I’ve shared my favourite songs and my favourite TV shows, and I thought that, since my WHOLE DEGREE revolves around reading it’d would be a travesty not to write about my favourite books! If you haven’t read any of these yet then hopefully you’ll like the sound of them enough to add them to your list of must-read books (which you definitely, definitely should because they are great). Also, rather than just write out a description of what the books are about I’ve included a photo of the blurb, partly because I’m lazy but also because some of them are tricky to describe without giving away a few spoilers and the blurb does a much better job of summing up the book than I would.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Wow. That’s all I can say. Kidding, but it really is the kind of book that has the ability to leave you both speechless and breathless. Mariam and Laila are subjected to many horrors over the course of their lives, which, honestly, is very grim and hard-hitting for the reader. I’d personally say that this book is not for the faint of heart, though I also think that it is Hosseini’s addressing of such distressing affairs that makes the text especially powerful. The book deals with a whole range of themes, including abuse, motherhood, female friendship, sexism, classism and the destructive effects of war, all presented in beautiful prose. I actually don’t use ‘beautiful’ lightly in this context, either. The novel is genuinely so beautifully written, which is one of the things I really love about it. I first read it when I was 12 (!!!) which, considering some of the things that happen in it, I can’t actually believe I did. Even being that young I thoroughly enjoyed it (this enjoyment was confirmed when I re-read it years later) and it remains a favourite to this day.
I Let You Go by Claire Macintosh
I’ve read a lot of books with plot twists, some good, others less so, but this book has THE GREATEST TWIST OF ALL TIME. Hands down. I just didn’t see it coming at all, which is pretty rare for me. That’s what makes this book such a gem, though. I must say, it’s pretty slow to start but this honestly works in its favour because, unlike most books that hint towards their ‘shocking’ reveal (ironically making it less shocking), this novel gives you no inclination that the twist is coming. It took me a a while to process, but everything starts to make more sense from that point onwards. If the beginning is a bit slow to start, the pace rapidly picks up around the middle, catapulting you forward and leaving you unable to put the book down. This book is exhilarating, and I felt such a rush as I worked my way through it. I won’t tell you what the plot is for risk of spoilers, I’ll leave you with the blurb instead. However, I definitely recommend this book to anyone who even remotely enjoys reading- it is simply fantastic!
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
It’s got all the bitchy politics of rich, wealthy teenagers but it’s also really well written which makes all the difference. It’s another slow start but is worth persisting in my opinion. I also enjoyed being able to follow the protagonist’s progression through her years at the boarding school, which leaves ample room for character development. There is plenty of character development too, making the narrative feel pretty realistic. It’s fascinating having a peek into the life of a girl in her late teens as she progresses to adulthood whilst navigating a world surrounded by wealthy, popular peers. I’ve already re-read it twice and I recently (well, actually it wasn’t that recent, it’s been months but never mind) purchased it and I intend reading it again for the third time over the summer.
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
I’m a HUGE Gilmore Girls fan (a quick flick through my blog will tell you that) and Lorelai (played by Lauren Graham) is my all time favourite character from the show (and perhaps any show ever!!). I think Lauren Graham does a fantastic job of bringing Lorelai to life- I could not imagine any other actress doing justice to Lorelai in the way Graham does. Naturally, I had to buy her book- a collection of memoirs. I don’t usually read memoirs or autobiographies, but I’m so glad I read this one. It’s witty, intelligently written and hugely entertaining. Graham’s talents shine through, and it becomes so obvious how she managed to transform Lorelai into the quick-witted, vibrant, quirk, hilarious character she is. A definite must-read for any Gilmore Girls fan!
A Special Relationship by Douglas Kennedy
‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ has never been more true than it is for this book. The cover (and title, for that matter) makes it seem like it’s going to be a stuffy, kind of old-fashioned novel that would be too dull to capture the attention of most. Thank god for the blurb. This is another book with a shocking twist BUT it is also a total emotional rollercoaster and that is its true strength. It’s painfully sad in places, and will make you really frickin’ angry in others, but there are some lovely moments of beautiful warmth. This book actually surprised me a lot, I wasn’t expecting much but it delivered in a way that surpassed my expectations- I actually found myself unable to put it down once it really got going.
Room by Emma Donoghue
This is one bleak-ass book., but also, it’s kinda not because it’s told through the eyes of a five year old. You can feel how traumatic a situation it is but it’s normalised because, for five-year-old Jack, Room is his home, it feels safe and comfortable and he hasn’t known anywhere else. And, as he is the narrator, this is the perspective the reader assumes. It’s cleverly written, making it feel convincing that it is actually being narrated by a child. As I said, for some people, it might be too much, it might be too depressing. I totally get that, there were many points where I felt unsettled. I really enjoyed this book the first time I read it, and a while back I would have considered this a favourite, but I studied it in the first year of my degree and that kinda impacted how I enjoyed it afterwards.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that maybe you feel a bit inspired to give some of these books a try! Have you read any of them? What are your favourite books? I’d love to know!