Hamish Hamilton, £12.99, pp304
Mackintosh’s dystopian second novel imagines a patriarchal world in which a woman’s right to procreate is decided by lottery at the onset of puberty. Aged 14, Calla is taken by her father to a lottery station where she randomly selects a blue ticket determining a future of untethered sexual freedoms but no right to motherhood (only white ticket holders can give birth). By her early 30s, Calla begins to yearn for a child, setting her on a path of both personal fulfilment and danger in a thoughtful and haunting exploration of freedom, fate and a woman’s right to choose her destiny.
Hutchinson, £14.99, pp288
Journalist, podcaster and self-styled “Middling Millennial”, Sykes offers up her musings on subjects ranging from wellness culture to expensive handbags by way of diets, burnout and professional anxiety. It’s a curious collection, lurching from Virginia Woolf to Zara dresses via Twitter polls, a book that never quite manages to add up to more than the sum of its parts or offer up a coherent thesis about contemporary culture.
Penguin, £10.99, pp496
Macfarlane continues his exploration of nature, landscape and the environment with this beautifully written – and at times genuinely thrilling – investigation of the world beneath our feet. From the calving of glaciers to cave networks complete with their own weather systems, he skilfully weaves biology, botany, travel, literature, etymology and personal experience to create a comprehensive analysis of life underground. At times deeply philosophical, he explores our cultural and historical relationship with subterranean worlds and the impact that humans have on this often ignored landscape.