A strange feeling comes over you when you spot a stranger reading your favourite book. Your walk gets quicker, your upper lip might even develop a certain sheen and you find yourself peering over their shoulder, desperate for them to peel their eyes away from the page for long enough for you to start a conversation about *that* book.
Excitable indistinct squawks ensue.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, A Little Life, The Book Thief, White Teeth, Normal People, Everything I Know About Love, The Secret History – we are living in the golden era of contemporary fiction; an age when Sally Rooney has us in a mumblecore chokehold and whatever Dolly Alderton writes is blindly added to our baskets without so much as giving the blurb a once over.
Bibliophiles will understand the term book hangover to mean the feeling you get when a good book ends and moving on to your next read is considered an act of violence. You don’t know if you’ll ever
love read again. However hard you try, you just can’t get over them. Personally, we’re still trying to fill the Atlas Corrigan-shaped void. Suggestions on a postcard, please.
There are certain authors whose work is guaranteed to leave you high, dry and hanging. Colleen Hoover, Sally Rooney (obviously) and Margaret Atwood, we’re looking at you – they are millennial catnip.
Amongst the page-turners and the Tik Tok crowd pleasers, every so often a book you thought you’d love somehow misses the mark and off to the DNF graveyard they go, leaving you feeling cheated of the 5-star read you were expecting. Are these the proverbial Hard Times Dickens warned us about? Probably.
Here we cover the highs and lows of the reading experience, from the books we’ll never stop recommending to the ones that gave us no choice but to download Bumble again out of sheer boredom.
Let’s get stuck into Snog, Marry, Avoid: The Book Round!
Snog: The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams
I love a book with echoes of Daphne Du Maurier and this one had me at hello with its strange title. Set in a crumbling Victorian mansion, it tells the tale of two estranged elderly sisters, Ginny the reclusive moth expert and Vivien who left the family home some 50 years ago. Upon her return to the house, the sisters revisit the tragedies of the past, uncovering deeply buried resentments and family secrets that may destroy their relationship forever. Strange, unsettling and atmospheric, it’s a great rainy day autumn read!
Marry – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.”
Urgh, will I ever recover from this book? Not likely. The nature-infused descriptions of the marsh, the imagery, the plot, this book has all the ingredients of a 10/10 page-turner. At once a coming-of-age murder mystery and a love song to the natural world, it’s got a little bit of everything that I love. Kya, the protagonist, known as Marsh Girl, is a reclusive young woman who has been abandoned by her family and must learn to survive alone, in the wilds of the North Carolina marsh. When she becomes entangled in the murder of her ex-lover Chase Andews, a juicy plot twist unfurls, and Kya must once again fight for survival. With its stunning sense of place and exquisite storytelling, I’m jealous of anyone who’s yet to read it. All aboard the hype train.
Avoid – Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Fyi, I’m a huge fan of character-driven plotless books and after all the Sally Rooney comparisons, I thought I’d love Exciting Times but it just didn’t grab me. There were elements I enjoyed, particularly Naoirse Dolan’s writing which is so irrefutably brilliant and emotionally aware, but for all its insightful observations on modern twentysomething love, it proved a little too slow to excite this disgruntled reader.
Snog – The No-Show by Beth O’Leary
Fave book of the year alert! I laughed, I cried (in public) and have recommended it to everyone I know, The No-Show by Beth O’Leary is a masterpiece if I ever did see one. A genius plot that keeps you guessing until the very end, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with Beth’s always endearing and beautiful characters and become invested in their lives from the off. I’m a sucker for a romance and this unconventional story of love, loss, heartbreak and friendship is my definition of the perfect holiday read. Everything Beth creates is a work of art but the seamless overlapping plots of the book’s three protagonists was executed what felt like such ease that it may just have made its way into my top O’Leary spot!
Marry – Manifest by Roxie Nafousi
This book = life-changing. I’d seen it all over social media before I got my hands on it and let’s just say the hype is real. I’d always been interested in manifesting and knew the basics of it but this book was the deep dive I needed to really start putting it into practice in my daily life- it’s basically a manifesting bible that you’ll find yourself referring back to again.
I loved the emphasis Roxie placed on self-worth practices and the importance of these in successfully manifesting your dreams, and learnt so much from her wisdom about flipping the script and transforming your life and the belief that truly anything is possible! If you’re in a rut, in need of some serious motivation or are freaking out about a milestone birthday, this book will see you through it all.
Avoid – Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
Controversial, I know. I adore the Call Me By Your Name movie but something about the book just didn’t do it for me. I actually read it a few years before seeing the film and I can’t put my finger on what didn’t click for me, but it certainly didn’t have the same impact as the cinematography and storytelling in the film which left me in a haze of Italian summer love for days. I’m definitely the odd one out in not loving this iconic love story, but I will stand by this unpopular opinion and choose the movie adaptation any day.
Snog – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I am a huge self-proclaimed greek mythology nerd. I find the stories fascinating and for me, this is the ultimate greek fantasy novel. That being said, I assure you, you don’t need to be a mythology expert to enjoy this book. It tells the story of friendship between Achilles and his best friend Patroclus which eventually turns into a really beautiful story of love. I was immediately hooked and think about reading it again all the time which is always a sign of a book that’s captured my heart.
Marry – One Day by David Nicholls
I absolutely loved this book, the way it’s written whereby each chapter falls on St Swithens day for 20 years is pure genius. I couldn’t put it down and much like real life, some chapters (days), you wish would continue forever and some days you wish had never happened. The characters evolve so brilliantly through the years both with their ups and downs, by the end I loved both of them.
Avoid – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This is going to be a very unpopular opinion based on good reads general consensus and the amount of hype this book had when it came out. It just really wasn’t for me and i couldn’t get to the end of it, which probably makes this quite an unfair choice as the end could have turned it around…i guess i’ll never know!
Snog – Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Even though this book had mixed reviews from Sally Rooney stans (how can you ever compare after the normal people show came out) I really enjoyed this book. I got really stuck into the character’s situationships and Rooney always manages to build that sexual desire between them SO well. It also tackles so many different subjects through the letters the two female protagonists write each other, that it really makes you ponder life!
Marry – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This book needs no introduction. What a powerhouse of a novel. I read this book later in life after I’d watched about 3 different iterations in movie form and it’s just such a beautiful story. I love the characters with all my heart and the way Alcott describes homey comforts and seasonal delights never fails to make me feel cosy. You can probably pick this book up in a charity shop, highly recommend for when it starts to get colder and darker outside.
Avoid – I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
Probably quite an unknown book for the Zoella audience but believe it or not, this book was on the NY times bestseller list every year at the end of the 00s and has sold over a million copies! I read this book on a holiday in 2009 (when I was 18) and took it as a lighthearted man’s narration of sexcapades and drinking to excess. But when I look back at it now I have to say it would not age well at all! Privileged white guy drinking through his insanely expensive University life, taking advantage of women (whom he had little respect for) and basically doing whatever the f*ck he wanted at all times. CRINGE.
Snog – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I got gifted The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by a friend for my birthday and I was obsessed! And when I say I am excited for the film, I AM EXCITED. The old Hollywood glamour, the characters, the twist! It is such a visual book so I can’t wait to see it come to life on screen. I did manage to guess the twist but it didn’t change the build-up that this book creates and I would read it again.
Marry – The Guest List and The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
I love a thriller and both these books delivered on the thrill level. They are both similar in style, you switch between different characters’ POV and the timelines jump from past to present so it does keep you on your toes. They are nicely complex so it keeps you guessing right until the end. I found myself looking forward to my commute so I could continue reading these books and I can’t wait to read the Paris Apartment.
Avoid – The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
LOTR fans please don’t come for me. I absolutely love all things Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit but I just found this book a really hard read. I have the utmost respect for J. R. R. Tolkien and the world he was able to create for us all to enjoy but I personally preferred the films… I’m sorry…
Snog – Wahala by Nikki May
This book was so, so good! I loved following the lives of Ronke, Simi and boo, three friends in London who all equally have some kind of personal issues that they are trying to work through. I particularly felt a real connection to Ronke, who was dating a guy her friends didn’t really like and so desperately wanted him to be the devoted boyfriend she quite frankly deserves! I also really enjoyed getting to learn more about Nigerian culture, especially the food which sounds bloody delicious! What made me not marry this book is I didn’t really enjoy the thriller side of it, it was compared to a “Sex and The City but with a thriller twist” but I think this was such a disservice to the book, as these three women are actually way more relatable than 4 wealthy women living in New York. I also disliked Isobel and think the book could have done without all her drama and the crazy ending which was pretty unrealistic, I actually think I would have married this book if it just followed Ronke, Simi and Boo’s lives with no crazy ending or twists.
Marry – My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
TW: sexual abuse, paedophilia and suicide. I absolutely adored this book, I wish I could erase my memory of it and read it all over again, this book moved me in so many ways and Elizabeth Russell is an extraordinary writer. My Dark Vanessa covers a lot of really difficult topics such as sexual abuse, paedophilia and suicide, but it is all narrated by the victim who is struggling to come to terms with the abuse she experienced as a teen at the hands of her English teacher. It follows her exploring their relationship as an adult and coming to terms with the realisation that in fact, it was not a loving and consensual relationship between two adults. This book is stomach-churning, you want to close the book on multiple occasions feeling unable to read any more of its disturbing content, but you continue as you want so badly for Vanessa to find justice after the awful things she was subjected to. Would really recommend this to anyone who feels they are in the right head-space to read this book.
Avoid – Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyers
I wanted to love this book so much as I am a massive Twilight fan, but I unfortunately just didn’t get along with it! I don’t know if it was the book being from Edward’s perspective and not from Bella’s, but I just didn’t enjoy the narration. I did find it interesting at points being inside Edward’s mind and I have always been Team Edward (weren’t we all really lol?) but this book just did not hit the spot for me.
Snog – The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
It all started when my friend said “have you read The Summer I Turned Pretty…” and well, this book now lives very close to my heart. It is a warm, funny, heartbreaking, coming-of-age story. Providing its reader with a beautiful conflicting love story, and of family and friendships! It speaks to all who remember that one year when you notice how much your body changed from a child to a teen, and growing up officially kicks in…
I am not always a romance/coming-of-age book kinda gal, however, this was the book that swayed me!! It made me giggle, cry, fall in love-then out-then back again… IT’S A MUST READ (if you haven’t already).
Marry – 1st To Die by James Patterson (Women’s Murder Club Collection)
I AM OBSESSED! I am a sucker for crime, drama and thriller and James Patterson never disappoints. The collection is still going as well, which is music to my ears!! The chapters are short but filled with suspense and incredible writing that making this an absolute page-turner. It is based around the only female homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer and is set in San Francisco. When faced with gruesome murders Boxer turns to her friends (aka the Women’s Murder Club) Claire, who is a leading coroner, Cindy a journalist and Jill, a top attorney for help!
Avoid – Autobiographies
None in particular, but I’m just not drawn to autobiography books! I just don’t choose to pick them up and read – although I’ll happily listen to my parents tell different anecdotes from some juicy sections!