Starter for Ten by David Nicholls
I’ll admit, I saw the film of Starter for Ten before I read the book. However, when I found out it was originally a book, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Starter for Ten follows Brian’s attempt to face university life. Always a fan of University Challenge, he grabs the chance to be on the team. Nicholls’ style is comforting and easy to slip into. The story is uplifting and hilarious; you cringe at but sympathise with Brian as he deals with girl troubles and intense competition. Will Brian’s University Challenge dream live up to expectations? You’ll have read it to find out (or watch the film, but I challenge you to read the book first).
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I first read To Kill a Mockingbird for GCSE English, and like most books you are forced to read at school, I was slightly reluctant. Upon reading it for a second time, I fell in love with it. With a greater understanding of the context and the morals it explores in society, Harper Lee makes you think about the bigger picture. I sympathised with Scout, who wants to understand more about the world around her, particularly the treatment of outsiders in her community. I learnt a lot from the compelling lessons in this story; they are timeless which allows the book to be one to go back to countless times.
Stars and Bars by William Boyd
Stars and Bars was a recommendation for while I travelled across Canada in the summer of 2015. Even though the book is mainly set in the American south, it felt appropriate to read while exploring a new country, driving for miles in vast landscapes. Henderson Dores is a British art assessor whose latest job takes him out of his comfort zone when he is invited by a curious man to view a collection of Impressionist paintings. After a series of mishaps, Dores is forced to stay there longer than planned, encountering an array of colourful characters. Stars and Bars is a funny but wild story about a man who is in crisis both within himself and in his surroundings.
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
Beginning in the 1964, Funny Girl tells the story of Barbara Parker who dreams of being a comedy star with her own television programme. After she meets a television producer, an audition leads to stardom and a change of name, but this life is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Hornby’s style is similar to David Nicholls – witty yet moving – and he provides a delightful story with a lot of heart while, despite being fictional, reveals the often harsh reality of the entertainment industry.
Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter
Renée and Flo are two fifteen-year-old girls who become unlikely friends when stumbling through school life, dysfunctional families, and the isolation of living in Guernsey. With their clashing personalities, there are likely obstacles on the way where the strength of female friendship is explored. The experiences of these characters are relatable; the novel is honest and doesn’t shy away from the difficulties of growing up. The sequel Goose is definitely worth a read too, and a third in the series is on its way.
Published in the Razz Magazine (The University of Exeter’s Arts and Lifestyle Magazine) Autumn Edition 2016
(I do not own the image used in this piece)