I’ve read some great books this year, and not all of them published this year. I’m going to write about them anyway, because I think sometimes we can get too preoccupied with “new” books. So here goes (in no particular order)…
Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel
One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America. The world will never be the same again. Twenty years later Kirsten, an actress in the Travelling Symphony, performs Shakespeare in the settlements that have grown up since the collapse. But then her newly hopeful world is threatened. If civilization was lost, what would you preserve? And how far would you go to protect it?
A smart and original book. Intricately plotted, it will stay with you long after you finish it. A refreshing change from the more dramatic apocalypse books.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
With humour and levity, Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century – one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviours that marginalise women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics.
I read quite a few books on feminism this year as I realised I hadn’t done that since uni. This short novella on the subject was one of my favourites. Personal, honest, engaging and enlightening: well-worth a read. It will make you want to shout, “Yes, we should all be feminists.”
One by Sarah Crossan
Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins. And their lives are about to change. No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love? But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined.
Sarah Crossan is a terrific writer, and I have endless admiration for how she manages to cram so much story and emotion into so few words. Her verse novels are always my favourite and this (in my opinion) is her best yet. It deserves to have received all the awards and attention that it has. Can’t wait for her next one!
The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past: To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory. Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide and someone’s heart is about to be broken.
Time travel, quantum physics … romance – what more could you want from a book? Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s writing is gorgeous. Funny and emotional, this book is about all my favourite things: growing up, falling in love and trying to work out what this thing called life is really all about. (Plus, I think the front cover is gorgeous.)
I Call Myself a Feminist: The View From Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty, edited by Victoria Pepe, Rachel Holmes, Amy Annette, Alice Stride, Martha Mosse
Is feminism still a dirty word? Twenty-five of the brightest, funniest, bravest young women write about what being a feminist means to them. Contributors include Laura Bates (of the Everyday Sexism Project), Reni Eddo-Lodge (award-winning journalist and author), Yas Necati (an eighteen-year-old activist), Laura Pankhurst (great-great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst) and Louise O’Neill(author of the award-winning feminist YA novel Only Ever Yours).
Another of the books I read on feminism this year that I enjoyed. This one felt very “now”, and I liked how inclusive it was. It was also great that not all the contributors were authors. An inspiring and informative book, and I loved all the quotations in it.