I can’t actually remember when I first came across Femke and her brilliant Bookstagram and blog, but suffice it to say that she’s swiftly become one of my go-to bloggers when I’m in need of a reading recommendation. Hailing from The Netherlands, twenty-year old Femke cites YA fantasy as her favourite genre, but her goal for this year is to widen her reading repertoire. I loved finding out which books Femke would take with her to a desert island, and so, from her favourite book from years gone by to a short but powerful manifesto, read on to find out more…
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
It’s very hard to express how much this book means to me. It’s the story of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon in his last year of training, who gets diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He goes from being a doctor treating dying patients, to becoming a patient struggling to live himself. In beautiful, gripping, sentences, Kalanithi describes the last moments of his life. He talks about his family, friends and his fears, and he does so with so much love, that there’s no way for you as a reader to not get attached. This is the kind of book I feel like everyone should read because it will change the way you look at life.
The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi
This book was the biggest surprise of the year (so far) for me. What drew me in was the cover (seriously, how stunning is it?), but what kept me hooked was the breathtakingly beautiful writing style, the characters you can’t help but love, and the story you won’t be able to forget. In my opinion, this book is seriously underrated by international readers (it was/is hugely popular in Japan) and should be talked about so much more.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
This is one of my more recent favourites. I read it at the beginning of the year and whilst it’s set in the cold Russian wilderness, it managed to warm my heart in no time. The Bear and the Nightingale has major mysterious fairy tale vibes and the main character Vasya is a little badass you can’t help but root for.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Even though I read this book years ago, it’s still one of my absolute favourites. It’s also the first book to pop into my mind whenever someone asks me to recommend them something. Madeline Miller retells the story of Achilles, but from the point of view of Patroclus, who grows up in the court of Achilles and his father King Peleus. They become fierce friends, but their friendship blooms into something more. The book’s an emotional rollercoaster that will leave a mark.
A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
It’s not often that the middle book in a trilogy is my favourite. Second-book-syndrome is definitely a thing that happens a lot, but certainly not with A Gathering of Shadows. This book has everything I love in a good YA Fantasy novel and most importantly: a magical tournament element! It’s a strong continuation of the Shades of Magic trilogy and it will be hard to not have the third book with me when I finish this.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Undoubtedly my favourite YA book of all time. The most important reason being the characters. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a book that has so many strong main characters without me disliking at least one of them. But not in Six of Crows. I love all these characters dearly and that why it HURTS SO BAD as well. Besides that, the story’s just awfully good as well.
Women & Power by Mary Beard
This is a short but strong manifesto by English scholar and classicist Mary Beard. Showing us that whilst humankind has progressed towards something better, strong women have been, in some ways, mistreated since time immemorial. Brilliantly insightful and thought-provoking, it’s a read that will stick around in your thoughts after you’ve devoured it.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
It wouldn’t feel right to not include this one of my list. There’s no way on earth I’d go to a desert island and not bring at least one Harry Potter book. I would be happy with any of them, but I have a slight preference for The Goblet of Fire because I have a minor obsession with Cedric Diggory and because of that magical tournament element I mentioned before. I just love it so much.
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