Looking back over this year, it seems I’ve read all sorts of different books. Some of them I’m surprised to realise I only read this year – they feel much more distant in my memory than that. But still, I’ve flicked through them and decided on my favourite five, four of which I knew before I began writing this post.
The top three were all published (in English at least) this year, the other two are not overly old either, interestingly enough. Anyway, enjoy!
Billy Connolly has been my favourite comedian since I was very young, and this was only further cemented when I saw him perform live in 2006, when I was 20, where he talked for over three hours and I laughed so hard I was in pain for days. This book is the follow-up to the best-selling biography “Billy”, in which we learned of his dramatic childhood and rise to comedy stardom. In this, we read about the build up to his 60th birthday, including insights into his still hectic life from the man himself and his wife, Pamela. Just as funny and moving as the first book, I loved this and would highly recommend it to anybody who is a fan.
This is one of those books which I loved, and then the majority of people I recommended it to either found it average or simply didn’t understand it. But for me, this story of the bourgeois apartment building in Paris, and of the cultured concierge pretending to be a simpleton and the suicidal but genius pre-teen, both of whom think the world would not appreciate their true selves, was quite moving. Sure, the story was a little slow, though I don’t think this book was about the story, but about the slow revelations that dawn on the characters as they grow, while all around them remains stagnant to an extent. It takes a swipe at a certain kind of society with this progression, all the while written beautifully and thought provokingly. This isn’t for everyone, but I personally quite liked it.
My favourite novel by Mitch Albom (Tuesdays With Morrie, The Five People You Meet In Heaven) so far, this story is a careful and clever tale about time, how we spend it, how important it is, and how we shouldn’t allow it to rule our lives in the way we do. It centres around three characters, Father Time, who was the first man to measure time and has since been punished with listening to people’s pleas for more time for centuries, a wealthy businessman who intends to live forever and cheat time, and a teenage girl who is about to give up on life and cut herself short of time. It is beautifully written and very thought provoking, and a book I would recommend to everybody, to be honest.
I bought this book on a strong recommendation as soon as it was translated to English from Swedish (the recommender had read it in Swedish a year or two prior), and I can see why it is one of the most popular books from Sweden in recent years. The story quite literally tells the tale of a man who, on his hundredth birthday, decides to jump out of the window of his retirement home and run away. In the process he ends up causing all sorts of havoc, meeting up with various equally crazy characters whilst on the run from a crime gang, police and detectives. His past life is also revealed as the book goes on, adding depth to this seemingly bizarre character. Overall this is one of the funniest books I have ever read, and again I would recommend this to anybody, especially if you like a bit of humour in your stories.
I knew as soon as I had finished this book a few months ago that it would remain my favourite for the whole year. It’s the story of Hazel and Augustus, two teenage cancer patients currently in remission, but with full knowledge that their futures are short and unpredictable. As the two spend more time together and develop feelings, Hazel is forced to re-evaluate how she’ll let her illness define and control her, and how this will affect her life and legacy. What I loved about this book is that the characters are so incredibly real, rather than idolised or romanticised. The writing is stunning and often very funny, which helps reel you in as a reader, though the whole time you are of course bracing yourself emotionally for the worst. It is an incredible book, and a testament to John Green’s insightful writing abilities. Though the subject may be a little close to home for some (it is for me), I think if you don’t read this book you are truly missing out on a gem.
What were your favourite books you read this year?
Have you read any of these five books I have mentioned?