Monday, 2 November 2015


All of you who read this blog should know by now just how much I love books. I constantly have a book on the go and keep a mini review journal thing on Pinterest, including all that I have read, am reading and want to read (do give me a follow if you are on Pinterest too).

So, as I announced at the end of September, for Blogtober this year I thought I would combine it with the book bloggers' version of the event - BOOKtober. And, every day for the entire month, I recommended a book on my Twitter. But just in case you didn't catch them or for some reason don't follow me on Twitter (WHY??? Fix that right now here); here is a roundup of all my recommendations.

And just FYI - these are not just any old books. They are the books which I feel you HAVE to experience at some point in your life, either because they are important or just so DARN GOOD. They are the ones you should read before you die....

1. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffennegger.
This is my all time favourite book so of course I was going to start with this one. It is a romance but I think anyone could enjoy it as it's so beautifully written. There are a lot of characters in it and it has a very twisty-turny, plot. It is a wonderful story of people who draw you in and make them care for them in such a huge way. It is highly emotional, especially towards the end and it made me absolutely sob. I think all those reasons should be enough for you to read it right now.

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This is a book unlike any other. It has been described in the past as historical fantasy and that sums it up pretty well. It is fantasy, yet it is set in Victorian times which is a really unusual mixture. The descriptions in this are simply stunning and they draw you into the wonderful world of the circus. Plus there are short chapters and a very intriguing plot which will keep you turning the pages.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Another of my favourite books...although it is a really horrific version of racism in 20th century America, it is actually a really light-hearted book. There are some absolutely hilarious bits and the friendship that is portrayed (that was almost on the point of being illegal back in those days) is wonderful. I really love it. And when you read it, you will understand why I took a picture of it around cooking utensils.

4. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Obviously plots are really important in novels. But actually I rate great characters above a great plot. A mediocre plot can be saved if you really engage with and care for the characters. Luckily, this covers all bases. To be honest it's going to, it's Hardy. There are some brilliant characters, particularly the main one, Bathsheba. She is so flawed and just so human. At first I just thought she was a bit of a cow but she grows up throughout the novel, some bad things happen to her and she learns from them to become a better person in the end. The character progression is wonderful and totally realistic too.

5. The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada
This is a very short book, but it doesn't need length. It is haunting and emotive  and really draws you into both the horror and the beautiful friendship that was present within the concentration camps. They went through it together and that's how they survived. That and luck; being in the right place at the right time, keeping your head down and saying the right thing. That's what was clear within this book. The musical parts of the book were particularly wonderful and such a direct contrast from the grey awfulness and cruelty of the camp itself. This book will stay with you for a long time.

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Another shorty but a goody. You will swallow this book whole and it has some really interesting themes within it. The ending is properly sad but if you are anything like me, you would have noticed how it was foreshadowed by events at the beginning. A wonderful little book, full of fascinating imagery and was such an interesting representation of humanity.

7. Me before you by Jojo Moyes
Moyes is a very talented writer and I feel she is slightly wasted on romantic fiction. But if that's what she enjoys writing, then I am not one to dissuade her. She creates wonderful, believable characters and there is always a surprising twist somewhere in there, which makes it so much more than your average romantic fiction. I have read and love a huge many of her books, but I think this is still my favourite. It is heart breaking at the end, but the story up until then is absolutely wonderful. I am really looking forward to the film coming out next year. Although I don't tend to watch book adaptions (as it normally ruins them) Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin in the leads should do it justice.

8. The Five People you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
I love this idea. Life is so confusing and anything that deals with the afterlife, gives such hope to its readers. But this version of heaven is one of my faves where Eddie meets 5 people who help him to make sense of his life. A beautiful idea and a wonderfully told story.

9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Not everyone gets on with Austen but I am a big fan of most of them. This was the first one of hers that I read and I think it will always remain my favourite although Northanger Abbey comes pretty close. She is the chick flick writer of her age and I love the ups and downs that the characters go through while they try to navigate that old lifestyle. I couldn't even imagine a world where all you needed to do was find a husband.

10. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
I was really lucky that, while I was studying English at GCSE and A level, I had fabulous teachers who inspired my love of literature rather than destroyed it. I studied Gatsby for my AS, and it was the perfect one to read into a little. There is so much imagery and I loved the vivid descriptions of the partying lifestyle in the 1920s.

11. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I do find John Green to be a little bit of an affected writer and his characters are way too wise for their years. But this is a touching book all the same. And I love the fact that it is a different kind of cancer story, centred around the love and positivity that Hazel had in her life, rather than focusing on the fact she is going to die soon.

12. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Someone described last week's recommendations as a 'little bit heavy' (I don't think they are but then again I probably have a better tolerance than most) so I thought I would share a few of my favourite books from my childhood. Starting with this marvellous book. I bet you guessed there would be a HP book in here somewhere. Very few people my age weren't touched by them. This one was always my favourite. It was the first one that I own in hardback so I think it was the first one where I became fully addicted to the series. And I like the fact it isn't too dark as Voldemort wasn't in it. A little bit different and really entertaining.

13. The Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton
Continuing along the boarding school theme, these were my favourite books when I was growing up. I became absolutely infatuated by the idea of boarding schools (so much so I did attend one from the ages of 11-18) and I never stopped reading them from about the ages of 6-15. Loved the characters and the whole setting - it definitely captured my imagination. Which is what a book is meant to do.

14. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My other favourite book when I was a child. I loved this story of the four sisters who had so many mini adventures together. I always wanted to be like Beth, sweet and kind and brilliant at the piano but even back then I think I was like Jo. And I am definitely like Jo now - a writer, who is passionate and loving but with a bit of a temper that comes out every so often. Yup, we could be twins.

15. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
This book is guaranteed to make you slightly addicted. The structure of the book goes 1 2 3 4 5 6 5 4 3 2 1. With each section having a different character. So the only character who's story is written all together is number 6. The rest are split...which means the entire first half is made up of cliffhangers. Each new story, you think you are not going to like the characters as much as the previous one, but you do and then you can barely wait to find out what happens to them all. It's all very cleverly done, not least because each of the characters are linked.

16. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
I studied this for A level and thank goodness it wasn't ruined for me. It is a beautiful and haunting book partly set in the 1st world war. Lots of description, lots of  imagery but also wonderful characters who you just fall in love with.

17. The Diary of a young girl by Anne Frank
When you read about the World War in history books, you read statistics about the number of Jews who were killed and you forget that every single one of them was a real person. Who was murdered for no good reason. Anne Frank's diary goes a little way to humanise those people who were killed. Understated yet brilliant.

8. And the mountains echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini is one of my favourite modern authors. He is actually the god of description and every single one of his books touches the heartstrings.

19. The Life and Loves of a He Devil by Graham Norton
There is nothing profound about this book but it is just so darn funny. If you are a fan of him and the show and celebrities in general, you will enjoy this book. It has many a hilarious tale in there and is not your average autobiography.

20. The Commitments by Roddy Doyle
I love Roddy Doyle's books. He has such a laid back style that is so easy to read and this one really made me giggle. He manages to capture human society perfectly.

21. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
This really touched a nerve. The descent from order to savagery seemed quick and very intense and kind of frightening. It was a really astute look at humanity.

22. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
This is a wonderfully written book showing the depths of mental illness. It is an aspect of health not often talked about, let alone represented in literature. It takes a little while to get into the book but it is great and worth persevering with.

23. The Narrow Road to the Deep North North by Richard Flannagan
This has some really brutal parts to it. But also a lot of friendship and love in there too. I disliked the main character a lot, but there are others who you can empathise with a lot more. And you can even sympathise with the torturing prison officials to a certain extent because everyone in there was being controlled.

24. One Day by David Nicholls
Do not dismiss this as chick lit. It is a rather wonderful and A LOT better than the film, which is so often the case. Such an interesting and unique structural idea.

25. I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak
Everyone has heard of The Book Thief but very few people have read any more of Zusak's. I actually prefer I am the Messenger. It is addictive as you try to work out where the messages are coming from and why he has to do this.

26. Boy by Roald Dahl
I grew up on Roald Dahl books. But this was always my favourite. I love that it shows how he first came up with a few of the famous ideas. And you see the boy behind the author. Last year I was lucky enough to be able to read his first ever handwritten draft of Boy. It was a very cool thing to do.

27. The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin
I have read a few of Toibin's and although he is very 'literary classic' he has an easily readable style which I love. This is a great depiction of the well known Easter Story, from a different perspective and makes it extremely realistic. Which is just wonderful. I love it when authors make you think in a different way.

28. Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
This book really affected me when I was read it and that's why I included it here. I couldn't stop thinking about it and at some points it made me feel quite uncomfortable due to the treatment of the main character. But if a book can stay with you like that, it's well worth a read. Plus there is a shocking twist at the end which I didn't see coming!!

29. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Another very haunting book which is wayyyyy better than the film. Beautifully told. Although the central issue is death it's not a downer at all. And it is very uplifting.

30. The picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
We should all read lots and lots of Oscar Wilde. End of.

31. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Along with Pride and Prejudice and Far from the Madding Crowd this is one of my favourite 'classics' and one of the first bits of classic literature I read all the way through (and enjoyed) because I wanted to, rather than being forced to for school. It will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason. Plus the author shares my name, which obviously means I am going to be just as successful as her and be read hundreds of years in the future.

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  1. What did you think of the Cloud Atlas movie?

  2. LOVED this post - and it's inspired me to do one of my own in the new year! I am loving crime/thriller books lately, at the moment I can't get enough of the Roy Grace series :)

    Lilies and Lipbalm