Five books you need to read

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23 January 2022

By Aoifke Madeleine

I may sound like an incessant English teacher– but reading really is so beneficial for everyone. Reading for just 30 minutes per day can help reduce stress, improve your memory, and increase your vocabulary. The escapism that novels can offer is comforting, and through reading, you truly learn so much more about yourself and the world in the process.

But what books should you read? Here are five recommendations below:

5. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

A classic work and the birth of science-fiction, Frankenstein feels all too relatable with the current climate and worries surrounding modern science regarding the pandemic, but more importantly, the will of the oppressed against those in power. Its enduring themes of free will, dangerous ambition, and isolation make the novel even more interesting when you consider the changes to the world in the past two years.

4. Daisy Jones and the Six, Taylor Jenkins-Reed

If you’re obsessed with Tiktok like me, you’ve probably seen countless videos about this novel, and with a TV adaptation coming soon (with a soundtrack produced by Phoebe Bridgers, no less) this is a must-read for all. A fantastic story, beautifully written and accessible in its language, the 1970s nostalgia will have you listening to Fleetwood Mac on repeat. Plus. Jenkins Reed wrote ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’, a truly inventive writer, it’s not one to be missed. Structured as the transcript of a music documentary.

3. Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

Renowned novelist and screenwriter, author of bestsellers ‘Us’ and ‘One Day’, Nicholls released his latest novel ‘Sweet Sorrow in 2019. A beautiful mediation on young love, summer romances, and the fear of growing older, the 400-page novel feels a dedication to those all-too-painful teenage years. Parting with this book (and its characters) really was such Sweet Sorrow, and I highly recommend if you’re ‘coming-of-age’ yourself– whether at university or leaving your teenage years behind– the feeling of nostalgia, heartbreak and yearning were beautifully encapsulated by Nicholls, and I reach for this novel often to read the comforting words he penned.

2. Big Girl, Small Town, Michelle Gallen

I read this during the summer of 2021. There’s been a rise in Irish novels written by women, Sally Rooney, Megan Nolan and Naoise Dolan and Galen’s is no less in stature and impact. Set during The Troubles, protagonist Majella, a plus-size autistic woman works in a Fish and Chip shop after her father disappeared and grandmother was beaten (possibly for involvement in the Resistance). Set a few years after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the novel explores the Protestant and Catholic segregation in Northern Ireland, the small towns setting evocating claustrophobia and tension between characters. It gives you a wave of feelings for a perspective not many hear from.

  1. 1. Beloved, Toni Morrison
  2. A Nobel Prize-winning novel by one of the most important and influential writers in history. With Black History Month this coming February, it’s so important to diversify our bookshelves to understand perspectives different to our own. Inspired by a real story, infused with magic realism whilst combined with the plight of black peoples in post-Civil War America, I just finished this book and it’s one of the most stunning and evocative I’ve ever read.

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