What I'm Reading Now
Dr James Inglis
In 1990, a country disappeared. When the iron curtain fell, East Germany simply ceased to be. For over forty years, from the ruin of the Second World War to the cusp of a new millennium, the GDR presented a radically different German identity to anything that had come before, and anything that exists today. Socialist solidarity, secret police, central planning, barbed wire: this was a Germany forged on the fault lines of ideology and geopolitics.
In Beyond the Wall, acclaimed historian Katja Hoyer offers a kaleidoscopic new vision of this vanished country. Beginning with the bitter experience of German Marxists exiled by Hitler, she traces the arc of the state they would go on to create, first under the watchful eye of Stalin, and then in an increasingly distinctive German fashion. From the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, to the relative prosperity of the 1970s, and on to the creaking foundations of socialism in the mid-1980s, Hoyer argues that amid oppression and frequent hardship, East Germany was yet home to a rich political, social and cultural landscape, a place far more dynamic than the Cold War caricature often painted in the West.
Powerfully told, and drawing on a vast array of never-before-seen interviews, letters and records, this is the definitive history of the other Germany, the one beyond the Wall.
Miss Meg Bone
No one loves and quarrels, desires and deceives as boldly or brilliantly as Greek gods and goddesses.
In Stephen Fry's vivid retelling, we gaze in wonder as wise Athena is born from the cracking open of the great head of Zeus and follow doomed Persephone into the dark and lonely realm of the Underworld. We shiver in fear when Pandora opens her jar of evil torments and watch with joy as the legendary love affair between Eros and Psyche unfolds.
Mythos captures these extraordinary myths for our modern age - in all their dazzling and deeply human relevance.
Miss Lucy Kirk
New York is slipping from Cleo’s grasp. Sure, she’s at a different party every other night, but she barely knows anyone. Her student visa is running out, and she doesn’t even have money for cigarettes. But then she meets Frank. Twenty years older, Frank's life is full of all the success and excess that Cleo's lacks. He offers her the chance to be happy, the freedom to paint, and the opportunity to apply for a green card. She offers him a life imbued with beauty and art—and, hopefully, a reason to cut back on his drinking. He is everything she needs right now.
Cleo and Frank run head-first into a romance that neither of them can quite keep up with. It reshapes their lives and the lives of those around them, whether that’s Cleo's best friend struggling to embrace his gender identity in the wake of her marriage, or Frank's financially dependent sister arranging sugar daddy dates after being cut off. Ultimately, this chance meeting between two strangers outside of a New Year’s Eve party changes everything, for better or worse.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein is an astounding and painfully relatable debut novel about the spontaneous decisions that shape our entire lives and those imperfect relationships born of unexpectedly perfect evenings.