Monday, 25 September 2017

Guest Post from Nana Wintour // Top Five Books of 2017 So Far



When Sophie asked me to put together this list for her blog, I jumped at the chance. Talking about books is something I never turn down the opportunity to do. Although what I was not anticipating was quite how difficult I would find narrowing this list down. This selection of five is by no means definitive and isn’t in any particular order. The books I have selected though are all ones that have stood out and left a lasting impression on me in 2017.

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
This is perhaps not a widely shared opinion but on the whole, I really enjoyed studying Shakespeare at school. So when this book, a retelling of The Tempest made its way onto the shelves and eventually into my hands, I was intrigued. It did not disappoint. Set in a men’s prison, Felix devises a rehabilitative program where inmates are tasked with performing their own Shakespeare play. They decide how the story will be told, are encouraged to think critically about their characters and really take ownership for the staging. While at the surface level this book may just seem to be a consideration of Shakespearean study taking on an unfamiliar setting, Atwood also paints incredibly vivid pictures of our protagonist Felix here and also Anne Marie who steps in to play Miranda.

Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young
This book came to the world’s attention this year when Young won the Wyndham Campbell prize. It was also awarded the Ockham Prize in May. Young’s writing truly stands out. I could resonate particularly with the stories of small-town New Zealand life and childhood. One essay that has stayed with me was about her time working at the Katherine Mansfield house. The entire book is full of wordy treasures though and while I am not sure how readily available this book is outside New Zealand, those of you who are local should really get your hands on a copy.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
It pains me to think we will most likely not experience more of Carrie’s writing unless of course, it comes to us posthumously. She was brilliant and her writing is at its best in Wishful Drinking. Inspired by the show she performed of the same name. It chronicles her early dealings with mental illness and the pitfalls of a young life in the spotlight among other things. It’s not a book that is all dreary, woe is me and vice versa. Instead, it offers a refreshing, candid and at times utterly hilarious perspective on life. As Fisher herself puts it “if life weren’t funny, it’d just be true and that’s unacceptable.”

I’ll Tell You In Person by Chloe Caldwell
Caldwell’s writing is delicious and delectable. I still think about her essay Sisterless in particular but I really enjoyed this entire book. Her work is a bit difficult to track down but it is worth the pursuit.

The Clothing of Books by Jumpa Lahiri
This slim volume is perhaps one for the true literary obsessives. Nonetheless, it is an interesting essay, adapted from a talk Lahiri gave. It looks at the way in which a book is presented affects our perceptions. t explores the nuances of book covers, how as a writer they mark the tangibility of ideas and the finality of work. She also discusses the loss of ownership of one's identity that can happen during the creative but non-collaborative process between designer and writer.

Sophie blogs over at Nana Wintour and you can find her on all her social media: YouTube | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook. Sophie is the loveliest so if you don't already, do chuck her a follow!


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