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Another year has arrived, and yet the books are still piled high on your shelf, rows of coloured spines gleaming at you, left unread for an embarrassingly long time. If you’re anything like me, and this sight sounds all too familiar, you might be happy to know that you’re not alone, and there is even a Japanese word to describe it: tsundoku. When January comes around, bringing with it the crisp air of possibility and determination, now is the best time to tackle that ever-increasing TBR pile. To help you make the most your new year’s reading resolutions, I’ve put together a list of books that will hopefully leave you feeling inspired.

“Some things ultimately remain unknowable, despite our attempts to grasp at the truth”

White Teeth, by Zadie Smith (2000)

This modern classic seemed like a fitting book to begin this list, since it opens with a New Year’s Eve party in 1975. Set against the cultural tapestry of twentieth-century London, Smith’s debut novel depicts the unlikely friendship between two WWII veterans, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal, and follows the fates of their two families across the decades. While at times Smith’s prose can feel rather self-conscious, I found it to be an expansive, witty, thought-provoking read – and one that ties in well with the start of a new year.

Beloved, by Toni Morrison (1987)

Toni Morrison’s Beloved is another influential classic to cross off your TBR list, and this year is a great time to do so, with a new edition featuring an introduction by Bernadine Evaristo to be published next month. Recalling the horrors of slavery with deeply uncomfortable honesty, Morrison’s novel traces the story of Sethe, a woman who is haunted by the violent, traumatic memories of her enslaved past. Morrison offers us glimpses of events from differing perspectives, forcing us to question whether some things ultimately remain unknowable, despite our attempts to grasp at the truth. Though Beloved is far from an easy read, it’s an important one, its themes of race, violence, and motherhood still as relevant today as they were thirty years ago.

“Winman’s colourful ensemble of characters are created with such tender warmth and compassion”

Still Life, by Sarah Winman (2021)

With 2021 at an end, perhaps now is the time to look back over some of the best books published during the year, and catch up on all those titles that we missed. Sarah’s Winman’s Still Life is a sweeping, joyful novel that begins in Tuscany in 1944, where a chance encounter between Evelyn, an art historian in her sixties, and Ulysses, a young British soldier, results in an enduring friendship that spans decades. Winman’s colourful ensemble of characters are created with such tender warmth and compassion, I think it’s the perfect book to start your year with and restore your faith in humanity.

A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen (1879)


Mountain View

Autumnal Reading List

Drama can often get neglected amidst other forms of literature, but the start of a new year is the best time to step outside of your reading comfort zone and try a new genre. Set during a Norwegian Christmas in the 1870s, Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is often seen as a landmark work for its depiction of a married woman seeking independence and fulfilment beyond her family life. Whether or not Ibsen’s play truly ushered in a new social era, as many critics proclaimed, its powerful statement about the idealised nature of love still holds a striking relevance for us in 2022.

Empowered, by Vee Kativhu (2021)

In this remarkable memoir, education activist Vee Kativhu traces her journey from Zimbabwe to the UK, drawing on her own experiences of grief and hardship to inspire others to overcome adversity. She writes on a variety of topics, from staying motivated in the face of rejection to nurturing feelings of self-love. True to its name, this book will leave you feeling really inspired about the year to come.