Reading is by far one of my favourite pastimes. To me, there isn’t much that beats getting lost in a book. Novels can often transport you into other worlds, whilst teaching you about the one you live in. Non-fiction isn’t always my first pick, but my goodness the intelligence of others often baffles me. With all of that said, reading for my own enjoyment is something I have dipped in and out of over the years. Since starting sixth form back in 2013 I have noticed the amount I read increase every year. Four years later and I have read more books this year than the previous three combined. My wishlist is getting longer and longer, and my to be read pile is rapidly getting out of hand. Over the past two months, I have spent a fair amount of my free time in various bookshops or stopping to look in their windows as I pass during their closing hours. I struggle to resist the prettiness of some and the blurbs of others.
1. 1001 Photographs You Must See Before You Die by Paul Lowe (Non-Fiction)
As someone who loves photography, I couldn’t resist this monster of a book when it turned up in a delivery at work one day. I can’t wait to see what Lowe’s picks are, and discover the influence these photographs have had. Also, Malala Yousafzai is on the front cover, so you know some of them are going to be highly significant.
2. 100 Interiors Around the World by Balthazar & Laszlo Taschen (Eds.) (Non-Fiction)
This one was a gift from my friend Sophie for my birthday back in April. Sophie claims she only bought it because of the pretty pictures on the back (there was no open copy for her to see), and she thought I’d appreciate them. It’s worth noting that Taschen have a collection of books in a similar format covering a vast range of genres. I would recommend checking them out if you’re looking to explore a specific subject. I love interior styling so this was a very good pick for me. Instead of simply oohing and awing about different colour schemes and furniture choices, I’m hoping this book might help me expand knowledge, ideas and vocabulary around the subject. But also, this book is very aesthetically pleasing both inside and out. Thanks, Soph!
3. The Last Photograph by Simon Astaire (Fiction)
Ahh, from the first book in this list you may already have guessed what made me pick this book up. And then I saw the cover, it’s beautiful! (I have the hardback version). Reading the blurb, this one sounds like an interesting story. A father loses the last photo he has with his son and goes on a chase to get it back. My inner attachment to photographs had me gripped and now I’m desperate to find out what happens.
4. Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas (Fiction)
Back when I was tried a brief stint at university in 2015, this book was on a reading list for one of my modules. I’ve been meaning to read the enclosed stories ever since but just haven’t got there. I hope to have read Thomas’ words from cover to cover by the time the year is out.
5. Annihilation by Jeff Vander Meer (Fiction)
Falling into my pile mostly by chance/accident, I’m not sure what to expect from this one. A friend who has read the Southern Reach Trilogy has mixed reviews, so I’m intrigued to give it a go.
6. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando (Fiction)
A dark and intriguing mystery thriller. Eleven years ago, six children are taken. Now, five return with no memory or recollection of where they have been. Two think they remember each other. But none of the five remembers the sixth. He is still missing. Including children in any crime/thriller makes the story that bit darker. And if done right, they are often good reads. I’m also a sucker for a good thriller.
7. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Fiction)
Recently a TV adaptation of this classic was aired. I had never heard of this novel, but the TV adverts/trailers had me intrigued. I asked one of my manager’s if she was watching it, and she had high appraisal for it. However, she told me I definitely needed to read it first so that I could form my own interpretation of the story before I watched someone else’s. As someone who prefers to read first, see later, I agreed. I’m desperate to read this novel and ‘catch up’ with everyone else who seems to already be in the know.
8. Do No Harm by Henry Marsh (Non-Fiction)
Earlier this year I read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I found Kalanithi’s experience a fascinating read. I was left intrigued by how other neurosurgeons feel when they go into the operating theatres. So when I stumbled on Henry Marsh’s book in a local bookshop I couldn’t resist picking it up. Marsh’s account of the hardships, triumphs and life in the face of great urgency called out to me as an extension onto Kalinithi’s medical practice. I can already tell this one is going to carry a lot of heavy emotional depth, but I am eager to start this one.
9. The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller (Fiction)
A second chance, two decades on, to fulfil a mission they failed the first time. In the world of war, second chances are few and far between. I desperately want to know if the main characters succeed.
10. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Fiction)
Another crime/mystery. I really do struggle to resist them.
11. Soldier Spy by Tom Marcus (Non-Fiction)
As I’ve already said, I’m a sucker for a crime or thriller. The difference with this book is that it’s a true account from an MI5 agent. I am extremely excited for this one. The fact MI5 allowed this book to be published is a mystery and wonder in itself.
12. Longbourn by Jo Baker (Fiction)
Another novel that’s been sat waiting for my attention for a very long time. In short, this is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ point of view. I have never read Pride and Prejudice, as I couldn’t get into it, but I do know the gist of the story. I have read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so perhaps other versions of the classic are what appeal to me. As classics seem to prove less and less my sort of thing, I won’t be surprised if this one doesn’t spike a lot of interest from me. Nevertheless, we will give it ago!
13. I'd Rather be Reading by Guinevere De La Mare (Non-Fiction)
This book is one of the most aesthetically pleasing books I have seen in a long time, if not ever. If you love reading and have a taste for carefully curated style/photography, please go and view this book in your local bookshop. You will not regret it. As I write this, I actually spent my morning reading flicking through this book, and reading the articles enclosed. I loved it. I hope you will too. (Yes that means it’s technically not on my TBR anymore, eh).
14. How Art Can Make You Happy by Bridget Watson Payne (Non-Fiction)
This book’s colour scheme is yellow and grey; One of my absolute favourite colour combinations. Need I say more? No, but I will. 13 and 14 are both published by Chronicle Books. If all their books are as aesthetically pleasing as these two I will order one of all of them, please!
15. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (Fiction)
Never judge a book by its cover. It’s a statement used time and time again. I would say I’m a firm believer in it. However, that does not mean I am not entranced by the beauty or aesthetic of some. Earlier this year I asked my manager if she could order me a copy of Animal Farm. She chose the cover she deemed the coolest. So from there, I matched the cover of 1984 and now Down and Out in Paris and London. I’m definitely guilty of hunting out the prettiest and most aesthetically pleasing versions.
16. & 17. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Fiction) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Fiction)
The last book has been on this TBR pile since 2015. I’ve just never seemed to reach for it. It’s the most popular out of the two, so for a long time, I had never heard of its prequel. Then one day I’d heard Tom Sawyer in passing and was sure I’d heard a familiar title before. Low and behold a google search later and I realised that these two books are a series of sorts. So I added Tom Sawyer to the pile and will hopefully finish both of them. I really struggle to get into classics, and I have already tried once with Tom Sawyer earlier this year. I’ll give it another go soon, but life is too short to force yourself to read anything for ‘pleasure’.
There’s a real mix here ranging from art, photography and interior design to thriller, crime and mystery. There are personal accounts, neurosurgery, MI5 insights, and a plethora of fictional adventures. I cannot wait to get started. What’s on your reading list?