At the beginning of this year, I set myself a challenge to read 20 books – I know that doesn’t seem a lot but with uni, work and social life, it’s sometimes difficult to find the extra time – before the end of 2018. I also did this last year and ended up failing miserably due to events in my personal life, but this year I am more determined than ever to meet this goal.
Every month, I create a reading list of books I wish to complete within that month, and below are the books I have chosen for March – if anyone has read, or is currently reading any of these books, let me know in the comments and I would love to discuss your thoughts and opinions on them.
#1 Eleanor Olphiant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This book has been sat on my bookshelf since around the time it came out last year – I have a very bad habit of buying loads of books and then having to catch up on all of them – and I never managed to get around to reading it, until now. Since its release in 2017 as Gail Honeyman’s debut novel, reviews have been excellent, with a high rating of 4.3/5 on Goodreads, and strong recommendations from other fellow readers – as well as winning the 2018 Costa Debut Novel Award.
“Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live
She leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself.
Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – whilst searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?
Widely hailed as the fiction debut of 2017, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a triumph of deft observation of everyday life. By turns laugh-aloud funny and deeply poignant, it is a book that champions everyday courage and the importance of friendship in a world where people are increasingly isolated. Challenging the stigmas that exist around loneliness in contemporary society, it is a gentle reminder of those we too easily overlook and how a life can be changed by small acts of kindness.” (HarperCollins Publishers, 2017)
The intriguing premise is what compelled me to pick up this novel, and with all the outstanding reviews, I’m thrilled that I did. The burned matchstick house on the cover is another factor that lead me to buying this book. It’s white with a title and that one image, it’s basic but it causes intrigue for a reader like me to find out more about Eleanor and why this was chosen.
#2 This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell
I have been a fan of Jill Mansell’s romantic comedy, women’s literature for a number of years – it was her novels that hooked me into reading. Throughout childhood and my teen years, I despised reading, I wasn’t able to sit down and read a book for my own enjoyment – the only time I read was when I had to read in school. I loved writing and I found myself at a slight standstill, and I was unsure why. Looking back, I know that was because I wasn’t reading enough, and to improve your writing and your craft, you have to not only write, but read too. However, my loathing for reading ended towards the end of my high school years, year 10 and 11, when I started to read fanfiction. It’s obviously not
From there, I stumbled upon Jill Mansell – whose work inspired a fiction I had recently read. I came across a few of her books one day, at a bookshop and decided I would buy them. After reading those books, I bought more and slowly I expanded into different genres, thus blossoming my love of reading.
Jill Mansell’s latest romantic comedy has been added to my reading list, considering my fondness for her previous works. The novel was released January of this year, so it is still fairly new, and has received an impressive rating of 4.2/5 on Goodreads.
If only Essie hadn’t written that letter – the one that went viral…
On the one hand, if Essie hadn’t written that letter – the one that only her best friend was meant to see – then she’d still be living like an actual proper grown-up, tucked up with Paul in his picture-perfect cottage, maybe even planning their wedding…
On the other hand (if her true feelings hadn’t accidentally taken the internet by storm, that is) she wouldn’t have moved into the attic flat on the square. She would never have met Conor. Or got to know Lucas…
And she wouldn’t have found herself falling in love with someone she really, really shouldn’t fall in love with… (Headline Publishing Group, 2018)
There have been excellent reviews from fellow admirers of Jill Mansell’s work, which is another factor that attracted me to this book. The excitment of summer blooms with the vibrant oranges and warm tones on the cover of this romantic, summertime tale.
#3 One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
One of Us is Lying, a novel released in 2017 about a group of five students who walk into detention but only four walk out alive. Immediately, my interest peaked when I read the premise of this novel. From analysing the cover and blurb alone, it appears to be a young adult, mystery book set in a detention room and based around the relationship between the characters in detention.
Goodreads have rated the novel 4.1/5 and the majority of reviews have been positive, and I have even seen it said that it’s not the typical contemporary YA novel – I hope I haven’t bragged it up too much for myself!
Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive. For fans of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, this is the perfect high school thriller.
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule. Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond. Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime. Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life. And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again.
He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online.
Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects. Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them. (Penguin Books Ltd, 2017)
I am hoping for tense mystery and strong character developments, I’m hoping that the novel will have me on the edge of my seat throughout. It has been described as, “The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars”, and I’m a huge fan of both so my expectations, in terms of enjoyment, are already high.
#4 Animal Farm by George Orwell
“All animals are equal – but some animals are more equal than others.”
It didn’t feel right for me not to have a classic in this list. I must admit, I have previously read Animal Farm and loved it, so I am quite excited to read it again. I don’t want to give too much away of what I already know but it is definitely a novella worth reading (separate to this, I would also recommend reading 1984 by George Orwell, if you haven’t already, as it is an incredible read – still very relevant). The metaphorical plot itself is a retelling of the Russian Revolution, it’s simplistic and this made it easier to note the symbolism within the book, it’s a book that, similar to 1984, is still relevant today.
When the downtrodden animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master Mr Jones and take over the farm themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of freedom and equality. But gradually a cunning, ruthless elite among them, masterminded by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, starts to take control.
Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another.
A quote from Orwell for the first edition of Animal Farm, in 1945: “It is the history of a revolution that went wrong – and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of the original doctrine.”
That brings to an end my 2018 March Reading List. I also have a fifth, honourable mention that I read on-and-off and that’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight. I have picked up so many tips from this book and it is one that I would recommend skimming through now and again.
As I mentioned above, let me know your thoughts on these novels, I would love to converse with fellow readers and discuss shared, or differing opinions. I am hoping to post a reading list every month, and maybe even start a book club at some point (if there is enough interest).
I also wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has followed my blog, and keeps reading and liking my posts. Last week we reached a small milestone in follows – in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem like many, but for someone who is just starting out, this really makes me happy. It’s really exciting and motivating to see that people enjoy what I write, so thank you very very much for that!