We’ve been talking about books a lot in our house recently.
The girls were pleased to pick up their medals and certificates for taking part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge – Animal Agents – at our local library.
And on Friday evening, it was time for the latest meeting of my Book Group.
We’re a group of friends and former colleagues who decided to get together regularly to share our love of reading way back when my girls were babies, and more than a decade later we’re still going strong.
We meet every two months for a good chinwag about our chosen book, and I have to admit there were periods when I found it a challenge to get through a single paperback from one meeting to the next.
But now my girls are that bit older and it no longer feels as if they take up my every waking moment, it’s been lovely to rediscover the sheer joy of losing myself in a good book.
This time of year feels like the perfect time to close the curtains, get cosy and enjoy a cracking good read.
So here are some of the books I have most enjoyed reading so far this year. They haven’t all been published within the last 12 months, they are just books which I have happened upon during 2017, either through my Book Group or via recommendations from book-loving friends, and which I’ve loved so much I want to spread the word.
In no particular order…
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife after 40 years of marriage, when he finds an unfamiliar charm bracelet among her possessions. What follows is an epic journey which takes Arthur across continents as he discovers his wife’s secret life before they met, and learns that there is still a life for him after her death.
An ultimately life-affirming read which had me rooting for Arthur throughout.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
Mrs Creasey is missing and ten-year-olds Grace ad Tilly are on the case. A quirky whodunnit set in the East Midlands in the heatwave summer of 1976, which if you are of a certain age (like me) will have you exclaiming ‘Oh, I remember that’, every five minutes.
An intriguing story and a nostalgic trip down memory lane, all rolled into one.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
When Harold goes out to post a letter, leaving his wife hovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is embarking on a mammoth journey from one end of the country to the other. At times comic, this is a moving and ultimately uplifting story of one man’s journey to save someone else’s life and ultimately save himself.
I read this in a couple of days because I was so keen to know what would happen when Harold reached his ultimate destination… And it didn’t disappoint.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Now a major film, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, this one had passed me by until I took it on holiday in the summer and literally couldn’t put it down. Will Lou Clark’s love be enough to save the life of Will Traynor, who is unable to see a future for himself after being paralysed in a motorcycle accident?
Totally gripping and very emotionally draining, be warned. I cried!
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
Another one I took on holiday, and loved. Cecilia finds an envelope in the attic written in her husband’s hand, to be opened only on the event of his death. But although John-Paul is still very much alive, she can’t resist opening it and reading his life-changing confession.
Very cleverly plotted and a real page turner packed with thought-provoking decisions and dilemmas.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Maud can’t remember much – where she lives, what she wants to buy, what day it is. But one thing she can remember, because she has a note in her pocket to remind her, is that her friend, Elizabeth, has gone missing. Is Maud about to solve a 70-year-old mystery?
Utterly riveting. A compelling mystery and a memorable depiction of dementia that will remain with you long after you have read the last page.
My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman
Another great read by the author of international bestseller, A Man Called Ove. The death of her beloved grandmother sends seven-year-old Elsa on an emotional journey of discovery about her grandmother, herself and everyone’s right to be different.
Very different to anything else I have read this year and quirkily gripping.
The Rose Project by Don Tillman
A laugh-out-loud romcom with real poignancy, as 39-year-old geneticist Don Tillman embarks on a project to find the perfect partner in the same way he would tackle any scientific problem…
Very funny but touching too. Definitely one to curl up on the sofa with.