Picador, £14.99, pp256
With “rage moms” being touted as a political force in the forthcoming US election, Megan Hunter’s potent contemporary fable about the enduring taboo of female fury becomes especially relevant. Every bit as riveting as her debut The End We Start From, it centres on Lucy, an ex-classicist whose existence has narrowed to the rented home in which she works and raises her two young sons. When she discovers that her husband, Jake, has been having an affair, they agree that she may hurt him three times. For Lucy, it’s transformative, and the ensuing drama blends mythic motifs with pointed swipes at modern motherhood’s double binds.
Particular Books, £16.99, pp368
From the erudite Canterbury bookseller Martin Latham comes the uncensored tale of our love affair with the book. It’s a very physical passion but, he argues, its emotional power is hefty, and ever since printing made reading a private act, it is books that have helped shape our innermost selves. Roaming across topics from legendary libraries to humble book pedlars, as well as historically overlooked literary forms like chapbooks and comfort reads, its appeal is vivid enough that even the electronic edition seems to exude the tantalising aroma of a used bookstore.
Granta, £9.99, pp272
The titular emotion of Jamison’s breakout essay collection, The Empathy Exams, remains at the forefront of this second volume, in which she interrogates her capacity for open-mindedness alongside the ethics of reportage. She meets gun-loving men, children convinced they’ve led past lives, and lonely souls who find kinship with a mate-less whale. There are more personal pieces, too, among them reflections on becoming a stepmother and on overcoming a deep attachment to yearning. Though one or two may test the reader’s commitment to the examined life, these elegant essays are unfailingly rich in philosophical rumination.