With the end of another year fast approaching, I wanted to share a few of my favourite books that I have enjoyed reading this year.
In 2015, I completed the POPSUGAR reading challenge which spilled over slightly to January this year. I gained so much from that year. It ignited my passion for reading and it opened me up to a whole range of books that I never would have expected to enjoy. This year, I was excited to read all the books that I had been unable to fit into one of the reading challenge categories. I also expected to read about the same number of books within the year (which was 46).
Well that was always going to be a difficult task. Not counting the 6 I read to finish the challenge in January, I am currently reading book number 19 and I will be lucky if I get through the giant Bronte tale of Villette before the new year! I guess 25 isn’t a bad effort in 12 months.
As this year progressed, I actually found I missed the reading challenge. I really did enjoy it so I am excited to say that I will be attempting it again in 2017! Check out the challenge details at POPSUGAR, but this year there are some really interesting categories as well as 2 levels of challenge! Let me know your book recommendations, and I encourage you, if you are thinking about doing the challenge yourself, to just go for it!
So before I get stuck into a new year of reading, I wanted to recap on some of the best books I have read this year. I read some pretty terrible ones to be honest, but the below ones really did make up for it.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
I do not usually pick up memoirs. They are one style of book that I can never be sure if I will enjoy or not. They can often be disjointed and I struggle settling into the flow of the story. Lucky for me, this story is very unlike my perceptions of a traditional memoir. Patti Smith weaves a tale that is so raw and explores not only her life and that of Robert Mapplethorpe, but of the time they grew up in and how that shaped their experiences. Painting a vivid picture of the art scene in New York in the 60s and 70s we cross paths with many different people such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin who influenced the life of these two youths.
I literally could not put this book down. I was hooked from the powerful very first sentence: “I was asleep when he died”. Pick up this book, put all of your perceptions and anything you know about Robert Mapplethorpe aside, and listen to the story that is being told because it is an incredible tale of heartache, success, power, and chasing after your dreams. (Image)
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
There is a line in the introduction of this book that really struck me, “Marina wouldn’t want to be remembered because she’s dead. She would want to be remembered because she’s good.” Marina Keegan was a very talented writer with a job waiting for her at The New Yorker when she was tragically killed in a car accident at 22, just 5 days after graduating from Yale. She had so much promise for a future in the literary world that it was the people who were closest to her that decided her stories should be published.
This collection of essays has been taken from Marina’s time at highschool and university and are both works of fiction and nonfiction, capturing the collective voice of her generation. I enjoyed reading every single story. The way she would manipulate words to describe emotion and the details she would get lost in, kept me saying just one more page… This was the perfect plane read as you really need to just settle down and lose yourself in the beautiful prose. (Image)
The Neapolitan Novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante
Yes this is a series of 4 books, but you really just can’t read only one. I read the first (My Brilliant Friend) last year during my reading challenge and I was hanging out until the restrictions of the challenge were over to continue the journey.
To say I loved these books is an understatement. The character development is amazing as the novels weave a fierce tale of female friendship within an evolving culture. The story of these girls and those around them feels somewhat personal, like a true window has been opened into their lives. It is intense, passionate, and really just one of the best things I have ever read. I am looking forward to reading everything else with the name Elena Ferrante on it. (Image)
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell
To be honest I was 100% sure I liked this book while I was reading it. I found Helen Russell an interesting author as she writes in a combination of styles switching from magazine journalist backing up every statement with fact, to hilarious memoir. I loved the personal experience stories the most, but found the more I think back to the book the more I appreciate the information she presented when she used her journalistic skills to seek out answers.
Helen’s husband was relocated to Denmark to work for Lego and so she sought the opportunity to take a step back from her busy London life and seek out what makes Denmark the happiest country, and of course write a book about it! What I actually took away from this book was that Australia is doing pretty well on the happiness scale, but there is so much more we could do to improve it. It really made me take a good look at our society and the things that make up our overall happiness. I recommend reading this book for the pure fact that is really interesting. (Image)
Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod
I am including this book on my list for one simple reason, I found it truly inspiring. This is an amazing love story between two people who don’t speak the same language but take a chance to experience happiness. What I loved most about this book though was how Janice made a conscious decision that she was ready to make some changes in her life and did whatever was necessary to achieve those goals and dreams.
This book literally made me want to clean out my ‘stuff’ and just made me think differently about material possessions. It made me want to work that little bit harder to follow my dreams and to save all of my money for travel.
I would not normally pick up a book like this, but I did from a recommendation by World Of Wanderlust, and while I have not loved all that she has suggested, I was glad I picked up this one. A love story on the surface, but a fierce tale of perseverance in the pursuit of what makes you happy. (Image)