon Faye. Combining rigorous research and a wide range of experiences, this book puts trans voices at the centre of the conversation, where they belong. 

Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You? (signed indie exclusive edition) 

Combining conversations with friends (via long emails) with relationships between normal people (writers, warehouse pickers, political aides, editors), Rooney's third is everything you want – and all about how we know what we want. 


Forever Saul Leiter

How do you become a great photographer? Start here. This collection brings together the legendary Saul Leiter's most popular colour images with unpublished works, gleaned from an archive of 80,000 times, to cast light on his process. 

Of This Our Country: Acclaimed Nigerian Writers on the Home, Identity and Culture They Know

24 beautiful personal essays to expand your vision of Africa's most populous nation, including new work by some Burley Fisher faves such as Inua Ellams and Irenosen Okojie among the wide-ranging and stellar selection of contributors.

Mehreen Baig, Hidden Lessons: Growing Up on the Frontline of Teaching

Want a thoughtful account from the frontline of teaching? Hidden Lessons is the one. Mehreen Baig started teaching at 21; here she celebrates her students' journeys alongside her own, dropping wisdom on growing up for everyone.

Malorie Blackman, Endgame

It's finally here. The endgame of Noughts and Crosses delivers, as Sephy sets out to solve a murder that's tearing the country apart, and make her amends for betraying Callum. 100% satisfying conclusion to the greatest series ever.

JJ Bola, The Selfless Act of Breathing

Hit by a devastating loss, Michael leaves his teaching job in London to travel the US partying – finding a freedom where he also realises he brings his complex mesh of identities as a British Congolese man with him. On the Road refreshed.

Michael Bracewell, Souvenir

Michael Bracewell peels away the yuppie façade of 1980s London, finding the squats, bedsits, edge lands, parties, playlists and weirdnesses of a city just about to be gentrified by turbo-capitalism and computing. An earworm of a book. 

Michaela Coel, Misfits: A Personal Manifesto

Michaela Coel's MacTaggart lecture set the world on fire with its revelations about what race, class and gender mean for creative work, and why it needs to change. Her perfectly-titled manifesto builds on her call to take pride in our differences.

Warren Ellis, Nina Simone's Gum

Warren Ellis stole a piece of Dr Nina Simone's chewed gum at Meltdown festival, and kept it – then had it cast in bronze for an exhibition, and now he's written a meditation on the gum as a symbol of how we remember, honour and keep alive.

Lauren Groff, Matrix

Marie is 17 and alone: she's been kicked out of the royal court in disgrace, and sent to an impoverished nunnery, not as a novice but as the prioress, where she finds love, inspiration and purpose. Fans of Sylvia Townsend Warner and Kate O'Brien will similarly find love & inspiration here.

Sharna Jackson, Black Artists Shaping the World

A fantastic back to school gift for young artists – and anyone who loves art. High Rise Mystery author Sharna Jackson brings her experience at Tate and Site Gallery to this dazzling overview of global Black artists shaking up art across all media.

Louis Menand, The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War

From Hannah Arendt to Elvis Presley, and Jean-Paul Sartre to James Baldwin, Louis Menand surveys the mid-century creative work that has come to define our ideas of freedom and invention. Feat. John Cage's outing as a trivia nerd on Italian TV.

Jessica Nordell, The End of Bias: How We Change Our Minds

All too often pop science is used to assert set behaviours and inevitable structures. Not so, says Jessica Nordell, because both cognitive science and social psychology tell us: we can change. And here's how. An essential read.

John O'Connell, Bowie's Books: The Hundred Literary Heroes Who Changed His Life

In 2013, David Bowie made a list of his 100 top reads for an exhibition about his life and work. John O'Connell takes the list as a joyous springboard for short essays on the joys of reading, the history of culture, and the byways of inspiration.

Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness

Ruth Ozeki follows up A Tale for the Time Being with another mind-bending, heart-rending work of meta wizardry told through Benny Oh and his widowed mother, a charismatic street artist, a homeless philosopher, and the Book itself.

Richard Powers, Bewilderment

Unsurprising to hear the film rights to this Arrival meets Flowers for Algernon cosmic tale have been snapped up, where astrobiologist Theo Byrne takes his eco-conscious, grieving son to other planets as therapy for his violent outbursts. 

Claudia Roden, Med: A Cookbook

The best is back: Claudia Roden has been broadening the UK's consciousness of Mediterranean food on an east and south heading since 1968. Now she revisits cuisines "from Provence to Petra, Madrid to Morocco" with an informal twist. 

Iain Sinclair, The Gold Machine: In the Tracks of the Mule Dancers

Iain Sinclair's great-uncle Arthur set out to Peru with dreams of land and gold: following in his footsteps, Sinclair uses the journey and his excoriating style to unpack Arthur's complicity in the colonial nightmare and its consequences.  

Wole Soyinka, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

In his first novel for 50 years, Soyinka spares no-one from his brilliantly satirical glare, following Dr. Menka and his gilded friend Duyole from a grisly trade in body parts to the equally grisly backroom deals of international politics. Mesmerising.

Sophia Thakur, illustrated by Denzell Dankwah, Superheroes: Inspiring Stories of Secret Strength

Super inspiration for the new school year! The first book for young readers from #Merky comes with an intro from Stormzy, and vivid portraits in poetic words and comic book-inspired images from dream Sophia Thakur and Denzell Dankwah.

Lynne Tillman, Weird Fucks

Weird fucks: many of us have them, but few if any can spin them into literary gold the way Lynne Tillman does in this novella that disappears down the sexual rabbit hole to reflect on masculinity, desire, solitude… the whole human condition thing.

Ludmila Ulitskaya, translated by Polly Gannon, Just the Plague

Based on events in the USSR in the 1930s, written in the 1980s and rediscovered during lockdown, Just the Plague's haunting morality tale of vaccines and infection vectors is translated into English by Polly Gannon at the perfect moment.

Colson Whitehead, Harlem Shuffle

In 1960s Harlem, Ray Carney finds himself caught between his current life as an upstanding family man, and the birth family he left behind. But cash is tight, and cousin Freddie's onto a sure thing. Just one hotel heist to fence, right? Right?

Rafia Zakaria, Against White Feminism

Rafia Zakaria's blistering book takes apart the claims of trickle-down, liberal, "lean in" feminisms reliant on racism and nationalism, ignoring decades of intersectional, transnational feminism for all, whose potency Zakaria amplifies.

Adam Zmith, Deep Sniff: A History of Poppers and Queer Futures

Adam Zmith couldn't have predicted that Deep Sniff would hit shelves as poppers make headlines in the Canadian election – but, as he argues, poppers are modern history, creating euphoric, eccentric connections through their power to open us up.

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