I have been such a bookworm lately, its finally not an effort to switch off from the online world - too many evenings wasted on Netflix and falling down Tumblr/Reddit black holes now make me actively look forward to when I can lie in bed with my book. Here are a notable selection from 2016 so far. I'm currently working my way through the third Game of Thrones book as I want to read them all before I watch the series - good job I'm loving reading at the minute...
1. After Me Comes The Flood - Sarah Perry
A bookclub read that I couldn't wait to start after falling for its title (which made me think of this Regina Spector song) and the stylish cover. However, this wasn't just a case of judging a book by its cover as the critical reception for this has been amazing and the first chapter was so gripping and held a lot of promise and suspense. Half way through I found myself struggling, though, failing to get through more than 3 pages without getting distracted, the characters blurring together and having to force myself to plough on due to the upcoming bookclub meet. Most of my bookclub agreed that the book somewhat missed the mark so I wasn't left feeling like I'd not "got" it. I couldn't invest enough in the characters to really care about their fates and while beautifully written the story seemed to get a little lost in the telling after a very strong start.
2. After Dark - Haruki Murakami
A short but sweet Murakami book, I really enjoyed this view into one night in Tokyo. Containing many of Murakami's hallmarks (which will be familiar to regular readers - a certain body part, a certain animal...), the book has no clean cut ending but it totally made me want to stay up all night as there's something about skipping the divider between one day and the next to really open up another element of both your city and yourself. Oh, and it made me want to re-visit Tokyo, too. More on my Murakami reading list here.
3. Unforgettable - Charlie Maclean
Another bookclub read, I'm a member of the WI Shoreditch Sisters bookclub and this book was gifted to us due to the main female character being a Shoreditch Sister too! A departure from our usual focus on female authors, this book was a quick speedy read - I'm not usually in to romance novels, they are really not my thing but the male perspective made this one different and it is set in the familiar climes of North London. It had been a while since I'd read a physical book before this one and the small size and bright cover definitely got my fellow passengers attention on the tube. This would make a great holiday read for when you don't want something too brain taxing or heavy for your beach bag.
4. In Order To Live - Yeonmi Park
A book that I had to order after hearing Yeonmi speak at Stylist Live last year and one which I've only just got around to reading. I gulped down this book in two sittings, the chapters are short and it makes for compulsive reading as the story of Yeonmi's life and escape from North Korea unfolds. I have visited South Korea (and very briefly North Korea) and the difference between the two countries is as huge as it could be possible to be, life in North Korea seems like a real life interpretation of Animal Farm and 1984 but without the comfort that its fiction and the product of imagination. Yeonmi's story is eye-opening and I no longer laugh at the jokes about the regime in North Korea - what a poor use of our freedom to just sit back and laugh at people who cannot even comprehend what we take for granted.
5. The Big Short - Michael Lewis
I loved the film of the story of the 2008 financial crisis and when I found out that it was based on a book, I knew I had to read it. I work in the City myself so have a small amount of background but the book is written from the perspective that the reader has no idea what a sub-prime mortgage or synthetic CDO is and explains everything in a relatable and no-nonsense manner. For a non-fiction book parts are laugh our loud funny (the characters clearly needed no exaggeration in the film from their real-life counterparts) but parts are almost unbelievable that certain events could have been allowed to happen. If you've ever used a word that rhymes with banker to describe city-workers this book may help to unpick the origins of that and it really does help to explain the mess that we're still in.
6. Happily - Sophie Tanner
I had read Sophie's Stylist article last year and was intrigued by the idea of self marriage. I'm 28 and sometimes feel a weird guilt about my complete lack of plans to walk down an aisle in a white dress any time soon, not to mention my (as yet) failure to find an "other half". Our society is still sadly fixated on these ideals and yet celebrating and loving ourselves seems like a strange concept (pick up any women's magazine for a great example of the struggle here - love yourself but also lose some weight and put on some make-up etc etc). Sophie's book follows the story of a fictional character embarking on a journey of self marriage while obviously serving as a platform for her own views and experience on the subject. A short, fun read but one that really did resonate with me - it sounds like a Pinterest cliche but we really can't expect or accept the love of others if we don't love and value ourselves and self marriage sounds like a good excuse for one hell of a party... (A pdf copy of Happily was provided to me by Sophie for my review)
Check out my last What's On My Kindle? here.