This seemed like a GREAT blog post idea until I sat down to start writing and couldn’t remember a single thing I’d read! As we’re now halfway through the year, casting my mind back as far as January is really bloody difficult! Therefore, this is by no means a complete list, but we can probably figure that if I don’t remember a book, it probably wasn’t good enough to be included in this list anyway!
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
This book was the first to come to mind, even though I read it all the way back in February. I’ve talked about it far too much already, so I won’t go on too much, but you need to read this book. Touted as the new JK Rowling, but in actuality so very much more than that. Nevermoor has so much heart and beauty that it deserves to be on every single person’s bookshelf. Morrigan the pug is named after the main character in Nevermoor. (And yes, that’s the one-line sales pitch I use to sell this book to people).
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Perhaps THE most talked-about book of 2018, and it’s so deserving too. I nearly bought this in hardback back in late summer of 2017, but for some reason held back. It went on to win the Costa prize and the hearts of everybody who read it. Don’t be fooled by it’s chick-lit cover and vague blurb, this is a wonderful story of friendship, identity and strength that warms the heart of anyone who reads it.
The O’Sullvan Twins by Enid Blyton
This is a re-read that I picked up in a second-hand book store, but it brought back all the feels of reading it first time round. I got the edition with the original cover too, for maximum retro vibes. I’m gonna go ahead and presume y’all read Enid Blyton growing up and miss out the summary. Needless to say, teenage girls were still bitches even in the olden days!
Ratburger by David Walliams
I have a soft spot for Walliams original books. These days, he caters to dyslexic and reluctant readers, which is admirable, but renders the books too young even for my tastes. The original 5 or 6 books he wrote, though, are magnificent, Ratburger included. He’s been touted as a modern Roald Dahl, and I’d say he lives up to this high praise. If you have a chance to flick through his first book, The Boy In The Dress, I’d strongly recommend you do so. It celebrates diversity in a brilliantly funny and matter-of-fact way.
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave
I’ll be honest, I forced my way through this one. It won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize last year, and I’ve heard a lot of people sing its praise, but it didn’t quite do it for me. It sits perfectly between 9-12 and Young Adult fiction, however, so if you know a tween who’s desperate to move up to teen books but is perhaps a tad too young, this is absolutely perfect. The basic premise is that Isabella’s best friend Lupe runs away, and Isabella joins her Head Governor father, his associates and a local boy to set out and find her. She dresses up as a boy and uses her talent as a cartographer (map-maker) to make the governor allow her to join the search party. Then fire demons and folk tales start popping up and it all gets a bit too fanciful.
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
HEY LOOK, the first LITERARY ADULT BOOK on this list. This a hauntingly beautiful novel about belonging and growing up and perception. Linda is a 14-year-old girl who lives out in the ruins of an old cult her parents founded. She’s cared for, but essentially neglected. The family own 4 almost wild dogs, who Linda seems to be the sole carer of. You get the feeling that they only listen to her as she’s semi-wild like them. A young family move into a house over the river from Linda, her first ever neighbours. She is taken in by this seemingly golden family, helping to babysit their child and idolising the young mother, Patra. Years later, Linda is reminiscing her childhood, and hinting that things soon went terribly wrong after that family arrived. This book hooked me from page one – suddenly I was on page 140 and it was an hour later.
From Here To Eternity By Caitlin Doughty
Caitlin Doughty is a mortician based in LA and for this, her second book, she travelled all over the world to observe the different ways that different cultures deal with grief, death and mourning. I bought it just after going through a suicidal phase because I thought it would be morbid, and it would be an easy way to tread the line of being interested in death but still functioning and boy, could I have been more wrong. Instead of being morbid or gruesome or shocking, Doughty captures the love and respect families show their dead relatives, and it really reinforces your belief in the caring side of humanity. First and foremost, this is a celebration of all the different ways we can love and care for those closest to us, and how that devotion shouldn’t end when they’re no longer with us.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I picked this book up whilst I was home for a week in January, as my Mum had been raving about the TV series, which I hadn’t seen at the time. It was (and remains) the first and only Atwood I’ve ever read and I LOVED it! The haunting story of a future that seems scarily so possible and relevant captivated me. It’s a slow burner, but if you persevere it’ll have you unable to put it down. And the ending!!! UGH. All the feels.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
I hated this book. That is all.
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara
I DEVOURED this book over the course of 2-3 days. It’s a true-crime long-form -investigative journalism-memoir tour-de-force account of the Golden State Killer. Or, should I say, the criminal that Michelle McNamara christened the Golden State Killer. I nearly bought this book when it first came out a few months ago – when the news came out that they finally CAUGHT this notorious serial rapist and murderer, I finally bought it. What’s truly heart-breaking is the author died (at just 36!) 6 months before her book was published, and so never lived to see Joseph DeAngelo brought to justice. If you enjoy true-crime, but, like me, are careful about using human tragedy for personal entertainment, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book.
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas
I’ve done a review on this Sarah J Maas series already (>here<) so again, I’ll make this one brief.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Another INCREDIBLE author who I’m so glad I’ve discovered. This was one of the books I bought with my birthday money, where I did a very uncommercial spree of simply buying books that I had wondered about for a while that weren’t just for my job. I would recommend this kind of splurge. This books feels SO modern, even though it was written almost 60 years ago. And despite the fact it’s this ‘old-fashioned’, boy does it deliver the scares. Honestly this book is scarier than most modern horror films, whilst still being a timeless classic of the ‘haunted house’ genre. An absolute must-read, though perhaps not just before bed!
The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
Another re-read, but somehow even better this time around! If you haven’t seen the new Netflix show based on this series, then stop reading this right now and go watch it! And after that, do what I’m doing and scoop up all the Unfortunate Events books you can find from second-hand and charity shops and get reading before the 3rd series gets underway!
The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
I would never had picked up this book had it not been on a list of ’40 Books Everyone Should Read’ but I’m glad I did. Barnes will always annoy me, as he’s a middle-class, educated white man writing about the problems of educated, middle-class white men, but if you ignore this, he’s a good storyteller. What I liked about this book was the unreliability of every single character, especially the narrator, which left you guessing about so much of the plot. I had to spend a solid 10 minutes after finishing it Google-ing what on earth the ending meant (luckily, there was a lot of debate about it, so I’m relieved I wasn’t the only one).
The Outsider by Albert Camus
This was also on the same list as Julian Barnes, and again, I’d never have picked it up before, but it was short and seemed a good way into the list, as I'[d only originally read 19 of the 40 on said list. I immensely enjoyed The Outsider and could empathise well with the main character who internalised all of his emotions and felt things extremely strongly. He turned out to be a bad man, but it was a very interesting take on the ‘outsiders’ of society, and how we create and treat these people.
There’s definitely more than this, but 14 isn’t bad going I suppose! When I remember the rest, I’ll maybe do a part 2? Let me know if you’ve read any of these in the comments!