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Culture, Literature

OX Reads: The Women's Issue

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The wonderful Kim Harvey, owner of The Mad Hatter Bookshop in Burford and Creative Director of The Burford Literary Festival shares her reading suggestions on this month’s theme.

What is reading to you? To many women reading is an oxymoron, it brings escape with the joyous solitude of a quiet moment and shared experience; be that snuggled up with the little ones at bedtime, being read to by the fire, or at the book club. Let’s be honest, book groups are the perfect excuse to come together; reading brings both joy and tears as the pages turn.

I understand that it is not always the woman in the house who puts the children to bed or indeed goes to Book Club but ladies in this issue I am talking to you. Whenever and however you read, join me on a journey to spread your intellectual and emotional wings as we look at a few books I think you should consider.

One of The Good Guys by Araminta Hall

One of the Good Guys is a razor-sharp shock to the system. This perfect page turner will keep you thinking about Cole and Lennie. It’s psychological thriller meets feminist fable, it’s Gone Girl meets Drift its what happens when women have had enough.

Mongrel by Hanako Footman

If you are a Madhatter regular you will know that I will always recommend a book by its cover and Mongrel is sublime in its beauty on the outside and on every page. Shifting between three intertwining narratives, Mongrel tells the stories of Yuki, Haruka and Mei. It is heart-breakingly visceral, but you will not be able to tear yourself away from the desire, isolation, belonging and finally (and thankfully) hope.

Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

Kiley Reid is the author of runaway bestseller Such A Fun Age, and Come And Get It is already hot on its heels and hitting the headlines. It tells the story of Millie, about to graduate, short of cash and ready to take on extra work to get where she wants to be. Sounds familiar? That’s where familiarity ends and the lens tightens and sharpens on our money obsessed society. It’s a story of desire, consumption and very bad behaviour – one of my favourite combinations.

The Women by Kristin Hannah

During the Summer of 2022 I binge watched Firefly Lane and fell in love with everything ever written by Kristin Hannah. The Woman is a masterclass in how to write stories of female friendship and love. Raised on California’s idyllic Coronado Island and sheltered by her conservative parents, Frankie has always prided herself on doing the right thing, being a good girl. But in 1965 the world is changing, and she suddenly imagines a different path for her life. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she impulsively joins the Army Nurses Corps and follows his path. This book is both powerful and compelling and you will end up craving more of Kristin Hannah.

The Sex You Want by Rena Martine

Every woman deserves great sex, and this book delivers. There are shelves filled with books on how to have the perfect relationship but not how to have, not only great sex, but the sex you want. We're supposed to know how to speak up for ourselves in bed, be caring partners, and, of course, love ourselves first. But no one tells us how to actually do all those things, and we are left feeling unsatisfied, confused, and ashamed when we don't measure up. Even if you don’t identify with any of the above, read this book, share the knowledge with your friends, share it with your book club; start a dialogue. This no-holds-barred honest account will not only improve your relationship with your partner, it will improve your personal relationship with sex. Just like our bodies, no two women are alike when it comes to intimacy, vulnerability and connection. The Sex You Want is packed with powerful self-discovery tools to help you make friends with your own confidence and curiosity, build rock-solid relationships, and embrace what you love.

You can find all these books at The Madhatter Bookshop, Burford or order from our online shop at

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