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Jan – How to be a woman

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

The award-winning columnist argues for less self-flagellation and more fun in her witty and astute manual for women.

 There are lines in it that will make you snort with laughter, situations so true to life that you will howl in recognition. It is very, very funny. So, you could read it just for that, for the entertainment value. But, tucked around the jokes, Moran has provided a short, sharp, feminist manifesto. It’s not academic: she doesn’t present a research paper into gender differences in pay or interview women who have suffered domestic abuse. Instead, she uses her own life to examine the everyday niggles of everyday womanhood – hair removal, getting fat, tiny pants, expensive handbags – as well as the big stuff such as work, marriage and kids. She pins each topic out like a live, wriggling, sexist frog, ready for dissection. But, instead of scalpelling it into little bits, 

The joy of this book is just that: the joy. What Moran is really arguing for is more female happiness. Women spend too much of their time worrying, beating themselves up, going along with time-wasting, restrictive, often expensive, sexist mores. The triumph of How To Be A Woman is that it adds to women’s confidence. It reminds us that sexism, and all that is associated with it, is not only repressive, it is tedious and stupid. It is boring. Best give it a body swerve and get on with having fun.

 Restless by William Boyd

 A novel about wartime espionage, which is heart-stoppingly exciting … a riveting tale of wartime derring-do.

It is 1939. Eva Delectorskaya is a beautiful 28-year-old Russian emigree living in Paris. As war breaks out she is recruited for the British Secret Service by Lucas Romer, a mysterious Englishman, and under his tutelage she learns to become the perfect spy, to mask her emotions and trust no one, including those she loves most. Since the war, Eva has carefully rebuilt her life as a typically English wife and mother. But once a spy, always a spy. Now she must complete one final assignment, and this time Eva can’t do it alone: she needs her daughter’s help.

The Blackhouse by William Boyd

The Isle of Lewis is the most desolate and harshly beautiful place in Scotland, where the brutality of daily life is outweighed only by people’s fear of God. When a bloody murder on the island bears the hallmarks of a similar slaying in Edinburgh, police detective Fin Macleod is dispatched north to investigate. Since Fin himself was raised on the island, the investigation represents not only a journey home but a voyage into his past, as he attempts to rediscover the life and people he left behind. Each year twelve island men, among them Fin’s boyhood friends, sail out to a remote and treacherous rock called An Sgeir on a perilous quest to slaughter nesting seabirds. No longer necessary for survival, this rite of passage is fiercely defended against all the demands of modern morality. But for Fin the hunt harbours a horrific memory which might, after all this time, demand an even greater sacrifice. The Blackhouse is a crime novel of rare power and vision. It is a murder mystery that explores the shadows in our souls, set in a place where the past is ever near the surface, and life blurs into myth and history.

A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away by Chris Brookmyre

Back when they were students, just like everybody else, Ray Ash and Simon Darcourt had dreams about what they’d do when they grew up. In both their cases, it was to be rock stars. Fifteen years later, their mid-thirties are bearing down fast, and just like everybody else, they’re having to accept the less glamorous hands reality has dealt them. Nervous new father Ray takes refuge from his responsibilities by living a virtual existence in online games. People say he needs to grow up, but everybody has to find their own way of coping. For some it’s affairs, for others it’s the bottle, and for Simon it’s serial murder, mass slaughter and professional assassination.

Most agreed the book was worth it. A book full of surprises, twists, turns and laugh-out-loud moments and the mix of thriller, wit and a good plot, along with some fantastic Glaswegian dialogue, is an irresistible mix.

 Available in the senior fiction section of the library.