Welcome to the second edition of Books You Need In Your Life: I’ve been reading some absolute beauties lately and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. I’ve actually read fewer books than usual these past few months, and I’m placing blame for this on Gone With The Wind: it’s a cracker of a book, but it’s probably the longest novel I’ve ever read, taking me a good month or so to get through it. You should see my biceps after holding that thing up whilst reading in bed. #doyouevenliftbro?
“I wonder if anyone but me realizes what goes on in that head back of your deceptively sweet face.”
Talk of the devil, we may as well begin with Gone With The Wind. My mum, who absolutely adores the character of Scarlet, got me this book for Christmas, and I actually put off reading it for quite a while. I felt like I needed to approach it with a clear head, so I waited until my Easter holidays when I had a break from university work so I could really commit myself, although I now realise this wasn’t really necessary: Mitchell’s writing is so detailed and insightful, that it takes only a sentence to transport you from wherever you were, to rural Atlanta during the Civil War. Initially, I had mixed feelings. There were parts of the book which for me seemed to drag, some where I even contemplated giving up on the book altogether. BUT, at the same time, there were huge sections of the story where I physically couldn’t stop reading. Despite not enjoying some sections, the book as a whole was really enjoyable and oddly soothing: something you wouldn’t expect given the heavy subject matter. I can only aspire to be more like Scarlet O’Hara (controversial, I know…) and above all else, ‘tomorrow is another day’ is going to be something that stays with me for a very long time.
“Blame is a human concept, one of its blackest and most selfish and self-binding.”
I almost stopped existing when the Walker YA team emailed to say they have proofs of this book. Patrick Ness is such a unique writer, and I read this book pretty much in one sitting. I think it was the fact that it was set over one day that did this to me: if all of these life-altering things can happen to Adam over one day, the least I can do is sit and read about it over the same length of time, right? I started counting how many social issues this book addressed, that I’d never seen addressed in any book before, and I quickly lost count. Ness takes these issues and just thrusts them out there, and it can’t just be me who had an overwhelming sense of empathy and the urge to do something after reading it. There will be people like Adam, facing the same challenges that he does, out in the real world, and that’s a very sobering thought. This book is hands-down one of the best I’ve read all year, and I think it will subtly transform anybody who reads it into a more empathetic person, whether they’re aware of it or not.
“I used to have nightmares about The Red Shoes […]. I imagined myself dancing to exhaustion but unable to stop […]. If those magical shoes existed, would I slip them on? I used to think I would, if the alternative meant never dancing again. A year ago, I would have laughed at anyone who said I might not pursue a career in dance. Now I know that anything can happen, that life can change so quickly, the plans you thought were set in stone can crumble into nothing.”
My lovely friend Katie sent this book to me, saying that she thought of me when she read it. I knew just from reading the blurb that it’d be right up my street and I devoured the whole thing in just over two days. The plot was so engaging and I was rooting for Theo (and Donovan) right from the beginning. Despite the title, not a huge amount of the book was based on ballet. I think this worked in its favour; the parts that did focus on this were pretty representative of life as a ballerina, but it didn’t shove the facts down your throat. I liked how it presented ballet as a coping mechanism for Theo, but also didn’t conceal just how destructive it can be for young girls: something that’s still seriously under-acknowledged in the world today. I really recommend this book if you like a fast-paced plot and characters who take up residence in your mind even after you’ve turned the last page.
The book fairy (aka @katiehodgie) paid me a visit! Katie’s been my chief book recommender-er for years now and this Pointe one looks right up my street! In other news, I’ve barely slept in four days. This isn’t new (long-term insomnia) but my eyelids are currently purple. So… there’s that. You have to laugh 🙄😂💀
A post shared by Pippa ♡ (@lifeofpippa) on
“‘Judge people on what they have control over. Judge them on the way they treat their friends, or whether they persevere when they can’t do something. […] Be careful not to confuse a beautiful face with a beautiful heart’. She’d kissed my head as she stood up. ‘Not everybody is blessed with both.'”
I think Truth or Dare will be one of my stand-out books this year. I LOVED how unique the structure was: upon reaching the halfway point, and a critical moment in the storyline, the reader is instructed to flip the book over and start reading from the other side, from the perspective of the second main character. Whilst the suspense of waiting to find out what happened at that pivotal moment nearly killed me, I loved the idea of seeing the story from two completely different sides. I’m not gonna lie, some parts of the book felt a little jumpy to me and I found it difficult to keep track of all the characters that were introduced in quick succession at the start of the book. However, the story was so engaging and a really good representation of the huge role that social media plays in the lives of young people today; I don’t think I’ve ever read a book featuring the YouTube vlogging phenomenon before. And as you guys know, I love me some good realistic disability representation and Non Pratt nailed it: the ‘everything happens for a reason’ attitude towards Kam’s acquired condition was completely shunned and put to bed, and I was very much a fan of that. I think this book will appeal to a wide range of audiences, and it’s definitely one of the most memorable YA books I’ve read so far this summer.
Looking For Alaska by John Green
“It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.”
Re-reading Looking For Alaska for the first time in over five years was a weirdly comforting experience for such an uncomfortably harrowing book. When I first read this novel as a young teenager, I remember idolising Alaska Young: I even used to call myself ‘Alaska’ on Twitter during the Emo Phase Of 2010. Ahh, 2010 Twitter. Upon reflection, she obviously wasn’t the healthiest role model to have, but I felt nostalgia right from picking this book up again to turning the very last page, which once again left me with tears in my eyes and my heart feeling like it was about to burst. I will always love John Green’s writing style: his wit combined with his honesty and unique insight into a ridiculously huge number of issues that teenagers face is undoubtably a winning combination. Re-reading looking For Alaska has actually instigated a need to re-read his other works too, and my well-worn copy of The Fault In Our Stars is calling to me next.
It was genuinely emotional to turn the last page and finish this gorgeous book! 😭📚 #PhantomLimbs pic.twitter.com/eY8WEQKZHB
— Pippa (@lifeofpippa_) June 13, 2017
“We were battered and dinged, both well past the weight limit in personal baggage. And, like the rest of humanity, it would be our destiny to be tossed and torn by events unseen and unplanned. But that didn’t stop me from hoping we could somehow navigate it together.”
What I loved particularly about Phantom Limbs is that one of the main themes of the book was grief, and one of the main characters had a disability, and yet *gasps dramatically* the main source of grief was not the disability. It was so refreshing to be introduced to a secondary character with a substantial physical impairment and have that condition be portrayed for the debilitating condition it is, and yet not have it be their whole story. Garner wrote the character of Dara in such depth that I could easily have read a whole book about her… sequel, anybody? This book was a gorgeous read; you couldn’t not get behind the story of Otis and Meg, and I loved that you were kept guessing right up until the final page. I’d seriously recommend Phantom Limbs if you’re looking for an engaging story that you just can’t help but become emotionally invested in.
So there we have it: my favourite reads from the last three months. You can see everything I’ve read lately (including the not so great books) on my Goodreads page, and if you’ve read something that should be on my summer TBR pile, do let me know!
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!
Read my January-March 2017 Books You Need In Your Life Series here!