Romy Reads : 15 Books to Take You Places

Reading is my tonic. I know I’m not the only one. There’s very few other things in life which completely transport you somewhere else; another life, another time, another place…without actually going anywhere. Not only offering an escape, but forcing you to be completely ‘in’ the pages of the book, leaving little brain space for outside chatter. Calming, restful, uplifting, all-consuming, enriching. There really is nothing like reading. At times like these, I am beyond grateful for my life-long love affair with books.

I’m going to keep writing down recommendations in the coming weeks and also posting on my @romy_reads Instagram and (NEW!) book club. Firstly I thought I would give you 15 reads to take you places….while we can’t go anywhere. Vivid landscapes, faraway countries, unknown cultures, different times…. (I also asked my equally book wormy Mum, who gave me some juicy recs too) 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Beartown by Fredrik Backman 

The Dry by Jane Harper

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

The Wedding Officer by Anthony Capella 

The Island by Victoria Hislop

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

The Help by Kathryn Stockett 

Dominicana by Angie Cruz (currently reading & I’m loving it so far) 

I hope you find a few you like amongst that list and I also hope you manage to find some calm and joy by letting your mind go to another place for a little while. Thanks for reading, stay safe & sane x

Romy’s Reads to Remember: 2019

I have read some amazing books this year. My book worminess has most definitely not faltered in 2019 and I plan to read even more in 2020… maybe the target should be 50 for next year? I love a challenge. This year I have managed 42 books (mini brag). Reading is just my thing…I think it always will be, from sitting crossed legged inside a ladybird tent in the garden with a pile of Winnie the Pooh books before I could even read, scrutinising every page, ‘reading’ aloud to now (I still love reading aloud when I can- fun fact), books are my tonic.

I thought I would share my 5 most memorable books of this year and a little bit about what made them so marvellous. (Head over to @romy_reads on Instagram to see their full reviews)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Wonderful wonderful wonderful. Delia Owens is a magnificent writer, crafting the most spectacular settings, sensitively layered characters and a completely consuming plot. Mainly set between the 1950s and 1970 on the coast of North Carolina and centred around a social outcast named Kya after a violent crime is committed in her town- but it is NOT a thriller. I can’t even put into words how much I loved this book. It has stayed with me since I read it in the summer and I wish I could unread and re-read it all over again. Pure magic.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Another absolute gem. I must have told at least 25 people to buy this book. I absolutely adored this story, the characters and the beautifully atmospheric setting. Set in a snowy, remote town in Sweden, the star player of the local hockey team is accused of a horrific crime and the whole town falls apart. Again, not a thriller at all, despite what the subject might suggest. I truly loved this and Backman writes with such empathy, thought and power. Yes from me.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This really does live up to the hype and I gobbled it up in one day while I was on holiday in May. Some of my very favourite books actually don’t have a fast changing, quick paced plot, but are a real deep dive into humans, relationships, life, love, pain and connection. Something I struggle with when I write is not rambling (obviously), but Rooney manages to write SO much with such few words. Really a great, great memorable read.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

One of my first reads of 2019 and I finished it when we were driving up the West Coast of Australia in January. I remember because we were in the car and I shut my kindle and just burst into tears. Never did I think a true crime novel could make me cry like that. It follows the case of the Golden State Killer, who terrorised California for a decade from the mid 1970s, with over 50 victims. It wasn’t even just the brutality of the subject matter that made me cry, but it was the devotion the author had to solving the case and the last section of the book, in which her husband wrote about her, as she passed away before finishing the book. True crime can seem anonymous and distant at times, but the compassion, true fascination and care that is the foundation of this book makes it a real standout.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I reread this in November after first reading it at school quite a few years ago. I loved it. Harrowing but packing a serious punch. Atwood is a genius. No sentence is wasted, the characters are messy and bold, gentle and fragile but gritty and fearless. Such an original novel which has and will continue to stand the test of time.

There were also a few other books that I really did love….

Calypso by David Sedaris

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taft Brodesser-Amber

Do Pause: You are not a To Do List by Robert Poynton

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister

Villa America by Liza Klaussman

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Who am I kidding…. I actually so enjoyed most of the books I read this year and could pretty much recommend them all for different reasons. I am TERRIBLE at narrowing down and picking favourites (clearly) but I get so much joy from reading and just want to spread the loooove for all of them. Happy New Year and happy reading!