This year more than ever, as I mentioned in my previous Romy Reads post, reading has been a big priority. I have read some absolutely brilliant books this year and I wanted to share some of my recent reads and also my top recommendations from the whole year.
The MUST read: Educated by Tara Westover
I don’t even know where to start with this book. Without a doubt in my top two books I have read this year, potentially my number one. An incredible, eye-opening memoir from a truly inspiring woman. Although I know I shouldn’t write the blurb when it is easily Google-able, I just want to give you a bit of a flavour for it.
Tara grew up in rural Idaho to survivalist, extreme Mormons and didn’t even legally exist until the age of 9, due to her having no birth certificate. Her family did not believe in schooling or hospitals and she spent her isolated childhood working in her father’s junkyard. She lived a life of violence, ignorance, seclusion and at times, danger before deciding to educate herself. Tara ended up studying at Cambridge and Harvard, forming who she wanted to be, while still dealing with the fierce family loyalty she had instilled in her. At some points, I almost forgot the story was real life.
I feel like I’m not even scratching the surface how good this book is. She is just the most brilliant writer, brings perspective and truth to her upbringing yet still writes with such respect for her family, even though they are now estranged. If I haven’t sold it to you, just Google the book and you will see how much coverage it has had in the media. Barack Obama put it on his Summer Reading List and Bill Gates added it to his must reads of 2018, so you’d be in great company… along with little old me!
The SELF HELP read: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Haig’s incredible memoir explores his personal journey with mental health, from his darkest moments to learning to live and appreciate life again. It is a powerful, sensitive and hopeful exploration of depression and anxiety. I would recommend this to anyone, not just those who directly struggle with their mental health. It touched and affected me, while making me feel inspired at the same time. His brilliant way of writing, in easily digestible chapters, with 4 progressive sections made the (at times tough to read) words, all the more powerful. It is definitely the sort of book you could dip in and out of and also refer back to if you needed a burst of strength. This subject can be difficult to read about, but he has such a raw, insightful and important message that I think we could all really benefit from.
The SNAPSHOT IN TIME read: Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton
This was beautiful. I’m not usually drawn to romance novels… or I didn’t used to be, but I’m finding them creeping into my kindle library more and more recently. However, I do love historical fiction, which this is. Flipping between Havana during the 1950s at the time of the
Cuban Revolution and 21st Century Miami and Havana, it is a story of family roots, political unrest, love, loss and secrets. Cleeton’s writing is so cinematic, beautifully descriptive and moving. Although the story is fiction, the lives of the characters were probably the reality of many Cubans, giving me a greater understanding of a time in history I knew nothing about. Yes it’s sad in some parts, but it is also uplifting and powerful too. I really would recommend it.
I could go on and on, as currently I’m on my 31st book this year (might be bragging), but here’s the list of my top 3 fiction and top 3 non-fiction from 2018:
1. Educated by Tara Westover
2. This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
3. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
1. Little Fires Everywhere AND Everything I Never Told You – both by Celeste Ng ( sorry I’m cheating, I couldn’t choose)
2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
3. One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus
I’m currently reading: Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life by Katherine Ormerod
Ps. I do do other things other than read.
Pps. If you want to be my friend on Goodreads, it’s Romy Dakin.
Image from Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’