2017… you were another difficult year… politically, socially, for the people around me, at work. Honestly, 2018 you need to be better because we’re all counting on you.
So writing a best of blog post for 2017 has been proven to be more difficult than I first thought. Having gone through the list of books read, and I’m struggling to pick my favourite books because I read some fantastic books… not because I read some dreadful books, oh no, the opposite – so many great books…
Shrill by Lindy West is another one of those books which should be handed out at school. I really wish there was a book like this when I was younger. Lindy tackles feminism, body image, body shaming and dealing with real trolls. This book is full of humour and charm. Go and buy it right now.
Normally long books are a no-go zone for me. I don’t like to admit this but I know that other people feel the same (I hope) but I find it hard to maintain interest in a very long story and concentrate on all of the character progresses – I normally end up flip back to remember what happened. BUT, I think I’ve been cured of this aversion. The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker (translated by Sam Taylor) follows Marcus as he tries to prove his old professor is innocent of murder as well struggle with writer's block and the demands of fame. There are so many twists and turns in this story, and the writing is sharp and addictive. I really liked the way writing is compared to boxing and it wasn't something I considered before (I thought boxing was punch, punch, punch and then the opponent falls over - don't roll your eyes - I know differently now - we all have wrong impressions about professions - how many of us think writers just write, write, write and then get published).
Winner of the 2017 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, The Power by Naomi Alderman has captured the way feminism is fighting back. Women across the global realise they have an electric power within that comes alive when attacked or angry. They can inflict pain or even death. The power struggle between men and women starts to tip the other way, and men are finding they no longer have control. This is a fantastic novel - go and buy this one and read it!
A book about loneliness, living on a remote island and writing sounds like a dream situation to me, and so I feel like Bleaker House was written for me to warn me of ever becoming a recluse. Nell Stevens has been given a writing grant to spend three months to write a novel in a location of her choice. She picks Bleaker Island, Falklands. But this book is not that novel. Instead this is a book about a woman realizing a novel doesn’t lie in total solitude and a clear plan. Nell wants to teach herself the art of loneliness and then she’ll know if she is a proper author. This is a great book, full of great details and funny insights.
One of my favourite quotes from The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair was "Writing a book is like loving someone. It can be very painful,” and I found it very true of my writing in 2017. One of my stories, LostConnection, was published over at Dear Damsels but other than that I finally managed to finish redrafting and editing my novel, and now begins the wait from hearing back from agents.
You can read all of my monthly catch ups from 2017 here.