This year has seen me reading a lot of books, way more than any other year and I’ve been really enjoying reading a whole host of different books. Previously, I would have just stuck to the same few authors or only big titles that I’d heard of. This year, however, i’ve varied what I’ve read a lot more and have found some fantastically written novels in having done so.
It’s been hard trying to choose what my favourites have been but here are my top 5 of the books I’ve read in 2015 so far.
Wild tells the story of Cheryl Strayed who is rather lost in the world after the death of her mother and not feeling connected to anyone else around her. She decides to embark on a journey. Hiking the PCT (Pacific Coast Trail) which is a trail which spans a large amount of America on terrain which is natural… so no easy, smooth, well trodden paths here! Cheryl has little experience of hiking but sets out on a solo mission. It is tough. Her backpack is so heavy she can barely stand, her boots are so uncomfortable she loses her toe nails and she worries about whether her water will last her to the next refill point.
During her journey Cheryl sometimes meets other hikers who marvel at her hiking the trail alone. Often they will help her and keep her company for a while but ultimately Cheryl wants to do this alone. Over the course of the journey Cheryl learns a lot about herself and her spirit. With so much time spent on her own she is able to get lots of her thoughts clearer in her head.
It is a fantastic read that has you really interested as you see Cheryl develop. It’s all about testing yourself as a person and putting yourself through something that is a real challenge and then coming out of it stronger. It’s brilliantly written and I really liked it because it inspired me to think of things that I could do to challenge myself- perhaps not as dramatic as hiking a PCT but something akin to that. A very inspiring read.
4. How To Be Brave
How To Be Brave is a debut novel and one which leaves you wanting to read more from the author Louise Beech in the future. In this story we learn about the lives of two very different generations. Natalie is struggling to cope with the diagnosis of her daughter Rose’s diabetes. As they try to adjust to the new life that this illness has given them they take strength from the story of Colin, Rose’s great grandfather. Colin was lost at sea and survived by living on a small lifeboat or over a month. During his time on the lifeboat Colin had to really fight for his survival and had to endure some awful times- seeing his mates perish, struggling on barely any food, being attacked by a shark and so on. Through telling his story, Natalie and Rose find a way to cope and it brings them closer together at a time when they need it.
I loved the way this book was written. I was able to be drawn in to both the lives of Natalie and Rose and also that of Colin’s despite them being vastly different. The descriptions and morals that come with this story are very powerful and it is the kind of book that will stay with you. I know I will still be thinking about the messages in this book for a long time.
3. Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts
Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts is set around World War 1. Nellie works in a custard factory and it is during a time when women are paid much less than men despite carrying out the same jobs. Nellie gets involved with the campaigning to get better pay and better rights in the factories for women. She is also trying to support her family with being the oldest of 4 siblings and not having a mother. Then when her father dies too she has to work harder by bringing in extra work for the evenings too. There are two men who try to steal her heart and they are both very different. One is a risk taker and gets her pulse racing whilst the other is reliable and there for her when she needs him.
Throughout this book we see Nellie go through some really tough times and have to go through things that I can’t even imagine. She holds it all together and battles on for her family which is really amazing.
Whilst reading this book it made me realise how lucky we are. That we moan about some things that are really not at all important when just a few generations ago our family members were worrying about just being able to have enough money to eat. This book really gets things into perspective and left me thinking about how lucky we are.
2. Gone Girl
It was hard to decide whether this is the number one book or number two as this really was a brilliant read! Gone Girl is a book which will have you unable to guess the ending and be totally gripped. Amy and Nick have been married for five years and on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary Amy goes missing. Nick is called in for questioning, there’s something about the circumstances in which she left that just don’t add up and why does Nick keep smirking on the television and finding himself telling lies to the police? Amy has left various clues around which lead the police to try to find where she is but it just raises more questions.
When reading this book you think it is going in a certain direction and then suddenly something else will happen which will change your view completely. It is fast paced and gripping. I really struggled to put it down and found myself really getting into the characters. They were so well formed that I absolutely despised one of them (will not say who, don’t want to give any spoilers!) but this character annoyed me so much I was desperate for them to get what they deserved!
This book is brilliant, both myself and my husband read it and spent a lot of time talking about it afterwards. Brilliantly written, highly recommended.
I let you Go.
Number one book of the year so far is definitely I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. I heard lots of great things about this book and was a bit apprehensive before I read it as didn’t want to be disappointed and… well I wasn’t!
As a mother is walking home from school it just takes a second for her child to let go of her hand and be knocked down by a car. The death of the child sends Jenna into a panic. She needs to leave the area, there are many memories and things lurking around so she gets on a bus and travels to South Wales. She keeps her head down and tries to set up a life for herself but hiring a little cottage and setting up a small business taking photos. Meanwhile the police are investigating the death of the child. There are few leads to go on and their lives are strained with the pressure put upon them with paperwork. We get a taste of what it must be like to juggle a demanding police investigation with trying to still be a family member too.
As the investigation unfolds there is a sudden turn around in the book. A ‘wow’ moment which makes the book suddenly go down a different path, one far different to what you thought was going to happen. We learn a lot about domestic violence and how belittling it can be. It is told from the point of view of the abuser which is really different to what we’ve read before and makes it even more real.
When reading this book I was drawn in from page one and really struggled to put it down. I often found myself reading this until late in the evenings and when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it. This book has been a very popular one this year by many and has gone into the WHSmith top 100 books of all time and I can completely see why! This is a debut novel too and I can’t wait to read Clare’s next book which will be published next year.
If you like a book that you simply can’t put down then this is definitely the book for you!
Thanks for reading!!