It’s official. I’ve caught the reading bug and have completely rekindled my love for lazy evenings in, with a book in one hand and cup of tea in the other. With the weather being particularly unpredictable, I’ve spent the last couple of months making a solid dent in my ever-growing TBR list and have become that person constantly badgering their friends to read the same books so we can compare and chat all things books. (Not to mention starting a boozy book club which is just the ideal evening in every way!)
Here are the books I’ve been getting my teeth stuck into and my rundown of recommendations for your next 2019 read.
Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney
This was my first read of the year and it captured my attention from the opening pages and held it pretty much the entire way through. In a nutshell, it follows the story of two students and explores the complications in their friendship and their relationships. The story-line is at times uncomfortable and frustrating – there’s a lot of raw, unspoken emotion underpinned by a flat, practical tone of a disengaged and alienated young adult. It’s a gritty read which portrays damaged, unaware and ultimately very humane people – definitely worth picking up.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris
Get your tissues out for this one which had me bawling my eyes out at every other chapter. Heart-wrenching in so many ways, this book tells the story of two lovers trying to survive the horrors of Auschwitz. It does not shy away from the horrors of life in this concentration camp, the merciless killings, the utter lack of compassion and morality, and simple human decency. It recalls one man’s plight to save himself but also help others, his belief that he will survive against all odds and be reunited with his love. Deeply sad, moving and utterly compelling, this is a book I know will stay with me for many years. It’s well-written and completely unforgettable – I would highly, highly recommend this one.
Die, My Love – Ariana Harwicz, Sarah Moses (Translator), Carolina Orloff (Translator)
This is a book that certainly packs a punch. Deeply unsettling, the reader follows the female narrator’s harrowing account of perfectly normal and privileged life in the French countryside. It takes an inside look at a young mother suffering from postpartum depression which develops into a full-blown psychosis. The lack of names in this short novel adds to the feeling of unreality and detachment – it is difficult to tell which events are real and which are the product of the narrator’s deeply disturbed mind. It is a very dark and uneasy book, but also incredibly poetic and beautifully written/translated.
Normal People – Sally Rooney
A book that miraculously lives up to the hype surrounding it. Be prepared to read this in one hit as you become fully immersed in the complex relationship between Connell and Marianne. It follows the tenderness and electricity of first love, the subtleties of class and the difficulties of when friendship and love become entangled. Expertly written, it dips into the transitions between friendship and lovers and the issues that occur when communication breaks down. Emotional and relatable, this is one that should be at the very top of your TBR pile this year.
Salt on Your Tongue: Women and the Sea by Charlotte Runcie
I’m currently only half-way through this book but thought it was well-worth the mention. This is one for anyone who has an affiliation with Scotland and/or is interested in the sea and the myths and stories that go hand and hand with it. It’s a work of non-fiction, drawing on the author’s connection to the soothing, calming, comforting qualities of the sea but also its wildness and unpredictability. Although it does romanticise parts of Edinburgh, there’s something so comforting about reading about your home and people’s shared experiences of it. It’s a real gem of a book and one that is definitely worth picking up – especially if you have a Scottish road-trip in mind.
What are your favourite reads of 2019 so far? Let me know your recommendations in the comments below.