After a tasking first day of lectures, and a painful first week of post-summer, post-Freshers fun ahead of us, we here at Impact Arts decided to relish our nostalgia by asking three of our contributors to put forward their best books of summer 2016. From young adult feminism to twisted fairy tales, which novel has been your summer favourite?
Bossypants by Tina Fey – chosen by Isobel Davidson
Alright, alright. I know. I am late to the game, and I have absolutely no viable excuse to get me out of this one. Tina Fey is, in the entire world’s opinion (hyperbole, I hear you say? Absolutely not, who do you take me for?), already somewhat of a comedic trailblazer and her book, Bossypants, does not prove to be the exception. After reading it at the beginning of the summer, I now carry it around with me to every single place that I go (once again, I do not exaggerate). A near-biography turned hilarious guide to life, I would hope that everyone has the opportunity to read this because I well and truly devoured it.
The Spinster Club Trilogy by Holly Bourne – chosen by Sarah Quraishi
When the first book in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club trilogy, Am I Normal Yet?, was released last year, it’s unapologetically raw depiction of life with obsessive compulsive disorder – as well as it’s portrayal of teen life as a whole – was a refreshing addition to the young adult market. As well as that, the fact that the trilogy incorporates feminism in an informative yet easily palatable manner is truly the cherry on the cake. Each book in the trilogy follows one of the founding members of the Spinster Club – created in an attempt to reclaim the term “spinster”. As each of the girls deal with their own difficulties, from mental health issues and alcoholic mothers to accepting vulnerability as a sign of strength, the deep bond between them is what carries them through.
Bourne’s writing is the perfect blend of informal and sophisticated, ensuring that each novel manages to capture exactly what the narrator is feeling. The colloquial language not only helps the ease with which the books can be read, but it also adds to the emotional punches – and there are several – as it’s almost as if you’re witnessing a friend going through a difficult time.
That’s not to say there isn’t any humour – there are several comic moments within each story, like whipped-cream pies to the face in What’s a Girl Gotta Do? (this may sound childish, but within the context it makes perfect sense). In fact, this book, the last in the trilogy, is probably the most overtly feminist book of the lot, where the main character decides to call out every instance of sexism she sees – and it is exhausting for her. Nevertheless, the journey of her project is an intriguing read, especially as it makes you reflect upon your own life, noticing the everyday sexism that you may have become immune to.
However, Bourne expertly shifts the tone from gut-wrenching pain to light-hearted within a page – and that’s probably the most enjoyable aspect of this trilogy: the unpredictability. If you’re looking for a series to sink your teeth into, I highly recommend this one.
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly – chosen by Isobel Davidson
This book takes on the ever-popular twisted fairy tale theme, and was actually recommended to me by a fellow UoN student last year. If you ever thought that you were too old for fairy tales, then think again my friend, this books suits both adults and children alike. The book tells of a young boy who, after the hard-hitting loss of his mother, finds himself plummeted into a fantasy world. This may seem cliché, but I am so glad that I gave it a try over the summer because Connolly’s transcendent imagination provided just the adventure I needed.
The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers (translated by John Brownjohn) – chosen by Ellen Smithies
This book is one of those fantastic rare books that is a children’s book, but for adults. And it’s amazing. I managed to pick this 700 page wonder up for a measly 99p at Oxfam Books in Nottingham city centre, and it’s the best 99p I’ve ever spent! The story follows the story of Captain Bluebear, a little Bluebear whose first memory is being afloat on the sea in a walnut shell heading towards the dreaded Maelstrom, before being fished to safety by Minipirates, who adopt him as their good luck charm. Sound a bit strange? This book only gets weirder.
Divided up into thirteen (and a half) ‘lives’, this book follows Bluebear’s adventures across the weird and wonderful land of Zamonia, accompanied by various friends and enemies, including (but absolutely not limited to) Babbling Billows, language-mad talking waves; a Roving Reptilian Rescuer called Deus X. “Max” Machina, a pterodactyl whose job is to perform last minute life-saving stunts; a seven-brained Nocturnomath called Professor Abdullah Nightingale, who transfers knowledge to Bluebear via intelligence bacteria; Qwerty Uiop, a gelatine prince from the 2364th Dimension; and 1600H, a very bad idea.
Moers has managed to create an incredible and extensive world in relatively few pages, and I found myself sucked in and wanting to read more once the book was finished. This book is a joy to read, and has become one of my firm favourites; I urge you not to dismiss it as childish and instead give it a read yourself – it is full of humour and witty remarks that had me chuckling on more than one occasion. I loved this book immensely, and I’ll be returning to it again and again to re-read it very soon.
Room by Emma Donoghue – chosen by Isobel Davidson
Once again, I feel as though I have been racing to catch up the band wagon, and if you missed the hype over the independent film adaptation made last year starring Brie Larson, then I am afraid you may have missed the band wagon entirely. In fact, you may be lost. Quick, grab the book like I did, no one will ever know! Although I am the type of person to read a book before watching a film, I was actually recommended the book by my personal tutor, and I adored it. At the centre of it is a young boy, Jack, who has only known life in a room. His perspective is perhaps one of the most interesting I have ever read, and Donoghue’s book has quickly become one of my favourites of all time, let alone the past summer.
Image credit: anda 🙂 via Flickr