The winter’s starting to set in, so what could be better than grabbing a good book and snuggling in an armchair by the fire? You choose the fire, meanwhile I’ve chosen a book, or eight. So settle in and if you’re sitting comfortably we’ll begin.
Adam Kay’s multi award-winning, chart-topping, debate-sparking debut This Is Going to Hurt has been flying off bookshelves. Kay’s diary of life as a junior doctor, is lauded as a blisteringly funny yet heart-breaking call to arms for all who value the NHS. His raw account of sleepless nights, life and death decisions, bodily fluids and parking metres better paid than doctors has been described as a frank and moving love letter to our nation’s medical system. Published only a year ago, it has already been translated into twenty languages, and claimed the title of Humour Book of the Year. There is even a BBC2 screen adaption in the pipeline… this must-read is the talk of the town.
Three years after her best-selling debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng has crafted another tome worthy of celebration. Set in suburbia America in the ‘90s, this compelling tale traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the mysterious mother and daughter who upend their lives. Delving into questions of identity, secrecy, authority and above all, the ferocious pull of motherhood, this novel is utterly engrossing. Complex and addictive, the transformative powers of Ng’s latest work coined it Amazon’s Best Novel of 2017. Culture guru Pandora Sykes recently named the novel in her must-reads this year, confirming its flourishing acclaim.
Mohsin Hamid, renowned for his previous novels The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, has brought out another meticulously crafted, wonderfully readable novel that tackles hefty issues of migration and asylum. Centred around a young couple who meet in a city undergoing civil war, Exit West rips into reality through a series of fictitious portals which enable global movement and escape. This space-skipping love-story is like no other. A genre-blurring, thought-provoking masterpiece, Obama listed it as one of his favourite books from last year.
Chloe Benjamin’s dazzling gift for storytelling is crystal clear in her second novel, The Immortalists, published at the start of this year. Lauded as a ‘boundlessly moving inquisition into morality, grief and passion’ this is a story about how we choose to live, when we know the day on which we are going to die. The novel worms its way under your skin, effortlessly luring the reader from sweltering 60s New York to the hedonism of San Francisco and the glitz of LA. A travelling fortune-teller, four siblings, and myriad lifelines, this beguiling story has snowballed in acclaim; a New York Times best seller, a number one Indie Next Pick, and even rumours of a film adaption.
Fronting every Waterstones for the past year, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine has been snapped up by book clubs everywhere. Best-selling and multi-award winning, Gail Honeyman’s debut has made quite an entrance onto the literary scene. The book centres around Eleanor who is hemmed in by isolation and loneliness, but as the story progresses Eleanor strikes up friendships with Raymond and Sammy, and together they pull each other from their solitary lives. Funny, charming and deeply empathatic, everyone wants in on this book, and rightly so – it has already been bagged for a film by Reese Witherspoon’s film production company…
Best known for his hugely successful comedic career, comprising giants such as The Peep Show, Robert Webb has now taken to the autobiographical scene, writing his first solo memoir, How Not To Be A Boy. This coming of age account of Webb’s 1970s working-class upbringing speaks of outcast and adulthood crises. The title points to the memoire’s crux; demystifying the damage that can be done when young boys are encouraged to behave in ways supposedly befitting their gender. Not crying, not feeling, hating girls and fighting did not come easily to scrawny, sensitive Webb who hated sport and liked poetry. Humour is the key ingredient in this artful exposition of masculinity’s pitfalls, and Webb’s talent is an unsurprising recipe for success.
Sing, Unburied, Sing has picked up a whole host of awards since its publication a year ago, including the National Book Award for Fiction in the US. A gnarly novel that delves into the life of a broken family living on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, the plot is laden with drugs, disrepair and death. Ward deals with the festering cache of Black American history, simultaneously exploring wounds of the past and scars of the present. A poetic and poignant critical portrait of US history, the book is not one to miss.
Dubbed millennial fiction’s most important voice and ‘Salinger for the snapchat generation’, Sally Rooney, at just twenty seven years old and with two published novels, is one to watch. Normal People, her second book, published this year, has been touted as the voice of a generation. The novel makes a drama of universal significance, meticulously depicting the mundane existentialism of millennial youth. Rooney may have described her book as merely ‘fake people talking to each other’ but in reality it is a mirror for many readers, full of insight Rooney’s writing has been compared to visionary authors such as Greta Gerwig, and as Normal People has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018, it’s no surprise everyone is talking about it.