I often get the question ‘Which is your favourite book?’; an impossible question for me to answer. I’m simply incapable of picking one book out of all the books I’ve read. I like books for different reasons and can enjoy an exuberant story-driven historical fiction or a well-researched non-fiction book as much as a quietly contemplative cerebral novel. I don’t seem to have one single favourite author either, rather, I have several authors I keep going back to. SO, rather than picking one book, I’ve chosen my 10 favourite books (I’ve not included famous literary classics on this list, that will come in a separate post) reviewed on Bookstoker, and even that seemed like a Herculean task.
We’re delighted to share with you our top picks of inspiring, visionary female authors of fiction and non-fiction from the blog. Click on the cover to see full review. Happy International Women’s Day!
…Milkman by Anna Burns, the 2018 Man Booker Prize winner. First of all, don’t get turned off by the subject matter – the conflict in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. Sure, it’s serious stuff, but the way it’s presented here, makes it far from dreary. In fact, it’s one of the funniest books I read over the past year. It requires a bit of effort this book – it’s written in a stream-of-conciousness style, with no names – but is all the more rewarding for it. This book made me laugh of loud and admire some truly original, inspiring fiction writing. Go for it!
Read full review of Milkman here.
Writing about lived experience is nothing new, and yet there has been a recent surge of books that blend aspects of the memoir with elements borrowed from fiction. Examples of such literature, coined ‘autofiction’ by the French writer Serge Dubrovsky, have proved to be highly readable, genre-bending accounts of the author’s life’. Autofiction can also be used to describe autobiographical fiction, a fictionalised narrative that draws on the author’s life and experience, and fictionalised autobiography, which is modelled more closely on real life with some compressed or fictionalised events or characters.
Biography won this year in the competition for the Costa Book of the Year 2018. The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es is the story of a Jewish girl, Lien, hidden from the Nazis during the Second World War by the author’s grandparents. Van Es own journey in writing the book and befriending Lien, who had fallen out with his family, is a big part of this book. Sounds like a wonderful read which I will definitely add to my towering pile.
What an exciting year in books we have ahead of us! Literary treats are virtually queueing up to be read. Highlights for us include Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Colson Whitehead’s new novel The Nickel Boys and Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me. But most of all, we look forward to be surprised by a debut novel from an author we’ve never heard of before.
If you’re heading to the cinema this weekend, I can highly recommend recently released film Colette starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West as French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette and her literary ‘middle-man’ and would-be-author husband Willy. Part of Paris’ wilder circles, Colette and Willy led anything but a conservative life, sharing a mistress, amongst other things. Penniless and desperate, Willy needed a blockbuster to finance his drinking and betting and convinced Colette to ghost-write a book, to be published under his name. The book Claudine à l’École, a raunchy, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel went on to become a huge best-seller and was followed by three equally successful books in the same series. After fighting for the rights to her books following their separation, Colette became one of France’s most celebrated female authors. Excellent entertainment.
I’m very excited this morning to see Sally Rooney win the Costa Novel Award for her excellent novel Normal People. Rooney, at 27 the youngest winner ever, has pulled off a breathtaking feat in writing a novel about love that will appeal as much to an 18 year old as an 80 year old.
Here are the winners in the other categories. The Costa Book of the Year will be chosen from the list of category winners and announced on the 29th of January.
Best first novel: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton(Raven Books)
Best biography: The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es (Penguin)
Best poetry: Assurances by JO Morgan (Jonathan Cape)
Best children’s book: The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay (Macmillan)