Let’s get one thing straight. I used to read. A lot. My mum used to threaten to take me to school in my pyjamas because instead of getting ready in the morning I’d sit and read in bed. My favourite thing to do when I was 9 was cycle to the library, get out some books, and sit in the library garden unable to wait until I got home to start reading. I did this every Saturday. I genuinely, when asked to write a letter written from the perspective of a character in a book we were reading as homework aged 10, proceeded to pen a missive from Hercule Poirot to President Pompidou. I was a book twat.
But then kids happened. These days I’m more likely to be found with about 5 books sitting on my bedside table, slowly gathering dust having long since given up the hope of being read past chapter two. I have such good intentions, but so little time or memory power left that it can be impossible to get past the first few pages.
Every now and then though, a book comes along that is so brilliant that I am transported right back to my book twat days. I race through them in a mere matter of days and pat myself smugly on the back because I’ve ‘still got it’.
So here we go. Books that I guarantee will get you reading again. Don’t worry, there’s not a single Agatha Christie in sight (she’s bloody good though. Try them).
(We’ve included links to buy the books – they are mostly Amazon. They’re just to help you find the book – they’re not sponsored or affiliated, we don’t get any cash so feel free to buy your book wherever you like! In fact, why not post in the Mummy’s Gin Fund buy & sell group and see if you can get a second hand copy?)
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Every woman should read this book. They need to put it on the GCSE reading list, stat. The premise is so simple – what if something happened that meant women were suddenly physically stronger than men – that I kick myself for not thinking of it first. But I could never have done the story justice in the way Alderman does. Her characters are brilliant, her thinking so clear, I couldn’t wait to get to the end of this one, and when I did I genuinely felt like my mind had been blown. Read it. Now. Buy it here.
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
Ok, a quick caveat on this one. It’s scary. I struggled to sleep after finishing it (late at night as I simply couldn’t put it down and go to bed). It’s also a little frustrating that the victims are nearly all women. But, this is a great thriller. Cleverly written, fast-paced and will keep you guessing and second-guessing until the end. And not a single smug, Belgian detective in sight. Buy it here.
The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman
If you haven’t read His Dark Materials, DO IT NOW!! I adore Harry Potter but these are better (there, I said it, don’t hate me). One of the main reasons I want a third child is so that it can be a girl who I can name Lyra Serafina, after 2 of Pullman’s ace, kick-arse characters. Anyway, I digress. This is the prequel that was released last year, and it’s every bit as good as the original trilogy. Being transported back to that feeling I got when I first read His Dark Materials was amazing. Much like the first time I read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe or Harry Potter in fact. But better. Buy it here.
Love Nina by Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe
I made all my family read this. I am currently re-reading it for about the fifth time. Based on letters Stibbe wrote to her sister depicting life as a nanny in London during the eighties (for a single working mum who’s the deputy editor of the London Review of Books; this is not some modern-day version of Mary Poppins full of privilege and elitism), the book is hilarious. Warm, familiar, like putting on your favourite slippers and drinking a really good, strong cup of tea. This book will make you feel all is right with the world again. The tv adaptation was pretty good too. Buy it here.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My daughter started school this year and I am slowly getting used to life at the school gates, so this book was particularly timely for me. It tells the story of 3 women who meet through their kids, (so far, so normal), and a murder. Everything about it is fantastic; the laugh-out-loud descriptions of school gates politics, the way Moriarty flits between police interviews in present day and flash backs to events preceding the murder to build tension, and the fact that at the end, despite all the drama, you genuinely want all these women to be your best mates. Somehow it managed to be both funny and feel good, without being at all cheesy. Plus the TV adaptation has Alexander Skarsgard in it and it doesn’t get much better than that… Buy it here.
And finally, I was only allowed five books, but I feel like an honourable mention should go to Jilly Cooper who is a goddess in my eyes. I read her books every time I go on holiday. I’ve missed train stops because of Rupert Campbell-Black. If any book will get you back into reading post children, one of hers should do it. Enjoy!