Hello hello hello – happy Easter weekend! I hope you’re having a day or two to relax and recuperate (maybe with a good book?)
If you are planning on spending some time this weekend reading, you might even find some inspiration from the books I bring you today because there were definitely a couple of gems in this roundup. If not, I hope you still enjoy and at least find a couple of works that you’ll know to avoid at all costs!!
(Check out my previous reading post here*)
1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Something you will notice about this haul of recent reads is that there are a few romances sprinkled into the mix – and that only means one thing: it was clearly Valentine’s Day!
I’m not against romance novels per say, but I usually don’t make a habit of actively seeking out solely romantic books, although I thought February would be a good time to read a couple anyway, just to capture that feeling of love.
The reason I chose this novel was because everyone was recommending it on social media, but to be honest, it wasn’t anything spectacular. Sure it was a sweet book that was easy to get through, but I just think it was a little overhyped as the plot line was honestly just a classic ‘cat and mouse’ love story.
If you don’t know the story, it follows a character named Anna as she is FORCED – yes FORCED – to move to Paris for her senior year of high school from Atlanta (like am I the only one who doesn’t see what’s so bad about that?!) and ends up becoming friends with a guy everyone fancies but he has a girlfriend (and she swears she won’t fall for him) blah blah blah… I’m sure you can guess what happens.
I don’t want to fully diss this because I did rate it four stars on Goodreads (more like 3.5 but that’s not an option) because I did appreciate how it wasn’t really a ‘cringe’ love story despite what the title may suggest. It was sweet, but nothing spectacular.
2. It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
Another romantic book for the month of February…
Although I was quite harsh about ‘Anna and the French Kiss’, I did quite enjoy it, but this one just wasn’t it for me.
This rom-com is actually based around how the main character Audrey writes her media studies coursework about being anti-romance, and studies how love is presented in film (while she gets a job at a cinema). She’s still hung up on her ex, but ends up falling for another ‘bad boy’ type in the form of her colleague, Harry. At first, she swears ‘she won’t fall for him’ (again, guess what happens?) but the story also demonstrates the breakdown of her mother after her father leaves them for another woman, and how Audrey is forced to deal with it along with her other issues.
Although I did like how the book ended, I just didn’t feel all that connected to the characters and found the plot line with her mother to be a bit randomly dramatic at times when there wasn’t really enough build up to it. I saw a review that said maybe the fact that as readers we didn’t feel fully connected to Harry helped us to not be blinded by his charm and realise he isn’t a sort of ‘fairytale Prince’, and I do appreciate the book a little more from that perspective.
I don’t know if I would say this is a ‘must read’ but I think it did have a good message in the end, so maybe pick it up if you want?
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
On a more positive note: THIS IS MY NEW FAVOURITE BOOK OF ALL TIME.
I cannot believe I put off reading this for 3 years. This book wrenched my heart out and made me cry, but it was so eye-opening to read a fiction book about the realities of the war and the Holocaust.
I’m sure you know what this book is about, but if not it follows a girl named Liesel who moves to Molching in Germany to be fostered during the lead up to and the duration of the Second World War. She has this habit of stealing books from various places, and each section of the story highlights how the respective book affected her life.
The most interesting aspect of ‘The Book Thief’ is that it’s narrated by death, so it kind of has this ominous tone throughout and you know there will be tragedies – which aren’t glossed over or avoided which makes it all the more heartbreaking to read.
If I could recommend one book on this list it would be this one. Amazing!
4. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
This won the Booker Prize in 2019 for a reason.
Evaristo writes very poetically in this book as she manages to fit 12 character stories into 450 pages (impressive) and develops all of the women really well. The book follows women of colour from various socioeconomic backgrounds in the UK and displays how each of their lives are so different, each facing their own struggles (dealing with racism, gender/sexuality, abuse, careers etc.) but they somehow connect with each other despite those contrasts.
I admit, it did take me a while to get into the book as I struggled a little at first with the lack of punctuation (intentional) but I ended up really loving it and taking so much value away at the end. Obviously I connected with some characters more than others (Grace was my favourite) but overall it was not only enjoyable to read but also very educational.
The one thing I will say is that I didn’t like how the characters all ended up in the same place at the end, it felt a little bit unnatural to me; but other than that this book is a must read for everyone, especially as we continue to educate ourselves about racism and it’s also important to expose ourselves to all parts of society.
5. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
Another amazing book – we’re definitely on a roll here!
If you read my last reading post, you’ll know that I kind of slated Wuthering Heights (sorry!) but this, I thoroughly enjoyed.
I’m not surprised though because the 1920s is my favourite decade for study in history, and a complete contrast to the 2020s – that’s for sure. As well as that, the story just wasn’t what I expected it was going to be from the halfway point onwards which is what made it even more exciting to read. Without spoiling it, I can only compare it to when you bite into a chocolate chip cookie but realise it’s oatmeal and raisin (but in the best way possible.)
The only reason The Great Gatsby lost half a star is because I wanted a little bit more. It was so short! I wish the characters were slightly more developed, but I guess the mystery of Gatsby is what makes him so enticing.
6. When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson
I don’t know what is up with this period of reading, but everything was just so enjoyable for me!
When the Apricots Bloom was released about 2 months ago by a journalist who had worked in Iraq for 10 years under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The story follows three women: Ally, an Australian expat; Huda, Ally’s husband’s secretary (who is being threatened by the secret police to be an informant) and her childhood best friend Rania who hasn’t been in close contact with Huda for years.
What I loved about this story is the focus on the friendship of the three women and now despite everything happening, it is this that it boils down to in order to save themselves under the dictatorship. I didn’t know very much at all about the state of Iraq at the turn of the millennium, so if you’re like me, I recommend this as it taught me a lot while also being an enticing fictional story.
The only reasons this lost a star is because it was a little slow at times and I thought the needing could have been stronger (a downfall of a lot of books), but overall I highly recommend once again!
7. Atomic Habits by James Clear
Now I am not usually one for self-help books as I find them to often be pretentious and honestly full of rubbish like ‘wake up at 5am’ ‘read 200 books per year’ ‘work out for an hour everyday’ (like I’m sorry but no realistic human can do all of these things and still balance a fulfilling and fun life?!)
However, Atomic Habits broke that stigma in some ways for me. This was my first ever audiobook (listen for free on Spotify) and I usually listened when I was walking the dog over lockdown for something different – and I actually found it really inspiring and insightful.
If you don’t know the concept of the book, it basically focuses on how implementing small changes and habits lead onto long term successes, providing various methods and instructions that aim to assist said habits into your routine concretely.
Of course there were a few pretentious comments and presumptions here and there but I think these kinds of books should be taken with a pinch of salt and read with a ‘take what resonates and leave what doesn’t’ attitude.
8. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Everyone and there mother has read this book so I took it upon myself to check out the hype – and I have mixed feelings…
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the story (I gave it 4 stars after all) but I just thought it maybe was a tiny bit overhyped? My reason for this is that there really wasn’t much of a plot and the ‘murder of Chase Andrews’ that’s mentioned on the blurb was literally a side plot for the first half to 2/3 of the book!!
That being said, when the plot did eventually speed up I thoroughly enjoyed it and Owens’ descriptions of the marsh were beautiful. I also really fell in love with Kya, the main character so watching her grow up was just lovely.
9. World War Z by Max Brookes
I hated this and it ruined my good streak. Do not read this unless you want to waste some hours of your life that you can never get back.
I’m just going to say I hated everything about this: there was literally no plot, the book was formatted through interview questions and the voices of the characters were all so similar you can barely decipher who it actually was talking. If I write anymore I will go into a rant so let’s just leave it there…
10. Becoming by Michelle Obama
Thankfully after that monstrosity we’re finishing on a high with a sparkling 5-star read!!
I’m almost finished this one but I wanted to include it in this post because I just knew going into it that it would be incredible. I’ve talked about Michelle Obama quite a bit on my Instagram – she has always been someone I looked up to and strived to have her work ethic and charisma so it has been wonderful to read about her childhood, her education, her relationship with her husband and so much more.
If you haven’t read it definitely do! I have Barack Obama’s book on my TBR list as well but I’m honestly waiting for it to be on sale for a bit cheaper because that book is EXPENSIVE.
Alright then, that wraps up this period of reading for me. It’s crazy that I’m only 10 books away from my 2021 Goodreads goal already, I just didn’t expect to get through so much this quickly (not complaining though, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself!)
The roundup of the last 10 should be out in May or June so keep your eyes peeled. For now, I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend and I’ll talk to you next Saturday!
What have your favourite reads been recently? Have you hated any books? Have you read any on this list? Let me know!