Wednesday 8 January 2020

My Favourite Books of 2019

Reading has always been one of my favourite hobbies for as long as I can remember. My mum always used to take my sister and I to the library to pick out new books and that love grew over the years. There have been occasions where I've lost my love of it and haven't read for years and then I'll find my passion again, tearing through page upon page. 

It's also the one thing that really keeps my mental health in check and I love nothing more than curling up into a corner and reading something new. At the beginning of 2019 after a pretty horrendous 2018, I downloaded Goodreads and set myself a challenge to read 25 books which I upped to 30 in the February. I ended 2019 having read 75 books so I wanted to share some stand-outs from the year, books I devoured and really loved. 

If you do want to see what else I've been reading then head to my Book Category for some more reading inspiration.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
This was the first book I read in 2019 and one I sat down and didn't stop reading until I had finished it. It's kinda stayed with me for most of this year and re-ignited my desire to learn more about Auschwitz. The Tattooist of Auschwitz tells the story of Lale Sokolov who was given the job of tattooing the prisoners as they arrived at the camp. It's a courageous, unforgettable and devastating story of terror, death and surprisingly love. It completely captivated me and I've since gone on to read Cilka's Journey also by Heather Morris. I urge you to read both, I really do.

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
If you're white, you need to read this book. It is the most eye-opening, if somewhat terrifying look into race relations in Britain. It explores everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race as well as many incidents I never knew of because it isn't taught in British schools. 

I thought I was relatively clued up but this book blew everything I thought I knew out the water and then some. 

The Lido by Libby Page
I was recommended The Lido by a few different people on Instagram so I picked it up during one of my Waterstones visits but have only just got round to reading it. I put it off because so many had said how warming and lovely it was that I was worried that I would hate it. Sounds so silly right?! 

The Lido is actually incredibly uplifting and I am so glad I finally settled down with it. It tells the story of Rosemary and Kate, two very different women fighting to save the same thing. It is written beautifully and shares such an incredible journey of female friendship, whatever the age. I felt quite connected to this book more so than I thought I would and I was a blubbering wreck by the end. I just really loved it and would read it again in a heartbeat which isn't something I do very often.

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang
This is more of a fable but the story it tells is quite a vital one and one that changed my outlook on life quite suddenly. It caused a shift in me that I've been implementing ever since and had I not been sent this within a book bundle within a PR package I would've never come across it and for that I'm grateful. This is the story of a hen named Sprout. No longer content to lay eggs on command only to have them carted off to the market, she glimpses her future every morning through the barn doors, where the other animals roam free and comes up with a plan to escape into the wild and to hatch an egg of her own. It's such an anthem for individuality and motherhood with such an important tale.

The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield
I suppose you could say I have quite a morbid fascination with Auschwitz as I read quite a lot of books about it. I think it has more to do with learning as much as possible as I believe we should all know how gut-wrenchingly catastrophic it was and try and comprehend exactly what those who experienced it, went through. The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz was deeply upsetting but filled with an incredible amount of information and accounts from their time within the death camp. I couldn't put this down and if you devoured The Tattooist of Auschwitz then this really is one to add to your TBR list.

The Stepney Doorstep Society by Kate Thompson

I was sent this by Penguin and it couldn't have been more perfect for me. I love modern history, especially from the 1800s up to around 1960 so this story of the inspiring tales and strength of the women who were the backbone of the East End as war rolled across Europe was ideal. It's a tale of love, loss and heartache, Kate Thompson talks to a collection of women who had their childhood stolen from them by Hitler but continued with life regardless. It really shone the spotlight on wartime East End for me, something that I find is never a focus in most history books. I couldn't put this down and I've already ordered a few more books to read about the East End and the Blitz. 

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
This is one I'd seen doing the rounds on Instagram so I added it to my Christmas list. I wasn't sure what to expect, I suppose a classic thriller but this was anything but. The chapters are short and punchy, I finished this in a day as it's quite an easy read with the right amount of twists and turns to keep you hooked. The title gives you the gist of what happens but it's told from Korede's point of view, as the eldest sister. The characters are just brilliant and makes the book what it is.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold
My knowledge of the murders of Jack the Ripper very much centres around him, I knew nothing of the women other than that they were each labelled as prostitutes and it was great to read about this time in Britain that didn't focus on Jack the Ripper at all. The Five tells the untold stories of Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane and how they spent their lives until they brutally met their deaths in 1988. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. The Five is a remarkable look into their stories and finally sets the record straight on how they really lived their lives. It's truly fascinating. 

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