Hello! Today is my birthday – I am turning 24 today! I thought as an extra post this week, I would talk about 24 books that I love! Some of these mean a lot to me and the others I loved, but all of these are high up on my favourites list. These books aren’t in any order of importance, because I do not think that I would be able to order them. It was so hard to narrow this list down to just 24 books, but this is going to be a long post because we have 24 books to get through, so I hope you stick with me through it!
A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas
If you’ve been here for a while, you will know how much I love Sarah J Maas and her novels. In particular, I love the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Especially book two (A Court of Mist and Fury) and book four (A Court of Silver Flames). Both of these books deal with PTSD and I really appreciated how Maas handled this and it helped me on my own PTSD journey. It was something I could relate to, which is really weird to say about a fantasy novel.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I am not a huge classic lover, but Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has always been one I have loved. I love how whimsical it is and its just a such fun read whenever I return to it.
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Dead Beautiful is the first book series I remember reading, and then waiting for the sequels. Book one (Dead Beautiful) was the first book that I reread multiple times and I think it was the first push I needed into loving reading. I was thirteen when this book came out (I was actually gifted it on my birthday!) and I think it was my perfect introduction to the Young Adult genre.
Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Eliza and her Monsters is a novel that deals with mental health and also dealing with online hate and social media in general. What makes this book really memorable for me is that there is a scene where Eliza has a panic attack and at the time I was having panic attacks and not realising what they were. So its an important novel for me that made me feel like I wasn’t the only one experiencing this.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
This is a book that I cannot stop talking about. Heartless is an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland retelling, but told from the villain’s (Queen of Hearts) perspective. I really loved it. It was such a wild experience falling in love with the character, and yet knowing that she was a villain even though she seemed like a really sweet character. I think it was wonderfully written and it has been a huge inspiration to me in my own writing.
Let Me Tell You This by Nadine Aisha Jassat
Speaking of inspiration, Let Me Tell You This was a huge inspiration to me when I was at university working on my poetry collection. I loved how the collection unapologetically explored racism and gender inequalities. Its such a wonderful collection and I need to return to this one soon.
Lovely War by Julie Berry
I read Lovely War in March earlier this year. I fell in love with the writing style and the narration felt so unique to me. It was a love story set during World War One told from the perspective of Aphrodite and other Gods like Apollo and Hades. It was such a beautiful story.
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Moxie was the first novel that I read that really focused on feminism and that fought back against injustices. It lit such a fire in me and I felt so empowered by this novel. Even now when I look back on that book, I remember how strong I felt after reading it.
My Sister Jodie by Jacqueline Wilson
I am not someone who remembers vividly the books I read during my childhood. The only one that I do is My Sister Jodie. At the time, I hadn’t read anything outside of school for a couple of years. I really wanted to read more and I loved Jacqueline Wilson, so I gave this one a go. I distinctly remember taking three months to read this whole book, and at the time it was the longest book I had ever read. It was the first book that I was emotionally invested in and I sobbed throughout the book. It is one I have always remembered.
Nasty Women by 404 Ink
Nasty Women is a collection of essays, interviews and accounts on what it is like to be a woman in society in the 21st century. It was an incredible book and a heartbreaking one at that, but it was so empowering.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
In July, I read the whole of The Brown Sisters Trilogy and I loved them all so much but it was Take a Hint, Dani Brown that I truly fell in love with. The love story was great and the banter between the two love interest was great. But it was the anxiety representation that made this book memorable for me.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
It has actually been a while since I have spoken about this book, but when I first read it I could not stop. I loved it so much, and not just because of the injustice and empowerment in the story, but also because of Angie Thomas’ writing style. It was the perfect balance between light and humorous banter and hard hitting and emotional.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I have always had an interest in history, but for some reason American history has always really intrigued me. At GCSE and then A-Levels, the majority of my history modules were American based, so that probably has something to do with it. It’s one of the reasons I was so drawn to The Help which is set in the 1960s. I think it is also so mind blowing to me that the 1960s was not that long ago, yet America was such a different place to live for black people.
The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
I already spoke about how Dead Beautiful was when I started enjoying reading, but it still took me a while to truly love reading as much as I do now. I used to only binge read series on holiday and that was about it. It was The Mortal Instruments that really threw me into reading. I watched the film (I love it, don’t come for me) and then needed to know more about the world and everything to do with it. I read the first five books in a very short amount of time and then kept rereading them until the sixth book came out. It is such a comfort series/world for me and I am constantly returning to it when I am in a reading slump or just need a pick-me-up.
The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace
Another poetry collection, and this time it is the poetry collection that introduced me to modern poetry. This was really the poetry collection that pushed me to start exploring more with form and then with topics that are usually hard to talk about. Amanda Lovelace’s writing and collections gave me the confidence to start experimenting more with my words.
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
I know I haven’t stopped gushing about this book since I read it in June, but I still cannot stop! I loved this novel so much – so much that it inspired me to do my own road trip to Scotland in August! I read this book in one sitting, and I got so emotionally invested in this novel that I genuinely have not stopped thinking about the characters since putting the book down. It was so fun and I cannot wait to read it again.
The Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
I feel like recently I have been including The Vampire Academy on so many lists, but I love this series so much. I think part of me keeps mentioning it so that I will finally get to rereading it! When I read this series years ago, I binge read the first three books within a few days and then got so upset at the ending of book three that I didn’t go back to the series for a little while. It was the first time I ever got so upset at a book that I cried at it (I now cry at pretty much every book). I remember that for days after I finished reading it, I would still be crying at it. I would look up and see it on my shelves and it would set me off again. I don’t think I have ever been as emotional over a book since.
Turtles all the Way Down by John Green
I read Turtles all the Way Down in March this year and I fell in love with the story, but most importantly the mental health representation. I have a skin picking disorder, and I had never found any representation for dermatillomania in fiction. Turtles all the Way Down doesn’t have a huge amount of representation for this particular condition, but it does have OCD representation. And dermatillomania is a branch off of OCD. The main character in the novel has one cut that she will keep scratching open, and I was really able to resonate with how the character felt whilst doing it and also how they dealt with it too.
Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Under Rose Tainted Skies has always been a novel that I held close to my heart. The novel follows Norah who has agoraphobia, anxiety and OCD. I have anxiety and OCD, and this novel really captured what life is like living with these mental illnesses. It was such great representation – at least in my experience. It is always at the top of my recommendation list when people ask for a great book with mental health representation.
Validate Me by Charly Cox
Another poetry book and this time it is by my favourite poet, Charly Cox. I love both of her poetry collections, but Validate Me will always have a special place in my heart. For those of you that don’t know, I write poetry (I have shared some on my blog before), and the majority of my poems are written on my phone. And I believe that most, if not all, of the poems in this collection were written on the notes in Charly Cox’s phone. The collection also focuses a lot on mental health and how social media impacts our mental health. My poetry focuses a lot on mental health too and Charly Cox is one of my greatest inspirations.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
When I was at school, I had to read a book set in 1920s/1930s. We were given a list, and for some reason I was drawn to this novel and I was actually the only one that did choose this novel. But ever since reading it, I have always thought of this as my favourite book. I adored it so much, and I think it really kick started my love for historical fiction. I didn’t have my own copy and borrowed a copy from the library, so I haven’t been able to read it since. However, last year I was finally able to get my hands on a copy and I am really wanting to reread it and see if I still love it as much as I did back then.
What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard
I read What I Lost a few years ago, and I still think about this book all of the time. I was trying to broaden my reading at the time to include more books that focused around mental health, and this novel was so different to the other books that I was reading. It taught me so much about eating disorders and how the inpatient treatment centres work. I talk about this book, and a couple of the others on this list in an old post, so if you’re looking for more mental health novel recommendations, you can check it out: here.
When the Curtain Falls by Carrie Hope Fletcher
When the Curtain Falls is a little bit of a strange one for me, because I didn’t actually rate it that high, but I look back on that novel with such fondness and adoration for the characters and the setting. I really liked having an insight to the behind the scenes workings of a musical. When I read this, the restrictions from lockdown 1 were lifting, but I was still unable to return to work and I got really into musical theatre as a way of escaping, so it was the perfect book for me at the time.
You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry
This one is the most recent book that I’ve read, I actually read it last month. I loved it so much. You can check out my review: here. I had to go on a long car drive, and I was really anxious that day, so I just put the audiobook on for this one as I drove and it completely sucked me into the story and let me escape my anxieties for a little bit.
Just before I close off this post, I wanted to give a bonus mention to Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm for their story collections. As a child, I had cassettes handed down to me of their fairy tales and I used to listen to them to fall asleep to. I attribute my extensive imagination and love of retellings to these writers. My urge to write stories came from listening to these fairy tales, so for that reason it felt important to mention these!
It was so hard to narrow this list down to just twenty-four books, but we got there in the end. What are some of your favourite novels?