Last year I selected my top books that I’d read in 2016, but this time I’m finishing off the year by sharing my top 5 books that were published in 2017. I read a good mix of books, but this list reflects the books that really stood out to me (even though I’m still reading one of them!)
Enjoy the list, and if you fancy any of these titles please do check them out.
1. The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness, Graham Caveney
If you’ve read my post: 8 books to start 2018 with then you’ll already be familiar with why I’m choosing this book. But here I’ll talk about how I came to read it.
I received the Picador proof copy from a friend the day before I was due to join him in a double interview with the author, Graham. So I had less than a day to read it. I started it that evening, and was concerned that I would have to force myself through it, but the opposite happened. It didn’t matter that I was ‘cram reading’, I became so immersed in the book that I couldn’t take myself away from it and the pages flew by.
I got up early the next morning to read it, I visited a friend and read it in the street. This book became my only focus. I managed to get over halfway through it before I met Graham. It was a strange feeling to have been so wrapped up in his memoir and then to have him sat in front of me drinking tea.
The book is about Graham’s adolescence and the abuse he suffered from one of his teachers. The writing style is funny, and he makes it enjoyable to read, but the emotion and impact doesn’t leave…it’s always there. He weaves in his love for music and literature, and it’s a serious achievement for him.
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
2. Shtetl Love Song, Grigory Kanovich
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Noir Press, in exchange for a review. It’s a really big book, dauntingly big. It’s an autobiographical novel about a family in a Jewish Shtetl, which is a small town which has a large population of Jewish people living in it. I’d never read a book about anything like this before, so I thought I’d struggle with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I was glued to this book. I read whole chunks of it in 2 hour sittings, and emerged from this other world that I felt I’d just been living in. The book made me feel part of the family, part of the community. There are so many brilliant aspects to this book, and for anyone interested in Jewish history in Lithuania before the war, then this is the book to read.
Read my full review: Shtetl Love Song
Read my review of the Nottingham book launch: BOOK LAUNCH: Shtetl Love Song by Grigory Kanovich, published by Noir Press Jam Café, Sunday 19 November 2017
Buy a copy: Noir Press
Link to the book on Goodreads: Shtetl Love Song
3. The Sparsholt Affair, Alan Hollinghurst
This is the one I’m still reading. But Alan Hollinghurst is one of my favourite authors, and as I said to my best friend the other day (who is also reading it) “I slip into his books like an old jumper”.
He’s an incredible storyteller, and when I’m within the pages of one of his books I feel like I’m in this whole other world of people and stories and lives. I love his style, and I learn from him in terms of writing craft.
The story so far has taken place in three different periods of time, and all of them have been brilliant, but the first part had me hooked in the way only Hollinghurst can get me. I’m looking forward to the rest of the book to see what happens. I feel like I’m still navigating the characters with each time shift, but now people from the first part have come into the third part it should start racing along even more.
The catalyst for the plot was the character David Sparsholt, who became the focus of a number of male characters. Their fascination-almost-obsession established certain relationships in their university days and is the foundations for the plot later on after they have all grown up. This is where I find them now.
For me, this book (so far) is a perfect example of everything that I love about Hollinghurst’s books, so I can’t recommend it enough if you want to get into his writing.
4. How to Build a Universe, Brian Cox and Robin Ince
I love science books, but I don’t want loads of dense text with big words that I don’t understand. This, however, is a book based on the podcast ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’. There are doodles, jokes, and an actual recipe for building a universe.
It makes science fun without being too much like a kid’s book. It’s just a really great adventure with Brian Cox and Robin Ince, and they explain and explore every aspect of what you’d want to know about the universe and how it was created. I read it in only a few sittings, and every moment was enjoyable but also really interesting.
If you crave knowledge, and want to know more about this strange world we live in and the universe beyond, then grab a copy of this because it’ll be just what you need. And you’ll feel super clever once you’ve read it.
5. The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi Kaur
This was the much anticipated second book from the author of Milk and Honey, and I managed to find a copy in my local library. It took me a little while to get back into Rupi’s style but once I was there I didn’t want to put the book down.
There were plenty more in this collection that I could relate to, and it’s longer than her first book, so more to digest and explore. She gets deep in a lot of different subjects here, and she transitions from each to the next smoothly, but the seeds of what you just read grow in your mind while you’re reading the next bit, until you’re tethered to each page.
If you’ve read Milk and Honey, read this. If you haven’t read Rupi’s poems yet, then read both. Each can stand on their own, but this one connected with me more in some areas, I think. She’s well worth having a look at.