There’s honestly nothing I love more than snuggling up under my duvet with a book. Bonus brownie points if I have some sort of snack nearby (100 extra points if said snack is a bag of Cheesy Wotsits). I read my first book when I was about two and a half – no joke, this kid was OBSESSED with reading – and had bookwormed my way through the entirety of my primary school library by the time I hit Year 5. My teacher got fed up of me asking for new reading material that wasn’t Biff and Chip (remember those legends?!) and presented me a compilation edition of all three of the Lord of the Rings books. “There you go,” she said, all smug. “That’ll take you a while.” Spoiler alert – it took me half a week.
I can still remember that book – it was emerald green and the back cover was coming off. Books have had such an impact on my life. When I was younger I escaped from the harrowing stress of 10-year-old life (my Neopet kept losing against that inflatable clown in the Battledome and I was NOT here for it) by burying my head in the latest Jacqueline Wilson. Now I’m 23 (good god), I escape from actual adult stresses by going to the nearest charity shop and bulk-buying as many books as I can carry. Any book can jump out at me, but while compiling this list it seems I love a classic ‘coming of age’, with as many dark twists as possible!
I tried to keep this list a little unusual – fingers crossed you can pick up one of my recommendations and find a new favourite! Let’s dive in.
- The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton. I actually picked this book up in the Pound Shop, expecting it to be a casual, easy read to fill a few hours. It wasn’t – I was completely absorbed within the first two pages, and read the entire book in one sitting. Just a note – the book focuses on issues such as sex and abuse, so if that’s not something you’d like to read about, try another of my suggestions! The novel takes us through the childhood and teenagehood (teenagehood? Is that a word?) of Bettina, the daughter of distant, brutal heiress Babs, and we see how her uncomfortable childhood affects her in later life as she enrols in private school. The characters are SO intricate and detailed that they’ll stay with you for a very long time. The book is totally unflinching; very, very honest, and I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down if it’s your kind of thing.
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Sorry to my fellow bookworms, but I actually watched the film version of Lolita before I read the book – it’s a gorgeous film, by the way, very dark and very uncomfortable but full of absolutely amazing performances. Obviously the undertones of Lolita (which features an illicit ‘relationship’ between a young girl and an older man) are not to everyone’s tastes, but it’s difficult to resist the acerbic and witty style of the narrative voice. I wrote about Lolita in a practise A-Level essay and was told off for including ‘inappropriate literature’. Soz, Miss – this book is a classic for a reason.
- The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin. I love this book so much I bought an extra copy when I saw it in a charity shop just in case I dropped my original copy in the bath or something (which is actually one of my biggest fears – can you IMAGINE dropping your fave book in your bath and it turning into a soggy bath bomb?!). It’s set in Berlin “at the turn of the twentieth century” (I’m embarrassed to admit that I copied that off the back of the book because I don’t actually know what date that is. I got an E in History). The book is a whirlwind, taking us with Lilly from childhood to a seemingly glamorous film career. She’s one of those characters who you want to make decisions for, and you just DIE when she makes the wrong ones.
- The End of Everything by Megan Abbott. I can’t give too much away about this one without ruining the book. It’s intense and heady and you’ll probably have to read it in one sitting because it’ll superglue itself into your hands. It tells the story of best friends Evie and Lizzie – and then Evie disappears. That’s all I’m saying! Read it & DM me on Twitter so we can talk about it.
- Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. This book is a whole journey – it rekindled my love for reading after skimming through it one desperately boring afternoon, and yanked me right into the world of the story. It’s so interesting and detailed – following 14-year-old Lee as she discovers the unspoken social rules and rituals of her exclusive Massachusetts boarding school.
So what are your top 5? Have you read anything on my list? Got any recommendations? Sick of me asking questions? Okay. Sorry.