The Spinal Countdown – February Books

05 February 2016

Wish you read more but never seem to have the time?


These are the books that we’re getting excited about this month along with a handy guide to approximately how long each will take you, so you can plan your reading down to the minute. 

Whether you're pushed for time or think anything less than 800 pages isn't worth starting, we have a recommendation for you. 

Wilful Disregard
Lena Andersson

‘So wise and funny that it begs to be quoted . . . extraordinary’ - Guardian

On the day that Ester Nilsson, a poet and a sensible person in a sensible relationship, meets renowned artist Hugo Rask, her rational world begins to unravel. Leaving her boyfriend and her past behind, Ester embarks on what is sure to be the greatest love story of her life . . . it’s a shame no one else agrees.

Bitingly funny and darkly fascinating Wilful Disregard is a story about total and desperate devotion and about how willingly we betray ourselves in the pursuit of love.

Reading time - 2hrs

Start reading Wilful Disregard

This Census-Taker
China Miéville

Ben Judah's This is London

Over one third of Londoners were born abroad, with half arriving since the millennium. This work explores the new London: an immigrant city. In Judah’s eyes a transformed capital, for better and for worse. 

'I've lived in London for three decades yet found something I didn't know about it on virtually every page.' – Andrew Roberts, author of Napoleon the Great

Start reading now
- See more at: http://www.picador.com/blog/december-2015/seven-books-you-ll-want-to-read-in-2016#sthash.uKPSQhti.dpufThis Census-TakerChina Miéville

In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a profoundly traumatic event. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape.

When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over.

For readers of George Saunders, Kelly Link and David Mitchell, This Census-Taker is a stunning, uncanny, and profoundly moving novella from multiple-award-winning author China Miéville.

Reading time - 1hr 42mins

Start reading This Census Taker

The Long View
Elizabeth Jane Howard

A Picador Classic - with an introduction by Hilary Mantel.

In 1950s London, Antonia Fleming faces the prospect of a life lived alone. Her children are now adults; her husband Conrad, a domineering and emotionally complex man, is a stranger.

As Antonia looks towards her future, the novel steadily moves backwards in time, tracing Antonia's relationship with Conrad to its beginning in the 1920s, through years of mistake and motherhood, dreams and war.

Originally published in 1956, The Long View is a gut-wrenching account of the birth and death of a relationship – as extraordinary as it is timeless.

Reading time - 7hrs 12 mins

Start reading The Long View

The Year of The Runaways 
Sunjeev Sahota

'A brilliant and beautiful novel' – Guardian

The Year of the Runaways tells of the bold dreams and daily struggles of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance. Thirteen young men live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life.

Sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day, Sunjeev Sahota's generous, unforgettable novel is a story of dignity in the face of adversity and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

Reading time - 8hrs 36mins 

Start reading The Year of the Runaways

This is London
Ben Judah

‘It is hard to overstate the value of what Judah has done, or his courage in seeking out the capital’s darkest places . . . an important and impressive book’ – Sunday Telegraph

Over one third of Londoners were born abroad, with half arriving since the millennium. This work explores the new London: an immigrant city. In Judah’s eyes a transformed capital, for better and for worse.

This is London explodes fossilized myths and offers a fresh, exciting portrait of what it's like to live, work, fall in love, raise children, grow old and die in London now.

Reading time - 6hrs 42mins

Start reading This Is London

The Way Things Were
Aatish Taseer

'Intensely engrossing . . . a novel of ideas in the guise of a very human story' –  Financial Times

When Skanda's father Toby dies, estranged from Skanda's mother and from the India he once loved, it falls to Skanda to return his body to his birthplace.

This is a journey that takes him halfway around the world and deep within three generations of his family, whose fractures, frailties and toxic legacies he has always sought to elude.

Reading time - 9hrs 

Start reading The Way Things Were