7 Books We’re Excited to Read in 2023
BY THE SPILL
It’s our favourite time of the year. The time for the editorial team to compile the books we’re looking forward to reading during the next twelve months, whether holed up in bed with a nice cuppa, or sipping mojitos on a beach somewhere warm. Here are seven books on our radar in 2023.
1) Ugly: Giving us back our beauty standards, by Anita Bhagwandas
“We've all had those moments,” says the early description of Ugly. The ones where you look in the mirror and nothing feels ok. For Anita Bhagwandas, this started when she was a child and continued throughout her life, creating an enduring internal torment about her looks. We're all told that this is just part of growing up, but it stays with us, evolving as we age. The internet tells us we should love ourselves, whilst bombarding us with images of airbrushed perfection, upholding centuries-old beauty standards which we can't always see. Our beauty rituals are so often based around things we think we need to fix, grow and develop - sometimes tipping into a dangerous obsession. So, what seismic shift does it take to break free from this mentality? In Ugly, Bhagwandas uncovers where these beauty standards started, unpicks why they've been perpetuated, and unmasks the structures that continue to support them. From the ever-growing cosmetic surgery industry, to the hidden pitfalls of 'pretty privilege', it is time to finally break free from those limiting beauty standards, because feeling ugly should have nothing to do with how we look, and everything to do with who wants us to feel lacking.
Blink Publishing, out 16 February 2023
2) It's Not That Radical: Climate Action to Transform Our World, by Mikaela Loach
For too long, representations of climate action in the mainstream media have been white-washed, green-washed, and diluted to be made compatible with capitalism. We are living in an economic system that pursues profit above all else; harmful, oppressive systems that heavily contribute to the climate crisis and environmental consequences that have been toned down to the masses. Tackling the climate crisis requires us to visit the roots of poverty, capitalist exploitation, police brutality, and legal injustice. Climate justice offers the real possibility of huge leaps towards racial equality and collective liberation, as it aims to dismantle the very foundations of these issues. In It's Not That Radical, Mikaela Loach offers a fresh - and radical - perspective for real climate action that could drastically change the world as we know it for the benefit of us all. Written with candour and hope, this book will galvanise readers to take action, offering an accessible and transformative appraisal of our circumstances to help mobilise a majority for the future of our planet.
Dorling Kindersley, out 6 April 2023
3) All The Houses I've Ever Lived In: Finding Home in a System that Fails Us, by Kieran Yates
By the age of twenty-five, journalist Kieran Yates had lived in twenty different houses across the country, from council estates in London to car showrooms in rural Wales. And in that time, between a series of evictions, mouldy flats and bizarre house-share interviews, the reality of Britain’s housing crisis grew more and more difficult to ignore. In prose that sparkles with humour and warmth, Yates charts the heartbreaks and joys of a life spent navigating the chaos of the housing system. She exposes the issues underpinning the crisis, from the state’s neglect of social housing to the rental rat race, and the disproportionate toll these take on the most marginalised in society. Drawing on interviews with tenants across the country and the stories behind our interiors, she explores the unexpected ways we can fight back – finding beauty in the wreckage of a broken system, friendships in cramped housing conditions, and home even in the most fragile circumstances. All the Houses I’ve Ever Lived In is at once a rallying cry for change and a love letter to home in all its forms.
Simon & Schuster UK, out 27 April 2023
4) Edge of Here: Stories from near to now, by Kelechi Okafor
Enter a world very close to our own... One in which technology can allow you to explore an alternate love-life with a stranger. A world where you can experience the emotions of another person through a chip implanted in your brain. And one where you can view snippets of a distant relative's life with a little help from your DNA. But remember: these experiences will not be without consequences. In this stunning debut collection, Kelechi Okafor combines the ancient and the ultramodern to explore tales of contemporary Black womanhood, asking questions about the way we live now and offering a glimpse into our near future. Uplifting, thought-provoking, and sometimes chilling, these are tales rooted in the recognisable, but not limited by the boundaries of our current reality, where truth can meet imagination and spirituality in unexpected ways. Allow yourself to be taken on a journey into worlds that are blazing with possibility, through stories that will lead you right up to the Edge of Here…
Orion Publishing/Trapeze, out 14 September 2023
5) People Change, by Sara Jafari
When Shirin bumps into Kian at a house party in Brixton, she is taken aback by the feelings that resurface. They last saw one another ten years ago as sixteen-year-olds at school in Hull. And the weight of everything left unsaid since then still hangs between them. But now that they're back in each other's lives, it's harder to run from the past. In People Change, Sara Jafari explores human feelings of hurt and grief, which a lot of us can relate to, and big life questions. There's nothing worse than losing the person you trust with your deepest secrets. But can it be different the second time around? People Change is a moving and thought-provoking exploration of two people overcoming the past, re-finding each other, and discovering their place in the world.
Penguin, out 2 February 2023
6) Everything Is Not Enough, by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström
Everything Is Not Enough interlinks the stories of four immigrant women as they try to navigate life in Stockholm. Kemi is struggling to settle as the only Black woman at her marketing firm, Brittany-Rae is finding the privilege and access her marriage has given her far from perfect, Yasmiin is working hard to balance family life with her personal ambitions, and Muna – well, Muna’s fate lies in the balance. Everything Is Not Enough, the highly anticipated follow-up to Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström’s debut novel In Every Mirror She's Black interrogates themes of place, prejudice, and patriarchy in Europe through the lives of its characters, proving - yet again - that its author is the next great voice of nuanced contemporary women's fiction.
Head of Zeus/Apollo Fiction, out 26 October 2023
7) Radical Intimacy, by Sophie K Rosa
Capitalist ideology wants us to believe that there is an optimal way to live. 'Making connections' means networking for work. Our emotional needs are to be fulfilled by a single romantic partner, and self-care equates to taking personal responsibility for our suffering. We must be productive and heterosexual, we must have babies and buy a house. But the kicker is most people cannot and do not want to achieve all, or any of these life goals. Instead we are left feeling atomised, exhausted and disempowered. Radical Intimacy shows that it doesn't need to be this way. A punchy and impassioned account of inspiring ideas about alternative ways to live, Radical Intimacy demands we use our radical imagination to discover a new form of intimacy and to transform our personal lives and in turn society as a whole. Including critiques of the 'wellness' industry that ignores rising poverty rates, the mental health crisis and racist and misogynist state violence; transcending love and sex under capitalism to move towards feminist, decolonial and queer thinking; asking whether we should abolish the family; interrogating the framing of ageing and death and much more, Radical Intimacy is the compassionate antidote to a callous society.
Pluto Press, out 21 March 2023