Woohoo! We’re into 2019!
This time last year I set myself a Goodreads Challenge to read 40 books. I didn’t think I’d manage it with the kids, studying, etc. But I did. I read 52! It was actually a bit crazy, and was mostly because I joined NetGalley, which meant I got to read some really brilliant new books for free. Here’s some highlights from my reading year:
The One That Made Me Cry
Alright, quite a few books made me cry this year, but this one stands out.
Where to begin with this? Honestly, I think this was my favourite book of the year.
To give a brief synopsis, The Possible World is about a young boy who witnesses a horrific murder, the doctor who takes care of him, and an elderly lady who slowly unveils her past to a trusted friend. I can’t really describe it without giving anything away, but it’s one of those novels where everything ties together in a really clever and satisfying way.
The writing is beautiful and the characters stayed with me long after reading. Would definitely definitely recommend! You can read my full review here.
The One That Resonated With Me
Having read, and enjoyed, How to Stop Time by Matt Haig, I decided to try his latest non-fiction book. It’s a follow up to another book, Reasons to Stay Alive, and it centers on mental health. Haig takes a look at what it means to be happy in the 21st century, and his thoughts on how to stay sane while we’re connected to the internet 24/7 were interesting to read. Ultimately, I came away with the feeling that, no matter how strange the world seems and how it makes me feel, I am not alone. Which is a pretty powerful and important message to take away from a book.
The One That Strengthened My Faith
In Bloom! I loved this book. I put a full review here, but at a time where I felt my faith was waning, this book helped me to see clearly again. Aimee is a witty, clever writer and I really connected with her as I read the book. I can’t wait to read her stuff in the future. I’m actually seriously contemplating breaking my self-imposed Net Galley ban to request another one of hers.
The One That I Should Have Read Years Ago
I know, I know. It’s a classic, it’s one of those books that always makes an appearance on those ‘Top 100 Books to Read Before You Die’ lists. I got round to it this year because my husband picked up a copy for me while at a second-hand book shop, and I wasn’t prepared for a) how much it would resonate with the time we live in now, particularly as it was written in the 50’s, and b) how much I would love the writing. If you don’t know the story, it follows Ray, a fireman in charge of burning buildings that contain forbidden books. It sucked me in from this paragraph:
‘He felt his smile slide away, melt, fold over and down on itself like a tallow skin, like the stuff of a fantastic candle burning too long and now collapsing and now blown out. Darkness. He was not happy. He was not happy. He recognised this as the true state of affairs. He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on the door and ask for it back.’
Loved it, wish I’d read it sooner.
The One That Changed My Mindset
In February, we went on a really nice holiday with some friends of ours. We stayed in a pretty holiday home in Cornwall. For the majority of it, my daughter went running off to play with her friends, finding excellent hiding places, dancing around, and pretending to be a jungle explorer. My son had good naps then, too, which left big chunks of time holed up inside, hiding from the bitterly cold wind, with not much to do. It was a good house for this, particularly because it had a few books lying around.
I’d heard really good things about this book, but I’d never got round to reading it, so I settled down in a cosy spot and started to read. I didn’t expect to learn so much about myself in that little tattered paperback, but there we are. Understanding finds you when you least expect it, I guess.
Quiet takes a look at introverts. What exactly is an introvert? Is it a fear of crowded rooms? A fear of public speaking? Is it being shy? Or something else? I knew from a little bit of research that introverted people get their energy from being alone, whereas extroverted people find their energy in being with others. (Hence me sitting in a cosy chair and reading, alone, while Chris played pool during our son’s nap times). But the book went into so much detail, and the parts and how extroverts are better rewarded and more prized in life than introverts really made me think about how I see myself. I used to beat myself up for being introverted – not anymore. If you’re ‘quiet’ – or you know someone who is, and you want to understand them more – I’d definitely recommend checking it out.
The One That Made Me Want to Read
I loved this! A real celebration of a childhood full of reading. I read this for NetGalley so wrote a full review here, but to sum up, Mangan, a fellow obsessive bookworm from childhood, takes a fond look back at the books that shaped her. Really nostalgic and lovely to read, and made me want to dig out all my childhood classics again.
The One That Made Me Want to Write
I got this from the library after seeing this on Instagram. I really enjoyed it. I really like Crosley’s writing, and her dry sense of humour, in this collection of essays on her young adulthood. It gave me a lot of joy to read, and it made me want to start properly blogging again.
There’s way too many excellent books in here! But to sum up:
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – a must-read and super popular, for good reason – made me laugh and cry
The Keeper of Lost Things – a proper binge-read about a man who collects lost items and the people they once belonged to. Excellently written
That’s Not What Happened – an interesting story about a school shooting from the perspective of a survivor keeping a big secret. Explored a side of school shootings I’d never considered before.
Big Little Lies – probably my close-second favourite book of the year, I listened on Audible and it captivated me completely, and the TV show is also excellent
This Is Going to Hurt – memoirs of a junior doctor. Very funny, very shocking, very sad. Made me wince quite a few times. (The lampshade degloving was a particularly grim highlight. Ouch.) But on a more serious note, really shows how much pressure doctors are under in the UK, and how much is expected of them
Missing Pieces – written by fellow Motherloader Laura Pearson, Missing Pieces examines the aftermath of a tragedy and portrays grief in such a beautiful way. It will make you cry. A lot
Mad Blood Stirring – I’m a Simon Mayo fan so I was obviously going to enjoy this, but it really was good. Mayo explores a really fascinating true story (the production of Romeo and Juliet in Dartmoor Prison in the 1800’s) in a really captivating way. Couldn’t stop reading. And yes I cried at this one too.
So. I’ve set myself the challenge of 40 books again this year, because I don’t think I can handle the pressure of 52 (or more!) again. For now, I’ve banned myself from NetGalley, because I’d like to read through the books I actually have first. We’ll see how long that lasts 😉
What did you read in 2018? Any highlights? Let me know!