Some people are foodies. Others adore fashion. I am a bookworm. Thus far in my life, it seems this is an affliction without cure.
It’s been almost two years since the last instalment of the book club, but that in no way means I haven’t been reading in the time that’s passed. In fact, I haven’t put a book down.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“A small fact: You are going to die. Does this worry you?”
Here’s another small fact : DAYUM this book doesn’t end well.
Not only am I a big bookworm, I am a massive history nerd. This book, set in Nazi-controlled Germany, is narrated by Death. It’s a busy time for him, and in this period he visits young Liesl Meminger not once, not twice, but three times.
On the way to her new foster parents, Liesl’s little brother passes away. Rosa Hubermann, who had agreed to foster the two children, feels a little short changed and takes an almost instant dislike to Liesl, who she lovingly refers to as Saumensch (dirty girl. Charming.) While tensions are strained between Liesl and Rosa, her foster father Hans is someone she can confide in, and he nurtures her natural curiosity by teaching her to read.
Which is all fine, until Max, the son of a Jewish solider Hans fought with in WW1, comes to them looking for refuge.
I will openly and unashamedly admit that this was the first book to ever make me cry, and is my favourite book from my adult reading life (favourite book of all time still goes to Matilda). And, in a “this has never happened before” moment, the film (released in 2013) is just as good as the book, with very little omitted overall.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O Neill
Picture a world where women are no longer birthed naturally, but rather fashioned in a factory. Sent to finishing school by the age of four, spending the next twelve years learning how to please their hopeful future husbands- in every sense that word could mean. The girls not chosen as a companion, at the age of 16, are destined to become concubines (prostitutes). Woe betide the misfortunes for whom a life as a ‘chastity’, or teacher in the aforementioned school, awaits.
This shocking world comes to life in Only Ever Yours, by Cork author Louise O Neill. Drawing inspiration from her days working in one of New York’s fashion magazines, Louise chronicles a world filled with bitchy, scathing teenagers with only one thing on their mind- perfection. To be dressed only to the eights is a sin, and being even an ounce over the ideal weight is scorned upon.
A chilling but absolutely fascinating read, it’s not at all the light hearted read I had expected when I heard about it first, but I couldn’t step away from it. Is it just a work of fiction, or did Louise actually write a mirror to the materialistic and shallow world we live in today?
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
“How is it you have the right to destroy my life, I wanted to demand of him, but I’m not allowed a say in yours?”
If The Book Thief was the book to open the floodgates, then this one made sure it was still working.
Lou is a woman who has her whole life planned out to a T. She knows exactly how many steps it takes to get from her front door to the bus stop. So naturally, she is blown off course when she loses her job. Frantic to find another source of income, she takes on the role of carer for William, an active young man who has been in a life changing accident which has left him paralysed from the waist down. At times, it can be hard for him to even move his fingers. The pay is great, but the company. . . a little lacking, perhaps, as Will struggles to accept his new lifestyle.
Over time, Will and Lou become more comfortable with each other, and Lou finds out Will’s plans for the future. Something she’s not quite happy with.
This, like the film 500 Days of Summer, is not a love story. This is a book about friendship, hard times, patience, getting out of your comfort zone, and love (maybe a little bit, but nothing mushy). It will also make you realise how precious life is, and how much you admire (or should admire) those in your life.
It also has a great underlying moral; Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live.
Also, I had a mini cry at the end, like thousands of those whose reviews I saw on Goodreads before I read it.