Inspired by many other book bloggers, I’ve come up with my own list of my top ten favourite books I’ve read in the last twelve months (they might not have been published in the last year). I will talk about the first five this week and the other five next week.
Still Life, by Sarah Winman
I think this lovely book made a lot of ‘top reads’ list this year. This book reminds me of summer: I remember reading it out in the back garden in those glorious few days of sunshine that we had – the sun on my legs, eating magnums like there was no tomorrow, and a nice chilled g&t.
I have nothing but praise and admiration for Sarah Winman for creating such an epic story that follows a ‘family’ through four decades across war-torn Italy, to dingy pubs of London, and then back to Florence. Births, death, love and loss are all contained in these pages. Oh, and there’s a very eloquent parrot called Claude.
You’re putting me in a bit of a bind, miss.
Oh, I’m sure you’re no stranger to that.
Do you believe in fate, Miss Skinner?
Fate? It is a gift. According to Dante, anyhow.
A gift? I like that. Come on then, miss, hop in.
Oh, drop the ‘miss’, for God’s sake, said Evelyn, sitting down next to him. My name’s Evelyn. And yours?
Ulysses! How wonderful! and is there a Penelope waiting for your return?
Nah. Just a Peggy. And I doubt she’s waiting, and he turned the ignition and the jeep pulled away.Still Life, Sarah Winman
Last One at the Party, by Bethany Clift
Great book, very funny. Quite disturbing in the level of detail it gives about decomposing bodies.
The floor was already covered in all manner of bodily fluids and by-products. There was a group of bodies to the left of the counter and they had been leaking copiously for some time. It was like I had stepped into the money shot from the world’s worst torture porn movie.Last One at the Party, Bethany Clift
A book about a global pandemic in which only one person seems to survive. The disease is called 6DM (stands for 6 Days Maximum, as that’s all the time you have left if you catch it), and it’s pretty gruesome in how it kills you.
Our protagonist thinks she might have avoided catching it because she went on a big night out the night it was announced the world was ending, and she then proceeds to spend the next few days vomiting. She then lays out the blueprint for what I will do should I ever find myself the last person alive on the planet: go to the most luxurious hotel I can get to and drink every minibar dry, rally, and start growing vegetables.
This book was full of surprises and highly entertaining: I loved it from start to finish… and, I mean, can we talk about that ending!?
Mermaid of Black Conch, by Monique Roffey
Salty and briny, this a story that will transport you away to the Caribbean, to the huts of fishermen and rum drenched bars next to the sea.
Whenever I see the first leatherbacks arrive, I always feel happy. I know she, my mermaid, will soon appear, happy too, to greet me. I used to look out for her every evening from April onwards. She always knew where to find me, by the same jagged rocks where we first ketch sight of each other, one mile off Murder Bay. Still a private place, even now, since all the damn fish in the sea get fished out. I look out for Aycayia more than half mih damn life. I have plenty women since those days long past, all kinda women – friend, babymother, lover – but nothing ever again like she.Mermaid of the Black Conch, Monique Roffey
This book sticks out in my memory because of the way it is written, the patois, the different voices in this story are all so strong, as well as the heart-breaking story of Aycayia; the young girl cursed forever to live in the sea as mermaid by the women of her village who were jealous of her beauty.
She is pulled from the water one day by ignorant American tourists who quickly decide they will sell her to make money. Then she is rescued by David Baptiste, a local fisherman. Slowly, she loses her tail and starts to come back to being a woman, but curses run deep in the sea and it wants to take back what has been given to it.
This book is truly unforgettable.
The Split, by Laura Kay
The train was late. And it cost me more than £100. There ought to be some kind of discount for those travelling at the last-minute with broken hearts. I thought about billing Emily and the look on her face when she saw the request pop up on her phone. Tempting.The Split, Laura Kay
We’ve all been there: dumped and escaping to our parental homes for some wallowing time. Ally returns from London to her dad’s house in Sheffield after her break-up with Emily, the only other thing she brings with her is Emily’s cat, the very unimpressed, Malcolm. Back in Sheffield she meets up with an old school friend, Jeremy, also heart-broken and who somehow convinces her to sign up for a half-marathon, the idea being that it will signal to their exes how much they have changed as people.
Heart-breaking and, at the same time, heart-warming. This book in no way made me want to start training for a half-marathon but it did make me want to go for a night out in Sheffield. I loved Ally and Jeremy and their friendship, helping each other get over their break-ups, it’s a book that everyone will take something away from.
Pretending, by Holly Bourne
I’m ashamed by how long this book has sat on my shelves waiting to be read. When I finally did get round to reading it, it had such an impact on me, voicing a lot of my anger regarding society’s treatment of women.
I hate men.
There’ I’ve said it. I know you’re not supposed to say it. We all pretend we don’t hate them; we all tell ourselves we don’t hate them. But I’m calling it. I’m standing here on this soapbox, and I’m saying it.
I. Hate. Men.Pretending, Holly Bourne
Fed up of being messed around and lied to, April creates a fake dating profile for ‘Gretel’ the woman she believes every man wants to be with: a “Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door with No Problems.” Soon, Joshua sends Gretel a message.
Pretending is a powerful book about the double-standards women face every day, from not feeling safe to walk home alone at night, to the oodles of money spent on all kinds of cream, moisturisers and make-up we’re told we need. It’s about being the survivor of assault and the legacy that can have.
It’s cleverly written; April is not perfect, she’s not always like-able, but she’s very relatable and some of the things she says are just so spot on.
Come back next week to find out the other five in my top ten!