I really enjoyed keeping my book thread last year, so I will be kicking off my 2020 list now! I try to read as many female authors as possible, and also Irish authors. Please feel free to send me your recommendations!
Book 1: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. Starting the year off on a high, I loved this book. A powerful journey through the black female experience exploring the changing face of feminism across the decades. A thoroughly engaging read. #bookreview #bookworm
Book 2: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. The sequel to Handmaids Tale is both exactly as I imagined & completely unexpected. It focuses far less on control exerted by men & instead shows how women were able to survive & thrive in Gilead. Such a good book. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 3: The Librarian by Salley Vickers. A book for those who started their love affair with books as children. A slow genteel read set in 1950’s in a small English village about a naive young librarian. I only really started enjoying at the very end. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 4: The Choice by Edith Egar. Part memoir, part self help book - which I didn’t love tbh. The story isn’t just about suriving Auschwitz, but about being a survivor - which I did like. A decent book, but I think there is probably better holocaust survivor stories. #BookWorm
Book 5: Stoner by John Williams. The antithesis to modern culture of entitlement, fulfilment & advancement. An honest representation of a plodding life of dedication with little reward, accepting unhappiness as your lot & not following dreams. I loved it. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 6: The Visitor by Maeve Brennan. A dark, tense novella with few characters set in the confines of a cold, unwelcoming house that offers no home for a returning, needy granddaughter. An intense, claustrophobic read, but brilliant. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 7: Republic of Shame by Caelainn Hogan. The story of the Irish State & it’s network of institutions designed to punish, degrade & shame women. What struck me most about this book is how the Magdalene Laundries & forced adoptions still affect people today in 2020. #BookReview
Book 8: Braised Pork by An Yu. A slightly weird book tbh. A young widow rediscovers herself & her freedom while also searching for a fish man in Tibet. Kind of psychological, kind of straight forward relieved widow finds herself. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 9: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Adam Kay. A lighthearted funny read with all the wit of his first book. Still a couple of punch you in the gut moments but a really enjoyable book. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book10: Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler. A collapsed society fuelled by chaos, hatred & greed in the 2020s (ahem). Lauren builds a belief system & grows a diverse community that comes together to survive. This book is fantastic, complex & gripping. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book11: The Rose Garden by Maeve Brennan. Short stories that are incredibly character driven swapping between Upper Class New York & working class Dublin. She writes people & the society they live in so well. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book12: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. A brutal reform school that doles out extreme punishment & violence in name of justice. The story underpinned by extreme racism & so very reminiscent of the Magdalene Laundries. Sad, compelling but calmly told. Excellent #BookReview
Book13: Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins. It’s a great story about a black slave who is forced to carry out Mengele type experiments on her own people by her master & turns out is an experiment herself. But it didn’t grip me, found the first half a slog. #BookReview
Book14: Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward. Death, decay, depression & oppression make for a pretty dark look at black America. Told by 3 characters, Jojo is the heart of book. I found I wanted to skip through the chapters told by the others, didn’t connect as much. #BookReview
Book15: Skin by EM Reapy. I think @aoifemrtn recommended me this? Being comfortable in your own skin, growing up, moving out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself & just being you. A great read that I devoured. Deep topics but lighthearted story #BookReview
Oops, there she is!
Book16: Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis Goff. A search for someone, something, anything in post apocalyptic Ireland while evading zombie creatures. Focuses on female relationships & strength Really weird timing to read during a global pandemic. I enjoyed the read #BookReview
Book 17: Actress by Anne Enright. Beautifully written story of an old fashioned movie star told by her daughter. Mystery, motherhood & madness make this faux memoir an interesting read. Slow paced, subtle but incredible. #BookReview
Book18: Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride. Maybe too claustrophobic a read for right now is my overwhelming feeling! A monologue travels through a number of non descript hotel rooms remembering a love lost & a seeing a future unfurling through the pain. Stick with it #BookReview
Book 19: Red Dirt by EM Reapy. Loved, loved, loved. The dark side of young Irish ex pats in Oz. The loneliness, mistakes & the desperation of being poor, alone & vulnerable. It’s dark but glimmers of hope & goodness throughout. Excellent. Fave book this year #BookReview
Book20: Before the Coffee Gets Cold . A charming book set in a quirky Tokyo cafe where guests can travel through time but must return before the coffee gets cold. It’s kitsch & cute but very heart warming & endearing. #BookReview
Book 21: The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison. A gripping story of a global pandemic & the human response to women & children dying. Murder, rape, slavery & mutilation but also hope, civility & friendship. Female strength & survival is key theme. Enjoyed it! #BookReview
Book 22: The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney. Gritty story of the underbelly of Cork. A stark account about the lack of choices & opportunities for the working class & how crime pays & arts/music doesn’t. A gripping, addictive read. #BookReview
Book 23: No Authority by Anne Enright. One of best things I have read this year. Honest, relevant, relatable accounts of life - especially today. The realities of being female, in the world, in the Arts, in the age of Trump. Just perfect writing. Wonderful. #BookReview
Book 24: The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald. A short tale of a quaint countryside village that doesn’t want a bookshop. What it really doesn’t want is outsiders, change, social transformation & modernity or a challenge of the social hierarchy. An enjoyable quick read #BookReview
Book 25: Salty Baby by Orla Tinsley. This is not a book just about CF & being sick; it’s about hope, strength, anxiety; it’s about politics, campaigns, activism & feminism; it’s about ambitions, success & achievement. It’s about growing up. It’s about life. So good. #BookReview
Book 26: Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane. A childhood set in a political Derry in 1940’s & 50’s. Emotional snippets about family, loss & regret. This book wasn’t for me, I struggled to get into it. #BookReview
Book 27: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. Loosely based on Laura Bush, this is an enthralling story of a nice girl marrying a bit of a douche who happened to become President. Thoroughly enjoyable read about clashing politics, complicated families & independence. #BookReview
Book 28: I’ll Never Be Young Again by Daphne du Maurier. This one didn’t age that well tbh. A central character suffering from rich white man syndrome draining the life out of all those near him in an effort to avoid yet emulate his successful father. Hard pass. #BookReview
Book 29: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I’m not really sure why, but I didn’t expect it to be a love story? I mean it’s also about race, society & class but at its heart, it’s a love story. An ok read but didn’t get absorbed into it. #BookReview #BookClub
Book 30: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo. 4 girls believe their parents love to be perfect & it affects their whole lives. Intense family relationships, parental guilt, jealousy, emulating & pushing away your family all at the same time. It’s an intense family story.
Book 31: Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie. A compelling story about a group of people whose lives change after a dramatic incident destroys their tower of flats. Great writing brings these characters, the horror, their humanity & survivorship to life. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 32: How We Disappeared by Jing Jing Lee. A heartbreaking intertwining story of 2 families about love, loss & war. It’s powerfully told, with an emphasis on long lasting impact of war & the shame felt by those who survived, especially women. Loved it. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 33: So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I get that it’s a social commentary but I just found it so over the top. The characters didn’t always feel real & the ending was just too cookie cutter perfect for the rest of the book. Not for me. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 34: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Such a great book. An easy read full of tough themes; race, class, performative wokeness. The story & characters are so absorbing and the exploration of race so nuanced. Challenging in lots of ways. But so good. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 35: My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russel. A dark story about a student & her teacher. Abuse, consent & power as you would expect. But also a story of captivity, isolation & obsession. An intensely sad story of a life ruined & hopes & dreams forgotten. #BookReview
Book 36: Silver Sparrow by Tarayi Jones. Another fantastic book from Tayari. The story of 2 daughters borne to a bigamist. The girls are drawn to each other by their loneliness & their pain. If you loved An American Marriage, which you should, you will love this too. #BookReview
Book 37: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. A funny love story with endearing characters but a bit of depth with some social justice & emotional abuse. But a light easy read all the same. #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 38: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. The story of 2 girls whose lives are intertwined. Intense relationships explored through the power of education as it relates to class & the role of the patriarchy in closed Italian communities. For some reason, it didn’t grip me.
Book 39: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. A truly stunning memoir detailing an abusive lesbian relationship. Beautifully written & told in a non traditional way that really brought these individual experiences to life. Highly recommend #BookReview #BookWorm
Book 40: Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker. An incredible true story of a family with 12 kids & 6 of 10 boys experience serious mental illness. The terror & trauma of growing up in this house is interspersed with evolution of research & treatment into schizophrenia. Incredible.
Book 41: handiwork by Sara Baume. A gentle book about the the process of creating art, grief and general life. A relaxed read that almost feels like getting into the flow she describes so well in the book. Lovely. #BookReview #BookWorm
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