Not including textbooks and things that I had to read for my MA, I read 59 books in 2017.
I read more widely than ever before, partly thanks to YouTube, partly thanks to the book clubs I joined and partly thanks to my expanding interests. I read fiction, non-fiction, classics, new releases, crime, proofs, graphic novels, poetry, short stories, essay collections, memoirs… the lot.
I read a lot of great books but, if I had to choose 10 (and I don’t, it’s a totally self-imposed rule), these are the ones I would choose:
1. The Course of Love – Alain de Boton
Some people think de Boton’s writing is pretentious and that may be so, but I love it anyway. As a big fan of his non-fiction, I was expecting to be a fan of his first novel as well – and I was right. A novel about a married couple that is always (sometimes uncomfortably) relatable. A book about real love, if you will – and I don’t mean real love in the sense of true love but in the sense of the everyday realities of what being in love is actually like. Maybe that is true love, after all.
2. Days Without End – Sebastian Barry
I don’t usually read books about war, but was persuaded to by hearing Barry speak about this on a podcast and I’m so glad I did because it’s a war book that is not about war. Some of you might remember how much I loved it – if not, you can find out here – but I was delighted that it was Man Booker longlisted and distraught that it wasn’t shortlisted. Anyway. Whatever. I’m over it.
3. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
A book that I constantly recommend to customers in Waterstones (because I work there, I’m not just standing between the fiction shelves aggressively whispering about how great this book is). It’s quite hard to recommend, though, because of the twist that changes the whole book and indeed the way you think about the world. It’s not often I finish a book and immediately want to re-read it, but this was one of them. When you’ve read it and know the twist, just look at the cover again and have a think about the title. Do you see what she did there!? Magic.
They’ll be studying this in GCSE English in no time, you mark my words.
4. Persuasion – Jane Austen
Good old Austen, she’s done it again.
5. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
I read this classic dystopian novel twice this year and watched the series. This is one of those You Have To Read This Before You Die books, and one that you will get something new from every time you read it. There are so many layers and so much is going on, it’s one that you will get even more from if you do a bit of background reading alongside it (you can start here). So talent. Many wows.
6. The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes
Ok, sure, this one might be a little bit Cis-Het-White-Male (because we certainly don’t have enough of those on our reading lists) but I love books to do with lies and deception and memory and truth and this had all of that so… sign me up. Plus, it was a nice quick read.
Weirdly, Julian Barnes was also responsible for one of the worst books I read this year, Duffy, which he wrote under the name Dan Kavanagh – so that sort of cancels this one out.
7. The Tidal Zone – Sarah Moss
A hard one to describe and make it sound good – a girl dies but she doesn’t die and doctors don’t know why. Oh, and her stay-at-home dad writes a lot about a cathedral. But it’s fantastic and deserves all the awards because the writing is beautiful and relatable and even though it seems like not a lot is going on, there really is. So please read this. You won’t regret it.
8. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
A classic feminist text that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. Published in 1899, it’s so ahead of its time and addresses issues that are still relevant today. Plus, it’s out of copyright and so is available for free online. I would recommend to the power of a thousand.
9. This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
This book made me laugh out loud and then stomped on my heart, kind of like my last relationship (HA! HA! HA!). Adam Kay, who is also responsible for that London Underground song that we all bluetoothed to each other in year 8 and that mostly made us laugh because it had lots of swearing in it, kept a diary during his years of being a junior doctor and the world is so, so glad that he did. Hilarious, heart-breaking and wince-worthy (is that a thing? It will make you wince). I sped through this one.
Also, I tweeted him about his book, and I’m not saying we’re friends now but he did tweet me back so. There’s that.
10. In Our Mad and Furious City – Guy Gunaratne
This book is coming out in the middle of next year, and our class were kindly given proofs by the publisher which we dutifully passed around between us. I was mildly keen to get my hands on it, but more because it was free than because I was interested in a book about a group of teenage boys in London. Oh boy was I wrong. It’s one of the few books to actually make me cry this year (Days Without End was another, if you’re interested). It’s an incredible exercise in empathy and even though I don’t usually like books told from several viewpoints, Gunaratne executes it with incredible skill and grace. Plus, I understood all of the slang used in the book so now I feel really street and cool.
What about you? Read anything good? Read anything bad? Read anything? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS DOWN BELOW DON’T FORGET TO LIKE AND SUBSCRIBE oh wait wrong platform lol byeeeeeeee