We’ve reached the mid point of 2019. It’s a good time to take a pause and reflect.
A time to ask yourselves some questions. Have you:
- kept up with your challenges and projects?
- nailed that TBR stack?
- found any knock out, truly brilliant books?
I won’t bore you with how much I’m behind on my projects to read my classics club list or the Booker prize winners. And I’ve already confessed about the rising state of my TBR.
Let’s talk about something far more interesting: six books I’ve read so far this year that were stunning. There’s a psychological thriller, a classic novel, two memoirs and two literary fiction titles.
Milkman by Anna Burns
After a few years when the winning novel in the Booker Prize didn’t set my world alight, in 2018 we finally got a book that absolutely deserved the prize. Milkman by Anna Burns is an intense and powerful novel about trying to survive in a city where to be different, is to be in danger. The unconventional narrative form (no character is ever named) takes a little getting used to but don’t give up. If you do you’ll miss one of the most compelling novels I’ve read in years.
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
Gaskell wasn’t alone among Victorian novelists in her anguish about the plight of workers in the newly industrialised cities. Like Dickens she wrote about their appalling living conditions, sickness and hunger. Mary Barton was her first novel and it’s a no holds barred tale about industrial strife in Manchester. This is a must-read novel for anyone interested in social issues.
The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage
Vanessa Savage’s debut novel is a spectacular psychological thriller. The Woman in the Dark is a tale of a family’s descent into crisis when they move into a house whose previous occupants were murdered. Within this she spins a disturbing narrative about the legacy of child abuse. Just one warning before you begin reading this: you’ll lose lots of sleep because you won’t be able to put it down .
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
Imagine you’ve lost your home and your business. You have nothing but a few hundred pounds in your savings. Your husband has just been diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition. Faced with that situation Raynor Winn decided to take a walk. Rather a long walk. Six hundred miles in fact. The Salt Path is her account of walking the coastal path, camping wild and encountering hostility because strangers thought they were untouchable homeless vagrants. This is a memoir that can make you angry but it will also make you laugh because Winn has a wonderful eye for the absurd situations in life.
This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
Adam Kay was a hospital doctor specialising in obstetrics for six years and kept a diary of his time on the front line of healthcare. This is Going to Hurt is astonishingly funny but also sobering because Kay shows how poorly junior doctors are treated. Underpaid and expected to work well beyond their contracted hours, the job puts a strain on friendships and relationships. This is an astonishingly frank novel but despite his criticisms, Kay is still a firm believer in the principles of public healthcare.
Circe by Madeline Miller
This was a book I wasn’t looking forward to reading. I did so only because it was selected by the other book club members. But this re-imagining of Circe (the Greek sorceress who gets a brief mention in Homer’s Odyssey) was a revelation. Miller’s descriptions of the world inhabited by the Titans among the Greek gods is breathtaking. A more detailed review will follow but for now, I’ll just say that if you’ve not yet read this, do yourself a huge favour and go out now and buy a copy. You won’t be sorry.
Those are my six choices for the first half of 2019. It will be interesting to see if any of them still make the cut when I come to the end of the year.
What would you choose from your own reading so far this year? Any knock out reads for you?