January Reading List

Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

It's time to curl up with a good book…


Image via @StudioDore

January. The first month of the year is invariably bleak. Piles of pre-loved Christmas trees forlornly stacked on the pavement, sweeping generalisations about purging gin and gluten from your life and merrily plunging into overdrafts – it's no wonder that the 18th January 2017 (Blue Monday) has been gleefully declared by journalists as the “most depressing day of the year”.

But it's not all unrelenting rainfall and despair, there are plenty of good things to be had from the post-holiday gloom. Warming gravy-centric roasts in the local pub, crisp morning walks on misty mornings and an excuse to wear a uniform of jeans and jumpers every single day. The best part of hibernation? Finding a really great book to settle down with, safe in the knowledge that you don't really have to leave the house until March.

Here are the 7 For All Mankind picks for the most compelling books to get you through the next couple of months.


Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

A gripping tale set in Victorian London, this book is a page turner in every sense of the word. A ‘Fingersmith' is slang for a thief and the story told here is one that starts off as an intricate criminal scheme involving a lonely heiress and poverty-stricken South London orphan, revealing the underworld of both the rich and servant classes. Anyone who loves a good mystery, crime novel or decadent Victorian melodrama won't be disappointed.

nora ephron heartburn

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

A hero for many, writer Nora Ephron is best known as the celebrated screenwriter of the film When Harry Met Sally. ‘Heartburn' is a partially autobiographical book about a woman who finds out her husband is cheating on her while she's eight months pregnant with their second child. She manages to write about the emotional breakdown of a marriage with incredible humour and laugh-out-loud passages that you'll want to reread multiple times. Scattered through the book are real recipes (the protagonist is a cookbook writer) that are genuinely satisfying (we've tried them).


His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Recently shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this literary thriller is perfect fodder for an overcast, rainy day spent indoors with the curtains drawn. Set in a remote crofting community, it brings a specific period of Scotland into focus – setting it against the 1869 triple-murder trial of Roderick Macrae using found documents and court manuscripts. The result is an extremely gripping, fascinating tale exploring class, human behaviour and madness.


Clothes, Clothes, Clothing. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine

This absorbing memoir from the lead guitarist of all-female punk rock band The Slits is a lesson in sincerity and fearlessness. What follows is an honest story of a fascinating life that will have you oscillating between tears, snorts of laughter and an urgent desire to teach yourself the guitar. She recounts failed relationships, past lovers, motherhood, middle age and her relationship with Sid Vicious. So much more than a music memoir, it's a book that you'll want to buy for all your friends.

hadley freeman life moves pretty fast

Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies (and why we don't learn them from movies any more) by Hadley Freeman

This is a nostalgic, highly-entertaining book from witty, astute journalist Hadley Freeman – the title is a partial quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. A clever and hilarious study of cult 1980s movies like Ghostbusters, Top Gun and Dirty Dancing and their treatment of feminism, teen angst and adult friendship, it's structured into a series of thought-provoking essays that will make you guffaw with laughter and pray for more rain so you can watch all of the films mentioned in succession.