11 Winter Reads Our Team Are Cosying up With in 2021
As the temperature drops outside, we’re all too keen to cosy up inside by a warm fire with a good book for company. Indeed, booksellers report an uptake in sales each winter so clearly the world is of the same mind! Not only are books wildly entertaining, but delving so deeply into the mind of another engages our empathetic senses and opens our mind up to new ideas – stimulating our own creative energy. Whatever your reason to pick up a book, here are 11 winter reads the Bluethumb team are diving into this month, straight from our internal bookworms Slack channel:
1. Talk Art by Russell Tovey and Robert Diament
Promoted as a guide that “answers everything you wanted to know about contemporary art but were afraid to ask”, Talk Art is a hot pink must-read for anyone keen to deepen their knowledge of the industry. The book is a written form of the popular podcast Talk Art by Tovey and Diament, which the pair began in 2018. Lifting the veil on the art world is no easy feat, and the authors engage the likes of Tracey Emin, Sir Elton John and Grayson Perry in interviews to help shed some light.
Covering a range of different media from photography and ceramics to performance and sound art, the book explores the way art interacts with our society, highlights lesser-known artists, and provides a snapshot of the art world as it is today.
If this new release isn’t already in your winter reads pile we reckon you should give it an express pass to the top!
2. PhotoWork: Forty Photographers on Process and Practice by Sasha Wolf
This Q+A format book puts the same 12 questions to 40 different photographers. Each photographer goes into detail about finding their photographic style, approaching a new body of work and the beginnings of their career, with a particularly poignant quote pulled out for every artist. Whether photography is a passion of yours or you’re simply curious about others’ creative process, this book is a fantastic read for anyone seeking a glimpse into the behind the scenes practices of individual artists.
3. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
You’d be hard pressed to find a recent bestseller list without this book on it – so no surprise it’s popular with more than a few members of the team! This uplifting tale encourages us to reconsider our regrets in life and instead look towards what encourages fulfilment and meaning.
In the story, protagonist Nora Seed finds herself in between life and death after a suicide attempt. This in-between space takes the form of a library – one where she can live any life she chooses through the books on the shelves. As the tagline says, with infinite lives, come infinite possibilities…
4. Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always as easy as we’d like. In Why We Sleep, neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker provides a revolutionary exploration of sleep, examining how it affects every aspect of our physical and mental well-being. Charting the most cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and marshalling his decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood and energy levels, regulate hormones, prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, slow the effects of ageing, and increase longevity. He also provides actionable steps towards getting a better night’s sleep every night.
Our web developer Keegan has already felt the benefits of this book!
5. Mythos by Stephen Fry
An ideal book to read by the fireside, Mythos is a lot like story time for grown-ups – especially if you choose the audiobook. Rediscover the ancient Greek myths and legends, punctuated with Fry’s signature wry wit. Even without the humour, these stories are no snooze fest! Some of the stories inside include the defeat of the Titans, Zeus’s headache that led to the emergence of Athena and Persephone’s pomegranate seeds. Fry has curated a selection of the very best of the Greek tales.
It’s a complete bonus that there are gorgeous classical illustrations sprinkled throughout as well!
6. First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami
Murakami is an author that inspires extreme devotion from his fans. First Person Singular is his latest offering, hitting shelves just a few weeks ago. The collection of short stories – all told from the first person perspective – explore a range of topics, from youth to music to baseball. A couple even feature Murakami himself as the narrator!
I actually just finished this over the weekend – and am now passing it forwards to head of PR & comms Freddy to add to his winter reads list – and do really recommend this read. Keep an eye out for my favourite from the collection – the story of the Shinagawa Monkey!
7. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Another new release from a beloved author, Klara and the Sun is the first novel from Kazuo Ishiguro since winning the Nobel Prize. It tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational and empathetic qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. Follow Klara as she embraces a new life with Josie, and learns the subtleties of human interaction and what it means to love.
Ishiguro’s work is frequently introspective, with little happening in the way of plot and much happening inside the protagonist’s head. Klara’s tale follows this same pattern, offering a reflection on the societal role of artificial intelligence and what it could mean for humanity.
8. A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
In the mood to travel, not just in space but also in time? Step back into Paris during the early 1920s, when F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and a young Hemingway were galavanting around. Though its contents are taken from the diary of Hemingway in his fresh-faced years, the book itself was completed by a much older version of the author shortly before he died. Perhaps the most titillating entry from the book is the story of Fitzgerald and Hemingway taking a trip to the south of France – and Fitzgerald worrying about his sex life!
This compelling story has been doing the rounds of the Bluethumb team of late – it’s near the top of co-founder George’s winter reads pile, was recently finished by myself and is currently sitting right next to Freddy’s bedside.
9. Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong
From everyone’s favourite modern philosopher and author of popular tomes such as The Course of Love and Religion for Atheists, comes a new glimpse into the role of art in our daily lives. De Botton teams up with art historian John Armstrong to examine art’s most intimate purpose: its ability to mediate our psychological shortcomings and assuage our anxieties about imperfection.
We’ve all known that art makes us feel better for centuries and this book looks into the how and why, while recontextualising famous artworks spanning centuries and genres to be used as tools in approaching our issues in everyday life.
This winter read is being consumed by our content writer Grace – and she’s had only rave reviews to give us!
10. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
While the movie adaptation was widely considered a flop, the book is a cult classic. Weaving together the tales of several different characters, the stories take place across many different countries and time periods – slowly revealing connections are the book unfolds. One of the most intriguing aspects of the book is how Mitchell adopts a new voice for each character, so that all the stories read as different notes in a symphony, which comes together when viewed as whole.
Fun fact: David Mitchell was influenced by the structure of Italo Calvino’s classic If On A Winter’s Night, A Traveler – another book sitting in my winter reads pile this month!
11. Ken Done: Art Design Life by Amber Creswell-Bell and Ken Done
Follow the career of Aussie legend Ken Done in this new book by Amber-Creswell-Bell. Featuring hundreds of Ken’s iconic artworks, the story of his career is quite inspiring and uplifting. Did you know Ken didn’t hold his first exhibition until his 40s? From there he used his skills in marketing to launch a career that has seen him be awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) and become a household name.
Head of PR & comms Freddy is tackling this one right now, and the rest of us are pretty sure we’ll have to steal it off him when he’s done!
What’s made your winter reads list? Tell us below in the comments! Or if you’re after more book-related content, hop over to our Sharing Stories curation, inspired by our love of all things literature.