One of my favourite things to do before the December holidays is forage around the internet and create a treasure chest of all the books I want to read. My lust knows no boundaries of taste or subject matter. I usually start off the holiday with something mindless, then move onto an epic story as my energy levels, fuelled by roast potatoes, creep up. Finally, around New Year, I'll break out the self help, hiding embarrassingly earnest instructions for love and life within my Kindle.
So, here is my Big December Book List. Get stuck in and let me know which ones were your favourites!
Psychological thrillers, horror stories and crime stories.
Icarus - Deon Meyer. Home grown Deon Meyer is always ready with a quick, thrilling plot, and many fans are calling Icarus his best yet. Don't read this during family gatherings, as you'll get caught up in it and won't talk to anyone there.
Look at Me- Jennifer Egan. While not a new book, Look at Me deserves a mention because it is a creepy prediction of our current tech-obsessed society and the war on Isis. Egan is well known for winning the Pullitzer for A Visit from the Goon Squad, and I found it so satisfying to read a thriller written by such a talented voice.
The Memory Box - Eva Lesko Natiello. What happened if you Googled yourself and found out shocking information that you had no memory of? This thriller is not the best book you'll read in your life, but it will keep you completely enthralled for a day or two on the beach.
Did you ever have a family - Bill Clegg. The night before her daughter's wedding, June Reid loses her daughter, her daughter's fiancé and her ex-husband in a tragic house fire. What really happened that night in Connecticut?
This one time - Alex Van Tonder. Get ready for a dark, dirty thriller set in the digital age. Alex writes with the spite and biting observation of Bret Easton Ellis, and a powerful feminist undertone. Best of all, she's a local talent.
Day Four - Sarah Lotz. A thriller / horror set in a cruise ship. What's not to love! I have an aversion to cruises, so this book fed my phobia nicely.
True and fictional stories of people growing, changing and overcoming odds.
Nobody is ever missing - Catherine Lacey. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to leave your ordinary life, book a one way ticket and discover yourself, this book is for you. Elryia leaves her family in Manhattan for a hitch-hiker's life in New Zealand, learning what it means to be a woman along the way.
In Order to Live : A North Korean's Journey to Freedom - Yeomni Park. Park makes her way through North Korea, China and Mongolia, battling smugglers and human traffickers, to escape death and starvation and find freedom. My blurb is doing this magnificent, inspiring book no justice, so read it for yourself to grasp the full magnitude of this inspiring story.
Blackout : Remembering the things I drank to forget - Sarah Hepola. I love a getting-clean story. While some of us don't experience the ravages of addiction first hand, we can all identify with being self-destructive and not acting in our own best interests. Whenever we journey alongside someone through the difficult process of freeing their lives of drugs or alcohol, we have an opportunity to examine ourselves
LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP
Complex, heart-wrenching tales about the relationships between lovers, friends and family.
Thirst - Kerry Hudson. While it's cover may look like chick-lit or a vacant love story, Thirst is so much more than that. It's a charming, complex novel about two misfits falling in love during the London summer, trying to figure out where they belong.
Elena Ferrante - The Neopolitan Novels. This four-book series charts the complicated friendship between two women in Naples. Ferrante is getting considerable hype for these novels and understandably so. I never usually read epic novels, but I am completely enthralled by the characters and feel as if every chapter makes me a better person. This is my choice of reading material for when I go on honeymoon next week!
Petronille - Amelie Northob. Another moving, complex tale about female friendship, this time set in France. Expect the literary equivalent of Thelma and Louise, with lots of style, French flair and gallons of champagne.
Fierce Attachments - Vivian Gornick. If December does anything, it enhances the nuances of our family relationships. If you struggle with family, you'll identify with this coming of age novel set in New York, where the protagonist struggles to break from the grip of her mother.
Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff. This novel tells the story of a marriage over the course of several decades, revealing dazzling truths and lies along the way. Expect detailed studies of each character, and differing perspectives that keep you reading on.
Books that tell a compelling story and suck you into a new world.
City on Fire - Garth Risk Hallberg. An epic, monstrous tale of New York in the seventies. A cast of punks, renegades, reluctant heirs and families are brought together when two gunshots ring out in Central Park on New Years Eve.
Istanbul: Memories and the City - Orhan Pamuk. What better way to travel a city than through the words of one of our time's most accomplished writers? Orhan presents a beautiful story of the history of the city, while reflecting on his internal world at the same time.
The Fishermen - Chigozi Obioma. This novel is a coming of age story, set in 1990's small town Nigeria. While the story, laced with Igbo mythology and lyrical writing, focusses on one family's history, this is an allegory for the history of Nigeria itself. Hailed as one of the best books to come out of the continent in 2015, it's worth a read.
My Documents - Alejandro Zambra. This evocative puzzle of short stories (found in the writer's My Documents folder) paints a picture of the various facets of Chilean life, all through the voice of one of it's hottest writers.
A field guide to getting lost - Rebecca Solnit. The perfect companion to all adventurers that explores the joy of getting lost in the unknown.
Hard to classify, but impossible to put down, usually because of a fantastic writing style and unique viewpoint.
The First Bad Man - Miranda July. This book is a wonderful story of an unlovable misfit who finds love where nobody would expect it. Miranda July is an incredible storyteller and observer of humanity, which makes this odd, shocking little story a heartwarming treat.
I love Dick - Chris Kraus. This genre-blurring novel isn't new, but is enjoying a resurgence thanks to rave reviews by Lena Dunham and Alexa Chung. The novel revolves around a married artists' obsession with a younger rebel, but is being touted as an important piece of modern feminist discourse.