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Best books to borrow now that libraries are back in business: The Vanishing Half, Utopia Avenue...

Best books to borrow now that libraries are back in business: The Vanishing Half, Utopia Avenue...

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Text: Azrin Tan


Hailing all lovers of the paperback. Or hardback, for that matter. The National Library Board (NLB) will be resuming more services from the 20th of October, including longer allowances for library dwellers. Previously, the entrance to public libraries had been limited to 30-minute blocks at a time, but with the significant extension on the length of stay allowed, you can now browse and freely borrow books to your heart's content. We're sure the new two or three hour limit is going to be more than enough for you to walk down the aisles, grab a book that you've judged by its cover, and flip through the pages before deciding if you're bringing it home. With the number of new books in town though, we figured you'd appreciate a little of a head start. Whether you're looking for illustrated classics for the kids or some non-fiction to soothe the soul, we've got you covered. Below, a couple of these new reads to consider grabbing off the shelves before anyone else does.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

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Here's one of the most prominent reads that emerged amidst the social chaos of 2020. The Vanishing Half tells the story of twin sisters, Desiree and Stella Vignes, who grew up together in a small, southern black community before running away and splitting ways from each other. Stella marries a white man who knows nothing of her past whilst Desiree returns to the very same town they had run away from. Years pass and the separated sisters' are bound to meet again after having lived very different lives away from each other.

 

The Dragons, The Giant, The Women by Wayétu Moore

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Barely escaping the civil war that breaks out in her homeland, Liberia, Wayetu Moore tells a painful memoir of her constant state of transience at only five years old as she attempts to reunite with her mother who is working and studying in New York. They fled Liberia by foot before being smuggled to Sierra Leone and eventually making the move to the United States. Through it all, the book tells the story of a black immigrant attempting to survive the turmoil of living in the American South and the importance of familial bonds.

 

Dharma's Chariot by Sithuraj Ponraj

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Palaniappan, a cloth merchant, sells a shipment of defective cloth to his old friend Jamal in order to pay the rent for his shop in Arab Street. He feels guilty, as Jamal had been the one to help him set up his business. Dharma's Chariot is a local read that offers a glimpse at the small Indian import and export community back in the '70s and '80s before they were made obsolete by technology.

 

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

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In true Mitchellian fashion, the chaos of Utopia Avenue covers the tumultuous stories of the lives of the band members of a British rock band towards the dark end of the Sixties. A flirtatious throwback to the era of parties, drugs and psychedelic egos amidst political turmoil and the maddening existential crises of the time; Utopia Avenue is a read that's bound to be as trippy as it sounds.

 

Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen

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This one is only timely for the chaos and uncertainty that is 2020. Jennie Allen writes a power focused self-help book on how you can break out of your negative thought processes and refuse to be victims of toxic thinking patterns in order to take control of your own life.

 

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

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Vivek Oji's mother finds her son's body at the front door, marking the point where she is finally forced to attempt to understand the child she never really knew. Vivej Oji's coming-of-age story in Nigeria was one wrought with the difficulties of identity and a misplaced sense of belonging as a queer person. Whilst his mother was an overbearing presence, his father was not. As the novel uncovers the mystery behind Vivek's death, stories of love and loss are unravelled along with it.

 

Little Gods by Meng Jin

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A story that binds lost histories, the politics of immigration and lived memories over time. Giving birth on the night of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Su Lan is thrown into a series of events that will later bring her own daughter, Liya back to China from America. This novel transcends over time, space and class as Little Gods explores the hidden portrait of Su Lan; a lady so connected yet shrouded from her past.

 

The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

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From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, this captivating thriller tells the story of a woman's disappearance from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme in New York. Seemingly unrelated, the dystopian writer knows how to craft a mystery right where it hits.

 

The Comeback by Ella Berman

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A deep dive into the psyche of a young actress, Grace, a child star raised in the spotlight under the influence of a charming, manipulative film director. The novel explores the power dynamics rampant in Hollywood life; one that severely renders the woman helpless in her struggle to lead her own life.

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