Need help selecting your holiday read? Look no further…
I wrote all about my history with reading and how I’m prioritising it higher than I ever have before in my July ‘An Edited Life’ newsletter, so I’ll spare you the spiel on how reading The Babysitter’s Club after school made me feel like an adult. Instead I thought I’d spew a 1500-word review on every single book that I’ve read so far in 2019. Fun? I hope so.
Seeing as I’m turning 30 this year (I know, I don’t stop bleating on about it). I thought I’d increase my yearly reading challenge from the 12 I set myself to read in 2018, to 30 – just a little jump. Being the Teacher’s pet, class boffin that I am, I’m so far on track, having read 15 out of 30 books at the time of writing this post. Seeing as I’m halfway through and it’s time to pick out your holiday reading list, I thought it might be time to check in and elaborate on my Goodreads account. Here goes nothing…
The book to read if you’re a Nora Ephron fangirl… ‘This Really Isn’t About You’ by Jean Hannah Edelstein*. It feels like years have passed since I read this book, when in fact it’s been six months. Time flies, eh? If you like Nora’s witty and fast-paced thinking aloud pieces, then you’ll enjoy this. Jean Hannah tells her story of returning to the U.S after years living abroad, upon hearing the news of her Father’s terminal illness diagnosis. Sometimes sad, sometimes funny; always thought-provoking.
The book to read if you want something really creepy… ‘You’ by Caroline Kepnes*. I can’t say that this was my favourite read out of the 15 here, but then a sex-filled read about a psychopath killer isn’t my usual genre. I was sucked in by the hysteria of the Netflix series that’s based on the book, but I don’t think I’ll be watching the series anytime soon as I will probably have nightmares for days. I’m too much of a wimp.
The book to read if you want to read what everyone else is going on about… ‘Conversations With Friends’ by Sally Rooney*. Sally Rooney is hitting the big-time and I have to say that I’m a big fan. I’ve read both of her novels and have eagerly devoured both. They aren’t big blockbuster ‘OH MY WORD’ page-turners; more slow burns noting the small intricacies and details of life. Don’t let that put you off though – sometimes it’s nice to slow down the pace and just read something that’s quirky and beautiful.
The book to read for motivation by the BUCKETLOAD... ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama*. I’m a regular viewer of Barrack and Michelle compilation videos on YouTube anyway, so of course this was going to be right up my street. Michelle – WHAT. A. WOMAN. I don’t think a memoir has ever left me so in awe and so motivated. I genuinely met up with my publisher afterwards and told her in my puffed-up state that I think I could write another book. LOLZZZZ.
The book to read and then buy for all your mates… ‘Everything I Know About Love’ by Dolly Alderton*. I first fell in love with this book in early 2018 when it was first published, but re-read it when it was released in paperback and with an additional chapter about what it’s like to turn 30. Reading it again made me laugh at all the same points, cry at all the same points and just remember why I’ve bought five copies in total to dish out to all my best mates. No piece of writing will ever make me laugh as much as the ‘hen party email’. Nothing.
The book to read if your heart strings need some tugging… ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris*. Oh wow. Morris tells the story of Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoner Lale Sokolov and it is quite honestly astounding. A tough read, but one that also tells the story of hope and love and a part of history that we should never forget. I don’t often read books in a matter of hours, but this book was one of them and I still get a lump in my throat thinking of those final pages.
The book to read if you like your love stories deep and wordy… ‘Wilful Disregard’ by Lena Andersson*. I read this book as it was part of my since disbanded book club, which came to an end as the founding member moved to London (miss you Becky!). I found this so tricky to get into, as is sometimes the case with translated books. I’m not ashamed to say that I had to get my dictionary out to look up words on more than one occasion, which isn’t always a bad thing, but I found the language confusing and discombobulating. Sometimes it’s good to read something that challenges you, right?
The book to read if you love ‘Orange Is The New Black’… ‘The Mars Room’ by Rachael Kushner*. Another one that really took me a while to get into. A story of a mother who is sent to prison for a crime that you’re not quite sure she is guilty of, or not. Purposefully slow in places, I feel like it really attempts to get across the lulls and boredom of incarceration and what that does to someones physical and mental health. Not necessarily a cheery read, but one that does lend itself to longer stretches of time. A good one to fly with.
The book to read if you like a page-turning thriller… ‘The Woman In The Window’ by A.J Finn*. The author of this book is an a-hole. Just saying. I like to support female authors and just authors who seem like good eggs and need to be heard in general, but this guy is an asshat (read the New Yorker article if you haven’t already). I was given this book as a gift at my London book event, so I gave it a read anyway and I have to begrudgingly say that if you like a ‘Gone Girl’-esque psychological thriller, then this is written for you. It didn’t grab me from the first page, but from about halfway through I NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ASAP.
The book to read if you want some mystery thrown in with a love story… ‘Together’ by Julie Cohen*. I usually love a good romance novel and was quickly swept up in this love story told backwards. The secrets are woven so well into the story line that all starts to make sense, piece by piece, and keeps weaving right until the very end. Not one to give endings away, I have to say that the ending ruined this one for me and stops me from giving it a raving review. Prepare for your jaw to hit the floor.
The book to read if you want some good quality chic-lit… ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ by Kevin Kwan*. I’m not going to lie. I put this book off for the longest time because it was over 400 pages long and the typeface was making me think that I should bring forward my next eye test. I’m not proud of that, but hey I’m human and I’m scared from reading ‘A Little Life’ which is basically the size of a phonebook. But I actually LOVED this. Like I really liked it. It’s like the adult version of Sweet Valley High, you know?
The book to read if you fancy some meaty fiction… ‘An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones*. I’ve never read a book like this before and I just cannot do it justice in a 100 word round-up. A story that follows a newly married couple when the husband becomes wrongly convicted and incarnated and the wife continues life on the outside without him. It will tickle your brain and have you pondering the main questions and themes days later. It’s just won the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019, and rightly so.
The book to read if you’re turning 30 this year… ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’ by Holly Bourne*. This is like the fictional version of Dolly Alderton’s book and the two sit side-by-side in my ‘F***K YOU’RE TURNING 30 THIS YEAR – READ THESE’ pack. It delves into the shifting that happens within your friendship groups and intimate relationships when you start to splinter off and begin your own families. Some real home truths are laid-bare here in a way that’s both confronting and comforting.
The book to read if you want to feel all the feels… ‘Notes To Self’ by Emilie Pine*. A reader at my Dublin book event passed this on to me and I’m pleased she did, because I don’t think I would have picked this up for myself. I don’t find myself reading collections of essays too much and I have no idea why. Maybe I just assume they are a little high-brow for my tastes? Either way this book discusses some serious topics; like fertility, mental illness, divorce and physical illness, in a raw and unfiltered way that’s both poetic and conversational. Don’t shy away from it.
The book to read and pass on to your Mum afterwards… ‘The Lido’ by Libby Page*. My most recent book and it’s a feel-good holiday-read classic. Slightly slower paced, it took me a while to get into and the ending won’t exactly be a plot-twist that you didn’t see coming, but it’s cute and I know that my Mum would *adore* it. Plus if you need some motivation to get swimming down at your local Lido, then buy it immediately.
Photos by Emma Croman
‘An Edited Life’ is now available to purchase worldwide HERE