/Staff Picks

Staff Pick Recommendations and Reviews from the Gutter Bookshop

As an independent bookshop, our booksellers like to uncover new and interesting books that you might not see everywhere else, so have a browse of our very own staff pick selections with accompanying reviews and maybe you’ll find your next great read right here!

*UPDATE ON MONDAY 8TH JUNE 2020*

From Monday 8th June both of our bookshops will re-open. Please see new opening hours below. Our Cow’s Lane shop will continue to offer a post-out and click & collect service for web orders. Click & Collect is available Mon-Sat 11.30am-6pm once we have notified you that your order is ready for collection.

  • Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she's an extraordinary individual. In overalls or in a maharaja's turban, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understanding everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder. For Sally Jones this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief's name. Powerful forces are working against her, and they will do anything to protect their secrets. AN OBSERVER, GUARDIAN, TELEGRAPH, TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES and BOOKTRUST BOOK OF THE YEAR. Great fro Ages 9-99! / ISBN 9781782691754
  • Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana. The Beatles learn to be brilliant in an hour and a half. An Englishman arrives back from Calcutta but refuses to adjust his watch. Beethoven has his symphonic wishes ignored. A US Senator begins a speech that will last for 25 hours. The horrors of war are frozen at the click of a camera. A woman designs a ten-hour clock and reinvents the calendar. Roger Bannister lives out the same four minutes over a lifetime. And a prince attempts to stop time in its tracks. Timekeepers is a book about our obsession with time and our desire to measure it, control it, sell it, film it, perform it, immortalise it and make it meaningful. It has two simple intentions: to tell some illuminating stories, and to ask whether we have all gone completely nuts. ISBN 9781782113218
  • For over 300 years, Japan closed itself to outsiders, developing a remarkable and unique culture. During its period of isolation, the inhabitants of the city of Edo, later known as Tokyo, relied on its public bells to tell the time. In her remarkable book, Anna Sherman tells of her search for the bells of Edo, exploring the city of Tokyo and its inhabitants and the individual and particular relationship of Japanese culture - and the Japanese language - to time, tradition, memory, impermanence and history. Through Sherman's journeys around the city and her friendship with the owner of a small, exquisite cafe, who elevates the making and drinking of coffee to an art-form, The Bells of Old Tokyo presents a series of hauntingly memorable voices in the labyrinth that is the metropolis of the Japanese capital: An aristocrat plays in the sea of ashes left by the Allied firebombing of 1945. A scientist builds the most accurate clock in the world, a clock that will not lose a second in five billion years. A sculptor eats his father's ashes while the head of the house of Tokugawa reflects on the destruction of his grandfather's city ('A lost thing is lost. To chase it leads to darkness')... The result is a book that not only engages with the striking otherness of Japanese culture like no other, but that also marks the arrival of a dazzling new writer as she presents an absorbing and alluring meditation on life through an exploration of a great city and its people. ISBN 9781529000498
  • Fast girls cool their heels on a slow night in a small town; a bewildered man steps off a country bus in search of his identity; lonesome hillwalkers take to the high reaches in search of a saving embrace. These are just three of the scenarios played out in Kevin Barry’s wonderfully imagined and riotously entertaining stories. Throw in a lust-deranged poultry farmer, a gigantic taxi driver stricken with chilling visions, a jaded air hostess and a stressed-out genie, and you have a stunning, provocative and richly comic collection from a writer of unique gifts. There Are Little Kingdoms chronicles life in the towns and cities of a changing land, where a strange new music sounds, where there are many uncertainties and absurdities, but where still there’s laughter in the dark – it echoes as compassion. This is a place where everything is changing, and where everything remains the same. ISBN 9780955015298
  • The Kelleher's beachfront holiday house creaks under a weight of secrets. A place where cocktails follow morning mass and children eavesdrop, it is home to matriarch Alice, who would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, decades before. As summer arrives and the women in Alice's family descend on the shore, it soon becomes clear that these mothers and daughters have been deeply hurt by the people they love the most. But as this fierce, irrational love burns ever brighter, anger builds and painful secrets are unearthed. ISBN 9780857894984
  • "An interesting starting point, when you know who the perpetrator is from the very beginning. But do you? He has certainly served his time but was he punishing himself for a different reason? You can always make your mind up for yourself?..." Ann ISBN 9781785656477
  • "You do not have to be a Salinger fan to read this! I URGE you to read this memoir. It really isn't about responding to Salinger's letters although there are some salacious details about him which is interesting of itself as did she betray him? It's really about a young women navigating her way through young adulthood, and abusive relationship and New York with no money." Sinead ISBN 9781408833971
  • "The best crime thriller I've read in ages! There's no gruesome body count or rampaging serial killer, just brilliant suspenseful writing and a gripping plot. If you're looking for real page-turner from a tented Irish writer, this is the books for you!" Bob ISBN 9781444796537
  • Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world - Alzheimer's, cancer, obesity, diabetes - has very strong causal links to deficient sleep. In this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves into everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence. 'A top sleep scientist argues that sleep is more important for our health than diet or exercise' The Times. ISBN 9780141983769
  • "A young, grief-stricken soldier is nursed back to health by a quirky old woman. Soothed by the nearby river - and sloe gin - the two companions create a new life together. Reading this felt like discovering a modern fairy tale - one that ambles along beautifully at its own pace. Winman’s writing is vivid and bursts with life. She creates a fantastical world of magic and hope. If you are feeling down or world weary, this is the book to read." Rebekah ISBN 9780755390939
  • "This book is an exploration of two people's experience of the same relationship being markedly different. It's a completely addictive read, it's about the breakdown of a long and ostensibly happy marriage infused with so much wit and insight." Sinead Kate is smart, successful and adept at making people feel at home: her husband Adam, her children, the guests of the hotel chain she works for. But her own foundations are about to be knocked away - for while Kate has been building a life, Adam's attention has been elsewhere. Who is the woman he's been emailing? And whose number keeps showing up on his phone? Kate tries to hold things together for her daughters, but what can she say, now Adam won't be coming home? As Kate searches for answers, she is forced to reassess her family, her future, and the man she thought she knew . ISBN 9780330544696
  • 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a lesbian best friend, makes zines, and is a flaneur with a rich dating life. But Paul's also got a secret: he's a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women's Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco - a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure. Andrea Lawlor's debut novel offers a speculative history of early 90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl is a riotous, razor-sharp bildungsroman whose hero/ine wends his way through a world gutted by loss, pulsing with music, and opening into an array of intimacy and connections. ISBN 9781529007671
  • In Utopia for Realists, Rutger Bregman shows that we can construct a society with visionary ideas that are, in fact, wholly implementable. Every milestone of civilisation - from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy - was once considered a utopian fantasy. New utopian ideas such as universal basic income and a fifteen-hour work week can become reality in our lifetime. From a Canadian city that once completely eradicated poverty, to Richard Nixon's near implementation of a basic income for millions of Americans, Bregman takes us on a journey through history, beyond the traditional left-right divides, as he introduces ideas whose time has come. 'Listen out for Rutger Bregman. He has a big future shaping the future' - Observer.'A more politically radical Malcolm Gladwell' - New York Times.'The Dutch wunderkind of new ideas'- Guardian. ISBN 9781408893210
  • There's a fine line between kill and cure. Edinburgh, 1849. Despite Edinburgh being at the forefront of modern medicine, hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. But it is not just the deaths that dismay the esteemed Dr James Simpson. A whispering campaign seeks to blame him for the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances. Simpson's protege Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher are determined to clear their patron's name. But with Raven battling against the dark side of his own nature, and Sarah endeavouring to expand her own medical knowledge beyond what society deems acceptable for a woman, the pair struggle to understand the cause of the deaths. Will and Sarah must unite and plunge into Edinburgh's deadliest streets to clear Simpson's name. But soon they discover that the true cause of these deaths has evaded suspicion purely because it is so unthinkable. ISBN 9781786896704
  • 'I too wanted to forget that girl. Really forget her, that is, stop yearning to write about her. Stop thinking that I have to write about the girl and her desire and madness, her idiocy and pride, her hunger and her blood that ceased to flow. I have never managed to do so.' In A GIRL'S STORY, Annie Ernaux revisits the summer of 1958, her first away from home, when she worked as a holiday camp instructor in Normandy, and recounts the first night she spent with a man. When he moves on, she realizes she has submitted her will to his and finds that she is a slave without a master. Now, sixty years later, she attempts to obliterate the intervening years and returns to consider this young woman whom she wanted to forget completely. In writing A GIRL'S STORY, which brings to life her indelible memories of that summer, Ernaux discovers that here was the vital, violent and dolorous origin of her writing life, built out of shame, violence and betrayal. ISBN 9781913097158
  • Six romances, one revolution, the story of the century. One epic novel... 'That night Stasia took an oath, swearing to learn the recipe by heart and destroy the paper. And when she was lying in her bed again, recalling the taste with all her senses, she was sure that this secret recipe could heal wounds, avert catastrophes, and bring people happiness. But she was wrong.' At the start of the twentieth century, on the edge of the Russian Empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. A caution which is justified: this is a recipe for ecstasy that carries a very bitter aftertaste. Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the centre of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia's is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century. Tumbling down the years, and across vast expanses of longing and loss, generation after generation of this compelling family hears echoes and sees reflections. Great characters and greater relationships come and go and come again; the world shakes, and shakes some more, and the reader rejoices to have found at last one of those glorious old books in which you can live and learn, be lost and found, and make indelible new friends. ISBN 9781911617471
  • A New York Times bestselling feminist author's sparkling memoir of gender transition (among many other things). Reasons for Transitioning: Want to impress good-looking ex; Want to upset good-looking ex; Bored of existing wardrobe, looking for excuse to buy all-new clothes that don't fit in a new way; Younger siblings getting too much attention; Neoliberalism??; Want to sing both parts of a duet at karaoke; Something about upper-body strength; Excited to reinforce a different set of sexist stereotypes; Cheaper haircuts; Just love layering shirts ... From the beloved writer behind The Toast and Slate's 'Dear Prudence' column comes a personal essay collection exploring popular culture, literature, religion, and sexuality. With wit and compassion, Daniel Mallory Ortberg revisits beloved cultural and literary figures in the light of his transition. *PUBLISHED 11TH JUNE 2020* ISBN 9781913348144
  • Published to celebrate the seventieth birthday of acclaimed Irish poet Eavan Boland, this book brings together many of Boland's best known poems with her own striking photographs of her native city, Dublin. Through juxtaposition of text and image, place and memory, the book creates a unique portrait of the city: 'fragments', Boland says, 'can point at something accurately'. A Poet's Dublin also includes an introduction by Jody Allen Randolph and a conversation between Eavan Boland and Paula Meehan in which the two poets reflect on their shared city and the central role it has played in their lives and in their work. ISBN 9781847774477
  • This story is about what it was like to be a woman during World War II when women's stories were all too often forgotten or overlooked . . . Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac are two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals and passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path towards survival, love and freedom in war-torn France. The Nightingale is a multi-million copy bestseller across the world. It is a heart-breakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the endurance of women. Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime. ISBN 9781509848621
  • A special commemorative edition with an introduction by acclaimed author June Caldwell. Are You Somebody? is the incredibly candid story of Nuala O’Faolain, born one of nine children into the penniless family of an overwhelmed mother and charming but absent father. Nuala O’Faolain was saved from a harrowing childhood by her love of books and reading. Though she ultimately became one of Ireland’s best-known columnists, her professional success did little to ease her longing for a deep connection to the world. She pushed at the boundaries of the confining Catholic Ireland she grew up in and has distilled her experiences into a wisdom that could come only from a woman who refused to shrink from life. A runaway international best-seller, it was No. 1 on The New York Times best seller list. A strikingly vivid and starkly emotional memoir, Are You Somebody? is, like O’Faolain herself, a singular example of courage, honesty, and bold living. ISBN 9781848406858
  • Sapiens showed us where we came from. In uncertain times, Homo Deus shows us where we're going. Yuval Noah Harari envisions a near future in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century and beyond - from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: how can we protect this fragile world from our own destructive power? And what does our future hold? ISBN 9781784703936
  • Acclaimed poet Eavan Boland has been praised for her “edgy precision, an uncanny sympathy and warmth, an unsettling sense of history” (J. D. McClatchy)—all on display in The Historians. Here Boland returns to her signature themes, exploring the ways in which the hidden, sometimes all-but-erased, stories of women’s lives can powerfully revise our sense of the past. Two women burning letters in a back garden. A poet who died too young. A mother’s parable to her daughter. These narratives cling to the future through memory, anger, and love in ways that rebuke the official record we call history. A forceful and moving new volume from “one of the finest and boldest poets of the last half century” (Poetry Review). *PUBLISHED 13TH OCTOBER 2020 – PREORDER NOW* ISBN 9781324006879
  • All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn't touch her? All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?Three Women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions. 'When I picked it up, I felt I'd been waiting half my life to read it' Observer *Small Paperback Edition published 9th July 2020 - Preorder Now* ISBN 9781526611642
  • No one loves and quarrels, desires and deceives as boldly or brilliantly as Greek gods and goddesses. In Stephen Fry's vivid retelling, we gaze in wonder as wise Athena is born from the cracking open of the great head of Zeus and follow doomed Persephone into the dark and lonely realm of the Underworld. We shiver in fear when Pandora opens her jar of evil torments and watch with joy as the legendary love affair between Eros and Psyche unfolds. Mythos captures these extraordinary myths for our modern age - in all their dazzling and deeply human relevance. 'A romp through the lives of ancient Greek gods. Fry is at his story-telling best... the gods will be pleased' Times Discover ISBN 9781405934138
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