There’s still time to take advantage of our big summer sale, which ends midnight tonight. But what should you buy?
All our books are half price, and that includes a gloriously diverse range of books – everything from novels and short stories to poetry, biography and travel books – so we can’t blame you if you are struggling to choose what to read next. To help you decide, take a look at our sale bestsellers below.
1. This Is Not A Rescue, Emily Blewitt
Top of the charts is young Welsh poet Emily Blewitt’s striking debut collection.
In This Is Not A Rescue, vibrant love lyrics contrast with poems confronting trauma and violence. Lighter themes include an homage to Jane Austen and an irreverent portrait of a Star Wars character.
‘Here is a riotous, cacophonous and wonderful book. Here is an important new voice in British poetry.’
– Jonathan Edwards, author of My Family and Other Superheroes.
2. Basic Nest Architecture, Polly Atkin
Coming in a close second is Polly Atkin’s first collection, which follows her Mslexia Prize-winning pamphlet, Shadow Dispatches. Atkin has already built up a loyal readership for her complex, intelligent, densely metaphorical lyrics, often inspired by the beauties of the Lake District where she has made her home for a decade. The remarkable poems in Basic Nest Architecture are a testament to her persistence and artistry: as well as being profoundly personal, they reach out to the modern world in all it’s complexity and diversity.
3. Heat Signature, Siobhan Campbell
There is a beautiful ruthlessness to the poetry of Siobhán Campbell, and it comes as no surprise that her latest collection, Heat Signature, is proving so popular in the sale. These are poems of moral tension, of provocation, but they are also artful: full of marvellously terse textures, of clashing consonants, subtle rhymes and insistent rhythms.
The blend of dark comedy, tragedy and politics is entirely typical of Campbell’s complex, thoughtful and profoundly entertaining poetry.
4. What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo, Pascale Petit
‘Pascale’s poems are as fresh as paint, and make you look all over again at Frida and her brilliant and tragic life.’ – Jackie Kay, The Observer
What the Water Gave Me contains fifty-two poems in the voice of the iconic Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. More than just a verse biography, this collection explores how Kahlo transformed trauma into art after the artist’s near-fatal bus accident. Petit, with her vivid style, her feel for nature and her understanding of pain and redemption, fully inhabits Kahlo’s world. Each poem is an evocation of “how art works on the pain spectrum”, laced with splashes of ferocious colour.
1. Ritual, 1969, Jo Mazelis
Jo Mazelis’ darkly beautiful short story collection is your favourite fiction book so far. These subtle, unflinching stories explore the unsettling borderland between reality and the supernatural. Ranging from early twentieth-century France to 1960s South Wales and contemporary Europe, we are introduced, with singular vision and poetic language, to characters caught up in events and feelings they do not fully understand or control.
2. Six Pounds Eight Ounces, Rhian Elizabeth
In second place is Rhian Elizabeth’s tragicomic tale of growing up in the South Wales valleys.
Hannah King is a liar, so everyone says. That means her stories of growing up in the Rhondda must be treated with caution. Rhian Elizabeth opens Hannah’s notebook up on her own little world of crazy friends and crazy family, and a crazy school with crazy teachers who aren’t always what they seem. From dolls and sherbet lemons, to a bright student who drops out of school in favour of drink, drugs and glam rock up on an estate which feels like another planet, Hannah, it seems, has always been trouble.
3. Larkinland, Jonathan Tulloch
Jonathan Tulloch’s remarkable new novel isn’t officially released until 27 July, but that hasn’t stopped it being one of our most popular books in the sale.
A pitch-perfect realisation of Philip Larkin’s poetic world, Larkinland follows the moving misadventures of would-be poet Arthur Merryweather, revealing the loneliness, commonplaces, fears, lusts and hope we all must face. Drawing on meetings with the women in Larkin’s life, Larkinland casts startlingly fresh light on one of Hull’s greatest ever poets.
4. Ibrahim & Reenie, David Lewellyn
David Lewellyn’s impressive and daringly human book comes in fourth on the fiction list.
Ibrahim is a young Muslim ex-student with a tough few years behind him, and Reenie, a seventy-five year old cockney, has her life’s luggage in a shopping trolley, complete with an orange tent and a cockatiel. Meeting by chance in Newport, the odd couple discover they are both walking from Cardiff to London, and not for charity. Ibrahim & Reenie follows their journey and the unexpected relationship that builds between them.
1. Dark Land, Dark Skies, Martin Griffiths
Proving popular in our non-fiction list is Martin Griffiths’ Celtic re-interpretation of the night sky. Dark Land, Dark Skies is an exploration of how ancient Welsh peoples may have used their legends and beliefs to understand the stars above: Leo, for instance, becoming a fearsome boar, and Pegasus (coupled to Andromeda on his back) representing the goddess Epona riding her white horse. This is a fascinating book, suitable for both amateur and professional stargazers.
2. Mametz, Aled Hughes
Aled Hughes’ extraordinary photographs are an artistic commemoration of the Battle of Mametz Wood, the most significant battle in World War I for Welsh troops. Over 4,000 soldiers of the 38th Welsh Division were killed or wounded there in July 1916, and Hughes’ photographs show the lingering evidence of this devastating event: images of actual trees from the war (some ‘embracing’ artillery shells), battlefield detritus, military mementoes, and images of places of modern pilgrimage and remembrance. It’s not hard to see why so many of you have chosen to buy this remarkable book.
3. Wild Places, Iolo Williams
We hope all those of you with fresh new copies of Iolo Williams’ Wild Places don’t keep them pristine for long – this book is for exploring Wales’ wilderness with, rain or shine, and is compact enough to take with you on all your journeys. Informative and lavishly illustrated, Wild Places will reveal rarities like the Snowdon lily and the Snowdonia hawkweed, show you where hares box and otters swim, where to spot dolphins and salmon, and where to see Wales’ great variety of hawks and other birds of prey.
4. Writing Motherhood, ed. Carolyn Jess-Cooke
Last but certainly not least is the Writing Motherhood anthology, a deeply moving and inspiring selection of poems, interviews and essays by female creatives. Why are still asking female writers with children how they find time to write? This book challenges preconceptions about motherhood as a creative hindrance, portraying the exquisite moments of motherhood as often enriching artistic practice instead.
‘Essential reading for anyone who is a mother, or who had a mother, and is interested in how motherhood and creativity intertwine.’ – Helen Cadbury
The half price sale ends at midnight. Take a look at all we have to offer on the Seren website.