In honour of World Book Day, the HLN team share their all-time favourite books…
From pocketbooks full of positive vibes to classic romantic epics via some inspirational seagulls, the HLN team’s favourite books says a lot about the diversity in our office!
PIRANESI BY SUSANNA CLARKE
This is THE ultimate mystery.
Piranesi lives in the House. In his notebook, he records everything: the labyrinth of rooms, the thousands of statues, the thunderous tides and the clouds that occupy the upper levels. On Tuesdays and Fridays, he sees his friend, the Other, but mostly he is alone.
Messages begin to appear, scratched in chalk. There is someone new in the House – but are they friend or foe?
There are so many reasons I adore this book, all of which I can’t tell you otherwise I’d spoil it! But all you need to know is, I could not put this down from the first page. If you read one book this year, it has to be Piranesi.
THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY BY MATT HAIG
This is a story about a young woman called Nora Seed, whose life has been full of regret. As a child, she showed great promise as a professional swimmer and a musician, but due to circumstances she reaches her mid-30s feeling that she’s underachieved and is in the midst of depression.
One day, when she loses her job and her cat dies, she decides to end it all and is taken to the Midnight Library – a place between life and death, where she can experience all the lives she could have led if different choices had been made. It’s a really great book that gave me a new perspective on life and the choices we make.
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE BY EDITH WHARTON
A golden oldie in every sense of the word. Written in 1920 (and winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 – making Wharton the first woman ever to win the award), The Age of Innocence perfectly captures the Gilded Age of old New York City’s aristocracy in all its misplaced glory.
Despite being set at the end of the 19th century, where the stereotypes and expectations of the old world battle with those of the new – particularly, the expectations of women – Wharton’s novel raises questions around morality, public perception and the power of gossip that are still painfully relevant today.
Plus, it has everything you could ever hope from a romantic epic – scandal, wit, forbidden love, betrayal, humour, regret and social tragedy. What’s not to love?!
JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL BY RICHARD BACH
This story follows a seagull: Jonathan Livingston. Jonathan grows up among his flock, but he starts to discover that he isn’t like his flock mates and is bored of the daily squabbles over things like food. He fills his time perfecting his flying, learning new techniques and tricks. Eventually, though, his lack of conformity leads to him becoming excluded from the flock. So, Jonathan heads off on his own journey of discovery…
I just love this book. I’m not here for any religious symbolism, but I am here for its message that it’s ok to not be the same as everyone around you. I first read this book on the recommendation of my Dad when I was a young teenager, at a time when everything was changing for me and I felt that I didn’t have the same interests as my peers. This book allowed me to see the joy and importance of embracing your individuality, flying free, but also remembering that it’s impossible to get the most from life without helping others fly free around you.
GOOD VIBES, GOOD LIFE BY VEX KING
I normally find it so hard to get lost in a book – as my brain is always going 100mph, 24/7 – so it’s hard for me to switch off. But I really did struggle to put this Vex King masterpiece down. It was a very uplifting, quick read that has given me a completely different outlook on life.
The overall message is about maintaining positive vibes in your life by surrounding yourself with positive people and trusting in the law of attraction. I love the fact that Vex shares his own personal experiences, good and bad, and proves that no one’s life is as picture-perfect as it seems. It’s a book that I can always go back to when I need a little boost of positivity.
LOOKING FOR ALASKA BY JOHN GREEN
You may know John Green from The Fault in our Stars, but this is my favourite of his books. I read this book as a teenager and the message stuck with me ever since.
This coming-of-age novel is about being young and everything that comes with it. As you read, you realise the real beauty of it is that youth doesn’t hide anything. Green’s novel follows a group of teens trying to navigate what it is to grow up: their friendships, heartbreak, self-discovery and being emotionally vulnerable, all in an honest light. Protagonist Miles moves to boarding school seeking ‘The Great Perhaps’, but gets sucked into the smart, beautiful and complicated Alaska’s ‘labyrinth’…
Looking For Alaska also features one of my all-time favourite quotes: ‘if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.’