I’ve read 64 books so far this year and it was genuinely difficult to pick just 10. I’ve given four stars – meaning ‘I really enjoyed this book. It wouldn’t have had many things I didn’t like about it’ – to the majority of books I read and there’s still so many that I’d eagerly tell others that they must read. But here are the books that had quite an impact on me this year, in no particular order:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I cannot imagine this won’t be on nearly everybody’s lists. It was a long wait and it didn’t disappoint. I really enjoy being part of a community that’s unironically enthusiastic about books, and book lovers really demonstrated the power of stories with this book in particular. Now we’re just waiting for John Green’s next novel.
‘My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.’
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
I’d known about this YA contemporary novel for a while, but I just hadn’t got around to picking it up. But then I found the US hardcover for only £3. It pretty much confirmed that, yes, I do have a soft spot for YA contemporary, and yes, I do wish I was born in America. I just loved everything about it, which was the only reason I didn’t give Morgan Matson’s second novel, Second Chance Summer, five stars also.
‘Ad astra per aspera, to the stars through adversity.’
Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
I borrowed this from a family member and gosh I am glad that I did. It’s utterly heartbreaking. If you do not usually read non-fiction, I urge you to pick this one up. It’s the story of six people who eventually defect from North Korea, a country that is severely controlled, and whose citizens are not allowed to leave, written as a narrative.
Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones
Constable & Toop is a fantastically witty and intelligent children’s ghost story set in Victorian Britain. Its characters are a joy to read about. I went around for days telling everyone I met to read it. I do not know if I succeeded, but it’s their loss if not!
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Although I gave this four stars, because I didn’t enjoy the second half as much, it deserves a place here because it blew away the myth that classics are difficult to read. It’s completely engrossing, accessible, and so quotable. Do not let the ‘classic’ label put you off if you’ve yet to read it.
‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.’
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
It took me so long to buy this because the cover is so utterly girly, and it took me so long to read it once I had bought it because I don’t even know why, but I did this year. And I loved it. Everything. I’ll definitely be pre-ordering Isla and the Happily Ever After.
‘French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused.’
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
What a surprise this was! I had absolutely no preconceptions about Agatha Christie, but I knew that everyone knows who she is. I chose this because it’s her most popular and well-known book. I read it in three hours. That says it all.
‘Many homicidal lunatics are very quiet, unassuming people. Delightful fellows.’
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I actually listened to the audiobook edition of this novel. I listened to it over 2 months and it’s a slow story, which I thought was its strength. I didn’t say this in my review, but horses terrify me, so killer horses are an absolute nightmare, and yet I loved this book way more than I thought I would. Utterly enjoyable.
‘There are moments that you’ll remember for the rest of your life and there are moments that you think you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and it’s not often they turn out to be the same moment.’
Pure by Julianna Baggott
I originally wasn’t going to put Pure on my list because I gave it 4 stars, but only because I didn’t realise it wasn’t a standalone novel. After thinking about it more, Pure deserves to be here. I remember being really excited about it when I’d finished and eagerly looked up the book trailer, which is absolutely fantastic and I hope that the movie adaptation does it justice. It reminded me why dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels are so exciting and I cannot wait to read the sequel, Fused.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I didn’t know much about Fahrenheit 451 before I started reading except that it was among the Big Three dystopian classics, along with 1984 and Brave New World. I’m so glad that I’ve now read all three!
‘It’s not books you need, it’s some of the things that were once in books… No, no, it’s not books at all you’re looking for… There’s nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only what books say.’
If you’re wondering, here are the other books that I’d happily feature on this list: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Probability of Miracles, Londoners, Second Chance Summer, Rebecca, New Girl, Legend, The Art of Fielding and Tempest.