You couldn’t have a writing blog without reading, right? So here are our favourite books for you to find and read and love. You can also find them on a Goodreads shelf here.
The Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong
Filled with sarcasm, action and relateable teenage awkwardness from the onset, The Darkest Powers Trilogy follows the journey of a group of young supernaturals who are put in a group home together, accused of being mentally ill. It’s annoyingly rare that a trilogy maintains quality all the way through, but each of there books are as hilarious and as suspenseful as the last. – G
Paperweight by Meg Haston
One of the most honest and raw books that I have ever read about mental illness. Seventeen year old Stevie is struggling with an eating disorder, and Paperweight follows her struggle to deal with it.
WARNING: While this is an amazing book, proceed with caution. It has the potential to trigger the same feelings in the reader, and so I would not recommend it to somebody already vulnerable. – G
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
A lot of people give Stephenie Meyer a lot of flack about her writing, but actually, she’s written some pretty good books. The Chemist follows an ex-agent/torturer in their escape from their previous employer. It has it all; romance, action, light torture. Everything you want from a bit of light reading. – G
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
Written by an incredibly talented author, A Swift Pure Cry follows the tragic story of Shell. Living in Ireland with her newly motherless family, she struggles to cope with her alcoholic father, and take care of her siblings. Like all teenagers, though, she searches for love, finding it in the strangest places. – G
Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe
I could easily write a whole post about how much you need to read this, and I probably will one day. You need to read it. Discussion of consent? Check. Acknowledgement of female pleasure? Check. Body positivity that actually helps? Check (and who knew that such a thing existed?). Sara Pascoe explores the mechanics and history of the female body, putting forward facts and opinions as discussion points rather than the law. I would have said that I was fairly well informed about my body and the history surrounding it, but this book really enlightened me.
Read it. Make your daughters read it, your sons, your friends, everyone. Just read it. – G
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I have mixed feelings about this book. I’m definitely a crier when it comes to reading, but nothing can possibly compare to this book; I don’t think I’ve ever cried out of sheer anger before. In fact, just thinking about it and I’m welling up. All the Bright Places follows the story of two young people who are blatantly suffering from depression, and severely. When they meet, they head off on a whirlwind adventure that changes both their lives forever. I don’t want to give too much away, but holy cow, are there a lot of emotions involved in reading this.
Although, side note, I’m not a fan of the way a few things are romanticised. You’ll see what I mean. The tagline is “a compelling and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die” and I think you can see the problem with that. – G
We were Liars by E. Lockhart
This book had one of the best plot twists that I’ve ever read. Written in a beautifully poetic way, We Were Liars is so full of secrets and mystery and trauma that it’s a wonder it fits into 242 pages. One of the few books that I could honestly give 10/10. – G
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Ness will keep you genuinely gripped for the whole book. Set in an intriguing world where all the women were killed by a disease, the story follows Todd Hewitt as he waits come of age. I was incredibly ashamed of not having read this sooner, as it’s suitable for a wide age range. – G
Replica by Lauren Oliver
Replica revolves around a research facility where they manufacture clones (or “replicas”). The idea is that the book is split into two halves, each told from a different perspective. The reader is given the choice of reading each half individually or flipping the book over (or following links on Kindle) and reading it in alternating perspectives.
Full review here. – G
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy By Douglas Adams
This book is one of those books that everyone just has to read. Funny, original and quirky, The Hitchhiker’s Guide follows the destruction of Earth and a journey into space. Honestly, no synopsis can do it justice. Just read it. – G
Birdy Flynn by Helen Donohoe
Now, I don’t want to be one of those cis people that gushes about how eye-opening a trans book is, but I really did enjoy this book. I can’t comment on the accuracy, but the plot was definitely intriguing. I find that a lot of books about social issues tend to revolve solely around their designated social issue, but Birdy Flynn didn’t do that. While it was relevant that Birdy was trans, it wasn’t the only thing that the book had going for it.
Trigger warning: Both animal and child abuse – G
Not Another Happy Ending by David Solomons
If you’re a writer, you’ll relate to this book a lot. Set in Glasgow, it follows the story of an author trying to live up to the success of her first book while dealing with a complicated relationship with her publisher. I rarely laugh out loud at books, but I did at this one.
Also, the film is great! – G
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
What I loved about this book was Mafi’s poetic style. I know some people got annoyed by her constant use of metaphors, but the flow and the beauty of her voice was the only reason I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.
Like many YA books, I found this one problematic, which I wrote a post about when I first read it. The content disappointed me. Eventually, it became the same kind of gross YA romance that reinforces the “appeal” of unhealthy, be-all-and-end-all relationships. Every character seems to fall at Juliette’s feet, but of course, she has absolutely no idea what they could possibly be finding oh so attractive. – G
Les Armoires Vides (Cleaned Out) by Annie Ernaux
The semi-autobiographical story of a girl who becomes pregnant outside of marriage is told in such a poetic yet brutally honest way, even in the English translation. With themes of class, marginalisation, and being a woman in the period before abortion was legalised, this book was an important part of the movement. – G
Panic by Lauren Oliver
I started this book in October 2015, so when I picked it up again I had absolutely no clue what was going on for the first few chapters. Despite that, I found it really entertaining and finished the rest all at once. The concept is basically a game in which that year’s high school graduates compete in a series of dangerous challenges. – G
Wonder by R J Palacio
I was really worried that this book would fall into the trap of romanticising anything that it can get its hands on, but I was pleasantly surprised. Wonder is the story of a young boy with facial abnormalities as he starts mainstream school for the first time, which is told through the perspective of various characters in his life. The whole story is realistic and unsensationalised, which is valuable to any age group, despite being aimed at children. – G
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Subtly, I think this book was really good at presenting how same-sex attraction can automatically be turned into a question of gender identity, among other things. Contrasting the film, the book also represents other sexualities and puts some light on how races are(n’t) represented in the LGBTQ+ community. Lastly, the writing. Beautiful. Albertalli makes distinct character voices for both Simon and Blue. Just. Please. Read this book, it makes the reading list, for me it was worth it to the point I would buy it twice. – Lydia
A Gathering Light (aka A Northern Light) by Jennifer Donnelly
Now I admit, the plot synopsis for this book sounds boring as hell (to me anyway). Set in 1906 in North Woods, America, 16 year old farm girl Mattie is forced to choose between marriage and a life as a house wife or leaving home to go to college to become the writer she’s always dreamed of. Yawn fest, right? Surprisingly, no. The book is beautifully written and genuinely haunting at times. The timeline of the book jumps from chapter to chapter which makes it interesting to read but can also be a bit confusing for the first few chapters before you figure out what the hell is going on. It’s also partially based on a true story, the real life murder of a hotel guest at the hotel Mattie works at.
Believe me, I normally hate books like this. Big kudos to Jennifer Donnelly for actually making me read AND like a book that isn’t full of horror and/or zombies. I’d definitely recommend this to any book lover out there. – Kit
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
It is impossible to summarize how truly wild 1Q84 is. Seriously, this book doesn’t just take you down a rabbit hole, it kicks you into one head first.
Set in Tokyo in 1984, young woman (and professional assassin) Aomame takes the advice of a mysterious taxi driver and finds herself in an almost identical parallel world with two moons in the sky. Meanwhile, aspiring writer Tengo takes on ghostwriting for young girl Fuka-Eri, whose fictional book Air Chrysalis turns out to not be so fictional after all. Religious cults, police shoot-outs, assassination of women abusers, 1Q84 has it all. The plot goes in so many different directions that it’s not a book for casual reading. Put it down for too long and you will have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on when you next pick it up. – Kit
Warning: pedophilia, rape, abuse and explicit sex scenes
(It’s also 925 pages so prepare yourself for an absolute f*ckton of reading)
The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
Honestly one of the best horror books I’ve ever read and genuinely refreshing to read. So many books in the horror genre just cram in tasteless and poorly written descriptions of gore for the sake of having gore that it’s just boring to read at this point. Not every location in horror novels needs to have blood splattered walls. If you’re going to include gore, especially in a zombie novel, write it well and use it only when needed. This is exactly what this book does. It’s also incredibly satisfying to have a zombie book actually go into detail about the exact science and biology of the zombies – not that the zombies in this book are actually ‘zombies’ per se. Read it and you’ll see what I mean.
It’s a British horror novel too, which automatically makes it golden in my eyes. Sorry Stephen King and every other American horror author out there – British horror is just better. – Kit
Warning: gore, horror, minor animal death
Virals Series by Kathy & Brendan Reichs
You know how everyone has that one book series they love so much they just wanna go around and shove it in people’s faces and scream “READ IT!!!!”? This is mine.
Is the writing perfect? No, and I’m not going to lie and call it a masterpiece. It’s not. It’s really not. However, I love it regardless. It’s full of forensics and mysteries and I’m a complete sucker for any book with science in them, especially mysteries being solved with science (and also occasionally breaking into graves and breaking the law a ridiculous amount). You’ll either read this and love it with me or smile politely and throw it in the bin whilst I’m not looking. I get it. – Kit