A friend on Instagram recently tagged me to share my 5 book recommendations and then tag 5 friends to share theirs. There have been a lot of these challenges going around in the time of coronavirus, and this was one I could get on board with! I thought I’d make it into a blog post to explain my choices.
Taken from my shelves without much hesitation, here are my 5 book recommendations – a mixture of old and new.
Annihilation, Jeff Vandermeer
I’m not sure if I’ve ever written about my love for this book on my blog, but I wrote one of my Creative Writing MA essays on this last year and it made me love it even more. Weird, obscure and clever, you will read Annihilation and not really have an idea of what’s going on – and don’t expect any resolutions either. I love how uncanny it is, and how it makes you think about humanity’s place in the world in a completely different way. The film is also brilliant, and very different to the book, which is confusing and delightful as it gives you even more to unpick.
Vandermeer had this to say on the film – haha:
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong
I read this recently and was blown away by Vuong’s gorgeous prose and his ability to evoke ideas of the violence and inescapable history of language. I don’t think this will be for everyone, but for those of you looking to read something that will make you want to stop and highlight the page every few moments, I urge you to pick it up and savour every sentence. You can read my full review here.
The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
I’m sure I must have expressed my love for Patrick Ness on my blog before, but the Chaos Walking series is in my opinion one of the most brilliant and compelling dystopian series ever. The fact that it’s supposedly aimed for the YA market doesn’t really matter to me because if you read it, you’ll soon realise there is nothing tame or reduced about the ideas Ness is writing about. The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first in the series and has been made into a film with Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. I’m terrified it won’t live up to the version in my mind.
Saltwater, Jessica Andrews
I’m pretty certain I have waxed lyrical about this book in the past year since I read it, but everything about Andrews’ debut is gorgeous and vivid. It’s the perfect book for those millennials who are unsure where they belong, and who don’t feel at home in London. It’s about class and sexuality, grief and freedom. You can read the full review here.
Orlando, Virginia Woolf
I’ve read a few Woolf novels during my time at university, but this was the most recent one – the one that I read while applying for my Creative Writing MA that made me think about writing and what I wanted in a completely different way. Orlando is shape-shifting, time-travelling and doing what Woolf does best: crossing boundaries. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fully understand everything she is trying to say but I really enjoyed trying. You can read the full review here.