Wednesday, 27 September 2017

10 books to curl up with on a rainy day


Self care should always be a priority but now that the nights are getting darker quicker and we're most definitely moving into jumper weather, keeping up with a self care routine is more important than ever.
One of the things I like doing the most to relax is reading and at the moment I'm not dedicating enough
time for losing myself in a book. There is nothing better to do when the weather is cold and miserable outside than putting on your pyjamas, lighting a candle, and curling up under a blanket with a good novel.

I get asked for book recommendations from my friends all the time so I decided that I would look back at the books I've already read this year and narrow it down to a list of my top ten recommendations.




The Shining by Stephen King

Most people know the story from the Stanley Kubrick film but for those who haven’t, The Shining takes place over a winter while a family stay at a hotel in order to carry out maintenance while the hotel is closed for business and completely snowed in. Reality and fantasy blurs for the characters as strange forces in the hotel affect each character differently and have some disastrous results.  I’ve wanted to read a Stephen King novel for years and just never got round to it. I got the trilogy of Carrie, The Shining, and Misery really cheap on Amazon but unfortunately this does mean that I ended up getting a book the size of a brick to carry around in my bag. I haven’t been scared by a book in years but The Shining is such a creepy story that is somehow made even more intense in the novel than it is in the film. There were many times where I’d be lost in my own world with the story and then something would disturb me and I’d nearly jump out of my skin. Now that I’ve experienced both the film and the book, I would love to see a remake that stayed true to the novel. I’m not sure that it will ever happen given how iconic the Kubrick film has now become (even though a lot of the famous parts don’t actually happen in the book), but there are elements of the novel that would have been difficult to portray at the time when the first one was made and I’d love to see what it would look like now.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Having already read Tipping the Velvet and loving it, I don’t know why it took me so long before I read Fingersmith. For some reason I had gotten the idea that it wasn’t a queer novel and so it was nearer the middle of my to-read pile than the top because there wasn’t much in the blurb that appealed to me. How wrong I was. In basic terms, Fingersmith is the story of orphaned Sue Trinder who lives in a house of thieves with her adoptive mother. Among the characters that frequent the house is Gentleman, who propositions Sue with the task of becoming a wealthy woman’s maid so that she can convince her to marry him and he will subsequently have claim to her fortune. On the surface the story seems straightforward but Fingersmith is anything but. There are so many different layers to the novel that whenever you finally feel like you have a grasp on what’s going on and who is tricking who, suddenly Sarah Waters pulls the rug out from under you and you’re left trying to piece together a completely different version of the last 100 pages you just read. Set in the Victorian Britain, the queer romance element of the narrative just makes it a bit different and offers some representation that you won’t otherwise be able to easily find in actual historical fiction (or if you do find it you’ll soon realise you’re reading The Well of Loneliness and everything is terrible).




Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I picked up Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s first novel, Purple Hibiscus, in a charity shop last September to read on my holiday and I think I read it in about two days. Adichie’s writing is so vibrant and I quickly bought her other novels. Half of a Yellow Sun describes the lives of three characters in Nigeria before and during the Biafran War, which I had no knowledge of before I began reading the novel. I was worried that because I didn’t know anything about it then I might not enjoy it as much because I have a habit of zoning out of novels if something gets too dense (the war part of Atonement is basically one big blur to me) but Adichie writes in such a way that her story and characters are accessible and inviting and made me not want to put the book down. I felt a lot of different emotions while reading Half of a Yellow Sun because the characters are thrown around with so much turmoil and conflict, both on a personal and large scale, that you are constantly trying to make sense of a situation that completely rejects any idea of rational explanation. Half of a Yellow Sun is probably the book in this list that I will do the worst job of explaining but Adichie is the author whose novels I would most urge people go out and buy. 


The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History is a bit of a cheat because it isn’t a new book I’ve read this year (as you can tell from its very worn appearance in my photos) but it is one that I choose to reread every year because it is my favourite book in the whole world. I’m not sure if there is such thing as a perfect novel but if not, Donna Tartt has come pretty damn close. The main character, Richard Papen, narrates his time at an elite New England college where he becomes part of a close knit group of Classics students who are regarded by the other students at the college as being odd and uninviting. The novel is unusual in that it informs the reader that one of the group is murdered from the outset in the prologue, and therefore the novel details the events leading up to and after the murder and its effects on the group. I’m not sure I could even explain why I feel so strongly about it but Tartt releases one novel a decade and you can see why when you read one. The characters are perfectly constructed to be awkward and imperfect, no detail is left out in the events that transpire, every decision is deliberate and necessary, and the normality of Richard Papen as the vessel taking you along for the ride allows you no place to hide. I really haven’t done my favourite novel justice in this description but I’m yet to meet anyone who hasn’t liked The Secret History and it’s the first novel that pops in my head anytime anyone asks me for a recommendation.

Stoner by John Williams

I’d never heard of Stoner before I saw it recommended in Santorini’s only bookshop while I was on holiday there last September. However Stoner is definitely not a holiday read, unless you are having a very miserable holiday and want to bask in how horrible your life may turn out. It describes the life of William Stoner, who grows up on a farm, goes to study agriculture at university where he discovers a love of literature, becomes infatuated with a woman called Edith who he makes his wife and later has a child with. Apart from a few details here and there, there really isn’t too much more to it than that. Although it may not seem so, every aspect of William Stoner’s life is complicated and made much more difficult than it needs to be and every time you think something might finally be going well for him, it doesn’t. I was reading it at a bus stop once and a man asked me what it was about and I had to just reply “it’s just about a man and everything in his life goes wrong”. I think he regretted asking. Anyway, you might not have guessed it from this glowing review but I loved Stoner. It’s heartbreakingly sad in the simplest of ways and I read it at a time where everything wasn’t going great for me either and it definitely gave me a bit of perspective.




Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

I don’t often read non-fiction books but I had seen bloggers talking about this everywhere at the beginning of the year and after binging the Netflix series and falling in love with it I couldn’t wait to read the book it was based on. Sophie Amoruso is the founder of Nasty Gal and in Girlboss she details exactly how Nasty Gal came to be, along with her advice and warnings for how you can channel a ‘girlboss’ mindset and be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. I didn’t expect Girlboss to be as interesting as I’ve actually found it. I’m currently not doing what I want to and I don’t have a clear path of how to get where I want to be and I thought the book might make me just feel bad about myself for not going in the right direction. On the other hand, the series made me feel the complete opposite because Sophia the character had nothing going for her, didn’t know what she wanted to do in life, and then by chance she found something she was good at and she actually made it into a really successful business venture. Although the book and the series differ, they both still have the same message. And while the book might not have the power to tell you what your calling is and give you a push towards it, it is a good tool for focusing your thinking and making you evaluate how you deal with situations currently. Reading it has given me the illusion that I have a bit more control over my life and that’s a comforting thought. Whether it has any lasting impact, well, you’ll just have to watch this space.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

At the end of last year and into the beginning of this year I was really enjoying reading thrillers and after reading Gone Girl, I wanted to see what else Gillian Flynn had to offer. Sharp Objects is about a journalist who reluctantly returns to her home town to write up a story about a murder of a young girl. As she ends up staying longer and longer in the town, the story gets murkier and her reliability as a narrator is questioned as the people she interacts with reveal her weaknesses and why she left the town in the first place. When I first started Sharp Objects I was underwhelmed with how the story is set up and therefore had very low expectations. However as the novel gets deeper into the events that transpire, it gets more tangled and increasingly difficult to clearly distinguish who is trying to help and who is attempting to hinder the case. Unlike some thriller novels where you are left disappointed with an obvious tied up ending, Sharp Objects has twists and turns until the very last chapter. Flynn is skilled at writing imperfect, multidimensional women and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up any other novels she brings out.


Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi

I was persuaded into buying Black Water Lilies by a sales assistant in Waterstones when I was buying books for my trip to Munich earlier this year. I’m not sure what happened but I went to the till with The Woman in Cabin 10 and I left with Black Water Lilies. I still haven’t got round to buying The Woman in Cabin 10 but I am so glad that I was pushed towards Black Water Lilies because it’s probably the best book I’ve read all year. The story centres on a murder in Giverny which is famously where Monet spend the latter half of his life and painted many of his best known paintings. Art is a central theme in the novel and holds special significance to the three narrators, each of which it is unclear as to what ties them together until the end of the novel. Bussi keeps you guessing until the very last chapters and I spent so much of the novel going back and forth between thinking I’d completely figured it out and then realising I was totally wrong. It’s a really engrossing read and if you like crime or thrillers I would definitely put this on your list because I couldn’t put it down.



To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird was so much more engrossing than I was expecting and I really wish I had read it earlier. I think because it’s a novel taught in schools I assumed I’d have to work at it to actually enjoy it but I’m pleased to say I was completely wrong. Told through the eyes of Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird explores her life in a small southern town in the 1930's as her father acts as a defensive attorney in a very controversial court case. Hands down the best thing about this novel is the characters and I think without using children to explore the other aspects of the novel it wouldn’t be as widely appreciated as it is now. To Kill a Mockingbird is a commentary on class, racism, gender and all of these things are explored without it feeling like Harper Lee is pushing an obvious agenda on the reader. I wish I’d read it sooner and I couldn’t recommend it more to anyone else who’s been thinking of reading it because it really is just one of those books that you should make a point of reading at some point in your life.


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Can you tell I really enjoyed Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun? As much as I loved Adichie's other two novels, Americanah has definitely been my favourite. The main character, Ifemelu, grows up in Lagos, Nigeria and falls in love with Obinze during secondary school. They are separated when she moves to America to go to university and although Obinze plans to join her later on, he is denied entry to America when tighter restrictions are enforced after 9/11. The novel follows their separate lives as they navigate life apart and how their race impacts the opportunities they have access to and the treatment they receive in England and the United States. I found it slightly more of a light hearted read than Adichie’s other two novels although there are definitely still parts of the novel that are quite difficult to read. It details experiences that I will never be able to have outside of reading books or watching films and I think it’s so important to diversify the authors you read and the films you watch for those very reasons. Adichie is an incredible writer, and Americanah is a really enjoyable novel.



This post ended up being a lot longer than I thought but hey who can really put a word limit on books? Clearly, it’s not me. I definitely jinxed myself by publishing my blogging goals last week because it was typical that as soon as I pledged to post regularly I would end up having a super busy week and skipping a post.
Have you read any of these titles? What did you think of them?


I hope you’re able to get a few recommendations from the books I’ve loved this past year and I’m always open to new titles so let me know if you have any suggestions for me!
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18 comments

  1. I haven't actually read any of these books but I need to ASAP! I've been loving scary / horror style books lately so I really should delve into some Stephen King, at least before I see It haha! Black Water Lillies sounds fab, especially with the art playing such a key role! Fab post! 😘 If you're ever interested in joining a blogger reading group do let me know as I have just started running one!

    Abbey ❤️ http://www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

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    1. I've always wanted to read Stephen King, I don't know why it took me so long! I really want to read It, I've heard there's a lot in the novel that they couldn't put in the film.

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  2. I love this idea for a post! (I may do one myself but if I do I'll be sure to link you in it!) because it's got me thinking about SO many books if include on my own list! Shamefully, I've never read a Stephen King book �� I'm hoping to rent IT from the library soon! <3 xxx

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    1. Can't wait to read your post! I'd definitely recommend Stephen King, I can't wait to read more

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  3. I honestly read all the time on rainy days because I can't be bothered to go outside. It's too gross! That being said Girl Boss is at the top of my list of books to read. I've heard so much about it so I really need to get on that!

    -GG
    www.girlingamba.com

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    1. Agreed, it's such a good way to pass the time when the weather is bad and I love the sense of accomplishment when you finish a novel. Hope you enjoy Girlboss!

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  4. Omg, I can't believe I haven't read any of these books yet! At the minute I'm reading 'Girl on the train' and I'm really enjoying it! I love a good thriller on a rainy day. There's some really interesting suggestions here, I'm definitely going to refer back to this when choosing another book! x

    whatevawears.co.uk

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    1. I love The Girl on the Train! I'd definitely recommend Gillian Flynn if you're a fan of Paula Hawkins

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  5. A great selection of books here. Fingersmith is one of my next reads - I loved The Paying Guests so I'm looking forward to reading it. Also want to read To Kill A Mockingbird soon too.

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    1. I haven't read The Paying Guests yet but it's on my list! I'm becoming such a big fan of Sarah Waters

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  6. I love to read! Especially when you really get into a book, can't put it down, realise the time and find out you've been reading for hours! Done this so many times haha. Will definitely have to check some of these books out! There's some interesting suggestions here :) x

    https://allaboutamy.uk

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    1. It's the best feeling isn't it??? Nothing better than losing yourself in a book and forgetting about everything else for a while

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  7. I love finding new books. I'm definitely going to be referring to these when i get through my current list.

    To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favourite books, but I still need to read Go Set a Watchman.

    www.girloffduty.com

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    1. I haven't read that either! I'm really intrigued as to what it will be like

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  8. I NEED to read Girl Boss, literally everyone loves it and as someone who wants to start their own business I feel like it's a must have haha! You're so right about the reputation of To Kill A Mockingbird, it's one of my friends favourite books ever but the fact its a 'school' book really puts me off. After reading this I'm very tempted to go and pick myself up a copy and see what the hype is about!
    Alice Xx
    www.blacktulipbeauty.co.uk

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    1. I think it'll be such good reading if you're thinking of starting your own business! She talks so much about having the right mind frame to succeed and I found it so helpful

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  9. I haven't read any of these books,but I like the sound of Black water Lilies and Sharp Objects might have to give them a try 💕

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