This post was originally entitled ‘Books I think you should read (if you haven’t already)’. Yep, I was feeling a little soapbox-y!
Most of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I am a little obsessed with books (insert eyebrow raise at will). I was a budding Matilda when I was little, reading my way around each and every library of the RAF camps we were stationed upon, and went on to read English (jointly with Film Studies) for my four-year Scottish MA. I still, ooooh, at least every six months, declare that I’m going to go back to school and do a Masters, if not a PhD, in something literature based. And as part of my day job I teach 8 to 10 hours a week of English to little boys.
Girlfriend likes to read.
I read so much it can be a joke. Matthew can have a whole conversation with me, only to realise that I’m actually miles away, immersed in espionage, 17th century France, or 90s pop culture. Left to my own devices for a weekend, I’ll subsist on toast, tea and cheap red, book clutched in my hand as I move from bed to couch to chair to coffee shop. Good times.
It feels so good to be back wearing the badge that declares ‘voracious reader’. I lost it for a few years, tucked it in a drawer behind teacher, friend, girlfriend….but this year I plucked it back from the depths of the melee and now wear it once again with pride.
Books are beautiful, fantastic, amazing things. They have improved my life in more ways than I can say. So…..I thought today I’d share with you a handful of my very most favourite books (to employ some flawed and juvenile grammar!). I’d love to hear some of yours in the comments!
Author’s note: my ambition to jot down ‘a handful’ was in vain….therefore I’ll share some this week and some next Monday, no doubt having made some heinous omissions!
I love well-written, compelling, interesting non-fiction, and this book checks all the boxes. North Korea is such a fascinating place, and Merrick threads together the information she has managed to glean with consumate skill. This book was genuinely unputdownable and has forever changed my ideas of North Korea.
As well as being a bookworm, I’m also a music and movie nerd (what a ctach, right? ;)), so this book, revolving around a man’s life and his mixtapes, totally called to be. I wasn’t disappointed – it’s warm, charming, heartbreaking in places and full of musical goodness. This book is so good that I wrote to the author (as in honest to goodness, picked up a notepad, addressed an envelope etc. wrote to him) after finishing. Genius.
The State of Africa
When I’m not watching cheesey comedy shows or cooking, I do like to put my brain into gear with some challenging non-fiction, which is precisely what The State of Africa is. This book pulls no punches and expects you to keep up, and is a truly fascinating look at the past 50 years of African politics and history. I highly recommend this book.
Ah, another music based book. What makes it for me is the protagonist, in all his navel-gazing, angsty wonder. We’ve all been in his shoes, wondering what it all means; and many of us (myself included) have turned to music as solace and soothsayer, all in one.
Aw yeah. I was borderline obsessed with Louisa May Alcott growing up, and this book is still a firm favourite. The picture Alcott paints of the March family is aspirational and interesting, and I spent much of my childhood feeling I was definitely a Jo (I’ve now resigned myself to the very real fact that I’m probably a Meg. Could be worse, could be an Amy!). Just a beautiful book, and one (of a pair) that I try to re-read every year, just because.
The beautiful Christy, a fellow bookworm, passed a copy of this book to me a couple of years ago. It’s compelling – unusual, and cold in places, and challenging, but rewarding and interesting too. I love hearing what people make of it.
I didn’t read this book until I was in my twenties (I still have no idea how I managed that!). My dear friend Amber, who I met in my freshman year of university, said I reminded her a little of Anne (with an e!), so naturally I sought the books out, and instantly fell in love with the scrappy, sparky, silly, soulful Anne. A definite kindred spirit.
A.k.a. the other book I reread each year. I came very late to the Austen party, managing to study English until age 22 and never read one of her books (in my defence, I rocked the heck out of Dickens, Shakespeare, Atwood, Flaubert, Marvell et al.). My friend Hannah was dying to show me the Colin Firth Darcy moment (another thing that had passed me by!), so I read the book post haste. And it became an instant favourite – the language, the observations, the setting. Pure literary deliciousness.
I must close now….I feel the need to read!