So, 2017 was a good year in terms of reading, for me. I managed to read a total of 22 books – if you want to see the full list, head to the end of this post. Nonetheless, I seriously believe that not only can you find the time to read whilst studying Law, but that it can be massively beneficial, giving you a way to destress and pull away from your work. As such, I’m going to go over the top five books that I read in 2017, and tell you a little bit about why I love them.
1. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jay Gatsby is a self-made man, famed for his decadent champagne-drenched parties. Despite being surrounded by Long Island’s bright and beautiful, Gatsby longs only for Daisy Buchanan. In shimmering prose, Fitzgerald shows Gatsby pursue his dream to its tragic conclusion. The Great Gatsby is an elegiac and exquisite portrait of the American Dream.
Over 2017 and continuing into 2018 something I’ve been doing is putting a concerted effort into reading classics and books that everyone needs to have read. Thus, Gatsby was a no-brainer and the fact that it was so short was a bonus. Put simply I loved this book so much, gaining an insight into the roaring twenties America, along with the engaging plot, that both kept you interested and mentally stimulated through its analogies and vagueness. I’m glad I didn’t have to read this for GCSE, because I think reading it for pleasure, this year, has really allowed me to enjoy and love the story for what it truly is – though, saying that, I did end up reading GCSE analysis on the book, once I’d finished it, to clarify some parts that I wanted to analyse further. Overall this was a stellar read and I would recommend it to all.
2. City of Djinns – William Dalrymple
Sparkling with irrepressible wit, City of Djinns peels back the layers of Delhi’s centuries-old history, revealing an extraordinary array of characters along the way-from eunuchs to descendants of great Moguls. With refreshingly open-minded curiosity, William Dalrymple explores the seven “dead” cities of Delhi as well as the eighth city-today’s Delhi. Underlying his quest is the legend of the djinns, fire-formed spirits that are said to assure the city’s Phoenix-like regeneration no matter how many times it is destroyed. Entertaining, fascinating, and informative, City of Djinns is an irresistible blend of research and adventure.
I read this one because 2017 was the year that I decided I really wanted to delve into my ethnic history to discover my roots and where I came from. Thus, I decided to read this book, which explores the history of Delhi, India, all the way from ancient and mythological times, to the present. Whilst a slightly slower read, it was a beautiful read, the prose both whimsical and engaging. It really made exploring all my Indian history feel more like a novel than a textbook, and I learnt so much about India from this book, so I’m extremely glad that I read it.
You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school one day to find a mysterious box with his name on it, outside his front door. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did – and Clay is one of them.
If he listens, Clay will find out how he made the list – what he hears will change his life forever.
Believe it or not, I’d been meaning to read this for years – the hype for 13 reasons goes far beyond the tv show. Nonetheless, the TV show was the push I needed to finally read it. I never watch a film or tv show without reading the book first and thus I read this and I am so glad I did. The book is so powerful and emotional, exploring an aspect of society that we rarely talk about and explore. It talks about the topic particularly well and makes you really understand not only the hardship that one must go through before taking such actions but also the effect that the suicide can have on everyone else. This is a book that I think everyone needs to read at some point in their life. Plus beyond that, it just carried a really great message, which is to always be kind and good to people, because quite frankly there’s never a good reason to mean or spiteful. I’m definitely going to carry this story with me for the rest of my life.
Los Angeles, 2012. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to the eradication of demons and being the best, fastest and deadliest Shadowhunter since Jace Lightwood. Raised in the Los Angeles Institute, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian. As Emma hunts those who caused the death of her parents, the trail they’re following leads back to those they’ve always been taught to trust. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with Julian — her closest friend and, because he is her parabatai, the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.
For me, this book was pure indulgence. It came out in May, just as exams finished, and I was able to read it in all it’s fantasy, 600-page glory, without having to think about any other commitments. It really is and was the perfect way to escape and destress. I’m a massive fan of Clare’s novels; they’re the perfect escape reads – easygoing, simple yet complex, steeped in magic, and perfect to take you back to a time when you had no worries. The second instalment in the Dark Artifices trilogy, Lord of Shadows is genuinely Clare’s best work so far, the plot, story and writing just absolutely glorious. How I’m going to wait two years for the final book, I have no idea.
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
This was just the perfect, whimsical fairytale type of read. So easy to get lost in and perfect for rainy winter days or even long stretching summer nights. It’s an incredibly versatile book also; if you want you can take it at face value as a beautiful magical-realism tale that you can get lost in. Alternatively, it allows you to read much deeper, exploring abstract concepts about love, companionship, relationships and how we lose our magic and spirit to the increasing pace of life and the ‘real world’. Ultimately, this is a book it will prove difficult not to love, and I would say that anyone of any age will adore this book, down to the very last page.
Below is the full list of books I read in 2017 – those with a star next to them are strong contenders that didn’t quite make it to the top 5:
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare
Carve the Mark – Veronica Roth
Wayfarer – Alexandra Bracken
City of Djinns – William Dalrymple
Furthermore – Tahereh Mafi
When Dimple met Rishi – Sandhya Menon
13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher
Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare
A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J Maas
The End of Oz – Danielle Paige
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Nail Gaiman
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carol
Alice through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carol
Trials of Apollo: Dark Prophecy – Rick Riordan
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzie Lee
The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern *
The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey *
Ghachar Ghochar – Vivek Shanbhag *
Tidings – Ruth Padel