I was lucky enough to read some great books this year and if I’m honest, it was hard to pick only a few so that’s why I ended up with a list of ten. I love them all equally so the list is in no particular order.
Daisy Jones & The Six is one of the most atmospheric books I have ever read. This is the story of a rock band in the 1970s, told by the members themselves in a series of interviews all collated together to tell a story. Honestly, it is the best form to talk about a band like this so that every member’s personnality shines through their words. I was just sad the songs were not real.
I love history – especially the Victorian era – and I like true crime, so obviously one of the things I love most to learn about is historical true crime. But you know what’s even better than this? Paying a tribute to the women who lived in grim conditions to end their lives in a horrendous manner, only to be forgotten by the media and history because they were ‘only’ prostitutes. Hallie Rubenhold shows in this book that most of Jack the Ripper’s victims were not, in fact, sex workers but even if they were, they deserve to be remembered and their lives should be celebrated, not their deaths. This is a really fantastic book that’s very accessible, even if you’re not fully aware of the Victorian period in general. I thought it was very engrossing and I read it in a matter of days. It taught me so much about working class history, especially on the side of women which is often discarded by historians. I would also like to add that it isn’t graphic as the author doesn’t really mention the killings themselves, but there are explicit mentions of physical and alchohol abuse.
Bill Naughton was a playwright who wrote the popular play, Alfie (adapted into film 1966, with Michael Caine – would recommend this film!). He was born in Ireland, but grew up in Bolton, an industrial town in Lancashire. In this book, he recalls growing there in the 1920s and working at the cotton mill as a young boy. I got this book for my boyfriend originally, because he is from Bolton and wanted to know more about the past of his hometown, but I ended up reading it and absolutely loving it. Like The Five it’s a very interesting account of working class daily life, and in Naughton’s memoir you can also see what impact time and globalisation had on Northern industrial towns.
This is going to sound strange but I’m not sure why I loved this book so much, but it haunted me for weeks after reading it. I loved all the characters of this book and thought Celeste Ng’s writing was perfectly balanced. What I mean is that she is always fair to her characters even if they are someimes ridiculous or just bad. I haven’t watched the TV show yet, because the book is still so fresh in my mind I’m afraid to be disappointed – but I really want to give it a go this year!
I wrote a rather extensive review on this one earlier this year so I don’t want to repeat myself too much. I just loved this short novel so incredibly much because it was very raw and honest, and it felt so close to me on aspects of class and ambition, which I have always felt quite alone about when I was younger. If you’re looking to read some translated fiction this year, then please do read The End of Eddy.
Another book I reviewed at length, and I may or may not haave annoyed everyone with my love for this gorgeous novel. It’s so beautiful and lyrical, I can’t recommend it enough.
I have seen this book everywhere on bookstagram and it was definitely worth the hype. The Vanishing Half is the heartbreaking story of two sister with completely different lives and it broaches so many important issues that I find it actually educational. I have reviewed it on here, so please give it a read if you want to know more.
Another very important book that I wish I had seen more people talk about this year. Just thinking of this novel makes me want to cry, but it is the perfect example to understand why we need a movement such as Black Lives Matter. I talk about it in more details in a review, where I tried my best not to get too emotional.
2020 marked my discovery of a very little-known author called Stephen King. I don’t know if you’ve heard about him, but he really is quite good. ‘Salem’s Lot is a small American town suffering from a vampire invasion. I love vampires, so I was really excited to read this story. In the end, what I truly loved was King’s representation of small town mentality by representing various characters hour by hour during the same day. I read some reviews and it appears that’s what people hate bout the book, but I’m always partial to a good backstory and a fountain of details – which probably explains why I love Victorian literature so much.
In the aftermath of my Victorian Literature master, I didn’t manage to read a lot of classics last year. However, the one I read also turned out to be one of my favourite books ever. I always thought this wouldn’t be a book for me for some reason (not sure why!), but I was completely wrong. This novel is so intense and creepy, don’t believe the adaptations you’ve seen of it and just read it!
I sincerely hope that I get read as many great books in 2021. Did you read some great things last year? Please share your recommendations in the comments!