Exeter, Devon UK • May 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
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A Year In Books

Ellie Down explores her year in books and reviews which books were most impactful
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A Year in Books

Image: Gillian Bertelli

Ellie Down explores her year in books and reviews which books were most impactful

As a literature-lover, I found comfort and escape in the safety of books during what was such a turbulent year. I have always enjoyed reading narratives that leave me with plenty to think about. Over 2020 there were three books I read that stood out. They were unputdownable and I highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for something new to read. 

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

I was recommended this book by my mother and I absolutely loved it. A short and easy read, but a page turner nonetheless. Albom writes about an old man named Eddie and the five people he meets in the afterlife. The five people chosen are those that had the most significant impact on Eddie’s life, but they are slightly unassuming choices. I read this irresistible story within a few days, finding it incredibly thought provoking and bittersweet. Although, this is not the most tasking read – it was impactful. It makes you think about the five people you would meet, leaving you to question who has significantly affected your life. 

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo Lodge 

Over the summer, during the Black Lives Matter protests, I became increasingly aware of my own privilege as a white woman. Eddo Lodge is an incredibly intelligent and eloquent woman. I was fascinated and horrified by what I learnt. She writes about the suffering and prejudice that people of ethnic minority face everyday; subjects I was previously unaware of. Since reading this book I have become aware of the role that I can play in making the world we live in a safer place. It is vital that we educate ourselves on the history of racism and subsequent maltreatment of black people in Britain. I would have to say that this was by far the most influential book I read last year. It has certainly opened my eyes and broadened my understanding of race. 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong 

This beautifully written narrative was Waterstone’s ‘fiction of the month’ in September. It is unlike anything I have readbefore, but I loved it and after finishing it within a week, I have gone on to lend it to many of my friends. It is a letter from a man ‘Little-dog’ to his mother who cannot read. This is Vuong’s first novel and it is a heart-felt outpour of a young American man’s feelings towards his upbringing and his struggle to find his place society as the homosexual son of a Vietnamese immigrant. Vuong’s writing was forcibly sincere and when reading it, it is clear that he draws on elements of his own life in his work which aids the emotional outpour of his wiring. 

If you are simply looking for a new book to tuck into or perhaps one of your new year’s resolutions was to start reading more, I can highly recommend all of these books.

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