Yo! This year is a good year for books and me. I love me a good challenge, so over at Goodreads I put myself to the test and challenged myself to read 20 books. I’ve always thought that would be quite a lot considering there are only 52 weeks in a year, and I usually don’t get to 15 books. But I’ve got to say, I have impressed myself? I am currently on 30 books (and going), and I thought it’d be a lovely moment to round up some of my favourites that I’ve read so far this year. Maybe there’s one you fancy enough to put on your (probably already never-ending) to-read list, you’ll be in for a treat.
The Shape of Ideas, Grant Snider
I’ve been a big fan of Incidental Comics ever since I came across The Nature of Ambition in 2013. It’s a graphic novel that takes you on a little journey into the world of ideas. It reminds you to contemplate, explore and create more. That failure is inevitable, and even vital for your process. That desperation is just as much part of the process as elation and perspiration. Well, that and a lot more things. All in the distinct style that I’ve admired for years. Really loved this one.
Things Never to Tell Children, School of Life & Ben Javens
Ok ok. Hear me out. This is a very quick read! It is a picture book for adults that cheekily shares and depicts the sorrows (and joys) of life. We follow Bunny, the bunny, who plays a version of us as he stumbles across the obstacles life usually throws at us. Reading this I felt recognised, delighted and slightly sad.
Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This book is a treasure. During my March recap I was raving, telling you that if there was only one book you could read this year — it should be this one. Well, obviously that is all down to your own preference etc. I will not rewrite my findings then, as I haven’t yet reread it.
In this book, first published 1946, Frankl describes his theories based on his experiences in labour-camps during World War II. Frankl laboured in four different camps while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Frankl argues in this book that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Even though Frankl is very inspired by Freud, his theory holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure (as Freud maintained) but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.
Elinor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
I got recommended this by a friend. I wasn’t into chicklit or romancy-type stuff at the time, but my friend told me I’d love it. Mind you, this friend almost knows me better than I know myself so I knew I should pick this one up sometime or another. It was somewhat predictable, a bit sweet, a bit corny, but also very real and very revealing. The subtitle to this book is: “No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.” — if that doesn’t intrigue you, you probably should give this a miss.
The story follows Elinor, a woman who struggles with social skills, speaking her mind and her favourite weekend activities are eating frozen pizza and drinking vodka. During the story things change, problems ensue, Elinor struggles but in her own way patches up things quite nicely. It does have a lovely happy ending — which doesn’t necessarily mean boy-meets-girl-and-they-are-happily-ever-after. No, it’s more about Elinor’s mental state… which was quite refreshing.
Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson
This was my first book this year, it was an essay — sure. I could be that hipster-y type of person who stumbles upon countless of Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes on the gram and Pinterest that I almost wouldn’t be lying if I’d say I’ve read some of his work. However, I’m not that kind of hipster. I was intrigued and, not really knowing what to except, dove nose-deep into this on January 1st this year. To me, this book was brilliant, hilarious and holds so many truths and comforts at the same time. I’m well aware this one isn’t for everyone, but even so: I think it’d be a lovely discussion starter. If you’re not the discussing-type but want to explore more of the human condition, you’ll probably like it like I did.