Since it’s December and the year is coming to a close I thought the perfect way to start this blog would be with a list of my top ten books of the year.
10: So Lucky
Author: Dawn O’Porter
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2019
Review: I enjoyed the structure and format of this book which focused on the lives of 3 women, all of whom are facing various challenges in their lives which from the outside at times seem perfect. However, I did find the outcome to be fairly predictable and less insightful than the premise could have allowed for.
9: Women and Power: A Manifesto
Author: Mary Beard
Publisher: Profile Books, 2017
Review: This essay is ideal to read in one sitting if you are someone who is interested in the how women with power are currently perceived intertwined with various literary and historical representations of powerful women.
Author: Jackie Kay
Publisher: Picador, 1998
Review: This book is a true unknown gem, telling the story of the outfall of the death of a famous trumpet player; Joss Moody. The book follows the grief of Joss’ widow and son, the latter of whom was unaware of his father being trans until after his death.
7: Conversations with Friends
Author: Sally Rooney
Publisher: Faber and Faber, 2017
Review: This contemporary fiction novel focuses on two Irish college students who connect with a married couple and how this subsequently affects their relationship with one another. This book is an intelligent and witty but easy to read look at the trials and tribulations of being young.
6: In you Defence
Author: Sarah Langford
Publisher: Random House, 2018
Review: This autobiographical account of Langford’s experience working as a criminal barrister in England is a fascinating look at the criminal justice within this country. If you’re considering a any kind of legal career you absolutely should read this as not only does she discuss how she became a barrister, starting from a working class household and being the first in here family to enter into higher education, but she also provides insights into the current state of our legal system and how our conception of justice ought to change.
5: Asking for it
Author: Louise O’Neill
Publisher: Quercus, 2016
Review: O’Neill’s novel, Asking for It, details a teenage girl’s experience of being sexually assaulted and everything that happens after in a small town in Ireland. Whilst it is a points both harsh and graphic in its descriptions, making it very difficult to read, it is a true masterpiece of a YA novel with a carefully considered look at rape culture in Ireland today.
4: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Doubleday, 2015
Review: This mystery thriller immediately pulls you in by alternating between the perspective of Rachel in the present day and Megan, starting a year prior and leading up to the crime. If you enjoy a good thriller then this is must read.
3: The Colour Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Publisher: Harcourt, 1982
Review: This classic novel follows the life of an African American woman in the early 20th century, dealing with abuse, segregation and poverty. It is the style of the book that is one of the main successes of the book which is written in the form of letters Celie, the protagonist, is writing either to God or to her sister, who she is separate from early on. The use of colloquial language and non-standard grammar is crucial in transporting you to the world in which Celie lives.
Author: Roxane Gay
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2017
Review: This essay by one of my favourite authors is an enlightening insight into Gay’s personal experiences with food, weight and body image as well as what it is like to move through the world as a fat woman of colour (a perspective which is rarely considered). It is at points incredibly moving whilst also confronting the reader with harsh truths of how fat people are treated within our society.
And finally, my number one book of the year is…
Author: Tara Westover
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2018
Review: Westover’s memoir, Educated, is definitely my favourite book of the year as it transported me to an entirely unknown world, looking at Westover’s upbringing in rural Idaho with no birth certificate, no schooling but constant preparation for the end of days. Westover grew up in a strict Mormon, and at times abusive, household and the book looks at changing perspectives on this and how her journey into education irrevocably changed her life.