1) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I decided to write this post almost entirely because of this book.
I do not go for romance stuff and I do not go for YA stuff, and I most especially do not go for romantic YA stuff. I wanted this book on a whim way back in 2011 and a friend bought it for me, because she's nice.
It languished on a shelf for, oh, six years, until Saturday, when I shoved it in my bag as a quick read and to finally get it off my shelf. I started it last night... and finished it last night.
I know, I know. But it's surprisingly good. The main character stood up for herself and the romantic lead wasn't a colossal arse. It's already surpassed my expectations for YA. I wouldn't really want to read any of her other books, but I liked this, alright?
2) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Time to claw back some credibility.
I ran a read-a-long for this the year before last (good Lord) and I think we all found it to be surprisingly accessible. I mean, it definitely doesn't need to be as long as it is and some of the Russian politics went over my head, but I did end up enjoying it.
Will I reread it? Probably not. But did I want to claw my eyes out constantly? Nope.
Chalking that down as a win for Tolstoy.
3) Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I've just realised that the majority of this post is going to be YA.
I feel sort of vindicated with Cinder though, because Charlotte bought it on my recommendation during the Bookshop Crawl and she's already read it and bought the rest of the series.
I think I liked the rest of the series, Scarlet, Cress and Winter, more than Cinder, but the series as a whole completely defied my expectations. It doesn't really need the fairytale link (which I ranted about in every. single. review.) but I really enjoyed the time spent with the characters of the Lunar Chronicles books.
4) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
This book completely blew me away.
I'd grabbed a book to read at work in a hurry one morning, without really paying too much attention to what it was. I think I actually thought this book was a western, despite the giant-ass poppy on the cover. I know, I knew.
But I started it reading it at lunchtime and then had to stop because I couldn't handle it. It completely and utterly spaced me out and I spent weeks thinking about this book. It talks about the innocence of war in a relatable way that brings homes the true, genuine horrors without ever preaching or reaching for shock value. It's truly amazing.
5) The Godfather by Mario Puzo
I only read this in the first place because somebody at work had asked me if I wanted to borrow it and I panicked and said yes. The only fuzzy memory I had of it was falling asleep whilst watching it with my boyfriend, and he being less than impressed with my appreciation of alleged cinematic masterpiece.
I really liked this book, aside from the three pages that detail vaginal surgery in absurdly graphic detail. It's weird. Obviously. But aside from that, the characters are brilliant, the story is good and it was surprisingly easy to follow.
I'm still not likely to sit down with the film any time soon, but I do recommend the book.
6) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
I'd lost count of the people who told me how much they disliked this book before I actually got round to reading it. Apparently it's on the school syllabus in some places (which is a strange idea), but even the people I spoke to who hadn't studied it still hated it.
I therefore expected it to be dry, monotonous, boring and yet also full of mindless violence, but it ended up being none of those things. I've read it twice now, in 2012 and 2016.
It's atmospheric and exciting, and is probably symbolic of the potential ruin of society by mankind when chaos takes over, but I choose to take it as demonstrative of the fact that children can't be trusted.
7) We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Whilst I expected to like this book, I wasn't prepared for the impact it would have on me.
It's powerful and amazing and awful, all at the same time. It took months, literally, for me to get over it. It's not scary and it's not a horror book, but it's certainly haunting.
I read this in 2014 and I still can't bear the thought of rereading it. I loved it, but I'm honestly, honestly just not ready to put myself through that again.
If you haven't read it, do. It's the most powerful piece of fiction written this century.
8) The Selection by Keira Cass
And now, on a completely different note...
I think I can count on one hand the amount of girl-in-pretty-dress books I've read. In my defence, that is a very pretty dress.
This is essentially a YA, dystopian version of The Bachelor. It has its faults and it's not exactly high literature, but I really did enjoy reading this series. I haven't bothered picking up any of the newer books because I was happy with the ending supplied by The One.
I'd be very surprised if this didn't ended up as a Netflix TV show before too long.
9) Any Sarah J. Maas book
Objectively, I know that I love this series, I do. But every time a new installment comes out, this happens:
"Oh, but I don't like fairies. Or Aelin. Or the romantic sub-plots. Ugh."
*puts off reading*
*gets nagged into reading by Charlotte*
*reads a month later*
"Oh my God, this book is AMAZING!"
This has honestly happened every time for at least the last three books. You'd think I'd learn.
10) HHhH by Laurent Binet
It confuses me when I see this book in the fiction section of Waterstones. It's blatantly non-fiction - it's about the Czech parachutists who executed Reinhard Heydrich in 1942.
It's written in a very chatty, informal tone that meant I ended up absolutely loving this book, but it's still definitely non-fiction.
I was expecting a run-of-the-mill but still interesting, informative book, and instead I got a chatty discussion on Czech history, but also about how the author came about writing this book as well.
What books did you like more than you thought you would?