I cannot believe that this year is already halfway done – despite knowing how time works, I am always aghast when I flip the calendar over to July. Knocks the wind out of me every time.
This year, so far, has been one of the best reading years I have ever had – definitely in recent memory. I set my Goodreads challenge low this year, so it’s not been the most productive year ever (although within the two weeks of the year, I had read 9 books) but I have enjoyed my reading so much more this year and I put it down to the low goal – the lack of pressure is so nice. Reading shouldn’t feel like a chore.
I’m not someone who reads to keep up with the latest best-seller or even someone who is a stickler for a certain genre (all the historical fiction on my shelves would disagree), so I like to look at what I’ve read over a certain period of time and see what patterns are emerging unbeknownst to me. This year? So far, I have inadvertently only read books written by women. I didn’t even realise this until I finished writing this blog post, so it definitely wasn’t intentional. I’m currently breaking the trend by reading Beartown (review pending!) but for now, here are my top 5 books of a very woman-centric reading year.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
There is a reason this book is on everyone’s shelves at the moment – it’s a good freaking book. It’s a modern retelling of Sophocle’s Antigone but don’t let that daunt you, you don’t need to know anything about Antigone to enjoy it – I don’t (although I’m sure knowing a little would enhance the experience dramatically). For me, this was a story that I haven’t heard told before – in fact it made me realise I don’t read a lot of fiction with Muslim protagonists at all. It explores society, family and faith and really pulls you in with each differing POV it presents. I must admit, I was hoping to like it a little more than I did but I’ve thought about it almost every day since I closed the book so its lasting impression is what makes it one of my top books of the year so far.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Oh Eleanor! I started listening to this on audiobook in 2017 but didn’t finish it until the start of this year. I have to say, if you’re going to read this, I would highly recommend the audiobook – the narration is incredible (especially if you love a good Scottish accent). You start off thinking that Eleanor is incredibly odd – I mean … she is – but as the story unfolds, she worms her way into your heart and the whole book is just so lovely.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
We all know I’m late to the party on this one but I knew it would be a full-on read, so I was waiting for the right time. Turns out the right time was a week before the TV series expired on SBS. I really loved this story and since it was the first ever Atwood I’ve read, I was so blown away by her writing. Once again, the impression it has left on me is huge and even though it’s only been a week or two, I have not stopped thinking about it.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This book should absolutely be required reading for everyone everywhere. It’s so short and simple and lovely. I’ve spoken to so many grown men and women who don’t even know the meaning of feminism and even more who either have misunderstood or are just daunted by the whole thing. This book is honestly just the best bite-sized explanation. It stirs something in you even if you call yourself a feminist and have for a long time. 10/10 would read again. Best news is that the TED talk is on YouTube and you can watch it anytime for free. Please do.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
This is taking the number one spot for me so far this year which is pretty funny when you think about the calibre of books I’ve included so far. This book isn’t going to change the world or really, change the way anyone thinks about anything. It’s pure fun and to be honest, it took me completely by surprise and that’s why it’s sitting at the top. All those other books? I expected to like them … and I did. This one? I thought I was going to hate it but I loved it. I didn’t want it to end! I was so impressed at the storytelling capabilities of the three authors (so seamless and cohesive!! I can’t write that well on my own let alone with two others!) and it’s historical fiction, even if it’s a bit silly, it is my favourite genre!
What have been some of your top books this year so far? Have you read any that you think might stay in your top 5, even though we’re only halfway through?