I foolishly took on reading the next Jilly Cooper book on my list this year, and at close to 600 pages it has taken up most of my reading time. That said, the length and epic scale of Jilly Cooper books is one of my favourite things about them - you get to live with the characters for longer and there are so many twists and turns that you're hooked the whole time. However, it doesn't leave much time for anything else, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple of extra reads that need to get on your TBR list, stat...
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton*
The buzz about this book has been huge, so I suspect you've already heard about it - but if not, this is one that you really need on your radar. Dolly Alderton's memoir is about dating, growing up, living in London, and friendship - all topics which I'm sure you've read about before. But, you've never read about it like this before - this is a whole new take on what can be an oversaturated genre that took me by surprise and at turns had me laughing at loud and weeping real tears.
There are delightful little snippets of satire and a few recipes thrown in between the chapters to give a change of pace and really allow Dolly's full personality to shine through - she's a multi-talented writer with wit and warmth, and this makes what could be yet another reformed-party-girl, twenty-something-millennial memoir into something so much more.
More than anything else, this book is a love letter to Dolly's friends, particularly her oldest and dearest friend Farly. Friendship is a subject that gets neglected, both in literature and in life, but I have always found tales of enduring friendship more moving than tales of romantic love. If I was Farly, I would have started crying in the very first chapter and never ever stopped again (which is probably why I'm not friends with someone as cool as Dolly Alderton).
This book will break your heart and heal it again in the course of its pages, and it absolutely needs to be on your reading list for this year.
Exquisite by Sarah Stovell
I'm a little sceptical about thrillers - so many of the 'must-read' ones I have picked up in recent years hinge on vivid descriptions of sexual violence that seem to be designed to shock without much thought behind the perpetrator's motivation or how sexual violence operates more widely in society. That said, if Bethany and Alice, the hosts of one of my favourite book-ish podcasts, What Page Are You On?, recommend something, I am 100% on board - which is how this book fell into my lap.
When bestselling author Bo meets wannabe-writer Alice at a writers' retreat, the two quickly fall into an intense and sinister relationship that ends with one of them in prison... but which one? And who is telling the truth about what happened between them? The blurb on Amazon describes this as an 'unbalancing psychological thriller' and that's exactly how I felt whilst reading it - unbalanced. With conflicting accounts from the two narrators, it's difficult to grasp at the facts, but as the book hurtles towards its conclusion, you can't help but feel unsettled by what's happening. Whilst I wasn't entirely satisfied with the ending, this was a clever and original thriller that defied a lot of the things that usually put me off about the genre - if you're looking for something fast-paced, atmospheric and absorbing then look no further!
The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
If you need a bit of uplifting inspiration in your life, then I would highly recommend picking up Shonda Rhimes' incredible memoir. Although she seemed to 'have it all', writing & producing three hit network TV shows whilst raising her daughters, a throwaway comment from her sister made Shonda realise that she was deeply unhappy. She was stuck in a habit of saying no out of fear, so she made a vow to say yes to every opportunity that came her way for a year.
From speaking engagements to TV appearances and simply just playing with her kids every time they asked, it was a transformative year - and a huge inspiration for anyone who feels like they're stuck in a rut. There's a reason Shonda Rhimes is one of the most famous TV writers in the world - her humour, honesty and ability to give you all the feels are very much present in this book and I fell totally in love with her way of writing, and with her. I didn't want this book to end, but I left it on a total high - the perfect kick up the butt for a depressing time of year!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and buy something, I may receive a small commission. Books marked with a * were provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.