I am a massive bookworm! I adore reading and am trying to incorporate it more into my daily routine. Back in 2020 I set myself a goal to read a book a month, as sadly I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted to. That year I read sixteen books, surpassing my goal! I only read 14 last year so this year I’ve set myself the goal of reading 20 books.
Making the time to read
For me, I love to start my day by getting up and making a cup of coffee and then returning to bed to read. Prior to 2020, I would have my morning coffee whilst watching breakfast telly but it often made me feel annoyed, anxious or even angry. So I decided to stop watching TV and spend that time reading instead. And what a great decision that was! My mornings have vastly improved by starting the day reading a great book.
As well as my morning routine, I try to read a bit throughout the day – just snatching 5 or 10 minutes at a time to get away from my screen. And if I’m commuting to a client, I take my book with me to read on the way. I’m also making a concerted effort to read in the early evening instead of just instantly switching on Netflix. Although I do love my Netflix!
So that’s how I make the time to read… now on to the books!
Finding the best books to read
In the past I used to soldier on with a book even if I wasn’t really enjoying it. I definitely don’t do this anymore! My time is precious and I want to spend my precious reading time on books that make me laugh, cry, tingle with suspense, gasp out loud… So I have some tips for you to ensure you don’t spend time (or money) reading books you’re not enjoying.
Read the first page
I tend to buy my books from local bookshops, or charity shops, so when I see a book that I may want to read, I open it up and read at least the first page. This helps me to get an immediate sense of the writer’s style and whether I connect with it or not. However… be open to new styles. When I first picked up Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and read the first page, I put it back on the shelf. I hated the lack of punctuation! But then… everyone was raving about it so I thought that I really should give it a go. I did and I LOVED it – once I got past the lack of full stops.
Follow book bloggers/reviewers
If you’d love to know what everyone else is reading – and enjoying – follow book bloggers on Instagram. You can also follow book-related hashtags, such as #BookReview, #ReadingNow, #Bookstagram, to see posts show up in your feeds. I often find my next book to read through Instagram! I also share all my mini book reviews on my Instagram and save them in a ‘Book Reviews’ Highlight.
My ‘best books to read’ recommendations
Now on to my recommendations of the best books to read in 2022 – or any year!
The one hundred years of Lenni and Margot
I was browsing in a local bookshop and The one hundred years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin stood out with its vibrant, colourful cover. I applied my ‘read the first page’ rule and it was pretty much love at first sentence!
It’s a story of a beautiful, and unlikely, friendship between seventeen-year-old Lenni and eighty-three year old Margot who meet in the art room at the hospital they’re both patients at. It occurs to Lenni that, together, they’ve been on the earth 100 years. Sadly, as neither of them will make it to their 100th birthday they start painting a picture for each year they’ve been on earth – telling not only the story of their lives, but leaving a legacy too.
This book will have you laughing out loud one minute and then crying the next. You cannot help but fall in love with Lenni and Margot, as well as the other characters such as Father Arthur and Paul the Porter. Marianne Cronin has a beautiful writing-style and is a masterful storyteller. The one hundred years of Lenni and Margot is her debut novel and already has been snapped up by Hollywood to be turned into a feature film. I cannot wait to read whatever Marianne writes next!
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine
It took me a while to warm up to Eleanor as she’s a bit… odd. For nine years, Eleanor has been working in the same office, wearing the same clothes to work every day, eating the same lunch and buying (unexpectedly) the same bottles of vodka to drink over the weekend.
The thing with Eleanor is, you’ll quickly start to fall in love with her and her quirks. Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, by Gail Honeyman, is a beautiful story of acceptance, kindness and friendship.
This book won a whole host of awards, including Book of the Year in the British Book Awards.
Girl, Women, Other
Initially this book didn’t pass my ‘first page’ test as I struggled with the lack of punctuation. However, so many people I knew raved about it so I thought I best get past my issue and give it a go. And I’m so glad I did!
Girl, Women, Other by Bernadine Evaristo is the story of twelve characters living in Britain, and the story of their lives through the years. It touches on so many different themes, such as race, social class, sexuality. The stories of the characters, who are mostly black, British women, interweave and it’s been described as a novel that illuminates the tapestry of modern British life.
It deservedly won the Booker Prize 2019.
This book… wow. I spotted it in a charity shop and snapped it up as so many friends had absolutely loved it (and we have similar tastes in books). I will admit to buying it without actually reading the first page – yup, I didn’t apply my test!
Lydia lives in Acapulco with her journalist husband Sebastian and their eight-year-old son Luca. She runs a bookshop and befriends an older man, Javier, who regularly visits the shop and even shares his (terrible) poetry with her. What Lydia soon discovers is that this man is no ordinary gentleman. He is the boss of a violent drugs cartel and her life is about to be changed forever.
Absolutely gripping – I couldn’t put it down. This is a story of courage, tenacity and determination. It’s the story of a mother’s unconditional love for her child and the lengths she will go to, to keep him safe.
The Thursday Murder Club
I don’t usually choose books whose main characters live in a retirement home but this book had so much buzz about it that I couldn’t resist buying it. Also, I love Richard Osman – he’s so witty and smart. Even though this is his debut novel, I just knew I was going to love it – and I did!
Once a week, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim meet to try and solve unsolved murders. Some may attend more for the cake, rather than the subject matter… but when there’s a murder on their doorstep they find themselves deeply involved in a live case – much to the police’s annoyance. Will they solve the murder before the police do?
This book had everything – friendships, love, laugh out loud moments and a mystery that I didn’t even solve!
The Book Thief
This is a book that will stay with me forever. It was gifted to me back in 2009 by my best friend and, I don’t know why, sat on that shelf for 11 years before I finally picked it up to read. It’s an absorbing read, full of wonderful characters who will stay etched in your memory.
Set in Germany during WW2, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, tells the story of nine-year-old Liesel who starts a love affair with books after she steals one returning from her younger brother’s funeral. The book was aptly named, The Gravedigger’s Handbook.
Liesel finds herself adopted by Rosa and Hans Hubermann and strikes up a friendship with Rudy, one of her neighbours. After being taught to read by Hans, Liesel finds herself drawn to not only stealing more books but also to stopping the Nazis burning books that the party deems propaganda. The most beautiful story of all is the one Liesel writes to share with Max, the Jew they’re hiding in their basement.
Narrated by Death itself, one would assume it’s a sad, macabre book but The Book Thief is a joy to read.
The Vanishing Half
I find it so intriguing that there are people who spend their lives living a lie. Or, who are trying to be someone they’re not. So when I read the back cover of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, I knew I was going to enjoy it.
Identical twins Stella and Desiree grew up in a Southern black community in America that’s so small, it’s not even on a map. Whilst they look exactly the same, their personalities are very different. When they’re sixteen, they decide to run away and seek a more adventurous life. They start out their new lives together but then separate. Years later, everything about their lives is different. Desiree returns to the town she escaped from, with her young daughter, whilst Stella is secretly passing herself off as white and marries a white man who has no idea who she really is.
The book tells the story of two sisters who haven’t seen each other in decades and how their daughters accidentally meet and suddenly their storylines intersect. I really loved this book. It also tackles issues of race, sexuality and gender.
So those are my recommendations! Here are a few more that you may enjoy. I’d love to hear what your best books to read are – please share them in the comments!