Since finishing my degree back in June, I’ve been on a bit of a reading spree, only made easier by the fact my parents bought me a Kindle for my birthday in March. I’ve been making a list of books for a long time of what I would read once I was free to choose (I love Oscar Wilde but my god he’s all I read for months and I was desperate for a change), and seen as the list is so long I should probably get back to reading and not spend too long writing this blog, so here’s my thoughts on a handful of my faves:
We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Both fantastic reads featuring some of my favourite and most realistic characters in young adult literature. The Disreputable History is haled by many as a feminist YA novel; it is a wonderful depiction of a teenage girl’s growing awareness of the barriers put in front of her by society and the academic world in which she is a part. I’ve seen people criticise the character of Frankie because she’s ‘obsessed with boys’ and ‘only cares about her boyfriend’s approval’, but isn’t that just a realistic teenage character, trying to find out where she fits in? Also, you can be independent AND a feminist AND want boys to like you, believe it or not.
We Were Liars has a twist to die for. That’s all you need to know; read it.
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
I’ve seen and heard so many people raving about this for so long now I couldn’t wait to read it. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the story itself surely wasn’t it. I’ve read so many novels based around mental illness in the past few years I’ve tried to stay away from them in recent months, but I’m glad I knew very little about what this book was about so I didn’t give it a miss, because it was a subtle depiction using beautiful language and storytelling. I loved it.
The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson
On the cover of the copy of this that I read there is a quote that says ‘If you liked The Help, you’ll love this!’, and even before I started reading it I found it very patronising and a sweeping statement about two books about race relations in the southern states of America. I do love them both, but they are two very different books with two very different stories. They are also set two decades apart, with The Secret of Magic being set in 1946, and therefore post-war America provides the backdrop to the race hostility presented in this novel, compared with the tensions of the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s which is the setting of The Help. Basically, it seems insulting to compare them in such a way when they explore very different issues and subjects under the broad theme of racism.
Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
It goes without saying that, as a huge To Kill a Mockingbird fan, I was insanely excited about this release. Having read a few initial reactions from readers online, I knew that I had to detach this new novel from TKAM in order to enjoy it fully. However, after finishing the novel, I realised it wasn’t entirely necessary, as I feel as that I know the characters better, and they feel more human and fully recognisable. Atticus is not the hero everybody, including Scout, thought he was, and I think that, despite it not being Harper Lee’s intention, it is an indication of Scout and the reader’s mask being lifted. Nobody is perfect, and I feel like we all learned that the hard way through this novel.
Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
I’m so proud of Carrie. This book is a wonderful guide to growing up for youngsters and teenagers, and for people who have been through those years of their life and made it out the other side, it is a lovely way to 1) be grateful those years are behind you and 2) empathise and reminisce. Carrie’s writing style really is like you’re having a conversation with her, or watching one of her YouTube videos, making it a personal experience, which just adds to the list of reasons why I wish I was as talented and amazing as Carrie Hope Fletcher.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
I’ve literally just finished this book and my gosh did it rip my heart out. From the beginning the twists and turns will have you hooked, and the beautiful language draws you in even further. I read this on my kindle, but the cover is so pretty I’m going to have to get myself a copy…Thanks for reading!