2017 is proving to be a great year for reading. I’ve gotten through 20 books so far this year and am halfway through the 21st. Cozy winter days are some of the best for curling up with a good book and a cup of tea and the middle of July is peak reading time. If you’re looking for some new winter reads, here’s 6 of my favourites this year.
The Dangers of Truffle Hunting
What a gorgeous, heady book. Kit Gossard’s life is pretty together. Her family owns a beautiful and successful vineyard in the Yarra Valley and another in the Barossa Valley, she has a burgeoning career as a food photographer and is engaged to a successful furniture designer. Despite all this, there’s something missing that Kit can’t quite put her finger on. Enter a new vineyard hand and a family rivalry for the ages, and you’ve got a compelling read. Ideal for fans of Laura Dave’s 800 Grapes, anything by Zoe Foster-Blake and anyone who wants to escape into a luxe world of wine, food, and travel.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Switching gears slightly, this novel is sad, happy, and uplifting – if a novel can be all of those things. Eleanor Oliphant is doing well. She’s got a steady job, a strict routine and doesn’t need anyone else, thanks very much. But a chance act of compassion brings changes that Eleanor’s not quite ready for. Eleanor Oliphant is a book for fans of Jojo Moyes, Maria Semple and Mark Haddon. Please note that there are some difficult themes in this book.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Confession: I’m only halfway through this book and I’m reading it for the next meeting of my book club. That said, I’m intrigued by where it’s going. The story is set in India, which is a society I don’t know much about, so I’ve been doing a bit of googling along the way. So far in the character we’ve got the Hijra Anjum, a mystery baby who seemingly appears out of nowhere, and the enigmatic S Tilottama. I’m enjoying my immersion into India and even if I wind up hating the ending, the writing is beautifully evocative.
Anything Is Possible
This book. I whipped through it in only a few days, then promptly bought and devoured it’s prequel, My Name Is Lucy Barton. Set in small town America, Anything is Possible tells the stories of the residents of the town of Amgash. Each story can be read as a stand-alone, but they are all loosely linked. Elizabeth Strout is a phenomenal writer, in the way that only a true observer of society and people can be. I highly recommend giving both these books a go. They are really short but pack in a whole lot of emotion.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Oh man, where to start? Firstly, if you’ve seen the TV adaptation, you should still read the book. There are some differences but the story and experience of Offred is just as chilling on paper as it is onscreen. If you’ve yet to encounter anything about The Handmaid’s Tale, all you need to know is that it’s set in a not too distant dystopian future where America has been transformed into a new state called Gilead. In this new world order, very few women are fertile and those that are are taken and transformed into handmaid’s for the very top of society – essentially, they become human incubators whose one and only job is to bear children. It’s chilling stuff but should be essential reading, not least because it feels eerily realistic in today’s political climate.
Another emotional gut punch, this time from Nikki Gemmell (who I recently had the pleasure of meeting!) Nikki Gemmell is one of Australia’s most loved writers, but the last couple of years have been particularly rough on her. Throughout her life, Nikki’s relationship with her mother, Elayn, has been tricky. In the aftermath of Elayn’s death, Nikki recounts their relationship and essentially lives out her grief via the book. It deals with issues including euthanasia, the way we as a society treat the elderly, and the relationship between mother and daughter. Compelling but terribly sad, its one to pick up when you have some quiet reading time.
As always, I love hearing recommendations for what I should be reading – let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments. xx