Top 5 books I’ve read this year so far…

We’re half-way through 2018 already!

Here are my favourite books I’ve read so far this year…

 

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink

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In this devastating memoir, Rentzenbrink writes about her younger brother, who was severely brain injured in a road accident as a teenager, and subsequently spent years in a vegetative state. A powerful and moving book about family, love, grief and learning to live with loss.  I read it in one sitting.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamad

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I’ll start by simply saying that this is one of the best books I have ever read.

There was an unofficial, serendipitous thread running through some of the books I had been reading around this time; the theme of immigrants and immigration.

This a magical tale about immigrants fleeing war torn homelands to seek a better life elsewhere.

Saeed and Nadia meet and fall in love in an unnamed city that soon falls into war. Like other desperate people all over the world, they discover magic doors that lead them instantly into foreign places, and to potentially safer, new lives.

A wonderful book about the immigrant experience, and what it means to leave your homeland. At it’s heart, though, this is the story Saeed and Nadia’s relationship; will they be able to withstand all the changes they face?

Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein

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This is about what happened to a small town in Wisconsin, USA, when one of its main employers, a General Motors car manufacturing plant, closed down for good; the effects it had on individuals, employees, families and the community as a whole.

This story is connected to me in a very personal way; I lived in a neighbouring town, Beloit, just a short drive away from Janesville, within Rock County, and in the exact same period of time that the book covers (2008-2013). I even visited the same job center that is featured here.

Whether you know Wisconsin or not is irrelevant to the story; this could be the tale of any town, anywhere, when an industry suddenly closes down and people are left struggling to find work, to earn money, to keep going. There is a massive ripple effect which spreads out to the whole community.

I was expecting this to be a difficult, depressing read, but actually, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Instead of despair, I felt inspired. Truly remarkable. This is essential reading.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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Where do I start? This book is amazing. Teenager Lydia Lee has been found drowned in a lake; how did she get there? Did she jump or was she pushed? This is the story of her family, both before and after her death, as well the story of Lydia herself. Highly recommended.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

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Yes, this is by the very same Judith Kerr who wrote The Tiger Who Came To Tea, and yes, this is also a children’s book, but it’s too good to be limited to kids.

As the title suggests, it tells the tale of a Jewish family who flee Germany just before Hitler gets voted into power. Initially, Anna, her parents and her brother escape to Switzerland, leaving most of their possessions behind (including the titular toy pink rabbit).  From there, they move to Paris, where Anna’s father has better work prospects.

The book is based upon the author’s own experiences during WWII;  Anna in the story is essentially Judith Kerr. An inspiring, exciting, moving, and unforgettable tale about how WWII forced millions of people to flee their homelands and start life afresh as immigrants.

This is the first in a trilogy; I’ve just started the sequel…

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