Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Favourite reads of last year

I've always loved reading, which is why I ended up doing a degree in English Literature, but after reading A LOT over those three years, for the first year and a half after graduation I think I read a total of 4 books. Having been told what to read for so long, I found I didn't know what I wanted to read, or what sort of books I enjoyed outside of my degree. I found it daunting to choose a book to read and I think after trying to deal with so much mentally by getting used to no longer being in full-time education and being a 'proper adult', reading just wasn't high on my priorities. 

In 2018 I set myself the target of reading 12 books as I thought one a month was manageable; I ended  up reading 18 so last year set myself the target of reading 24 books over the year, and I ended up reading 32! I was really proud of how much I read (although I have seen some people say they read 50 - 100 books in a year?! I don't know how you could read that much unless you skim read everything). Out of the 32 these were the books that stood out for me as my favourites and I rated them all 5/5 stars. 


This book was a breath of fresh air after finishing a disappointing book beforehand, and I picked it up as my friend Reesha had gifted it to me. 

How to Stop Time focuses on Tom who looks about 40 but is actually over 400 years old. Tom has a condition that means he physically ages 1 year every 14-15 years, and was born in the 1500s. The book splits between Tom in the present and Tom of the past and how he moves around every few years to avoid suspicion and continues the search for his daughter Marion who has the same condition. This was a really interesting concept, a gripping read, and I felt like I was having a history lesson at the same time! 


*I know this isn't pictured at the top - I haven't got rid of it! It's just currently with a friend to read

As I mentioned, I studied English Literature at uni, and I took a module in Representing the Holocaust, and ended up writing my dissertation on Holocaust Literature, so I've read a lot around the subject. I’m always a bit wary of popular fiction like this, but based on my readings, for me this was one of the most true to life pieces of fiction that I have read.

The Librarian of Auschwitz is based on Dita Kraus' experience of a child in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, and Iturbe clearly did a lot of research for the novel. Fourteen year old Dita is asked to take charge of the eight books in the children's block that have been smuggled past the guards; an extremely important role but one that could have severe consequences if discovered. Prior to this a lot of books I have read are from an adults point of view, and reading it from a child’s provided a whole other perspective. 

This book is heartbreakingly haunting and at times I had to put it down and go off and do something else before coming back to it - we have this luxury of being able to close the book, but this was the reality for millions of people for so many years, and it is a reality we can't afford to forget. 


I have never laughed out loud so much at a book - which I didn't expect! This book is a collation of extracts from Kay's Junior Doctor diaries. This diaries span a few years so you are taken along with Kay on their journey; quite graphic at times but filled with a lot of personal anecdotes and any medical words are explained which I found really helpful, especially in understanding the differing level of doctor and the different responsibilities these bring. 

This is both heartbreaking and hilarious and one that will make you even more grateful that the NHS exists. 


I have come to the conclusion that if you give me anything written by Daphne du Maurier I will absolutely LOVE it, to the point that I now actively put off reading their work as I don't want to read through everything too quickly. 

Set in the Restoration era, Frenchman's Creek focuses on Dona, a socialite who has left the London Court life for  her husband's remote country estate in Cornwall. At the estate Dona hears rumours of pirates nearby, but on coming into contact with them (in a creek no less) it's clear the tales she's heard are fiction.

This novel had me laughing throughout, and explores themes of identity, freedom and the self, love, and desire.


I read this in the early parts of last year; you may have heard of Ng's other work, Little Fires Everywhere which I would also recommend, but this was my favourite out of the two.

Everything I Never Told You starts with the death of the middle, and favourite, child Lydia. The book moves between events before and after this day, and explores the intricacies of what each family member thinks they know about the others, and how far from the truth they are. Splitting the book into different family member's perceptions was really clever, and provided a back story to why other parts of the story that a different family member had referenced, happened. 

Have you read any of these novels? What have been some of your favourite books you've read recently? You can keep up to date with everything I read over on my goodreads account - I'd love to follow yours to find some new gems to read!

Jess x 

1 comment

  1. Lovely selection of books, as you know frenchmans creek is in my top 5 ever read books xxxx


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