Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
By PG Wodehouse (£10.99, Everyman).
The thing about PG Wodehouse is he can take the most mundane of situations and turn them into silver-penned prose even when it’s just breakfast in bed: “sailing through a couple of sausages like a tiger of the jungle tucking into its luncheon collie.” And given that breakfasts – whether taken during a disaster-prone weekend trip to an Aunt’s country home or consisting of a snifter of raw egg, Worcester sauce and red pepper to blast a hangover – loom large in the world of Bertie Wooster, each fictional morning repast is sheer delight for the reader.
My Name is Leon
By Kit de Waal (£12.99, Penguin).
If you haven’t read de Waal’s tender and illuminating book about a young boy who is separated from his troubled mother and little brother, then please do, because it’ll reinforce your belief in human nature no end. One of the crucial scenes is when Leon wakes up to his new foster carer – Maureen – who understands that one way to begin to nurture a neglected child is to give them all the tomato ketchup-dripping bacon sandwiches they can eat.
To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee (£5.49, Arrow).
The Finch household revolves around the kitchen table; there, Jem and Scout ask their lawyer father, Atticus, the most piercing of questions as their 30s Alabama town is thrown into stark light by the trial of Tom Robinson – a black man accused of raping a white woman. And, on the morning after the unjust guilty verdict, the black community show their support for Atticus’ defence in the face of insurmountable odds by piling pig knuckles, fried chicken, milk rolls and more at their door. Atticus’ eyes fill with uncustomary tears – and so does the reader’s.
By Banana Yoshimoto (£7.99, Faber).
After losing her grandmother, Mikage Sakurai moves in with one of her college friends, Yuichi from the local flower shop, and his transgender mother, and, through cooking, begins to find her way back to life. A bestseller in Japan, this is a delight to read; their breakfast of cucumber salad and soupy rice and eggs will become seared into your brain: “There we were, eating breakfast, all sorts of things set out directly on the floor (there was no table). The sunlight shone through our cups, and our cold green tea reflected prettily against the floor.”