The crème de la crème of my bookshelf
At the beginning of 2018 I set myself a handful of New Year’s Resolutions. Of course the classic ‘eat less sweets‘ and ‘drink more water‘ were in there and as per usual I think failed terribly at them both approximately two days after I’d set them. However I also set myself the task of eating less meat during 2018, one which I think I’ve done a pretty alright job at (just don’t read back through my pepperoni-filled Domino’s order history) and the challenge of reading 12 books, one book a month for the whole of 2018. We’re now 10 months in and I’ve read 16. I DID IT. That’s not bad right?
I’ve always loved reading, but struggled to fit in and commit to it daily. You in the same boat? Turns out downloading Goodreads and updating it regularly with my current read was a fab idea. I’m someone who thrives off of documenting my progress and so through the act of doing that I’ve read more books than I have in years, enjoyed the process and it’s now part of my nightly routine. So far this year I’ve read some absolute clangers (soz but Lolita just wasn’t my bag) and some gems; so today I’m sharing with you the books that have risen right to the top of my list…
‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney. This is my most recent read. I picked it up because I’ve dabbled in Sally’s previous novel – ‘Conversations with Friends’ – which I read the first chapter of and got distracted, so I really need to go back to that one. I picked this one up because it came highly recommend from The High Low, and you know how much I love The High Low. It’s completely different to any other book that I’ve read. It tells the story of a boy and a girl and the how their lives intertwine from their sixth-form years, to their university ones. It sounds like a love story, but it’s not your run of the mill one. Mental health plays a big part here, along with the complexities that come with control in a relationship. It really etches in deep under the surface and it got me hooked instantly. Like a Netflix binge-watch, but for your brain.
‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman. I have fond memories of this book because of how I read it. I started it on a Saturday morning and then finished it on a Sunday evening. It was one of those weekends that you spend lying horizontal most of the time under the weight of the chunkiest blanket you can find. I often think back to that weekend back at the beginning of the year and how it was possibly one of the most relaxing two-day stints I’ve had. It was lush. I felt lush. This book was lush. I’ve only ever read a few books where you’re not exactly on the side of the narrator for 75% of the text, but this one held my attention from the get go and it’s one of those ones where something is up, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Just make sure you start reading it on a Saturday morning…
‘Little Fires Everywhere’ by Celeste Ng. Celeste has written two books and this is the second (the rights to turn it into a TV series were purchased by none other than Reese Witherspoon!). It’s tough to pick which one out of this and ‘Everything I Never Told You’ is my favourite – you can’t go wrong with either of them. Both are simply written novels with complex characters and storylines that make them a real page turner. I read both of these books so darn quickly because I just had to know what happened next. The stories aren’t particularly far-fetched, but they are so intricate. This one in particular deals with adoption and the issues associated with decisions made in the past. Both books cover topics that make you scratch your head and ponder them for a while afterwards which I really like.
‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith. My friends invited me to join their two-person book club back at the beginning of the summer (I know, I feel very special) and this was the third book we chose after the two previous ones turned out to be, we agreed unanimously, pretty unenjoyable. This was the first book that we agreed was a delight. It was Zadie’s first book and explores a whole host of topics from family to rivalry, culture, religion and relationships. When you start reading you have no idea what you’re in for. I wouldn’t want to ruin anything so I’ll leave it there, but just know that it’s beautifully written. It’s long, but well worth the read in my eyes. The characters properly play out in your head, so it was no surprise to me that it’s since been made into a TV series – that’s next on my list.
‘Everything I Know About Love’ by Dolly Alderton. You know sometimes you’re watching a film and you get a bit sad because you’re never going to be able to watch it for the first time ever again? *cough* A Star is Born *cough*. Well that’s exactly how I felt reading this book. I want to read it with fresh eyes all over again, but I know it’s a book that I’ll re-read again at some point. Dolly’s work is the stuff I search out online for, I save the podcast she co-hosts until the new episode is released so I know I always have one in the bag to listen to (which is slightly absurd because they tend to be pretty topical), I bought four copies of this book so that all my mates could have their own and I’ve just bought tickets to her book tour. This book is everything. It made me laugh – the Hen Party email remains my favourite piece of writing from her – and it made me cry. It made me feel all the things. If you’re a similar age then you’re going to love this book. FACT. And if you already have it and feel the same way as me, then you may be interested to know that the paperback is released next year with NEW MATERIAL. Yes, of course it’s on pre-order.
Photos by Emma Croman
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