What I Read in 2017

 

Because to be honest, this page serves a double purpose – one, I kind of need it because I’m a book blogger, and two, I need to keep track of the books I read for English Lit. Killing two birds with one stone, in my typically lazy (I prefer ‘energy saving’) way. I read a lot of books last year (mainly because I had a nine week summer), and I’m hoping that I can keep the momentum going despite having ESSAYS AND ESSAYS AND MORE ESSAYS.

Click the underlined titles to read my reviews!

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (I read this in two days, and although the concept and style of writing was fairly interesting, I wouldn’t say that it was beautiful. The plot itself was very intriguing because it is so plausible – a fast paced,  read, but not one of my favourites.)

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles (Bloody hell, I love this book. It subverts all expectations of a narrator and storytelling convention, plus the sheer lyricism of the writing is enough to send me into a Victorian-esque descriptive haze. Plus Christina Rossetti makes an appearance, and Remember is guaranteed to make me cry. Could be one of my favourite reads of 2017.)

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson (Technically, I didn’t finish this book, so it shouldn’t be listed here. But I am also very proud of the fact that I managed to contain my anger at the sheer stupidity of a couple of characters. A potentially entertaining comedy gone wrong.)

Brick Lane by Monica Ali (I think I remember my English teacher mentioning this, and realised that my dad has it. A tale of forced marriage and a mix of cultures, that has made me feel slightly sick. A brilliant book, regardless.)

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (This book delivered. Russia, Satan and an oversized cat. Very Gothic, absolutely fantastical.)

Conversations with Peter Brook by Margaret Croyden (Not quite sure why I decided to read this book, as the only thing that I’ve seen by him is a recording of the Mahabharata. The Empty Space is the more useful, I think.)

Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin (religion. interesting in a strange, powerfully descriptive kind of way)

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (christ alive. If you are even vaguely concerned about politics, you must read this. Must. One of my top reads of 2017.)

The Road by Jack London (Picked up this because it was on the same stand as Into the Wild in Blackwell’s. A tale of journeys and life as a ‘hobo’ in late 19th Century America. Inspires wanderlust.)

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (Wow. WOW. That was an experience. The characterisation and exploration of love is intriguing and beautifully written. An incredible book.)

Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell. (Haven’t read much George Orwell for a while, and I found this one on my shelf. About a poet who has declared war on the money gods. Protagonist (Gordon Comstock) led me to describe – read, yell at – him in impolite terms, but I warmed to him.

The Plumed Serpent by DH Lawrence (I adore his short stories, and although I originally bought this because I thought there was a cult involved, I loved this. A bit hard to get into, but his description and the debate it sparks about religion is fascinating.)

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (A gentleman friend recommended this to me, ended up bawling by the end. A must-read for any aspiring medic, questions life and love in the face of death.)

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (I loved 1Q84 and Kafka on the Shore, and was expecting a similar magic realism. This novel doesn’t have those same fantastical elements, but worth a read – the most basic description is ‘love triangle’, but it’s so, so much more.)

Posh by Laura Wade (Planning on using this play in English next year, and would definitely recommend to any satire fan, or anyone with a sense of humour. Posh boys – the play behind ‘The Riot Club’ film. Brilliantly funny, but also highlights the ‘them/us’ disparity.)

White Teeth by Zadie Smith (I’ve enjoyed Zadie Smith’s other work, and I loved this one just as much. Funny and very real – throws up interesting questions about family, and ethnic identity, and religion, and teeth.)

Ariel by Sylvia Plath (I’m not one to sit down and read poetry; I dip in and out of it. I sat down and read this cover to cover – I’m fascinated by Plath and Hughes’ relationship and how they’re both regarded today. Brilliant poetry.)

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (wasn’t a fan at first – it took me a while to get used to Woolf’s prose – but it’s beautifully written. I’m a convert.)

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (slightly baffling trilogy of detective stories. Definitely requires a re-read.)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (I adore this novel. No more to say.)

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks (I loved The Notebook film, and I loved this book. An easy read, yet the emotions made my heart sing. I also cried. Again.)

Psychedelics (The Doors of Perception) by Aldous Huxley (At its most base form, Huxley takes drugs and writes about his experience. Eloquent and very much a workout for the brain.)

Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (About the place of homosexual love in religion. Tender and extremely well-written, interwoven with folklore-esque tales. Would definitely recommend.)

Mantissa by John Fowles (Now one of my top reads of 2017. Although sexually explicit, a beautiful, thought-provoking novel. Bit weird though.)

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (Non-fiction about the May 1996 Everest disaster. I had no interest in climbing or mountains, but this is a tragic, visceral book which I would highly recommend.)

Como Agua para Chocolate por Laura Esquivel (I read this in Spanish for my A Level, and it’s a magic-realist gem of a novel. Romantic, bewildering and utterly captivating. If you can understand it. In English: ‘Like Water for Chocolate’.)

Collected Plays by Chekhov (I fulfilled my Chekhov craving!)

The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter (This is strange, giving me 1984/Room 101 vibes. Am now desperate to see it performed.)

Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence (A brilliant book. I thought that the mother-romance aspect would be worse, but thankfully it wasn’t as Oedipus-y as I had expected. Highly recommended.)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Dark and dystopian. The first book this year that I’ve read in a day. Decent, but not one of my favourites.)

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (Blimey. Wacky, comical and… I don’t even know how to describe this one. Baffling but alluring.)

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (I now understand why this won the Booker. Exceedingly well-written, but not one of my favourite reads.)

The Green Road by Anne Enright (Family. Christmas. Disagreements. It’s a decent novel; not quite my cup of coffee but there is a certain flair to Enright’s writing.)

Dubliners by James Joyce (I finally understand why some people cannot stand Joyce’s writing. I’m still not sure if I’m in that boat, because some of the stories I adored (A Little Cloud and The Dead being my favourites), whereas others simply bored me. Is Ulysses next on the cards?)

Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy (It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and read a poetry collection cover-to-cover. This was worth it. Beautiful, and very excited to start studying it!)

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (The first thriller I’ve read this year. It’s huge, and MOTHER OF GOD THIS WAS A THRILLER AND A HALF. Raced through it in three days, didn’t expect to enjoy it so much.)

Regeneration by Pat Barker (I enjoyed this! The first in the trilogy, about Sassoon and others at Craiglockhart during WW1. Fascinating.)

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates (An absolutely necessary read, for ladies and gents alike. Some aspects are making me feel sick, but a vital read.)

LA BELLE SAUVAGE, THE BOOK OF DUST VOLUME ONE! (Crikey. I don’t even know what to say about this one. His Dark Materials has a special place in my stony heart, and this is an exciting and wonderful and enthralling book. My metaphorical hat goes off once again to Philip Pullman.)

Hamlet by Shakespeare (I love this play, although whenever I’m reading it, I cannot not imagine Andrew Scott’s voice in my head.)

England, My England by D H Lawrence (Some of the stories in here I liked more than others. No shit, Sherlock! England, My England itself is very good, and is now classed with The Odour of Chrysanthemums and The Rocking-Horse Winner as one of my favourite Lawrence short stories.)

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (I ADORE THIS BOOK. A collection of short stories, some of which are based on fairy tales, others about vampires and wolves. The best word I can think of to describe these stories is delicious, because Carter’s writing is something to savour.)

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn (Aphra Behn is a kick-ass writer. She was a spy for crying out loud, and apparently the first woman to make a living out of being a writer. Oroonoko is a tragic story about a soldier-turned-slave, and would definitely recommend. Behn also wrote poetry! What more do you want?)

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (I had a pretty terrible Monday, and wanted a book to escape into. I adore the film (although 9 year-old me was absolutely terrified), and similarly loved the book. Read it in one sitting, absolutely enthralled.)

The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker (The second book in the Regeneration trilogy, I enjoyed it almost as much as Regeneration itself. Throws a different light on the characters introduced in the first book, and I’m looking forward to reading the third!)

CURRENTLY READING

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (I don’t normally buy books based on the hype around them, but this is an exception. And so far, it definitely deserves the praise heaped on to it. Eloquent.)

Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland (Giving this a second go, because I find the changing role of women and the notion of desire secretly rather interesting. Still feel slightly uncomfortable whenever an ‘honourable member ‘ is mentioned, however.)

 Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland by R F Foster (Because Irish history is a bundle of laughs. Note: this is a slog. Not enjoying it.)

 

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