1. Me Before You, After You, Still Me – Jojo Moyes. A funny, endearing and uplifting trilogy that explores the complications of love, loss and life. Louisa Clark an eccentric, kind and quirky young woman finds herself falling in love with a young man William Traynor. Lou is employed as his carer because of a pedestrian-motorbike accident leaving him with quadriplegia. Will Traynor teaches Lou how to dream and believe in her future enough to escape the small town they both find themselves trapped in. A romance full of hope and sorrow which leads to a tragic but peaceful end. The following two novels tell the story of Lou and how her future has been shaped by Will in many ways leading her on an exciting journey.
2. Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail Honeyman. The concept of loneliness takes centre stage in Honeyman’s beautiful portrayal of the life of an outsider in this heartwarming and joyful read. The main character Eleanor Oliphant feels painfully real with her somewhat strange social skills and loveable awkwardness. The many reasons for Eleanor’s isolation are slowly revealed as the novel unfolds exploring the mystery of her past and the promise of her future.
3. Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur. A contemporary collection of poetry exploring the survival of experiencing love, loss, violence and femininity. Each of the four chapters is split into dealing with different pains and different heartaches. Kaur takes her readers on a journey through the pain and the healing, showing there is sweetness in the most bitter moments of life. A truly inspiring and emotional read that you will find you can relate to on a number of levels. Kaur exposes the rawness and intensity of her experiences for her readers to find comfort and unite them. Some have criticised the book for being considered as ‘Instapoetry’ with its unchallenging free verse and abstract sketches. But Milk and Honey is undeniably popular and champions a meaningful and inclusive register that connects with its readers.
4. We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A personal and inspiring discussion of what feminism means to Adichie today. Drawing on her own experiences and understanding of sexual politics, Adichie explores what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century and why we should all be feminists. Adichie offers an explanation of why the gender divide is damaging for both women and men and how we should tackle this injustice. Personally, after reading this book I was introduced to ideas and thoughts that I had not considered when discussing the concept of feminism and it has been an enlightening and thought-provoking read.
5. The lovely bones – Alice Sebold. The story of a teenage girl who after being raped and murdered watches her family struggle to move on with their lives from her own personal heaven as she attempts to come to terms with her own death. Sebold’s heroine Susie Salmon is stranded in a parenthesis as she watches and narrates her own story. A tragic novel that pulls on your heart strings and infuriates you as the murderer plans another attack. This is one of my favourite novels and I have the proof of a much-loved falling-apart-from-the-spine book that has been read at least four times. The unusual perspective from which the story has been written allows you to become emotionally invested in the young girl and learn of her life from how she wishes it to be told. In hearing the voice of the gone there is a comfort and reassurance that is brought to the novel and its readers.