• Heather Graham

Books of the Year

Lockdown was good for one thing: reading.


I used to read a disgusting amount of books extremely fast. Thinking back to when I was younger, I'm pretty sure the reason I need glasses is because I was determined to finish a book, even if the lights were off. One Christmas Eve I went to bed with the first Percy Jackson book and by Christmas Day I was a zombie but at least the book was finished. This happened a lot and let's not talk about when Harry Potter became a thing, I don't want to think of the hours of sleep I lost as a kid with that saga!


When you move out everything's a bit different though, from the ages of 16 to 20 I had roommates or flatmates and then once you hit 18 there's a much bigger world out there that doesn't involve books. I thought once I got my own place I would just slip back into my old habits but Netflix knew what it was doing and it actually took a pandemic to get me back into the swing of things.


I'll never be able to read as much as I used to, there are far too many distractions and the noise is almost impossible to drown out but my enjoyment has come back for it tenfold and since I have access to 'adult money' now, I can pick and choose exactly what I want to read, only one rule though: no hardbacks.


So my 'Books of the Year' is technically April to April, so we still have a few months left but I'm currently reading one of the longest books ever written (thanks Vikram Seth), so if I have that finished by April I'll be more than happy with myself.


The idea of this books section is just for fun but hopefully it won't be another 'hi here's the plot, 5/5 stars' of a book that's been a bestseller for weeks. That is what I'm trying to avoid like the plague, and I've got Megan to help me out because she loves fantasy and I don't, so there should be a wide range to pick and choose from.


So, to start off with, I've read 25 books since April but I'm just going to mention a few of my favourites because some of the others really aren't worth shouting about. Following this comment there may be some 'I picked this book up so you don't have to' reviews of the worst ones, keep your eyes pealed on the Instagram.


Twenties Girl - Sophie Kinsella - 2009

This book was such a surprise, I've read Sophie Kinsella before and thought I knew what I was expecting but this one was more emotional. I bought it for only 99p in a charity shop as well! Such an original storyline and so funny at times. It was one part feel-good and one-part mystery and I loved that mix, I wish more books had it. The ending was also very well executed, and I was still thinking about its days later. It reminded me of watching a mystery that doesn't necessarily work out the way you want to but it's for the best.



Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn - 2006

What a beautifully disturbing read. I didn't think Gillian Flynn could top Gone Girl, but this book is a very close second. It's a screwed-up murder mystery with a lot of questions about self-harm and estranged family relationships, so it's definitely not going to be for everyone, and I'm surprised the book didn't have a warning on it. But even when you think you've figured it out, there are still twists and turns even worse than I could've predict. Also, maybe I'm a little biased but it was so much better than your classic misunderstood FBI agent in the south of America.



Clap When You Land - Elizabeth Acevedo - 2020

AMAZING. I read this in a day, and it was exactly what I needed. I had no idea what the writing style was going to be until I opened it but once I got past the first few pages it took me in a nice, steady rhythm and I couldn’t put it down. I actually still don't know what the style is, but I would definitely read it again. This was different to Sharp Objects because as the reader you knew all the twists but it was in a good way and you stayed along for the ride. Don't want to say too much more in case I spoil it but it’s so honest and modern and it was really refreshing.


China Rich Girlfriend - Kevin Kwan - 2015

I love Kevin Kwan. Although I bashed Game of Thrones for the excessive descriptions, maybe it’s just because I don’t care about swords and armour? Kwan describes in acute detail everything his characters eat and wear, and I honestly can’t get enough of it. Although the first movie was good (Crazy Rich Asians), this is definitely a case of the book doing it better. Some people may not enjoy it, but I like how his stories always are fairly normal until halfway through the last act and then it just gets ridiculous. Will be reading the third and last one as soon as I can.


As you can see not all the books are recently released and two were actually from charity shops so once they're open again I really recommend going there to look first. Although the links are to new copies, if you go for 'used' sometimes they're only 75p, so I'm confident you could get the whole bundle for a tenner if you needed to, reading doesn't need to be expensive!!

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