NCW Book Club: recommended reads for fans of Sara Baume
If you enjoyed ‘A Line Made By Walking’, we think you’ll love these books too

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume, along with the NCW Book Club. There is still time to enjoy our podcasts, Discord forum and other resources to help you get the most out of reading our chosen book.

If you’ve finished the book and would love something similarly brilliant to sink your teeth into, why not try one of these recommended reads from your local bookshop, library or online? With a mixture of novels, poetry, memoir, essays, and work in translation, we’ve got recommendations for every taste which continue to explore Sara Baume’s themes of memory, art and the natural world.

More by Sara Baume

Cover of 'handiwork' by Sara BaumeSara’s latest book is Handiwork, a non-fiction take on many of her recurring themes. This thoughtful, intricate book weaves together the lives of migratory birds with the daily act of making art. Listen to Sara talk about the book in conversation with Elizabeth Macneal, author of The Doll Factory, here.

Sara’s first novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither tells the story of Ray and his dog, One Eye. Both misfits, theirs is an unlikely friendship told in lyrical prose and with a heart-stopping ending.


Journeys into memory


A Line Made by Walking sees narrator Frankie retreat to her grandmother’s remote cottage. Here are our recommendations for other books that delve into the past and that bring loneliness to light.

Surge is Jay Bernard’s debut poetry collection and delves into archives and living memory to explore the legacy of the New Cross Fire of 1981. These are truly powerful poems exploring how history lives on in the present. Jay was selected by Jackie Kay as one of her ten compelling BAED writers working in the UK (part of the International Literature Showcase).

Panashe Chigumadzi uses a fascinating mix of memoir, legend and history in These Bones Will Rise Again, examining the political upheaval in Zimbabwe in 2017 in the longer context of the history of a nation.

In A Book of Silence Sara Maitland explores the joys of solitude and silence. The book takes us from her noisy upbringing through deserts and mystic traditions to explore the cultural history of silence and its potential to inspire our creativity and devotion. Sara Maitland was selected by Elif Shafak as one of her ten exciting women writers working in the UK (part of the International Literature Showcase).

With The Rings of Saturn, WG Sebald reinvented the travel-memoir. As the narrator explores the east coast of England, he discovers freewheeling connections between abandoned military facilities, silkworms, and the patterns of history, and combines word and image to curious effect.


Witnessing life through art

 width=Frankie starts to take photographs and refers to the works of other artists to help her make sense of the changes around her. Here are our picks of other great books that use art to investigate the human condition.

Exploring the competing demands of art, family and earning a living, Abandon by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, translated by Arunava Sinha, tells the story of runaway Ishwari and her son Roo. Bandyopadhyay’s writing is almost dreamlike as she drives Ishwari ever closer to making a difficult choice.

Writer and photographer Teju Cole takes a closer look at photography, art and politics in his essay collection Known and Strange Things. If you’re looking for shorter pieces to savour, essays are a great choice and Cole makes great use of the form to explore topics including the legacy of James Baldwin, the rise of Instagram, and pioneering African-American photographer Roy DeCarava.

In The Doll Factory, Elizabeth Macneal looks at art and obsession in a brilliantly evocative novel set in the 1850s. Aspiring artist Iris enters an exciting new world among the pre-Raphaelite painters, but little does she know that a chance encounter with a collector is about to bring a gothic darkness into her life. Listen to Elizabeth talk about the book in conversation with Sara Baume, author of Handiwork, here.

Mixing memoir, travelogue and history, Hisham Matar’s A Month in Siena charts the writer’s long-held fascination with the great painters of the Italian city. With fantastic examples of the paintings he so loves, this short, beautiful book invites us to look closer at the ways art can help us understand the key moments of our lives.


Encounters with nature

 width=The natural world is inextricable from Frankie’s story, and offers both isolation and solace. There are many other great books out there that bring us face to face with nature – here are just some of our favourites.

Isabel Galleymore’s poetry collection Significant Other invites us to get up close and personal with creatures ranging from slipper limpets to pink-toed tarantulas, and asks whether we yet truly understand the creatures we share our planet with.

Animal Languages by Eva Meijer, translated by Laura Watkinson, is a fascinating look at how animals communicate and what they have to tell us about our own languages. From gossiping bats to the grammatical skins of squid, the book reveals a new world and invites us to listen closer to what our animal neighbours might be trying to say to us.

In Grief Is the Thing With Feathers, Max Porter invites a mischievous, mysterious crow-figure to live with a grieving family. Gloriously inventive, heartfelt and irreverent, the novel explores darkness and light, pain and joy. Max Porter recently took part in A Delicate Sight, an interactive exhibition hosted as part of City of Literature 2020.

Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, is a crime novel unlike any other. Janina, the eccentric, reclusive narrator, uncovers a series of revenge killings which appear to have been perpetrated by the animals of the forest surrounding her remote home. A stunning look at what it means to live with and besides other species, this murder mystery will keep you guessing.


Do you have a related recommendation that you’d like to share? Email us at [email protected]

Catch-up on all of our Book Club activity here.

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