For this year’s Goodreads ‘Reading Challenge’, I pledged 30 books. Last year, I exceed my goal of 24 with a total of 32 books (though I’ve already told you, there’s a real chance this total is a lot higher because of all the smutty e-books I managed to read but got too embarrassed to add to my Goodreads).
So far, I have read 10 books, so I decided it was time to do a mini-milestone round-up of what I read, and what I thought. I can’t promise there won’t be any spoilers.
Mr. Salary, by Sally Rooney
I truly believe Sally Rooney can do no wrong. I loved Conversations with Friends, her debut, and devoured Normal People (think: walking down busy London streets while reading, not talking to anyone for a couple of days, sacrificing sleep).
This January, Mr Salary was published as part of Faber & Faber’s 90th anniversary. I’ve never really been one for short stories, despite my only real attempts at creative writing resulting in short fiction stories. Both my flatmate and I read Mr Salary in an evening, the 33 pages and addictive dialogue (how does she write dialogue so well??) helping us get through in no time.
The perfect balance of lovely and sad – all I expect from Rooney’s writing – left me so excited for whatever she releases next.
Hot Mess, by Lucy Vine
I was sold with this book when the Internet told me it was Bridget Jones for a new generation. I like chick-lit: it’s reliable, often easy-to-read, comforting. I like knowing the end of a book before I’ve finished the second chapter, and I love a happy ending – shoot me!
This book, like a lot of the millennial chick-lit I’ve read, was slightly different. There’s a happy ending, yes, but not a ‘and they live together forever, all happy with their big house, and babies and dog, forever and ever, the end’ happy ending. A woman who is starting work out who she is and what she really wants, happy with the fact that right now that doesn’t necessarily include a boyfriend.
More of this empowering, friends-first chick-lit in 2019 please!
New Erotica for Feminists, by Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor and Carrie Wittmer
I first found out about this book after reading the Refinery29 article about it (wouldn’t recommend reading at work if you laugh anywhere near as loudly as I do).
The book is about all of your feminist fantasies coming true, ‘again and again and again’. It’s funny and relevant, and yet another book I devoured in an evening.
Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling, by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
Despite being a bit Irish (sure, I’ve never been, but I’ve seen Gaelic football matches and have the red hair and freckles to prove I am definitely 50% Irish), the Penguin glossary of Irish phrases came in really handy, as well as a few Google searches.
It’s really hard not to like Aisling, and harder not to like this book. I’m half way through the second (The Importance of Being Aisling) and am sure this is a series I will come back to and re-read in years to come.
Watermelon, by Marian Keyes
I love Marian Keyes on Twitter, but before reading Watermelon, I’d never read anything by her, which was truly unacceptable from someone who loves chick-lit as much as I do.
The story is quite dark, something I understand is common amongst most of Keyes’ novels. Claire has just, just, given birth when her husband announces he’s leaving her for another woman.
The book was published in 1995, before Twitter and countless conversations about breadcrumbing, ghosting and negging. But the novel definitely confronts the issue of gaslighting. Like in Hot Mess, Claire is empowered by the end, but there’s also a happy ending – win-win!
My only complaint is that this book was way longer than I think it needed to be. Lots of stream of consciousness moments, which were funny enough but I found myself skimming. Not a big enough problem to put me off Keyes entirely, but something to consider if you like to storm through a book as quickly as possible like I do.
If We’re Not Married by Thirty, Anna Bell
I love books like this – years of will they, won’t they. I always think it feels slightly more realistic than books that cover a six month period and sell us a happy ever after. I found myself invested in the whole of Lydia’s family, and so happy by the end.
If you liked One Day or One Day in December, I think you’ll like this.
Misadventures with the Boss, by Kendall Ryan
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love a book with the line ‘very well-endowed secret lover is also her new boss’ in the Goodreads description. You know what’s going to happen (sex) and how it’s going to happen (in secret, to avoid a massive HR problem arising).
The Misadventures series is reliable, and so easy to read – definitely not for everyone though!
The Undomestic Goddess, by Sophie Kinsella
Sophie Kinsella stories make me happy. They are funny, and sweet, and easy to read. I’ll be honest and say this wasn’t my favourite (that would have to be I’ve Got Your Number) but I still found myself laughing out loud and give this four stars on Goodreads.
One Day, by David Nicholls
I’ve seen this film countless times, but I’d never managed to get further than a couple of chapters in with this book. I tried again last week and this book is perfect for wintry bus journeys and rainy evenings.
It was comforting to read, with so many lines from the film coming straight from the book (I hate when a film adaptation feels wildly different from the book).
The twist was still shocking, despite knowing it was coming, and I will definitely re-read.
Don’t Hold My Head Down, by Lucy-Ann Holmes
I’m annoyed I made this list chronological, because I’m sure not many of you will get this far and I have so much to say about this book.
Released this week, this sex memoir was exactly what I needed without even knowing it. Holmes, who you might remember from the No More Page 3 campaign, talks so honestly about her feelings on sex. She is refreshingly open about her own experiences and the things that have influenced her feelings and actions.
Making a ‘fuckit list’ (everything you’d like to try doing or receiving) is such a good idea. It seemed to be pretty empowering to acknowledge your wants and needs, in writing. The book really focuses on tantric sex, and is at times very much about spirituality – both things I’m not entirely sure about. But I learned about so much more than Sting and his hour-long tantric orgasms: consent, so many types of orgasm, being more in touch with yourself always, the herstory of women and sex (honestly, I’d recommend this book just for this chapter).
I’ll be thinking about this book for a really long time, and will probably recommend it to everyone for the rest of time.
This was a long one – congratulations and thank yous if you’re still here. I’ll do another one of these when I hit 20 books, and try harder to cut the word count.
If you’ve got any recommendations, similar to the above or completely different, let me know on Twitter @LivingRoomBlog.