18 December, 2014
What's On HK

Top 12 books to read over the holidays

18 December, 2014

Things are starting to wind down as we get closer and closer to Christmas… phew! The holidays are all about spending time with with the people you love and let’s admit it – it’s nice to have a little break from work too! Make sure you relax this Christmas… and what better way to relax than curling up in a cosy armchair with a cup of hot chocolate and good book? Time to give your eyes a break from the computer screen and catch up on some reading! We’ve rounded up our Top 12 books to read over the holidays – one book for every 12 days of Christmas. Time to seriously unwind and get away from in all through literature…

FICTION

Sometimes you just want to be transported away… get stuck into these wonderful novels!

language-of-flowers-book-cover-image-449x600The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
During the 1800s there was a very popular way of communicating: floriography, the language of flowers. Bouquets of flowers were put together to communicate a message, and suitors were very precise, calculating exactly what flowers they needed to say what they wanted to their recipients. To declare love, send red roses; to spread cheerfulness, send Gerber daisies; to declare friendship, send geraniums and so on…. In the modern day tale of The Language Flowers, Victoria is the orphaned child turned homeless. She is devoid of knowing how to love, be happy, or make friends. In a story that visits the past and deals with the present, Victoria is finally able to make a future through flowers, learning to communicate and finding love. Vanessa Diffenbaugh has crafted an utterly beautiful story in The Language Flowers.

goldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tart
Yes, The Goldfinch is a very long book, but Donna Tart did such an amazing job detailing the life of Theo that it’s worth the journey. Theo is an orphaned young boy, who becomes crafty early on in his life in order to avoid an orphanage. The one thing that keeps Theo going is the painting left to him in wild circumstances during the accident that took his mother’s life. Throughout Theo’s life he encounters people who always help, but after drug addiction, thievery, and fraud, he eventually is lead toward doing what’s best. There is a reason this book was chosen as the Pulitzer: the stories inside weave the past, present, and future into one solidifying conclusion.

ParisWifeThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Wouldn’t it have been something to live in Paris during the 1920s, and what if you were married to the infamous author, Ernest Hemingway? On second thought, maybe not…. The Paris Wife explores the life of Hadley Richardson during the time in which she met, fell in love with, and married Ernest Hemingway. It all sounds very dreamy, but Hemingway was known for his hot temper, his wandering eye, and his noncommittal ways. Obviously Hadley Richardson was a woman beyond her time: she was a fiercely independent yet supported Hemingway unfalteringly — two things that contradict throughout the entire novel. This historical fiction is excellent at enlightening the reader of the fast times of the 1920s, and it gives a magical glimpse of what it may have been like to socialise and be around during the time of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda.

ZZ: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald could be read as a companion to The Paris Wife. Although the two women couldn’t be more separate. While they have one major thing in common – marrying young and marrying determined authors – they are very different. Zelda was a dare devil, and she wasn’t afraid for everyone to know it, setting trends and making people talk. She came from money and did flaunt it, but she believed in F. Scott even when her father (and at times his money) did not. For all her insanities, she was very supportive of him, and for all her insecurities, she was very brave. Basically, Fowler sets out to show the humane side of Zelda. Yes she was idolised, but she was just one woman trying to support her not always supportive husband while attempting to stay true to herself.

YOUNG ADULT  

Why not go for something light and easy? It’s the holidays after all! And Young Adult fiction has given us some of the most successful books in the last couple of years…

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Do you feel like reliving your dorm days in college? Remember that first year away at school, living with a roommate, meeting new people, and starting an independent life? Fangirl is so good because it is so relatable. We have all been where Cath starts out: insecure, anxious, and little weary of all the newness of university life. Yet, day-by-day, independence becomes a part of our person. Reading about the development of Cath, the heroine of Fangirl, will strike a cord with many of its adult women readers just because many of us have been there. We all (hopefully!) have evolved into the strong women we aspired to, yet we obviously may have struggled along the way. Take a trip down memory lane…

WeWereLiarsWe Were Liars by Lockhart
Sometimes when explaining a book, less is indeed more. No one likes a spoiler, so that’s what could possibly happen in a book review of We Were Liars. Suffice it to say, when you start out reading this new title by E. Lockhart, you might think you are reading about one story, but by the end you will be thoroughly surprised. Therefore pay attention to all the little details — plot references, setting developments, interesting characteristic traits: “She is sugar, curiosity, and rain;” and “He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.” This lyrically written mystery is sure to take you somewhere you probably were not expecting, but that’s what makes this novel so good…

51i318LHixL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Every Day by David Levithan
Imagine waking up every single morning in a different body. This is the story of “A”, who has been waking up in someone else’s body every day of his or her life. “A” does not know her mother or father, she does not know her own body, and she does not know why her state is so. “A” does have a mind, she does have feelings, and she does want to have a body… When “A” falls in love with Rhiannon, she or he is now riddled with an utter desire for an every day that would last in one life, not multiple lives. This story really makes one think about love, individuality, time, the soul and the interception of all.

DaughterofSmokeandBoneDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Blue hair. Hamsas on doorways. Magical teeth wishes. Angels. Chimera. Akiva. Karou. This book is utterly sensual with a tragic love story at its heart — which is always the best kind! The love between these two completely separate beings will ignite readers then tear them up with love sickness. This story is part Romeo and Juliet with its tragedy, part Twilight with the beautiful hero and heroine, part Harry Potter in all its fantastical glory, and one more part Percy Jackson with its Greek mythology. One thing about this book is entirely how READABLE it is (especially when sitting somewhere cosy)! When someone is after a good story, one that they won’t be able to put down, I always give them Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

NON-FICTION

There’s always room for self-improvement, which is why we love reading a good non-fiction every now and then. Learn something as you relax!

#Girlboss#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
#Girlboss should be a mandatory read for all women — young or old and every age in-between! The lessons detailed throughout this book come from an authority on success: Sophia Amoruso, founder and owner of Nasty Gal. In reading this book, it will help any female rise to the top of her game. Rarely do I read and grab a pen like my old school days to highlight lines from a book, but when I read this title I had my (pink) pen in hand underlining quotes the entire way through. Amoruso’s advice doesn’t just equip me for my work place; her sentiments can be applied to my passions as well. Basically, we get what we put in, and more importantly we should put forth our very best, anything less is shortcutting our very own self! Here you have it from the #Girlboss herself: “It’s the age-old concept of like attracts like, or the law of attraction. You get back what you put out, so you might as well think positively, focus on visualising what you want instead of getting distracted by what you don’t want, and send the universe your good intentions so that it can send them right back.”

TheMaleBrain

The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine
It is rare that I read a book and then feel that every single woman I know should then read it. But, this is what has happened with The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine. When a non-fiction book is told in a such a way as to entertain plus inform me, I find myself hooked. I learned so much about the male gender from this book – from my son as an infant and now as a tweener to my father-in-law in the 20 years I have known him. Basically, Dr. Brizendine studies the effect that our male (and female) hormones play on our minds throughout our entire life, attributing our different stages and developments that our chemicals play on our brains. This book is exceptional! It focuses on concrete research yet backs it up with anecdotal stories. I’ve been recommending it to every young graduate woman I know, especially as she ventures out as an independent woman. Take it from me: if you want to get to know the male gender better, you should definitely read this book!

MindyKalingIs Everyone Hanging Out with Me? by Mindy Kaling
Only read this book if you think Mindy Kaling is a hoot. If you enjoy Mindy’s comedic nature, you will love this book. It will be like she’s just sat you down to take little walks down memory lane. You’ll feel like you’ve made a new gal pal. Let’s face it: Mindy is very relatable. She speaks honestly, and quite humorously, about topics like weight, dating, friendships, and identity. The book is inspirational because even though she’s a very famous person, she’s very real and grounded. She goes through insecurities but then tackles them, trying new things despite any fear, and she embraces life with all its ups and downs.

HowtobeParisianHow to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret, Sophie Mas
“The signature item is an attitude. It is the gun in your holster that makes you feel well dressed and invincible.” In this book, four French women dispel the secrets of French women – but wait, it isn’t necessarily the secrets that make French women so chic but rather an attitude. In anecdotal stories, little lists, and simple affirmations this book encourages women to be both proud and confident: “The Parisianne thinks she’s a role model. She can fill blogs and books with life advice. In fact, she loves being asked what she thinks”. One tip that I was proud to have have embraced was finding my signature perfume before thirty, and then sticking with it for the next thirty years! Although, a couple of lines down you’ll be encouraged to cheat on your perfume – but only on cold days. With chapters like “Own Your Bad Habits” and “Cultivate Your Allure” this title is at times nonsensical yet always quirky and fun; it could be read straight though or in bits in pieces. Think of it as the coffee table book for a woman’s boudoir.

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