10 Books You Need On Your Book Shelf.
*Apologies for the less than sleek version of these books, they are all genuinely mine and they have all been read 903829473974 times and well, wear and tear happens. Soz.
I have ALWAYS read books. I have ALWAYS been a fan of reading and of print books and will always choose a physical copy over a digital one. My parents read to us every night when we were children and we had a basket of books between us to read in the car.
I read a book a week almost in university but since I finished my time has become increasingly filled with blogging, babysitting and running my own business and reading has fallen by the wayside a little. I picked up a book for the first time in MONTHS last week and immediately flew through 60 pages so with that in mind, in some attempt to keep up my enthusiasm with a good book, here's 10 I have previously read that you should read too!
1. My Sister's Keeper. - Jodi Picoult.
The plot; This is a pretty famous film so you might already know the general plot, soz. A little girl is diagnosed with cancer as a small child and needs a donor to save her life. Unable to secure one, her parents have a second child in the hope that child will be a match and can donate bone marrow and a kidney to her older sibling. Basically when the second daughter is old enough to understand, she employs a lawyer to fight her case that she should NOT be forced into donating for her sister, even with the knowledge that her sister will not outlive cancer without one. There is some back story with the family, an off the rails brother and as always with a Jodi Picoult novel, a court case.
Why you should read this book; If you've seen the film first I actually really urge you read this book because it does NOT end the same. You will also realise as fab as she is, Cameron Diaz does not seem like the right casting choice and you make your own impressions of the characters in your mind. Also read if you like books that make you weep (I do, you might find this is a theme).
Why you should not read this book; If you haven't read a Jodi Picoult novel before, you need to make sure you're mentally prepared. They are pretty weighty and often involve a LOT of medical terminology and a series load of legal jargon. Picoult researches a lot and the court cases are often the centre of the book so it is pretty wordy and takes a long time to get through.
Where to buy; Amazon - £8.99
2. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Stephen Chobsky.
The plot; Pffft I don't even know where to start with trying to explain this book. Essentially it is written from the perspective of quiet, shy 15 year old Charlie who has gone through a bit of shit in his life and has mental health issues. He makes friends with a few kids older than him in school and he basically goes through every right of passage I imagine every American teenager goes through (don't blame me, my visions of American teenagers come from films). There's prom, late night drives, drugs, sex, gay relationships, house parties and then also some much more heavy stuff like abuse and assault. It's a proper coming of age novel that is still relatable long after you're 15.
Why you should read this book; I'd still recommend reading this book even if you have seen the film if you can possibly imagine the main gal as anyone but Emma Watson (she's fab but it's so hard to see characters as anything but the actors once you've seen the movie). It's a really good read if you can identify as someone who maybe didn't fit in all that well as a teenager or didn't really deal well with school because it's a proper coming of age and delves into all kinds of new experiences I think most 15 year olds face at some point through high school
Why you shouldn't read this book; Don't read this one if you don't like books where you have to concentrate. Even though it's basically a young adult book, the writing style emulates the personality of Charlie which is quite erratic and jumpy and all over the place. It's like a lot of short sharp sentences followed by a massive monologue and you really have to read hard to work out what's happened somewhere. It's obvious Charlie has faced some kind of trauma or abuse in his life from his mental state in the book but I didn't quite work out exactly what had happened until about the third time I read it.
Where to buy; Amazon - £5.59.
3. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger.
The plot; Told from both the perspective of Henry and his wife Clare, this story is about a couple, the husband of which can time travel. Quite often brought on by stress and triggered by his mother's death in a car crash in which he was involved, Henry can jump through time, mostly uncontrolled and not out of choice. Henry first meets Clare when she is 20 although she has actually met him throughout her life when he appeared to her time travelling when she was a child. It's basically a standard husband and wife try and have a baby story as a generic plot but it's broken up into all these meetings and time hopping and all the trouble and heartache that comes with that. I won't spoil the ending obvs but it isn't the lightest of reads which is basically what you can expect of any book on my bookshelf. Also it's a film which I actually really like and I think Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams are really good castings.
Why you should read this book; For a debut novel from the author the plot and idea is really complex and it makes the whole love story so unusual and unique it doesn't just end up being the boy meets girl has a family happy ending. The science behind the condition Henry has is such a good imagination and you immediately identify with Clare as his wife and what she goes through in the novel.
Why you shouldn't read this book; As you can see from the photographs, it's not the smallest of novels but is actually a reasonably easy read. Although the plot is complex the language is not but you probably shouldn't give it a go if you don't like books that jump from era to era or character to character. As the book is written from both the perspectives of the two main characters it does jump a lot, much in the same way Henry jumps time frames and whilst it's clearly identifiable who is speaking, you might not think it's for you.
Where to buy; Amazon - £6.29.
4. Private Peaceful - Michael Morpurgo.
The plot; Originally written as a book for children, the story focuses on the three 'Peaceful' (that's their surname) brothers, although mainly on Tommo the main character and his idol, brother Charlie. The story basically sees you through from their childhood right through to when they go to war together and deals with the death of their father, their brother Big Joe who has learning difficulties and their love of the same girl. It is narrated by Tommo in the present day, looking back to the past of his life with Charlie who he adores and how they got into the war and what they faced there. The book is based on the idea that Charlie has been accused of cowardice in the war and if you have any knowledge of the history, you will understand the punishments that were given for cowardice or desertion.
Why you should read this book; You absolutely should not be put off by the fact is says it is a book for children. Morpurgo is the author of War Horse and if you've seen that, you'll know his books are accessible to all. I definitely wouldn't give this book to my child until they were a young adult and I would have no qualms reading it for the 324789237583 time because it deals with some really advanced themes that I don't think a child could relate to.
Why you shouldn't read this book; If you want something to get your teeth stuck into a bit more then Private Peaceful probably isn't the one for you. Considering it was initially aimed at older children the language isn't all that advanced and it isn't the longest book in the world.
Where to buy; Amazon - £3.85.
5. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom.
The plot; This story follows the life and death of Eddie, an elderly gentleman who works as maintenance at a fairground. It starts with a malfunction of a ride and Eddie realises a terrible accident might occur and puts his life at risk to save others. He feels the hand of the little girl he is trying to save and then absolutely nothing else. When he wakes up he finds out that he died to save the little girl and he is on his way to heaven, before which he meets 5 people who his life was intertwined with. The 5 people are not always the most recognisable and seemingly not the most influential but his life is explained through these encounters and he learns something from each one. At the end of the story he meets all 5 people before he goes to heaven and learns that all lives are intertwined and everything is connected.
Why you should read this book; I quite like to think that all encounters and all the people you meet in your life have some kind of impact on you and that we are all connected and I think that's why I really liked this story. It came recommended to me in uni and I polished it off in a matter of no time because it's not a difficult read and it's not a long book.
Why you shouldn't read this book; If you aren't a fan of the story of Scrooge you probably won't like this little book because there are a lot of similar themes. Again, this book jumps through time and if that isn't your thing, if you like a linear timeline you probably will find this book a bit much.
Where to buy; Amazon - £6.29.
6. The Pact - Jodi Picoult.
The plot; In all honesty I probably could have done a list on simply Jodi Picoult novels you should have on your book shelf. I have read some I didn't like that much and I have owned a few of her books that I simply couldn't get into and never finished which is really unlike me but The Pact was the first of her books I ever read and one of the best books author aside that I have ever read. It basically follows the same formula of all of her novels which is a moral dilemma and the 'what would you do question' and the court case that follows. The story is about Chris and Emily whose mothers are friends and the two children have gone from besties to becoming a couple. The story flits back and forth between their childhood, their mothers relationship and the present day which finds Emily dead and Chris saying that they had a suicide pact, of which he didn't succeed. It's not a spoiler to say Chris gets charged with Emily's murder and as well as the court case, it is also about their relationship and the relationship of the two families.
Why you should read this book; It is honestly one of the most gripping and engaging books I have ever read. I probably got it when I was about 16 and as you can probably gather from the creases in the spine, it's been read more than once. It's not the smallest of books and yet I flew through it. I remember being sat in my living room on a really nice summers day with my family and just not being able to put it down. It really is one of them books.
Why you shouldn't read this book; So by now you can probably tell I like books that are sad, books without happy endings, books that make you cry and books that flit back and forth between time zones and characters. It isn't something I especially go looking for but it certainly doesn't put me off. However, this book not only jumps between the past as in the childhood of the children, the day of the suicide pact and also the present day of the courtroom, it also jumps between Emily who is now dead, Chris, their mothers, the police, the judge and the lawyers. Each chapter is someone new and some chapters are literally a page long but the constant jumping between character and time frame means you genuinely don't know what happened with the suicide pact until one of Emily's latter chapters. I really like that but I can see how it might not be for everyone!
Where to buy; Amazon - £8.99.
7. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee.
The plot; Is there anyone who doesn't know the plot to this book? Is there anyone who didn't have to study it for GCSE English when they were 16? In case you are one of the few who had to do Of Mice & Men instead, To Kill A Mockingbird is set in the 1930s amid the Great Depression in America and focuses on 6 year old Scout, her brother Jem and her father Atticus Finch. The story revolves around the children and their father and around two events 1. The infamous Boo Radley and 2. The trial of a black man whom Atticus defends in court. The story is basically themed around acceptance, racism and tolerance and is generally considered a classic.
Why you should read this book; If you read this in school I would actually urge you to read this again. I read it in GCSE English when I was 16 and to give you an idea of how it went, we had to have a replacement teacher in at the end of the term to whizz through the rest of the book as we'd been reading it close to 6 months in class and had nowhere near finished or explored the themes of the book. I.E the questions we'd be answering in our exam. My dad read the book after I sat my exam and loved it and I re read it and it shone a whole different light on it for me. On a side note this is the 50th edition copy I had for my birthday last year cos the copy I borrowed (stole) from school had literally fallen apart.
Why you shouldn't read this book; If you aren't into classics with a heavy moral undertone this isn't the book for you. It isn't light reading and it isn't an easy read but the moral at the end of it is such an important one.
Where to buy; Amazon - £4.89.
8. If I Stay - Gayle Forman.
The plot; This book is about the character of Mia whose mother, father and younger brother are killed in a car crash on a snowy day. Mia 'wakes up' from the accident having an out of body experience where she witnesses the aftermath, sees her own lifeless body, learns of her families death and realises she is in a coma in hospital. She watches her extended family, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, best friend Kim, boyfriend Adam all rush to her side and listens as the medical teams describe the injuries she has sustained and the chance of survival. The story jumps between present day and the past as Mia recalls memories with her family, friends and boyfriend and she essentially has to decide if she wants to die too and be with her parents and brother or if she wants to live on without them. There is a follow up book but it isn't as good and some of it really angered me so that ain't on the book shelf. Take it as a stand alone book.
Why you should read this book; Don't be put off by the young adult tag. I did read it when I was a teenager but I have returned to it in my 20s and it's still just as good and just as heartbreaking a read. I think the reason it resonates so well with me and with all the other people who have read and loved it is it really is an age old dilemma? What would you do? Could you go on living if your family had died?
Why you shouldn't read this book; If you've seen the film. I love all of the actors in the film...in other films. I absolutely despise them for the casting in this film and I really don't feel it does the book justice. I think it kinda ruins the book to know the plot. Also don't read if you have a dodgy stomach. I don't think it's a spoiler (in fact I think it needs to come with a warning) that it is described in the book how Mia can see broccoli/cauliflower type substances on the road which turns out to be her father's brains. Don't read if you have a weak stomach!
Where to buy; Amazon - £3.85.
9. My Foreign Cities - Elizabeth Scarboro.
The plot; A true story written in the first person by the woman who went through it all, my foreign cities is about a young couple, one of whom, Stephen, has cystic fibrosis. It is not a spoiler (as it is the whole point of the book) that Stephen dies from his illness - his life expectancy is only 30. The story follows them from when they got together when they were 17 and through the constant battles of the illness and the guilt he feels for making her life this life and the pressures of making sure they do everything before his time is up. The bio on Amazon reads 'my foreign cities is a portrait of a young couple approaching mortality with reckless abandon, gleefully outrunning it for as long as they can' and I don't think I could have put it any better.
Why you should read this book; It is heartbreaking in the best possible way. You read the whole memoir knowing he is going to die in the end of it all and it makes the whole story, the whole idea of living life to the full even more poignant. You will leave it wanting to phone your loved ones, you will break your heart sobbing at the thought of YOUR boyfriend of husband dying and you will have a renewed sense of purpose and adventure when it's done.
Why you shouldn't buy this book; If you don't like sad books there really is no point you even picking this up. Soz.
Where to buy; Amazon - £11.99.
10. Harry Potter - JK Rowling.
The plot; I'm not even going to.
Why you should read this book; And not just this book either, all 7 of them. If there is anyone left in the country who doesn't already have a copy of a well read, well loved HP on their bookshelves, you need to get one ASAP. And if you're on of those people that has only seen the movies, don't let it put you off because obviously as amazing as the films are, they are limited with what they can include and what they have to leave out and is there actually anything better than the written word? Harry Potter not only made my generation question whether they might get that envelope on their 11th birthday but it is timeless and continues to inspire the next generation and no doubt, we'll be reading it to our kids in time.
Why you shouldn't read this book; What.
Where to buy; Amazon - £29.99 for all 7 books.
I definitely want to do another post like this because writing it made me think of so many other books I would like to share and I think are important reads that helped shaped me and made me form an opinion or provoked a thought in some way.
If you liked this you might also like 'Ebooks vs Print Books'.