Whatever 2017 was for you, a new year is always a good chance for something different. This year begins on a Monday, which is too satisfying for words, and means that there is an even better chance to make the most of it and get the year off to a good start.
This past year was a difficult one for me, but I did a lot of things I never thought I’d do, but I’m glad it’s over. I don’t know what the next year will bring, but I’m at a point where it really does feel like the start of my life: out of education and into the world, if you will.
I’ve compiled a list of books that I think everyone should take with them as they dive into 2018. Some I’ve read, and some I’ve yet to read, but that just means I’m taking them with me too. Enjoy the following choices, please check them out, and I wish everyone the happiest new year possible!
1. Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig
The title speaks for itself. The end of one year and the beginning of a new one can be really tough on your mental health. There’s that moment at midnight which half fills me with dread and excitement because I just want to make that transition positively. Matt Haig’s book is essential reading at any time of year at any point in your life, but there are some messages in here that are perfect for reading at the start of a year.
If you’ve read it: great. Read it again, OR remind yourself of the following pages: pg. 92-3 (Existence); pg. 111-3 (Reasons to Stay Alive); pg. 136-9 (‘other books I read at this time’); pg. 175 (Depression is also…); pg. 202-10 (#reasonstostayalive); pg. 228 (Self-help); pg. 229-30 (Thoughts on time); pg. 238-43 (How to live…); pg. 244-6 (Things I have enjoyed…)
Read my full review: Reasons to Stay Alive
Read my review on ‘Now and Afterwards‘: Guest Book Reviewer: Jade Moore on Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Buy a copy: Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon
Link to the book on Goodreads: Reasons to Stay Alive
2. The Easiest, Rasa Askinyte
This book was originally written in Lithuanian and is about a character called Blanca who may or may not exist. There are some incredible quotes in the book, and it explores many philosophical notions while telling the story of Blanca and the people she encounters.
Each chapter begins with two statements that complement one another, and are always delightfully thought-provoking. It’s a fun, interesting read which I think people need to get their eyes on. I underlined so many quotes, and a lot of them are good thoughts and ideas to be taking with you into a new year. There’s wit and humour in these words, so seek them out and cherish them.
3. Fishbowl, Bradley Somer
If you’re looking for a book which sums life up, then this is a good place to start. It’s about the various lives that inhabit an apartment block in which a goldfish, Ian, lives. He ends up falling from the 27th floor, and in the half an hour it takes for him to reach the ground, we have found out all about the other people living in the same building. There are lessons, observations, humour and just a whole lot of fun contained in this book. I was blown away by it in a way I didn’t expect to be.
Read this at the start of your year so that you can spend the rest of the year having had the pleasure of reading it and musing on its ideas and its impact. Because trust me, it will have impact.
4. The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness, Graham Caveney
My fourth choice is a memoir about the adolescence of its author, Graham, and the abuse that he suffered from one of his teachers. Okay, so that doesn’t sound like the kind of book you’d want to start off your year with, but hear me out.
The way the book is written is funny, witty and direct. The story, his story is told in such a way that we become so immersed in his life and the events that occurred, it’s near impossible to put the book down. There’s hope, insight, trauma, emotion, laughs, and the right amount of hindsight. There’s a life influenced by literature and music, a life that formed alongside terrible abuse, but that managed to retain those key aspects at the heart of the man who we’re reading. It wasn’t easy to get to this point, for this book to exist, and for the impact it’s had already. So start your year with this, because Graham is an inspiring man and his words deserve to reach many people.
Read my full review: The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness
Read my interview with Graham for The Beestonian: Interview with Graham Caveney
Buy a copy: Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon
Link to the book on Goodreads: The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness
5. The Happy Reader (Issue 10), Penguin Books/Fantastic Man
Right so this is actually a magazine, but it’s a bookish magazine. It used to be quarterly, but now they’re only putting out two per year so we won’t see another until June 2018. This means if you haven’t jumped aboard the wonderful book club that is The Happy Reader, then now is the time to do it, and this is the issue currently sitting in bookshops.
It features book-related snippets, an interview with Jarvis Cocker, and a bunch of articles inspired by the dystopian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. There’s loads to digest, and it’ll be a great start to any year for a book lover. Go forth into the world and grab yourself a copy!
6. Essays In Love, Alain De Botton
As you enter the new year, you may already have a significant other. You may also be single and hoping to meet someone in 2018 who changes everything. You might kiss someone at midnight and be full of butterflies (or just a lot of alcohol) while the midnight bells chime. But whatever stage of love you’re at, you need to read this book.
Me? I’m a perpetually single daydreamer who loves the idea of a relationship but cannot seem for the life of me to find myself in one. And even I can relate to this book. It sums up love and feelings. It sums up what relationships can be, in their most philosophical form. It’s a masterpiece, and you’ll laugh. You’ll smile. You’ll think of that someone in your life, even if they’re not quite yours. Ultimately, you’ll know that Alain De Botton has identified something in love, and managed to turn it into the perfect story which is miles better than any rom-com or fifty shades malarkey.
Start your year with a bit of love, because I may be single but I’ve always got books and this is a good’un.
7. Happy, Derren Brown
For my final two offerings I am moving into unknown territory, by which I mean I haven’t read this, or the next book. Happy is a book about ‘Why more or less everything is absolutely fine’. To me, this is a message worth carrying into a new chapter, and a new year.
The book is over 500 pages long, and includes many different subjects. It could be a handbook for happiness, or being happy, or finding happiness in not-so-happy things. I’m guessing, but it’s a book with promise. And, although he is known for his magic and psychological manipulation…I trust Derren. I trust him with a book about happiness. Part One is called ‘Beginnings’ which is perfect. So carry this with you, read it in January and see if everything is actually fine.
Also, Alain De Botton (see suggestion 6) describes this book as ‘Deeply informative, moving, wise and full of love’. I’m already convinced.
8. 1 Page At A Time, Adam J. Kurtz
This is one of those books where you don’t so much read it as do it. It’s a ‘creativity’ book. It’s you, the book, and a pen or pencil. I tried to start this the moment I bought it, which was on 19th September 2016. It soon occurred to me that a book like this was pretty much made to be started on January 1st. You take the year one page at a time. So I stopped and I left it. I wasn’t ready at the start of 2017 (on account of doing an MA), but now I am ready.
Once 2018 is here, I’ll get reacquainted with this little companion, and I’ll see how it goes. If you want a book to provide a dose of creativity every day, then this is a good one to go for. I’ve filled in one bit that is for writing down your goals for the next year…and I’ve completed them all apart from reading the Harry Potter series. Oops.
This is good for those who aren’t great at keeping a diary, but still want to keep something.