If you know me, you’ll know that books are a huge part of my life. After hitting a bit of a reading slump during my first year of university and then becoming poorly and briefly losing the ability to read recreationally at all, I realised just how much books matter to me. Since then, they’ve become instrumental in helping me hold onto my sanity whilst living with my condition: the best stories give me a break from my reality whilst gently reminding me that my reality is okay.
I could easily witter on about every book I read (and tend to do so in real life, not even sorry), but I decided to talk about just a handful of my favourites over the last few months in an attempt to keep my ramblings at a socially acceptable level. You’ll notice just by looking at the titles that what I read hugely varies: I do have genres that I prefer over others but lets be honest, I’ll read anything that’s going.
“Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.”
The first book of Nicola Yoon’s that I read was Everything, Everything and I absolutely adored it for how unique it was: the narration, the layout of the book, the inclusion of a chronically ill, housebound character (yay, allergies!), everything. I love Yoon’s writing style, so The Sun Is Also A Star had been on my to-read list ever since: it was a long time I managed to get my paws on it, but it was well worth the wait. The story follows Natasha and Daniel, who take turns in narrating, over the course of a day in New York. I was really happy to see not only diverse characters again, but that some of each of their traits that could be considered gender stereotypical were associated with the opposite gender: Natasha is the rational one, Daniel is the romantic.
The fact that the majority of the book takes place over just one day presented a huge problem for me: once I started reading, I couldn’t resume my daily life until I got to the end of it. And then when I got to the end… ah, I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m pretty sure my heart was in my mouth for the last few chapters at least. I’m not sure I would describe it as a plot twist exactly, but I really liked how my expectations of how things were going to go switched back and forth all the way through the story, and kept me on my toes. I really recommend this book for a relationship that had me rooting for a particular ending more than anything ever has before. And that’s including Grey’s Anatomy, for crying out loud.
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“Sometimes, there’s no escape,” I say. “Sometimes you have to bear the pressure and hope for a miracle.”
A Boy Made of Blocks follows the story of a father, Alex, and his son with autism. One thing I’ve noticed lately is that most of the books I read are written by females and dominated by female characters, so reading a male author from an male parent’s point of view felt like a refreshing change. The story follows Alex’s struggle to connect with his son Sam, and how their unexpectedly finding mutual respect in a video game helps Sam to find his feet in the world.
There were so many things I loved about this book, particularly the insight into autism and the way other people’s perceptions of the condition vary from the reality. I think the fact that Sam’s autism wasn’t clinically severe but severe enough to cause ongoing disruption in the entire family’s life will resonate with a lot of parents who read this book. By the end, I had such empathy for Sam that I actually shed a tear, and he’s stayed in my mind ever since. I might be wrong but I think this was Keith Stuart’s first novel: I don’t expect this to happen, but I would be the first one to buy a sequel following the same characters. Just saying. I really recommend this book if you’re looking for an insightful and heartwarming story that will completely take you out of your own shoes and plant you firmly in somebody else’s.
“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
I have a confession to make here. 2017 was the first time I read Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, and as of now, I still haven’t seen the film. I don’t know how this happened either. It completely swept by me as a child and teenager, but I decided that 2017 was the year for rectifying this terrible gaping hole in my bookish life. I asked my best friend for a copy of the book for Christmas and after she had stopped speaking to me for approximately two hours because she was not angry, but disappointed, she provided.
I imagine that choosing a favourite quote from the book for this blog post was possibly more difficult than naming my first child will be. The entire book (I mean both Alice’s Adventures and Through The Looking Glass but I’m grouping them together, okay?) was beautiful. It was one of those books where I looked forward to going to bed all day just so I could carry on reading and visit Wonderland again. Carroll’s imagination and creativity is just… EVERYTHING, and reading this book was such an uplifting enjoyable experience. I plan on watching the film to see how much translates from the book, but one thing I thought whilst reading it was how well it would translate into a really classical play. If that’s ever a thing, please somebody let me know, yes?!
“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”
If you too have spent the last few months seeing the entire YA population of the USA freak out over this book, I’m here to confirm that the hype is real. It was around the time of release that I was added to Walker YA’s book database squad (still possibly the best thing that’s ever happened to me), and when I got the email asking if I’d like a copy, I think I briefly stopped existing. The story follows 16 year old Starr through her experience of witnessing her (unarmed) best friend being shot by a white police officer, and the effects that her decision to stand as witness has on her family, friends and community.
Here’s the thing. I consider myself quite a socially aware person: I know what’s going on in the world. I’ve seen and experienced disrimintaion from a disability/ chronic illness perspective and so I I like to think I recognise, not necessarily understand, but recognise the fight that other marginalised groups have to face every single day. However, nothing really consolidates things like a book with an endearing character and a plot that breaks your heart into tiny little pieces right from the very beginning. AND somehow still manages to be humorous. It’s difficult to explain, but reading the book really made me think about the little things I take for granted, like…oh I don’t know, leaving my house and not worrying about being shot in front of my friends and family? I finished the last page and my first thought was that everybody needs to read this book. So when it comes out in the UK on the 6th April, I hope you’re ready to have your perception of the world challenged too.
“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable.”
So obviously, I read Matilda when I was younger, If I hadn’t, I think I would be pursuing some form of legal action against my parents for failing to bring me up properly. I saw Matilda the Musical in 2016 for my 21st birthday and it’s stayed consistently near the top of my all-time favourite shows ever since, and it was after listening to the soundtrack for approximately the 23729820488th time that, I quite fancied reading the book again. I’m so glad I did: I’m fully confident that Roald Dahl books definitely aren’t just for children.
The way Dahl captures children’s way of thought is just flawless. Reading it as a (somewhat) grown-up was a strange experience: in spite of the complete madness of the plot where the characters never get a chance to breathe, I found it SO calming to read and, get this, parts of it genuinely made me LOL. Like, out loud. In person. Not in my head. In fact, I quite fancy reading it again after writing this.
You can find me on Goodreads here if you’d like to see all the books I’ve read lately. I’m always looking for new additions to my to-be-read pile so if you have a favourite of your own at the moment, I’d love to hear about it!
Disclaimer: Each of the above reads are linked by the title. I earn a small commission from any purchase made from following these affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. This is also the case for any Wordery orders placed by following this cheeky link. I’m so subtle, I know… I’m also very grateful to receive books from various publishers and authors, some of which are included in my posts. Others are re-reads of old favourites, and most are purchased of my own accord. I’d like to make clear that I’m under no obligation to review any of the complementary books I receive, so do be assured that all of the reads included in this post are genuine favourites of mine!