I felt half-pleased that I’d managed to be so productive with my time, and half-alarmed at all the money I’ve blown on books. No wonder we’re often skint, someone really needs to tie me up every time I even mention the word ‘Waterstones’.
This revelation made me ponder about which ones I’d really enjoyed. Without further ado, here are a few of the ones that stuck out for me.
Great Books – My Thoughts
- Everywoman – Jess Phillips. If you live in the UK, you’ll probably have heard of Jess Phillips. She’s a well-known MP who is outspoken, fiercely feminist and notoriously gobby to boot. Unsurprisingly, her book mirrored her personality, and was a wonderfully feisty, impassioned read – detailing the importance of empowering females and challenging societal norms. Her section on trolling was particularly moving – no woman should have to endure that sort of repulsive abuse. Ugh.
- The Impossible Fortress – Jason Rekulak. I had no idea what to expect from this book (which I got via Netgalley). However, it soon became evident that it was a nice take on the coming-of-age plot – with plenty of wonderful Commodore 64 programming thrown in for good measure. As an ex-Commodore nerd myself, naturally this appealed. Wonderfully insightful, poignant and cleverly written, I’d really recommend it.
- Lala Pettibones’ Act Two – Heidi Mastrogiovanni. I loved this book. It’s totally bonkers, the main character (Lala) is dippy, over-excitable and hilarious, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read. Think Sex in the City for the over 40s crowd – which is refreshing. Yes, older people have sex lives too (believe it or not); well done to the author for highlighting this fact in such a fun, fast-paced way.
- I Found You – Lisa Jewell. Lisa Jewell is one of those authors I’d heard of, but never actually read any of her books. I’ll be looking out for more after this one. It was a thoroughly gripping tale, about a woman who discovers a man with complete amnesia, staring at the sea outside her home. The story slowly unravels, revealing the man’s troubled past piece by piece. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
- Following Ophelia – Sophia Bennett. I was attracted to this book due to its links to the Pre-Raphaelites – and wasn’t disappointed. It’s such a warmly, richly written story, about a girl who travels to London to work as a house-maid, and ends up getting sucked up into the local art scene. I totally adored the end too – a wonderfully rocking feminist ending. Nice one!
- Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami. Having adored The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle so much, I was slightly nervous to read this one. What if it wasn’t as good? What if I lost faith in Murakami, who is such an amazing author? Thankfully, it was a total blinder. Beautifully prosaic, thought-provoking and searingly honest – it’s a stunning exploration of love, growing up and mental instability.
- The Great Chocoplot – Chris Callaghan. Had to include this one, as my kids would tell me off if I didn’t. I love children’s books that dare to come up with something a bit unusual, and this book definitely did that! Imagine if all the chocolate in the world went missing, and the chaos that might ensue… well, that’s exactly what happens here. The Chocopocalypse is upon us, folks… Me and my boys particularly enjoyed the comedic elements; so many funny moments.
- A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles. This might scoop the award for most beautiful book read this year. It’s quite amazing really, because nothing much actually happens. A Russian aristocrat is placed under house arrest in a posh hotel – and the book simply details his life there. But oh, my word, it’s compelling to read. The characters are beautifully realised, the events wonderfully human, relatable and at times, poignant, and the final outcome is fabulous.
- The Confessions of Young Nero – Margaret George. Another Netgalley find – and very worth reading, particularly if you love ancient Greek history. Nero is often much maligned, cited as a complete mentalist / despot, depending on the book you read. This book challenges that concept, portraying Nero as a sensitive, artistic individual, thrust into a role he wasn’t really ready for.
- The Night Visitor – Lucy Atkins. If you enjoy page-turners, this book is unmissable. It reminded me a little of Notes on a Scandal – that same sense of growing paranoia and creepiness. The two main characters (a historical author and a scary house-keeper) are relatable and repulsive in equal measures, which is no mean feat for an author to achieve. I read this in 24 hours, which shows just how spectacular it was.
- How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell. Yes, I know, you’ve probably all read it, because it’s been out for ages. But we hadn’t, and we loved it. So funny, so creative – and wonderful illustrations. My son is now on book five of the series… he’s addicted!