As you may know from listening to our podcast @mate.podcast, I am a huge lover of books and an avid reader. I always carry a book in my bag as I like to read on the commute to work or when I’m travelling abroad, so here is my reading list and a little bit about the books I can’t wait to get stuck in to this year!
Normal People - Sally Rooney
My friend Kya whose recommendation I trust implicitly told me about this book before it had gained such traction and adoration. I had heard from various podcasts and articles just how great Normal People was and how Sally Rooney had perfectly captured an adolescent, modern romance that pretty much everyone could relate to. It begins with Connell and Marianne who grow up in a small and remote town in Ireland, they are from very different worlds but discover a profound and incomprehensible connection. When they both go on to study at Trinity College, a beautiful and ordinary love story ensues. Normal People is just that, a tale of two gloriously normal people and is wildly accurate in showing how one person can change the course of another person's life. Think modern, coming of age romance meets the zeitgeist. I read it in 2 days and that was only due to the fact I had to eat and sleep in-between chapters, because it really was so difficult to put down. I ached reading it, feeling like a lustful teenager all over again and have never read a novel depict how painful and physically overwhelming being in love can feel. Waterstones voted it Book of the Year 2018 and it made the long list for the Man Booker Prize 2018, I could not recommend it enough as a truly honest love story.
Not Working - Lisa Owens
Recommended on The High Low podcast, Lisa Owens - Not Working was one to read if you were a fan of Bridget Jones’ Diary or HBO’s hit show GIRLS - of which I am a huge fan of both. I love a light hearted female journey of self-discovery and this one begins with a relatable twenty-something Londoner named Claire. Claire has quit her job and has no backup plan, something which nobody in her life can seem to understand. Soon after, she has rejected most of the people surrounding her and begins navigating the mundane reality of day-to-day life. Not Working is hilariously funny, though provoking and touching. An honest representation of life in your twenties and feeling as though you haven’t got a grasp on anything, trying to figure it all out whilst constantly questioning are you doing enough in your life in comparison to others.
The Party - Elizabeth Day
Elizabeth Day is the host of one of my favourite podcasts How to Fail and whilst listening, I realised I hadn’t yet read any of her fictional writing. I came across a review of The Party and it sounded insanely good. The Party is a dark, corrupt and satirical novel which explores the anxieties and hypocrisy amongst the middle class. When Martin Gilmour starts at Burtonbury School, he feels like an imposter, struggling to find his place in this new world, until he meets the charismatic, popular Ben Fitzmaurice. Now, tensions are high at Ben’s 40th birthday party as Martin know’s a dark secret that could change the course of everything. The best of British society have gathered to celebrate at the party, plied with champagne and drugs, yet Martin is being questioned by the police and is about to reveal a tale of obsessive lust, jealousy and betrayal. Sounds gripping!
She Must be Mad - Charley Cox
A much loved Insta favourite and for good reason. The cover is not only perfectly millennial but the prose written inside by Charley is equally as likeable. She Must be Mad explores both the wonders and pain of love and the journey to womanhood. Cox communicates the anxieties and worries and essence of being a modern women in to an accessible and stylised read. It is a coming-of-age, humorous and at times emotional journey that you can pick up and return to at any time.
Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
New York Times Bestseller - Little Fires Everywhere has already been snapped up by Reece Witherspoons production company and i cant wait to see the adaptation, tipped to be the next Big Little Lies - which I loved. The story is set in the midst of suburbia, Shaker Heights a neighbourhood in Cleveland, Ohio, where Ng herself grew up. Everything about the suburb is meticulous and picture perfect, from the country lanes to the housing colours to the residents. The book tells the story of a single mother, Mia who moves to Ohio with her teenage daughter. They become involved with the Richardson’s, a seemingly successful family. While Mia is a bohemian free-spirit with a shroud of mystery regarding her past, Elena Richardson is the opposite and likes to play by the rules. The two families find themselves on opposing sides when a custody battle erupts over the adoption of a baby. An intense and powerful read surrounding race and class.
Conversations with Friends - Sally Rooney
2017’s Conversation with Friends is the debut novel by Sally Rooney which follows Frances, a young talented writer and spoken word poet from Ireland and her best friend Bobbi. Bobbi is outspoken, beautiful and self possessed. Frances is mysterious, sharp and observant. Once lovers, the two now perform together, gigging in Dublin. One evening, they meet Melissa, a successful journalist and photographer who takes an interest in the pair. Drawn into Melissa's seemingly perfect family life, they meet Nick, her tall, dark and handsome husband, an unfulfilled actor. The story follows the four as their lives continue to intertwine in unexpected ways. I have just started reading this book and am already so intrigued by the dynamics of the characters.
Roar - Cecilia Ahern
Myself and Lara, my podcast co-host, agreed this year for Christmas to exchange books that we both had on our reading list. She chose Roar, a complication of short stories each titled 'The Woman Who...' which captures different empowering facets of women's lives. I would never normally choose a short story for myself, but it is a genre I have wanted to give time to for a while, so this book was the perfect opportunity. Throughout Roar, we meet thirty unique and extraordinary women who have each learnt a lesson in life, with often hilarious and touching stories. Each woman discovers her strength and is able to roar.
NW - Zadie Smith
My first Zadie Smith novel and I can’t believe I have not read her fiction before as I love her journalism. Zadie Smith needs no introduction as she is one of the greatest writers of our time. NW is arguably not one of her most well known works or most acclaimed but something about the London setting sounded appealing to me. The book is titled after the postcode in North London, the setting of the novel and follows four locals - Leah, Natalie (born Keisha), Felix and Nathan attempt try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the working-class council estate where they grew up. While Leah has not managed to venture far, her best friend Natalie has progressed and is now a successful barrister. Despite their friendship and history, the two women find that they have grown different from each other. Meanwhile, a chance encounter brings Felix and Nathan together. Nominated for the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction, the novel is also experimental in style.
Outline - Rachel Cusk
Named by The New York Times as one of the ‘Top Ten Books of 2015’, Outline is the first in a trilogy known as The Outline trilogy. It was also remarked by The New York Times critics as one of the '15 remarkable books by women that are "shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century." Described as "autobiographical fiction” the story unravels as an English female writer flies to Athens to teach a summer writing workshop. On the plane, she meets an eligible Greek bachelor who tells her about his two previous failed marriages. The next day she meets with an Irish colleague from the writing school who also tells her his life story. In each chapter, the writer goes on to meet new people and engages in conversations on topics such as love, fiction, marriage, and intimacy as she begins to weave the human experiences together.