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My Top 5 Post-Dissertation Reads

I am someone who loves to read – especially fiction books. Since I was a child, reading has been one of my favourite pastimes, but this term university has really gotten in the way of my reading for fun. Since 2012, I have kept a list of all the books I’ve read; last year I totalled forty books! But, it is almost April and the trials and stresses of the final year of my degree have meant that I have had no time (and no energy) to be able to add to my list!

My plan, then, for post-dissertation time is to read as much as I can for fun! With this deadline slowly but surely creeping up on me, I decided to put together a list of five of the books I am most looking forward to sinking my teeth into. This form of procrastination is a great way for me to think beyond my degree, even if its just in a small and fun capacity, and I hope it will help you calm your post-deadline stress too. 

1. The Best of Adam Sharpe by Graeme Simsion

I have had a bookmark a small way into this book since January, but alas, I have not had time to make much progress with it. I cannot wait to do so! I first read one of Graeme Simsion’s books, The Rosie Project  back in 2015. I fell in love with his writing so much that the following year I reread it, and followed it with the sequel The Rosie Effect. The Rosie Project is one of my favourite books, and it is one that I often buy for friends as a birthday present. It is such an enjoyable read and is highly entertaining.

Due to my love for his writing, I was excited for the publication of The Best of Adam Sharpe. This book follows Adam, a man who, twenty years on, rekindles a relationship with the woman he believes is the love of his life. The role of music in relation to memory and life is one that is considered within this novel, and Simsion has even included a soundtrack list in the back of the book.

2. Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I saw the movie adaptation of Wonder back in autumn at an early screening on World Kindness Day and I fell in love. The movie was incredible, and so moving. Having enjoyed this so much, I knew I had to get a hold of the book it was based on and experience the source material for such a beautiful movie for myself. I loved the pureness, and love that was found in the movie and am excited to find the time to read (and cry at) this particular book.

3. The Power by Naomi Alderman

A book that boasts a quote from the incredible Margaret Atwood on the front is definitely one that I need to read. On top of this, the novel won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017 which therefore makes it both a well-reviewed and a very appealing prospect. I enjoy reading dystopian fiction, and the idea of a dystopian novel which gives the power to women is one which sounds brilliant. In our current social and political climate, engaging feminist literature serves as a reminder of the role of women today and how patriarchy is still reinforced in many places and in many ways. I have a feeling that The Power, with its strong themes and inventive plot, will be an irresistible read.

4. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017 and has received numerous rave reviews from many famous outlets and people, such as Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama. Tackling the difficult subject of slavery in America on the cotton plantations, this novel is said to explore the attempted escape of a slave named Cora who uses the underground railroad to break her bonds of slavery and live in freedom. 

As a history student, I find historical fiction especially captivating, particularly those novels which tackle such important themes. Having read narratives written by real-life slaves who managed to flee such as Frederick Douglass, I know this is a novel that will continue to capture my interest even when I’m done reading it. I am ready for this novel to consume both my waking and sleeping thoughts, as it is said to be engrossing and devastating all at once.

5. The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley

This novel is the second in a series of books which are currently being published. I read the first of these,The Seven Sisters, last summer, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The premise of the series is that the father of six adopted daughters passes away, following which each daughter receives information that will help them trace their heritage and discover where they are from.

The Seven Sisters followed Maia, the eldest daughter, in her journey to Brazil. One of my favourite aspects of this book was the time jump. When discovering her family history, Riley takes the narrative back in time so the reader can experience the lives of Maia’s ancestors. I am excited to see how Riley continues her series, as this sequel is focused on Ally, another one of the sisters.

For anyone worrying about deadlines, dissertations, or exams, I recommend thinking about what you are looking forward to doing when you’re done for the year! In thinking about the books I am going to read, it has reminded me that there are other things in life besides deadline and exam panic, and it’s a great stress reliever!

English and History student at University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus. I spent a year studying abroad at University College Cork, Ireland.
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