On New Year’s Eve, 2020, I resolved to read more. I wanted to give myself a mental workout, to consume more stories and, hopefully, improve my writing. I’ve never been a quick reader, so one way that I’ve consumed more is by speed-listening to audiobooks at a rate at which I can still understand what’s being said.
I’ve read a lot more in the past four months than I ever expected to, but some stories have been better than others. Here’s a quarterly roundup, including a spoiler-free summary for each book and who should find themselves reading it.
Malorie Blackman’s social commentary on racial politics took the world by storm when it first came out, and continues to do so, with a BBC adaptation having come out early last year. It’s an alternate world in which black people rule over white people, and the novels explore love, relationships and tragedy in a world unwilling to accept each other as equals. Readers are greeted with high-stakes actions at every turn, so there’s a little bit for everyone.
Who is this for? Despite being marketed for Young Adults, the story’s suited for even the most veteran of readers. It’s an easy read, though, so don’t be surprised if you’re quickly looking for a new novel for your nightstand.
Beth O’Leary’s will-they-won’t-they was my first foray into the romantic book genre – if, like me, you choose to exclude the Mills & Boon novel I was forced into reading in my second year of University. The book explores two singles sharing the same bed at different points in the day due to their various shift patterns, and I enjoyed it. Past traumas keep delaying what feels inevitable, and you end up really rooting for O’Leary’s protagonists.
Who is this for? If you’re unsure whether romance in a novel is for you, this one works well for dipping your feet in the water. It’s relatively short and easy to read, but a cut above what would typically populate a library’s ‘romance’ section.
What an experience this non-fiction book was! I’ve already written about my key takeaways from this book, including the 2-minute rule and making your positive habits visible, but it is so much more than that. Clear’s book is THE read for those hoping to hop on the productivity bandwagon and get more stuff done. It’s an eye-opening guide into simple routines and hacks you can employ to make yourself ten times more efficient in every single thing that you do.
Who is this for? Anyone wanting to get more out of their working hours and, ultimately, create healthier lifestyles for themselves through time-saving hacks that make your habits way more attainable.
I didn’t like this book. It was my second attempt at trying out a book centred on romance, but I downloaded it mistakenly thinking it was a crime thriller (it was late in the night, okay?). Every character was unlikeable in a story centred on adultery and past love. Perhaps I disliked it due to how much I disliked the themes in the book – and the lack of real resolution or lasting consequences – but it really wasn’t for me.
Who is this for? Anyone in the mood for an in-between read while waiting for your next one to arrive. If you enjoy reading about adultery (but hopefully not emulating it!), this might be more your cup of tea.
Tolkien is the father of fantasy. I thought that when I first watched his Lord of the Rings trilogy, I knew it when I read his essays and the first in the series of three books while at University, but it was cemented in my mind while reading The Hobbit. It’s a tale of a hobbit, twelve dwarves and a wizard, going on a journey to the lair of a dragon to steal back the dwarves’ home and treasures. A classic, and one that I am ashamed to say I had not read until the ripe age of 24-years-old.
Who is this for? Any fantasy fan needs to read Tolkien – both to understand where so many tropes originated (having first been adapted from medieval tales, like Beowulf), and because it is just, simply, a fun book to behold.
In a word: eh. I thought the concept of Farenheit 451 was interesting – book burning and censorship – but struggled to get fully invested. Maybe I suffered from the book’s exhausting hype, but I felt bored, which rarely happens to me while reading.
Who is this for? Fans of dystopian fiction should give it a go, if only to see if they like it, but I can’t say that I’d personally recommend it.
A novel about an academic, possible with autism, trying to find love was funny, charming and sweet all at once. It’s rated as one of Bill Gates’ favourites and I’d say it’s one of mine too. The Rosie Project is an interesting take on a man, with all of his routines, pouring his effort into finding a wife. Scientifically. Highly recommended.
Who is this for? Bookworms looking for an alternative take on the typical boy-meets-girl cliche.
That’s my quarterly round-up! What have you been reading? All of these books have been linked to their Amazon pages, so I may receive a small percentage of the total sale if you choose to buy something after using my links.