I love reading books and listeningto audiobooks. I wrote about my favourite podcasts a few weeks ago. Today I thought I'd share the 10 books I enjoyed most in 2019. I record what I read and listen to on Goodreads, if you want to see what else I read last year, or previously.
The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris. This is a murder mystery but not your usual kind of murder mystery. The story is narrated by Jasper (aged 13), who is autistic, has prosopagnosia (face-blindness) and synaethesia. Jasper sees colours when his senses (particularly sound) are stimulated. It is more than a murder mystery, it is also a story that explores how a child that experiences life so differently from most of us navigates a world that makes little sense to him.
The Humans by Matt Haig. This one had me laughing out loud many times. It is a book about us, people. It is written from the perspective of a nameless alien entity occupying the body of a mathematics professor in Cambridge. The sole purpose of this occupation is to prevent the publication of a mathematical proof that could elevate humanity to an entirely different level. Along the way it (he/she) falls in love with humanity.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This story is set in Enugu in Nigeria and centres around Kabili, a 15 year old girl growing up in a privileged part of town. Her life is dominated by an outwardly kind and generous father who is in his own home tyrannical and abusive. It is not a comfortable read but I loved every sentence.
The World I Fell Out Of by Melanie Reid. This is not a comfortable read either. Melanie Reid writes beautifully and unflinchingly about her horse riding accident which left her paralysed from the neck down at the age of 52. She writes about the realisation of the consequences of her accident, about her slow recovery on the spinal ward and her struggles to learn to love her broken body. I loved Melanie's writing for its honesty and hope and despair and humour.
Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale. It is difficult to sum this book up with a sentence or two. This sentence from the blurb is maybe a good summary"... Patrick Gale's new novel explores a collision between childish hero worship and extremely messy adult love lives." There is cello music, which I love and so much more.
I Am Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti. I listened to this in the original Italian. The book is written from the perspective of 9 year old Michele Ammitrano, who lives with his family in a remote village in Sicily. One day while exploring an abandoned house with his friends, he discovers a secret (which I am not revealing to you) that is so terrible that he cannot share it with anyone. When listening to this book, I was right there with Michele, worrying, wondering and deciding what to do.
Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This is another book about an an adolescent, Raymond Jaffe. Raymond feels like he doesn't belong, not with his family and not at school and his only friend moves away, too. In his apartment block, he meets an old blind woman, Mildred Guterman, who asks him if he has seen Luis Velez. Raymond hasn't seen Luis Velez, doesn't know him in fact, but is intrigued. This encounter is the beginning of a friendship, one that helps Raymond find his place in the world. ?
Educated by Tara Westover. What can I say? Such a powerful book. Such a brutal upbringing. A childhood like Tara's is almost beyond imagination for someone like me. Tara Westover is the child of a survivalist family growing up in the mountains of Idaho. The family is always prepared for the end of the world and has virtually no contact with anyone outside this tight-knit community. There is abuse, love and a strong sense of belonging. There is also the desire to break away.
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak. This was my latest choice for book group. It was nominated for the Booker Price but I didn't know that until later. This novel is the life story of Tequila Leila, a prostitute in Istanbul. She is murdered on the very first page of the book, just so that you know. During her last moments of her life, memories of a childhood, adolescence and young womanhood flash by. Leila grew up in a repressive polygamous household in a 1950s provincial town in Eastern Turkey. Maybe it was the early 1960s. My heart was breaking when I was reading these sections. We also meet Leila's five friends, each with a separate tragic story of their own. It is a story of a broken childhood but also a story of friendship, trust and love.
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Pérez. What can I say? This book exposes and explores the gender data gap in many areas of daily life, including medicine, drug development and urban planning. I was already familiar with the gender data gap in medical research and drug development but I hadn't really thought about a gender data gap in the development of appropriate clothing for female firefighters, or the huge differences in travel and commuting patterns between men and women, and how this affects women's life. It is really quite an eye-opening read, and very accessible if you are not normally keen on non-fiction.
I am reading She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb just now and I am planning to start reading The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius to the boys. I have persevered with the Inspector Gamache series and I am now reading the 8th book in the series, The Beautiful Mystery. This is not my favourite one so far but being set in a secluded monastery it gives a break from the little village of Three Pines with possibly the highest murder rate in all of Canada. It is an oddly addictive series and I had to buy extra audio credits to keep up with my latest (thankfully harmless) compulsive listening streak.
Did you have a favourite book or ten last year? Please do share, I am always on the lookout for new reads. Wishing you all a happy reading year! Thanks for visiting xx