It is a truth universally acknowledged that if I don’t want to feel sad, I have to read. All the anti-depressants, therapy, ice cream or yoga in the world will never help me not to feel bad as much as a good book or audiobook will.
So for the interest of other slightly sad readers, this is what I’ve been reading and listening to this summer – please leave a comment with your book recommendations ESPECIALLY books that cheer you up when you’re sad.
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. There are only so many times you can pretend during an English class that you’ve read Madame Bovary before you should probably just actually sit down and read Madame Bovary. Flaubert has been my ‘intellectual’ challenge for the summer but to my delight it hasn’t turned out to be anywhere near as challenging as was previously expected. The new translation by Lydia Davis is brilliant and I ended up loving this book more than I could possibly have imagined. If this is on your list of ‘books to one day read’ I would definitely recommend pushing it up and getting lost for a while in 19th C France – it’s kind of a beautiful place to be.
- The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. It was hard to pick which Anne Tyler book to put on this list as I’ve read 3 in the last two weeks and find myself completely and utterly obsessed. Last summer I made it my mission to power through the works of Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen and while I’m always going to be fans of theirs, there’s something so touching, feminine and beautiful in Anne Tyler’s writing that’s almost impossible to find anywhere else. I appreciate that I’m so late to the party on this one that the party’s over and we’ve begun cleaning up – but I’ve just started my fourth book by Tyler this month, and there’s no way I’m looking back.
- The Gossip Girl Novels by Cecily von Zeigesar. Whenever I’m asked how I truly became passionate about reading I always feel the need to claim was Gatsby or Austen or something that makes me sound smart and educated – but the truth is the books that made me love reading were the Gossip Girl books and I feel no shame. The Gossip Girl books are the Custard Creams of the trashy, teen fiction world. Yes, they aren’t great for you, no, they’re not exactly the best quality, but – they are leauges above their competitors and actually kind of miraculous. I’ve been re-reading some of them this summer when I’ve felt like Flaubert was getting a bit too Flaubert-y and despite my trepidations I think they might have brought me more pure joy than anything else on this list. they’re very well written, full of amazing, hilarious fashion and pop culture references and the characters are actually incredibly real and believably in their own ridiculous way.
- How to be Both by Ali Smith. My dad bought me this book at the beginning of the summer purely based on the fact that he liked the picture on the cover (he’s rather superficial). I too was taken in by the cover but once I started it I couldn’t stop and finished it in about 2 days. If you liked A Visit From the Goon Squad (one of my all time favourites) I would definitely give this a go. It’s beautifully constructed, very witty and masterfully written.
- The Woman Who Stole my Life by Marian Keyes. In my opinion, Marian Keyes is a genius, a complete, and utter, genius. And I’m pretty sure if her books didn’t have pink covers or where about ‘women’s issues’ they would be studied in universities, although that might be a topic for a whole other blog post. To keep things short, The Woman Who Stole my Life is a masterpiece. It’s a hilarious, beautiful, moving, and incredibly brilliant book and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone including my cat, and he doesn’t even like fiction.