Second after Paris, New York is a city I’ve always fantasised about living in. And while it’s not on the horizon any time soon, in the mean time I can live my New York life vicariously through Morgan from NYC Book Girl. A book blogger, Bookstagrammer and Duke University graduate, she works in theatre and spends much of her spare time reading, exploring New York and drinking iced coffees – a winning combination if ever there was one. As a big fan of her blog, particularly her Girls Who Read feature, I was thrilled when she agreed to take part in my Desert Island Books series, and, having only read two of her selected tomes, have swiftly added the rest to my ever growing TBR pile. FRom a heartbreaking tale to a much loved classic, read on to find out which books made the cut.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus has the kind of magic that is so beautiful and inventive that it makes my heart ache when I remember it’s fictional. I reread it every year and it absolutely stands up to multiple visits across time. Every time I fall back into this world, I discover something new. Morgenstern ties the plot together in intricate and brilliant ways.
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
The Ensemble fits perfectly into my absolute favorite genre: a story of a group of friends told from multiple perspectives that shows how they’ve changed over time. It’s a sweeping tale of music and creativity and family. Gabel has an incredible talent for making you feel the music through her words. While I do appreciate classical music, it’s never what I choose to listen to. This book made me choose classical music. There is such artistry in the performance of it and Gabel elucidates how much the personal background of a musician can affect the flavor of the piece – while the average listener may not pick up on a note played a millisecond too soon or too late, they will notice the way the overall piece feels off. Gabel’s writing is not alienating in its knowledge of music, but her expertise is palpable.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
This is my favorite novel that I read in 2017. I fell in love during the first chapter and just became further wrapped up in the story as it progressed. It’s a story of a marriage that looks perfect from the outside, but is filled with cracks. Groff takes you inside to explore the cement that’s been poured to fix them. It’s heartbreaking and brilliant.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
I love short stories and this has to be my favorite short story collection. It’s gothic and eerie, while remaining contemporary and timely. The stories feel united by theme, but vary greatly in content and plot – I think they would be ideal to visit time and time again. They’re spooky but include a great deal of provocative commentary on our society.
The Bucket List by Georgia Clark
This book is the most fun I’ve had reading in a long time. Clark excels at making the story and dialogue feel honest to the experience of being a twenty-something in NYC. It had me laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but it also made me cry and think about life in a way I hadn’t expected. This is the book I’d bring along for a good time.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
I’ve been a Harry Potter fan since age five. I’ve read all of the books dozens of times. But if I had to pick just one to had for the rest of my life, it would be the sixth. I find The Half Blood Prince to be the richest in adventure, in the mysteries of how the magical world works, and in day to day life at Hogwarts.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
This is my favorite classic novel. It’s a powerful story of a group of outcasts in a small town in the South, people who are alienated from their society in a myriad of ways, but find solace in their own version of religion and in one another. Each friendship is unique, none of them are perfect, but all of them are beautiful.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
This is, in my opinion, the most heartbreaking novel on this list. There’s something unbelievably beautiful about the way Kundera moves through the story of these three companions, giving you hope and taking it away. I’ve read it maybe four times and would read it one hundred times more.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This young adult novel is probably my favorite work of YA I’ve read in the past… well… ever? I raced through this book because I needed to know how it would be resolved. Whether or not justice would be served and, if so, by whom. I’d love to revisit this story again, to take it a bit slower. This book takes the difficult-to-discuss topics of racism and police violence and lays it all out there. Through the first person narrative, the reader is thrown into the thick of it.
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Images: Morgan, NYC Book Girl.