If there was ever a time to read all the books on your bookshelf that you've been ignoring for a while, this it it. I've been filling my days in isolation reading non-stop, lazing in the sun, and I wanted to make a list of my favourite books I've read for anyone who's trying to read more in this weird break from normal life. I am by no means a literary critic, these are just my own opinions on these books as someone who enjoys reading for fun!

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The reason there's not a photo of this book featured in this post is because I've read it so many times that it's beginning to fall apart and I desperately need a new copy. I could talk about this book forever, because it's so beautifully written, the narration is compelling and personal, and the story is fantastic. The prose is combined with the gothic setting, which I think it was makes this novel so magical. The story follows a young nameless woman, who becomes the wife of Mr Maxim De Winter and moves to Manderley with him, but something just doesn't seem right, and everything's a little strange. If you've never read this, do. You won't regret it.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder
This was initially a recommendation from my friend Kieran, who studies English Literature at uni, and I bought it and took it to Jamaica to last April to read whilst I was out there, with no idea about what to expect. This is unlike anything I've ever read, the story of connection between Lucy, a student/ librarian writing her dissertation on Sappho, and a mysterious swimmer she meets one night by the rocks. It's wild and passionate and bizarre and just such an interesting read. I definitely recommend it to anyone who's looking for something completely out of the ordinary to read! I'm gutted that I left this behind at uni when I packed up, but can't wait to re-read it when I get back!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I actually finished this book this week, and it was one of the most beautiful books I've read. The prose and imagery by the author was lovely, and the characters were at times heart warming, and at times heart breaking and frustrating. Honestly just a lovely yet heartbreaking book about human nature and our interaction with one another and the world around us, which is not what you'd expect from a book based around a murder. I loved every bit of this book, and it made me cry three times (which is really rare for me with books!).

The Lido by Libby Page
Again, a recommendation from my friend Kieran, this is one of the loveliest books I've read in a while. It's about Kate, a 26 year old writer who lives in London, who befriends 86 year old widow Rosemary whilst at their local swimming pool. When the lido faces closure, Kate and Rosemary start a campaign to save it, and develop an unlikely but heartwarming friendship. This novel is so sad and so happy all at the same time, and made me realise the importance of community and appreciating those around you.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
When Nick's wife Amy goes missing on their 5 year anniversary, all eyes turn to Nick and his oddly evasive behaviour. Written from the point of view of both characters, this book is amazingly written and leaves you feeling very uneasy and uncomfortable. I actually picked this up at an airport having never heard anything about it because I'd finished all the books I'd packed, and the cover looked nice (anyone else?). I loved it on the first read, and read it cover to cover on the flight back, and realised it was unlike anything I'd ever read before. I chose the book for my A Level English Literature coursework, studied intensely for a year, and still love it, which any English student will tell you, rarely happens. My opinions on the characters change every time I read it, and I'd recommend it to anyone for a completely different and shocking read. Plus, the film is really great, if films are more your thing.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The book isn't an easy read. In parts, it's quite frightening and unfortunately somewhat believable that a society like this could exist in a not-so-distant future. This book made me feel afraid and upset and happy and optimistic and heartbroken all at the same time. It's an important recognition about how frightening it can be to be a woman, and the scary possibility that it may never get much better. The narration is clever, and Offred is a likeable and relatable character, which makes the story easier to read, but the plot that ever-so-more terrifying.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I had to read this during my English GCSE, and found it difficult to read the first time around. I've since read it again, and absolutely loved it. It's such an important book, that focuses on the role of race, family and culture that I've not really experienced in any other book that I've read. It's extremely eye-opening to a to a time that I don't know as existing in this manner, because thankfully, it was long before I was born, but it's obviously so important to recognise that these times existed, and although racism is still a problem within society, we have come some way since the details mentioned in To Kill a Mockingbird. A sometimes difficult read, but I think it should be a compulsory read for everyone at least once in your life.

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard of this book. It's a collection of memos from Adam Kay from when he worked as a doctor on a maternity ward in the NHS. It's funny, and lovely and heartbreaking all at the same time, and gives you a real appreciation from NHS workers in a whole new light. The writing style is wonderful, and the humour is top notch as well. Honestly just a wonderful book to read.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I think out of this list, this is probably the most controversial, because a lot of people don't like this novel for the story or the writing. I first read this over the summer finishing year 11, and then I studied it in English Literature A level, and I read it maybe 3 times over those 2 years (hence the writing in the book - it's not something I normally do!). Reading at a slightly deeper level, this is obviously not the love story it's sometimes marketed as, it's more of a commentary on the layers of society and is quite a complicated novel in parts. I don't particularly like any of the characters in the book, which I normally struggle with, but I really like the book nonetheless, and I think a lot of that is down to Fitzgerald's writing style.

And that's it! Round up of books complete. There will definitely be some books I remember in the middle of the night and regret not putting on this list, but these are the firm favourites I concluded after several days of thinking. What are your favourite books? Have you read any on this list?

All my love (& happy reading!),

Em x