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Five books you should have read by now

Illustration by Twylamae
Words by Hannah Cole

Book club.

It finally feels like winter may be on the way out; a nice dose of sunshine now greets me as I eagerly await spring.

These good vibes are no reason to neglect my favourite winter pastimes though. There’s nothing better than consuming wine (by the bottle), and cheese (by the wheel), while tucking into a good book. Why not turn these ~blessed activities into a year-round event? Now’s the time to stop dragging your feet and set up the perfect culmination of them all: a book club.

At risk of sounding nerdy, book club is genuinely the social calendar event I most look forward to. Sipping a glorious cab merlot while discussing the latest read – good or bad – is a treasured pastime. And, it’s one that’s remarkably easy to start.

Follow these steps: unlock iPhone, message a book-loving friend, organise a catch-up and select a read. Done. Whether it be a me, myself and I situation, a few close friends or a mass gathering of strangers, prep the snacks and try these five books.

Everything I Know About Love
Dolly Alderton

Avid podcast listeners may already be familiar with the touching storytelling of Dolly Alderton. In her memoir, Dolly explores love through an honest, repulsive, hilarious and devastating lens. Sit beside her on excruciating dates and glean some life lessons. Most of all, this book is about the power of female friendship, celebrating the shoulders we cry on and the rocks we rely on.

Perfect for: Fans of the romcom (here’s a real-life version).

Sharp Objects
Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn’s first novel, – now a HBO drama starring Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson – is one to read before watching. Prepare to be gripped from beginning to end as reporter Camille Preaker investigates the horrific murders of two young girls in her small hometown. Revelations about her family will make your skin crawl, and her own psychological demons will terrify as she tracks down the brutal murderer.

Perfect for: Lovers of mystery, drama, suspense and Gone Girl.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Maria Semple

To end on a happier note, I bring you this bizarre tale by television writer Maria Semple (who lists Arrested Development and Ellen on her CV). When 15- year-old Bee’s agoraphobic mother disappears, she starts compiling all the information she can – invoices, emails, etc – to track her down. Driven by a deep love of her mum, regardless of apparent flaws, the easy read explores family life in all its intricacies.

Perfect for: Something lighter, something a little left-of-field.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Gail Honeymoon

I am yet to meet a soul who disliked this delightfully innocent tale. Eleanor Oliphant wins over every heart with her bleeding honesty and lack of social tact, as she navigates the strange world we live in. Case in point: “If someone asks how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.” With just the right mix of laughter and tears, this book will start an endless conversation about mental health, trauma, friendship and society.

Perfect for: Anybody who’s ever questioned anything in this world.

A Little Life
Hanya Yanagihara

I must preface by saying, this book is not an easy read. In fact, it’s bloody difficult to get through at times. A story about four young men and their ever-changing friendship as they go through the throes of life, it is just so painstakingly REAL. Following the group through the decades, it gets sad (downright depressing even), but there are also glimmers of joy, hope and success. Just make sure you allow plenty of time for this read; at over 700 pages, it’s intimidating. But it’s all the more navigable when there’s a friend ready to text for immediate discussion/tears.

Perfect for: Those prepared to experience a rollercoaster of emotion.

This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 182. You can read it here.

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