Some HAPPY Books to Brighten Up Your Day!

orangutan list

You know me, I love my dark books. But today, I figured it was about time I shared some books with a lighter touch. These are just some of the books that make me happy:

the martian

The Martian– starting with a book based around the catastrophe of being stuck on Mars with a depleting air supply, I absolutely expect you to read that synopsis and think has this monkey gone bananas? Why has she put this on a happy books list? Well, for all the tension in this book, there’s an equal amount of humour, thanks to the hilarious protagonist Mark Watney! I guarantee if you pick this up, you’re in for a bundle of laughs

the hating game

The Hating Game– with a book title like that, you might not expect to see it on a list like this- but this quirky, funny contemporary is practically the definition of a HAPPY book 😀

isla and the happily ever after

Isla and the Happily Ever After– the clue is in the title 😉 I am a sucker for “happily ever afters” and this delivers for sure!

to all the boys

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– Lara Jean and her family never fail to bring a smile to my face.

simon vs the homosapien agenda

Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda– do I really need to give any introductions for this book at this point? While this deals with some serious issues, Albertalli’s lighthearted touch make Simon a pleasure to read.

carry on

Carry On– I mention this book *a lot* but I can’t help it if this brilliant parodic fantasy fills me with the utmost joy!

going postal

Going Postal– One of my favourite Discworld books- need I say more? Also, it happens to be one of the funniest.

nimona

Nimona– this is a newish one for me- but as another twist on its genre, I thought it fit perfectly. Playing with ideas of supervillains vs superheroes, this graphic novel is a whole lotta fun!

my lady jane

My Lady Jane– I adore this fresh take on alternative history. A completely unexpected ride, this doesn’t just toy with historical accuracy, it laughs in its face and rewrites the history books- in the best possible way!

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_cover

Emma– I mean, it’s Austen- do I need a reason? I also happen to love Mr Knightley the most of all Austen’s male leads (oh and there’s great character development- but pff- we’re talking about what makes me smile)

little women

Little Women– rounding off with possibly an unusual choice, this certainly has its poignant and sad moments- HOWEVER for every bit of sadness this book brings, it also delivers its equal parts of joy. I would have felt remiss not to include it.

So do any of these books bring you joy? And what are your favourite happy books? Let me know in the comments!

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

Well hello! After my post the other day, where I showed off my bookshelves, and just generally talking a lot about books I love a lot recently, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favourite classics. Now of course, I quickly realised that there was no way I could do this in a single post, so decided to turn this into a mini-series. I’ve arbitrarily decided these posts will go out on Tuesdays for four weeks (basically because I wrote four posts before deciding to put a lid on it) so that’s what you’re getting… for now 😉

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Obviously, this list is not the “best” classics- just books that hit me on a deeply personal level. Nor is it a “finished” article: a) because I’ll be adding to it as I read more and b) because there were books that are hovering just outside the list and I’m always careful about saying whether a book is something I love vs a favourite. To my mind, it takes a significant amount of time and emotional connection for a book to be established as a favourite.

In the interest of keeping this list to a reasonable length, I also won’t be including: fantasy, sci fi, non-epic poetry, literary fiction or basically any other genre fiction. This is not a comment on whether they are/could be classics- only that I would prefer to talk about them in other lists- in fact I have a favourite fantasy list which I *definitely* plan on adding to with new favourites at some point cos they’ve been mounting up.

Lastly, before we get into this week’s selection, I’ve split these vaguely based on theme and don’t be alarmed by the fact there’s an uneven number each week (even after everything I’ve just said, I didn’t want to be stuck with silly, self-imposed rules)

Okay, rather long winded preamble- let’s get started with my rather romantic first set of favourites:

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_coverEmma– what could I actually say about Emma that hasn’t already been said? There’s a reason why this has been dubbed the perfect novel: the character growth, the plot structure, the romance, the friendship and the lessons that are so subtly woven into the story. I could go on, but the reason why this hits a personal note for me is that this was the book that made me appreciate Austen’s humour (though it was not the first Austen I read) and it’s because of this that I came to love all her work. I also happen to think Mr Knightley is the most appealing of all Austen’s love interests- sorry Mr Darcy fans 😉

 

little womenLittle Women– oh gosh, this book gives me the warm fuzzies whenever I think about it. There’s so much to love about it- the romance, the heartbreaking ups and downs of the story, the characters- however one of the biggest elements which always strikes me with this story *has to be* the family dynamic- the March sisters really capture that feeling of sisterhood.

 

i capture the castleI Capture the Castle– speaking of families and relationships, this one is slightly more dysfunction. Still, this quirky coming of age story is set in a crumbling castle and will always have a place in my heart (and inspires me to one day live in my own derelict castle… even though I hate the cold… whatever it’s a nice dream 😉 )

 

rebeccaRebecca– so, spoiler alert, next week I’ll be doing more gothic-y themed books and this book could certainly compete there. However one of the best things about this book is the romance- no not the romance between the unnamed protagonist and her new husband- but the ongoing romance with his dearly departed wife. I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t read it, but this book illustrates what it feels like to be a third wheel… even though the third person in the relationship is in fact already dead.

 

wuthering heights bookWuthering Heights – speaking of more gothic-type books, this certainly has that feel some of the time. Yet it also is one of the most intense romances I’ve ever read. Now, I will admit that there are some faults on a structural level- however the heart of this book is one of the most sublime, passionate affairs I’ve ever read. And yes, Heathcliff and Cathy are horrible people- that’s half the point- their sole redeeming quality is there love for each other (well, it’s also their doom, so there’s that)

 

jane eyreJane Eyre– we can’t speak of one Bronte sister without mentioning another, and this book is wonderful in a different way. Of course, the main characters are flawed, but they’re not totally unlikeable; there are elements of destructive love, but it’s not the end of the world (mostly); and I can safely say the structure is tidier. And, above all, the romance still captures my imagination (that and the mad woman in the attic)

 

tess of the d'urbervillesTess of the D’Urbervilles– however if you’re looking for something slightly more on the tragic side- look no further. It’s such a sob-worthy story, from beginning to end. Poor Tess can’t catch a break. This is the book that made me fall in love with Hardy’s bleak, fatalistic outlook and visualistic world. Yes, I admit it, I’m somewhat pessimistic and this appeals to my dark side.

 

romeo-and-juliet-one-sheetRomeo and Juliet– speaking of star crossed lovers- where would we be without the ultimate ill-fated duo? (still referring to Tristan and Isolde no doubt, but I digress) I have two reasons for adoring this play: 1) the language and 2) the play with genre (yes I’m a dork)- it’s a fairly straightforward ploy of tricking the viewer into thinking it’s a comedy and then *BAM* Mercutio gets it and we’re into tragic territory. Simple, yet genius.

 

persuasionPersuasion– a slightly more romantic Austen, I read this one last in my Austen journey, and it’s always competing in my mind with Emma for the position of favourite Austen (incidentally most Austen books could have ended up on this list). Unrequited or long lost love really gets to me, so I found myself crying when they kept being frustrated in their romance (yes, I know it’s not a sad book, only the heightened romantic feel gets to me, cos I’m a sap)

 

midsummer night's dreamMidsummer Night’s Dream– this was my first ever Shakespeare play and can always put me in a good mood. Lighthearted and fun, there’s a spirit of mischief in the air. One of my absolute favourite things about it though, is how Helena’s story in particular captures that feeling of being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back. It’s still just as poignant as ever.

 

Importance_earnest_dvdImportance of Being Earnest– and let’s round this off with the play that is the most fun of all! Why do I love it? Because this is Wilde at his wittiest and honestly this can still make me laugh, no matter how many times I hear the jokes (I also highly recommend the 1952 movie version)

 

 

Hope you enjoyed that- I loved making it. Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! And I’ll have another one of these next week…

My Top Ten Wintery Books

AHH IT SNOWED LAST NIGHT!!! WINTER IS HERE!!

winter is here

(alright that was a more terrifying affect than intended 😉 )

Okay- for reelz, it never normally snows in London, so I’m enjoying how pretty it is right now. And, rather appropriately, the post I had planned for today is actually about wintery books! Specifically my top ten wintery books! Let’s get to it:

snow child

Snow Child– the clue is in the title 😉 This exquisite tale, set in the fairy tale land of the Arctic winter, warmed me from the inside- I seriously recommend Snow Child for a cosy night in. And speaking of fairy tales…

bear and the nightingale

Bear and the Nightingale– as was pretty obvious from my gushy review the other day I LOVED this book. It’s a magical retelling of Russian folklore and if nothing else, you are guaranteed spectacular descriptions of snowy landscapes 😉

secret countess

The Secret Countess– Eva Ibbotson is a childhood favourite of mine and one of the reasons for that is her beautiful, mythical writing style. Her books are always enchanting, but this one in particular is romantic and heart-warming and perfect for this season (NB also known as A Countess Below Stairs)

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone– speaking of childhood books, nothing says Christmas quite like Harry Potter. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t secretly dream of Christmas at Hogwarts?

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The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe– but if we want to talk a Christmasy dream come true, we’d have to go visit Narnia! I know, I know, Narnia is technically cursed to always be winter in Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe– yet that doesn’t stop it being so beautiful!

christmas carol

Christmas Carol– yes, yes, I know I’m reeling off the classics now- it’s just this is a classic for a reason. Obviously everyone knows the story, but I finally read this over Christmas last year and can tell you now it was *perfect*.

the railway children

Railway Children– honestly, I think children’s books are great for this time of year. And since it’s already a tradition that they show the movie version on the TV every year (at least in the UK) why not pick up the book? It’s moving, it’s got beautiful themes about family and it’ll make you happy in the end.

little women

Little Women– romance is what I’m looking to read most winters- and I don’t think you can get much better than this classic. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and it might even make you do both at the same time. Easily one of my all-time favourite books.

ivan-denisovitch

One Day in the Life of Ivan Densovitch– okay who said anything about all the books on here having to be happy? Sometimes winter gives us the chills- so if you want something a little darker, then this is the book to go for. It’s one of those quintessential books about the Soviet Union if you’re interested. (And at the risk of sounding like a book pusher, this is the kind of book everyone needs to read at some in their lives)

 

murder-on-the-orient-express-agatha-christie

Murder on the Orient Express- I read this the other day (review to come soon) and the atmosphere was exactly right for a cold evening. The intrigue, the characters and the DRAMATIC twist all made for a thrilling read (kudos goes to Lashaan@Bookidote for finally convincing me to pick it up). What a great book for the winter period!

And that’s it! What do you think of my list? Agree? Disagree? And do you have any winter favourites to add? Let me know in the comments!

My Top Ten Books Featuring Sisterhood

*Warning there will be lots of pink and gushing girliness in this post*

Phew it is hot today- I don’t know how anyone gets anything done when it’s so hot! Resisting the urge to just lounge around all day, I thought I’d follow on from yesterday’s post and talk about sisters in books!

I don’t think sisterly love gets nearly enough attention in books- so today I want to celebrate some of my favourite books that feature sisters (both real and metaphorical) in a big way!  And just a heads up, I won’t be including any creepy long lost identical long lost twins or back or backstabbing biatches here- this one’s all about the positivity (mostly 😉 ):

pride and prejudice

  1. Pride and Prejudice– how could I not include Austen? The queen of the sisterhood?! That would be madness! In fact, I was actually super tempted to put Sense and Sensibility on here as well, but let’s face it, nothing beats Lizzy and Jane’s relationship!

i capture the castle.jpg

  1. I Capture the Castle– so mostly I just want an excuse to mention a childhood favourite. But there is a strong sister relationship in this book- only trouble is, even after all these years I can’t quite put my finger on where that relationship ends up at the end of the book. Ah well, it still deserves to be on this list, partly because I have always wanted to be part of this wacky family, but mostly because I secretly want to live in a derelict castle with no heating… (says the girl that couldn’t stand the Scottish winters)

little women

  1. Little Women– apart from this book giving me the warm fuzzies every time I think about it, this book hands down has one of my favourite family dynamics in literature- and guess what? They’re all girls! Yay- girl power! The March sisters are adorable, quirky and love fiercely- but my goodness you don’t want to get in the middle when that goes awry- there are ups and downs in this book that still make me cry (and not just the obvious *ahem* unmentionable parts- seriously don’t mention it, or you will reduce me to a fluffy orange mess again…)

Sisterhood_of_the_Traveling_Pants_book_cover

  1. Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– you knew it was coming- after my review yesterday it can’t come as a surprise. What’s especially wonderful about this series is that it has every type of sisterly relationship- it deals with the figurative, the blood relations and the “oh goodness what category are you in” type of sister. And even more importantly, it doesn’t shy away from conflict between sisters (really just an occupational hazard)- instead directly addressing the issues they have and letting the characters grow as a result.

to all the boys

  1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– I’ve mentioned it before- but one of the best things about this series is the *lovely* sister relationships in it. Like my previous choice, it doesn’t make them buddy-buddy all the time- but that’s a-okay with me! Because complex dynamics are so important when portraying any relationship- and especially in something as nuanced and complicated as sisters!

court of thorns and roses

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy– okay so I wasn’t actually sure whether to include this one, because initially *avert your eyes superfans* I wasn’t totally sold on the sister relationships. It just seemed to be based on the protagonist’s older sisters letting her do all the work for them. But, while I’m still not convinced of this series’ perfection- review of ACOWAR to come *very* soon– I did find the sister relationships grew on me.

red sister

  1. Red Sister– okay, so no one in this book was technically a biological sister- BUT they were all Sisters- you know, nuns. Killer nuns in fact. And let’s face it, when am I gonna pass up an opportunity to mention killer nuns? (Plus they also had developed really great bonds with each other- but to be honest my brain is still on the *deadly nuns* thing to go into detail 😉 )

the young elites

  1. Young Elites– This one is another really unusual one, because this series is so out there. And I can’t talk too much about why I love this sister relationship, because of *spoilers*. But what I can say is this relationship ends up being super integral to the plot and the story’s conclusion- and how many non-romantic relationships can you say that about really? Let alone sister relationships?

hunger games

  1. Hunger Games– and speaking of another sister relationship that is integral to a book’s plot, what about Katniss Everdeen and her sister Prim. There would have been no story if Katniss hadn’t offered herself as tribute to save her sister. And as for where this relationship ends up going… well let’s not go there shall we (seriously, it’s like I designed this post to get all teary or something!)

how i live now

  1. How I Live Now– okay, so another cheerless book about the end of the world. But there was one thing I always took heart from and that was Daisy holding Piper’s hand and leading her through the literal end of the world- they’re not technically sisters, yet this image of sisterly devotion is burned into my mind whenever I think of a moment of sisterhood in books. I just want to point to it and say *that right there* (there’s also a lot of weird shit in this book, but at least there’s family at the centre of it all)

Okay that post ended up going in a darker direction than I intended. Do you agree or disagree with my choices? What book do you think is a great representation of sisterhood? Let me know in the comments below!

And naturally, I dedicate this post to my sister the monkey baby (yes that is her real nickname and no I am not making that up)