Joining us for Page Against The Machine at City of Literature 2021 this weekend, but not sure what to read? Or find yourself in a bit of a reading slump post lockdown?

Browse this hand-pick of three books that The Book Hive bookseller Joe Hedinger has been enjoying over the last few months. From portraits to poetry to earthquakes, we’ll find something to whet your literary appetite!

The Portrait

by Ilaria Bernardini

How about this for a premise that’ll pull you in and not let go: when her secret lover has a sudden stroke, an internationally renowned writer is desperate to find a way to be close to him during his final days. So she commissions her lover’s wife, a famous artist, to paint her portrait – insinuating herself into their family home and life. At the heart of this novel are the conversations between the two women during the sittings, which gradually reveal complex, extraordinary characters. Provocative and profound.


by Maria Dahvana Headley

This new ‘translation’ of Beowulf is something special. A feminist interpretation, it’s more of a ‘version’ of the poem – it’s very much it’s own thing. It’s utterly readable, utterly engrossing, and utterly up to date – I was constantly surprised and delighted by the use of slang, social-media-isms and all sorts of ingenious uses of language. It’s been described, variously, as “lunatic”, “invigorating”, “scalding” and “enthralling”. I couldn’t agree more. It asks all kinds of questions about genre and gender – and words themselves. This is the Beowulf for now.

Snapping Point

by Asli Bicen

An earthquake that unexpectedly sets a landmass afloat on the sea? A series of increasingly oppressive measures by the authorities on that landmass, ostensibly to keep public order? A growing resistance to this tyranny by ordinary people? And even nature helping out by revealing a secret underground system? Yes, this novel has all of this, and more. Translated from Turkish, it’s a genre-melding tale that shifts and slides from realist, to political, to fantastical… blurring all three into something unforgettable.

Share a picture of what you’re reading and win a limited edition A3 ‘All Shall Be Well’ print!

We want to know what you’re reading this bank holiday! Whether you’re enjoying a well-deserved detox read in the beautiful surroundings of the Plantation Garden or joining in from home from the dining room window, tucked up in bed or in a deck chair in the garden, make sure to take a picture of your chosen book and reading spot, and share with us on social media using the hashtag #CityofLit21.

We’ll choose our four favourite photos to win an A3 ‘All Shall Be Well‘ print! Winners will be announced on Tuesday 1 June.