I know that some of you are big bookworms like me and this year I want to write more book content and share with you all the amazing books I have read and get some suggestions from you.
So far 2020 has been a fantastic reading year for me and I have discovered some new favourites, because I am trying to get through my backlog of unread books and take advantage of my library more. Having a huge stack of books and discovering new favourites has lead me to keep reading and in February I finished 8 books which I was pretty happy with.
I am also updating my instagram with all the books I have been reading so if you’re interested in what I’m reading you can follow me there. And if you have any book suggestions for me please leave them in the comments because I love adding to my TBR pile.
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by JK Rowling
Five out of five stars
‘Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.
Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.
Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.’
I have read the Harry Potter Series countless times and they hold a lot of sentimental meaning to me because they are the series that really sparked my life of reading. So when my mum got me the Harry Potter books illustrated by Jay Kay for Christmas, I was touched. Reading back my favourite books with the beautiful illustrations made me so happy, and they are truly breath taking and renewed the experience of reading the books. Kay uses the book as inspiration and so the characters are very much in the spirit of the book, and gives me the nostalgic feeling of joy I had from reading the books for the first time.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Five out of Five Stars
‘In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.’
After reading Pat Barker’s silence of the Girls late last year, I was itching to read more alternative history, particularly from the female perspective and I had heard good things about Circe. Based on the minor character from Homer’s Odessy, Circe is a beautiful story about a titan witch punished by the gods who were playing politics. Madeline Miller has a beautiful, lyrical writing style that is heart breakingly beautiful without being pretentious and gives you a visceral feeling of being in the place and time with the character. The actual story is very character driven because the original source material didn’t really give Miller a lot to work with, but the stories are told from a place of self reflection and deep empathy for humanity and was one of the best books I have read in a long time (I know I’m saying that a lot this year but its true!)
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Five out of Five Stars
‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave’
Omg- How I had not read this book before? With its dark story, eerie characters and beautiful prose was one of the most enchanting books I have ever read. I would consider it a god tier gothic classic and it had everything I wanted in a gothic and had the same impact on me as the Haunting of Hill House by Shirely Jackson did. I loved the multifaceted and deeply complex dynamic between the nameless narrator and Rebecca and the uncomfortable relationship between the social anxiety of being out of place and this unknowable ideal of ‘femininity’ that you can never truely attain. It was luscious and leaves you aching to know more and its the unknowing nature of Rebecca that is one of the greatest strengths of the novel. In a post #metoo era Maxim De Winter stands out as an interestingly written villain and seems so flat when he was contrasted with the other richly written (female) characters, particularly Rebecca and the housekeeper. It’s an interesting look at victim blaming and sexual empowerment before it was a social movement and how we see women who are uninterested in social convention as a threat. I can’t wait to reread it. And if anyone else has read it please let me know because I’m dying to talk about it.
A Zero Waste Life: In 30 Days by Anita Vandyke
Four out of Five Stars
‘Anita Vandyke wants to show you that by living a zero waste life, you actually gain more—more time, more money, and more life. Her simple, practical guide shows you how by changing your daily habits you can eliminate plastic from your life in 30 days. A Zero Waste Life is a guide to the small changes you can make to radically reduce your waste, without losing your lifestyle. Based on 30 lifestyle “rules” and handy tips, this practical book offers a fresh “can do” approach to reducing your waste and living a cleaner, kinder life. Isn’t that what we all want—a life of happiness, a life of luxury, a life that isn’t wasted?’
I had listened to a couple of podcasts featuring Anita Vandyke, and when I found her book at the library I was intrigued. She comes at the zero waste movement from an approachable and personal perspective and makes what can be a deeply intimidating process seem achievable. The book is structured as a ’30 day challenge’ and has some really interesting ideas on how to transition to a greener lifestyle, whether you want to create less waste, low waste or zero waste and I thought it was an excellent introduction for anyone wanting to be a little kinder to the world.
The Poppy War R.F Kaung
Five out of Five Stars
‘When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.’
This is a controversial opinion, but The Poppy War was everything I wanted Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss to be (without the really uncomfortable fairy sex part) it has a badass outsider as the main character, a magical university, a quirky teacher, epic battles, political intrigue and great banter- what more could you want from a fantasy book?
I wizzed through this book in about two days, the setting is loosely based on medieval china and creates rich and visceral imagery. Its depiction of war (and its atrocities) was uncomfortably realistic, and Kaung makes you sit in the darkness of mans inhumanity to man and really understand, which is challenging reading. I was totally engrossed in the book, and even the slightly weaker ending didn’t dampen my enjoyment of this book and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.
Unfuck your finances by Melissa Browne
Three out of Five Stars
‘Mel Browne challenges us to change our thinking and our bank balances for the better. With clear, easy to follow advice, she tells you how to set up savvy savings accounts, make the right investments and discover why budgeting is a dirty word.’
I have been trying to learn more about finances lately and this book seemed like a good introduction to the topic. It had some great tips about savings accounts and looking critically at your spending but it wasn’t my favourite book that I read this month. It’s a good introduction to the topic and its written in an approachable way but it’s a bit basic and I personally don’t really enjoy advice to be ‘super approachable’ because I find it really jarring, but that might just be a personal preference of mine.
The Talking Cure: Normal people, their hidden struggles and the life changing power of therapy by Gillian Straker
Three out of Five Stars
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’ Carl Jung
The essence of successful therapy is the relationship between the therapist and the patient, a dance of growing trust and understanding. It is an intimate, messy, often surprising and sometimes confusing business -but when it works, it’s life-changing.’
Based around hypothetical clients in fake sessions, the authors explore common problems they see in their sessions, what causes them and how you can address them. I found it a really interesting look into the human psyche and how therapy helps people unpack how they see the world and themselves. I liked the format and the structure of using an example, how the issue comes into peoples lives and what you can do to fix it was accessible and interesting. It was essentially written as a ‘beginners guide to therapy’ which I thought was a good approach. I found some of it a bit dry but overall I though it was interesting, and it made me second guess every thought I have ever had.
What would Beyonce do? by Luisa Omielan
Four out of Five Stars
‘You know when you find yourself approaching thirty and your dreams are broken? You’ve got a temping career going nowhere, a student debt that’s mounting and you’ve just had to move back into your mum’s house.
Then to top it all off, you get absolutely annihilated with heartbreak because of an ex, who is just ‘not ready’ but then manages to be ready, a week later, with someone else.
And it is here, at your lowest point, that one of your best friends decides to remind you that you are the same age as Beyoncé.
Luisa Omielan is a stand-up comedian who turned her life around after she answered the mantra every person needs in their life: What Would Beyoncé Do?!‘
I had never heard of Luisa Omeilan before and I picked up this audiobook from my library- largely because of the title. Hilariously funny, wonderfully uplifting and brutally honest, Luisa’s memoir shows us all that there is no situation in which Bey can’t provide the inspiration you need. I really enjoyed this books, it was deeply heartfelt and very funny and I loved hearing Luisa narrate it because she has brilliant comedic timing and performs the book with heart and passion.
And that’s it! A quick snapshot of what I have been reading this month, and discovering some new favourites, if you have read any of these books please let me know what you thought in the comments or over on my instagram.
How has your reading year been so far?