1. Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile, François Sagan
Sagan’s two short stories, written in the 1950s, are fantastic explorations of teenage love & lust, discovering sex and how close death is to all of these feelings. Sagan writes with a sharp wit and heady description and her twists are yet to leave me!
2. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke
It is hard to comment on Piranesi without spoiling it but I promise you it is a gorgeous book to lose yourself in. Clarke’s writing begins whimsical but becomes grittier as the story develops and unwinds.
3. The Book Collectors of Daraya, Delphine Minoui
One of the few non-fiction books I read this year, The Book Collectors of Daraya is an ode to the library and the beauty and knowledge of the written word. It is about an underground library in Syria, established by citizens of Daraya during years of siege warfare. Minoui’s account is incredibly interesting and moving.
4. On Writing, Stephen King
I had this memoir on good authority that it would change the way I write and think about writing, and it did. It also made me reconsider a lot about how I teach writing. King’s advice pushed me out of my comfort zone; as well as this it is a fascinating memoir.
5. Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, Tishani Doshi
I discovered Doshi during a readathon with my sister and while I didn’t enjoy the first collection of hers I read, this one is a brilliant collection. I love how it explores femininity as more than womanhood, gender and sex.
6. Still, the Sky, Tom Pearson
A book which makes me grateful to review for Reedsy Discovery as I would not have read this without it. It is a speculative-fiction style collection of poetry and artwork exploring the childhood and love triangle of Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur. Pearson’s work really inspired me and reignited my love for Greek myth.
7. Mama Amazonica, Pascale Petit
Another poetry collection I felt very inspired by. Petit’s project is so clever as she explores her mother’s illness and loss through the loss of the Amazon rain-forest and the ecosystem it sustains. Highly recommend!
8. Fever, Shilo Niziolek
I truly cannot expound this memoir enough but Niziolek’s work truly touched me. It was an honour to have read it in advance of its release (thank you Querencia Press), Niziolek’s writing style is trans-formative as well as grounding.
9. Slant Light, Sarah Westcott
A late read in the year and randomly picked from the National Poetry Library as it is a Poetry Society recommended collection. Westcott’s exploration of nature is stunning and I enjoyed the subtlety and depth of Westcott’s poetry.
10. Time is a Mother, Ocean Vuong
Finally, a highly popular collection I waited 6 weeks for and it did not disappoint. Vuong’s work is raw and focuses on grief through the loss of his mother. Consider it a sequel to Night Sky with Exit Wounds and the poetry companion to On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.
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