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‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama, and 4 Other Books We’re Reading Right Now

It’s easy to scroll your way to (and through) bedtime, but if reading more is one of your resolutions for 2019, these page-turners will make this goal an easy one to achieve.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

It’s the memoir everyone is talking about, and for good reason: Becoming isn’t just an insider’s account of life in the White House (although it is that, too). It’s also an incredibly powerful and moving account of how a woman grows into her power and confidence. Yes, there’s some very cute anecdotes about how Michelle met Barack, and the descriptions of the early days of their romance are so intimate and sweet. But the real strength of this book lies in the way Michelle talks about how pressure — of career, motherhood, public life, even love — can make you a better person. Every woman should read this book. Just try not to tear through it in one night.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

At just 28, Sally Rooney is a literary wunderkind with two bestselling novels already under her belt. The first, Conversations with Friends, is a youthful story of a summer romance but the second, Normal People, is one of the most assured, masterful stories of love and power between two 20-somethings we’ve ever read. Normal People zeroes in on Connor, a popular boy whose single mother is a cleaner and Marianne, wealthy but deeply uncool, and how their relationship dips and swoons and reverberates over time. The magic of the story is all in the note-perfect descriptions of being in your early 20s, and being in love, and not quite yet grasping just how much power you give to someone else when you give them your heart.

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It’s weird when it feels like all areas of the book industry are raving about a single book. To me it seems like something can’t be that good that it ticks everyone’s boxes. I shouldn’t have doubted NORMAL PEOPLE. This book is unbelievably brilliant.⠀ .⠀ I've read it in two sittings since starting it yesterday afternoon. I hardly ever re-read books, but for the first time in years I felt like I wanted to immediately start it again after I finished the final page. Maybe that was so I could forget the thoroughly unsatisfying ending? Perhaps. Still, if life is about the journey not the destination then this book is close to perfect. Here's my favourite passage from the entire book (no spoilers).⠀ .⠀ 'Even in memory she will find this moment unbearably intense, and she's aware of this now, while it's happening. She has never believed herself fit to be loved by any person. But now she has a new life, of which this is the first moment, and even after many years have passed she will still think: Yes, that was it, the beginning of my life.'⠀ .⠀ The title of course is NORMAL PEOPLE but it could so easily have been YOUNG PEOPLE for the tender and thoughtful way it portrays millennial relationships. Millennials aren't the punchline for once and so many of the struggles in this book are struggles my friends and I deal with. Poor mental health, ever poorer job prospects, too many choices, not enough direction. Who are we and what does it mean to be a good person, let alone a normal person? ⠀ .⠀ There's so much meaning and nuance in what does essentially feel like a very casual book, and I don't mean that as an insult. Rooney's style appears effortless but every word is stacked with purpose. There's nothing clumsy here, just easily one of my favourite books of the year.

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Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Bad dates, bad therapy sessions, bad nights out… On the surface of things, Dolly Alderton’s wry, astutely observed memoir of life as a 20-something in London has a bit of a pessimistic outlook on life. But look closer, because the author — famous as the co-host of The High Low podcast and as a columnist and journalist for UK magazines and newspapers — has this uncanny ability to tell stories in a way that draws their most human, big-hearted elements to the surface. The first half of the book is full of hilarious tales of drunken university escapades but it’s the second half that really sings as Alderton wrestles with the idea of being single in her late 20s and how the meaning of love might be wrapped up not in the way she interacts with men but in the relationships she has, and has always had, with her female friends. If you’ve ever felt like female friendship doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves, then this is the book for you.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

She may not have been born in Australia, but crime novelist Jane Harper is particularly skilled at capturing the gothic terror of our bush and using it to great effect in her murder mysteries. Her first two — The Dry, soon to be a miniseries starring Eric Bana and Force of Nature — were part of a series but this recent release is a standalone, focussing on the fallout on a farming family when one of a trio of brothers goes missing. If you liked The Dry (and many, many hundreds of thousands of people did) you will love The Lost Man. In our opinion, it’s the best book Harper has written, a slow-burning mystery that’s less about solving a crime and more about getting under the skin of its inscrutable characters. Perfect for a beach read.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Now for something completely different. In the heat of summer, you might be looking for something silly and maybe a little bit sexy to slip into your beach bag, and The Wedding Date is exactly that. Drew, a doctor with a history of commitment issues meets driven Alexa in an elevator and asks her to accompany him as his plus one his ex girlfriend’s wedding. It’s a meet cute to end all meet cutes, and the ensuing romantic comedy is so charming and fun that it is impossible to put the book down. Yes, this is a romance novel, but not in the Mills & Boon bodice-ripping way you might be wary of. This romance novel comes with praise from no less an authority than the award-winning author Roxane Gay, who loved its warmth and wit. We’re certain that you will, too.

 


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