There is something magical about finding a brilliant book. The one that makes you fall in love with reading again. You know, the kind of book you just. can’t. put. down The one that keeps you up all night reading and absorbs most of your thoughts the next day. For any reader this kind of book is the holy grail. Each book in this list will entertain, inspire and stay with you long after you finish. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started…
The Books That Will Help You Fall In Love With Reading Again
I don’t know about you, but the worst thing about being a reader is when you fall out of love with reading. And for whatever reason, you just can’t find a book that will make you fall in love with reading again. Luckily, there’s so many good books out there that this phase can never last too long. But if you’re looking for some inspiration to help you get out of the reading black-hole, here are my recommendations:
The Prize Winner
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
“How do you ever know for certain that you are doing the right thing?”
This book has received all sorts of praise since it was first published in 2014. And for good reason. WWII is such a over saturated topic in the world of fiction that it really takes something special to get critics to sit up and notice. Anthony Doerr definitely achieved that with this Pulitzer Prize winner.
His interconnected story following the lives of blind French girl, Marie-Laure and orphaned German boy, Werner should be a recipe for cliché. Amazingly it creates an achingly bittersweet novel about trying to survive the war with your moral code in-tact Instead. Doerr deliberately invites the reader to think about how war changes people in ways that they never could have realised. He plays with the perspective that hindsight gives us. And suggests that, however uncomfortable, sometimes we can’t judge an action based on no context, or expect someone without access to that context to act differently.
All The Light We Cannot See is a deceptively easy book to read, but don’t let that fool you. When you finish the final page you’ll want to hold on to it for a little while longer.
Honourable Mentions: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
The Love Story/ Saga
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
What would you say if someone asked you, ‘Are you happy?’ […] If you get even half of what you want from life—” She gave a little shrug and gestured with one hand. “Why, that’s all one can hope for, isn’t it?”
The most famous example of this genre is Gone With The Wind but I’m here to tell you that Forever Amber is a game changer. Set in the tumultuous years after the Restoration of the Monarchy in the reign of King Charles II, Forever Amber follows the life of Amber St-Clare, a beautiful, impetuous and determined woman as she fights for what she wants in life. There are times when you will love Amber and times when you’ll hate her, in that aspect she more than rivals Scarlett O’Hara. The novel deals with life in all it’s gritty details but is also a wonderful reminder that sometimes you have to fight for the things you love.
Kathleen Winsor’s only novel is a masterpiece of the genre and one that I couldn’t put down. It’s the story of one woman’s fight to live, and love in her own terms and how threatening that can be to a society that doesn’t want to accept her. Throughout the book Amber does many things in order to survive but she always stays true to her sense of self.
Do yourself a favour…take a trip back to 17th century England and get to know Amber. I promise you’ll discover a book that will make you fall in love with reading again.
Honourable Mentions: A Crowning Mercy by Bernard Cornwell, Poldark by Winston Graham
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.”
Burial Rites follows the final days of Agnes, the last woman to be executed in Iceland. Kent’s prose is lyrical and atmospheric as well as achingly sad. As you follow Agnes’s last days you cannot escape the sense of injustice. The narrative is written from a variety of perspectives but it is the official discourse shown through letters, court notes, official documents that makes you question things the most. These serve to dehumanise Agnes by reducing her to a one-dimensional criminal who must be made an example of.
The emotionally detached way these passages deal with organising her execution, down to quibbling the price of the axe that will kill her, add a chilling clericalism to the proceedings. And as Agnes’s muses ‘those who pass judgment are hypocrites as they conspire to rob her of her life just as she robbed a man of his’. If murder is wrong, then is executing her also wrong?. While the officials debate the cheapest way to kill Agnes, the reader gets to know her through her confessions to a priest during a dark, lonely Icelandic winter. The character that emerges is vastly different to the official opinions.
Be prepared, this book will make you ugly cry. It’s not often that I get such a visceral reaction to reading a book but Burial Rites definitely ticked that box.
Honourable Mentions: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Nostalgic Choice
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
Sometimes you just need to go back to a good thing. The joy of reading is getting lost inside the covers of a book. in all likelihood the time this happened most often was when you were a teenager. If you really want books that will make you fall in love with reading again, go back to a book that you loved first time around and rediscover an old favourite.
I’ve chosen Harry Potter, because I’ve re-read the full series so many times that I can pick up any book and be immediately be re-immersed in the action. We all have our favourites, but I think mine will always be The Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s the perfect combination of Harry at Hogwarts and things starting to take a darker turn. But really, it could be any book. Because nostalgia is personal to everyone. My Harry Potter might be your Chronicles of Narnia. What I’m really trying to say here is that your reading habits don’t always have to be serious or packed with new publications.
Sometimes curling up on the sofa and having a Harry Potter marathon over a weekend is just what the doctor ordered. If you need me, I’ll just be digging my Prisoner of Azkaban out!
Honourable Mentions: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Goosebumps
The Literary Challenge
Middlemarch by George Eliot
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”
This is the biggest book on the list but also, funnily enough, the one that might be easiest to read. Don’t be put of by the size, yes there are lots of pages but that’s because so much happens you really couldn’t choose what to cut out. Perhaps the best way to approach Middlemarch is to read it Victorian style. By that I mean, serialise it. A couple of chapters a night will soon have you hooked more than you ever though the inhabitants of an industrial Victorian town could!
The novel follows the lives of three families as they try to navigate life within the restrictions of their time and level in society. I learned more about what it was actually like to live and breathe in Victorian England from this book than I even learned at school.
If you love the idea of being in a long-term relationship with a book then Middlemarch is the perfect choice for you.
Honourable Mentions: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Page Turner:
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Books-Dalton
“As the silence wore on, it became cacophonous…”
The most recent book on the list is also a great page turner. Good Morning, Midnight is the debut novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton and will make you fall in love with reading again faster than you can say space mission to Jupiter. The book is set in a not too distant future. Humanity may, or may not, have been wiped out. But this information merely sets the scene, it’s not what’s important. That narrative follows an aging astronomer called Augustine, a strange young girl named Iris and a astronaut called Sully. All three have survived the fallout and are stranded. Auggie and Iris in an observatory in the Arctic and Sully on-board a spaceship on its return from a mission to Jupiter.
Technically, this book could be classed as dystopian or sci-fi, and it is both. In reality, though, it is the reason for Augustine and Sully’s isolation that is the real plot driver. When the earth goes silent both Augustine and Sully are forced to face their demons. Good Morning Midnight makes you think about what would still be important if everything else disappears. It sounds like it might be depressing but instead Good Morning, Midnight is introspective, thoughtful and beautifully crafted novel.
Overall this book is about our human yearning for real connections to others. This book treads over the secret fears we all keep at bay and yet still manages to be full of hope and overall, the determination to make a difference in the world.
Honourable Mentions: Landline by Rainbow Rowell
The One That Teaches You Something
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“This is our world, although the people who drew this map decided to put their own land on top of ours. There is no top or bottom, you see.”
There is a well used quote that says, ‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies’. The key to great novel writing is that it can transport you through time and space into the life of someone else, with different experiences, motivations and history. All of the books in this list could stake a good claim to helping their reader experience something special. But it is only Half of a Yellow Sun that really teaches you something important. I can hold my hand up and say that I haven’t read much African fiction. But earlier this year I decided that needed to change.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s prose will hook your from the first page. As will her host of characters ranging from House Boy Ugwu to beautiful socialite Olanna. At first I felt embarrassed that I had never heard of Biafra or the Biafran conflict, honestly my knowledge of Nigerian history is woeful. But Half of a Yellow Sun isn’t about making the reader feel guilty, it’s about educating you. It’s a powerful story that makes you reevaluate your concept of world history. The writing felt like an homage to Biafra (and Nigeria) without demanding that a reader be well-versed in Nigerian dialects. A powerful, poignant page turner that will have you glued to every page.
This book is in the running for my personal book of the year. When I think of books that have really impacted me in 2016 it comes up every time. If you want to fall in love with reading again, go and buy this book now!
Honourable Mentions: The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doktorow,
When all is said and done, the best way to fall in love with reading again is to jump into a book. I hope this list has given you a good place to start though…HAPPY READING!
For more book recommendations check out this post
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