Monday, 30 July 2018

My top 5 reads of summer 2018

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.
The man who never reads lives only one"
(George R. R. Martin)

At the beginning of the year, I set myself a challenge to read 24 books this year. This may not sound a lot to some, but with a full time job, a 13 year old to look after and quite a lot of building work going on at home, it makes it much harder to find a quiet corner in which to read. Luckily, however, this appears to be the one resolution that I am on course to achieve and I have managed to devour 23 books by the end of July!

Out of these, I thought you might like to know by top 5 reads...

1.   This is Going to Hurt: Adam Kay

If you like a funny book, this is definitely the book for you. It is written by a junior doctor in diary format and recounts his day to day experiences working in hospitals. It is hilariously funny; who could fail to laugh, when he considers the amount of a bribe it would take for him to sign someone off sick! Other parts are deeply moving and it clearly shows the level of dedication it takes to work in the NHS. This was certainly one of my favourite books and one you can go back and "dip into" time and time again.

2.   Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: Gail Honeyman

This books grabs you from the first chapter. The central character, Eleanor, is a person who I'm sure we have all met on some level. She would not think there was anything wrong with her character or her lifestyle, but as the story unfolds, it reveals little by little all of the tragedy that has shaped her life and ultimately the person she has become. It is not until the end of the book that you can really make sense of the beginning. This is certainly a book that stays with you and you find yourself thinking about long after you have finished reading it.

3.   Young & Damned & Fair: Gareth Russell

Tudor history enthusiasts look out for this one. It is a biography of Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife. Of all of his wives, she seems to have traditionally been painted in the worst light. Apart from her rumoured affairs and her untimely death, I knew very little about her life before I read this book. She was killed at such a young age that I thought that there was probably very little more to find out, but I was wrong. The writer goes into great detail setting out her family connections, friendships and history. The style of writing is very easy to read and it has the flow of a work of fiction rather than a heavy historical book. By the end, you have a great deal of sympathy for her and a much better understanding of how her previous experiences shaped her future and lead to her ultimate downfall.

4.   All that Remains: A Life in Death: Sue Black

Written by a Forensic Anthropologist and Human Anatomist (which you certainly wouldn't realise from  her easy to read style of writing), Sue Black, this book sets out her experiences of death. You could almost split the book in two; the first part was the only book for many years to have had me in tears, as she recalls her private family experiences of death and what led her to study anatomy. The second is more focused on her work and her obvious professionalism in dealing with the dead. She relates details from the cases she has worked on without flinching and with the utmost sympathy for the victims and their families. This is the only book this year that will make you consider donating your body to medical science!

5.   The Bone Field: Simon Kernick

If you like a fast-paced crime thriller, this is a book for you. There are so many twists and turns that you literally  cannot put it down. The bones of a woman who went missing 26 years ago are discovered in an English field. Tina Boyd and DS Ray Mason are racing to solve the mystery and just when you think, you might be getting to grips with what is happening, there is another turn. This is the first book of two and I have to be honest that I didn't rate the second book as highly (The Hanged Man,) but this will definitely keep you entertained on any holiday.

So there you have it, my top 5 so far! To make the rest of the year a bit more challenging, I have decided that each book there must be one non-fiction and one fiction. Although, I am not going to add any more to my total "must read" number for the year, I am going to try and mix more non-fiction in to make the numbers a little more balanced. For those that are interested, the other books I have read this year are:

* The Whistler: John Grisham
* Hiroshima: John Hersey
* The Hanged Man: Simon Kernick
* The Last Days of Hitler: Hugh Trevor-Roper
* Good Friday: Lynda La Plante
* Together: Julie Cohen
* How to Stop Time: Matt Haig
* Fools & Mortals: Bernard Cornwell
* Ghost Children: Sue Townsend
* When Breath Becomes Air: Paul Kalanithi
* Sapiens: Yuval Noah Harari
* Shakespeare's Wife: Germaine Greer
* Three Sisters, Three Queens: Phillipa Gregory
* Jack the Ripper: Gyles Brandreth
* The Family Lawyer: James Patterson
* After You: Jojo Moyes
* Still You: Jojo Moyes
* Uninvited: Sophie Jordan
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