A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: Nominated for an abundance of book awards, everyone I knew was nagging me to read this and once I finally had a copy, I began to understand why; I was completely overwhelmed by the story of four friends living in New York whose lives the book charts across two decades. Pivoting around the unassuming Jude St. Francis, I lost count of how many times I cried whilst working my way through this mammoth book and I struggled to read any other fiction in the months after I finished because of how bereft it left me.
All Involved by Ryan Gattis: The book focuses on the aftermath of the 1992 LA riots that followed the Rodney King verdict, a six-day period in which we hear from a variety of fictional characters in and around South Central whose lives overlap and intertwine in some particularly dramatic ways. The city is on its knees and several gangs use this as an opportunity to settle their own scores during a time frame when the law has no capacity to stop them.
The Girls by Emma Cline: Something I’d been anticipating greatly and which lived up to the hype bestowed upon it; I adored the hazy, closeness of Emma Cline’s writing which at times reminded me of Jeffrey Eugenides’ ‘The Virgin Suicides’. The oppressiveness of the summer of 1969 is almost palpable and I began to understand why Evie – bored and approaching a long stint in boarding school – would get caught up in the magical allure of Suzanne and the others who are part of a mysterious cult in California.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang: Undoubtedly one of the most thought-provoking books I read during 2016; though I consumed it in 24 hours, I already want to re-read it, to see what I take from it a second time around. For me it raised so many questions about what it means to be a woman in society, particularly with how different cultures deal with domestic relationships, attitudes toward food and mental/physical health.
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub: I adored this! Such an easy, pleasurable read, with characters in whom I became so invested. I usually love anything set in NYC and the boroughs so placing this story in Ditmas Park was beyond relevant to my interests (have you seen the houses in that neighbourhood?). Add to this some early 90’s nostalgia and a musical biopic- what more could I have asked for?!
I also finally read Donna Tartt’s ‘The Secret History’ about five friends at an elite College in New England who find themselves caught up in a dramatic circle of murder and deceit; it’s been top of my to-read pile for about ten years, so I’m pleased that I finally tackled (and loved) it!