I set myself a challenge to read 30 books in 2016 because while I love books and reading I find that lately with the internet and Netflix I spend less and less time actually sitting down with a book. The first book I read I actually started in 2015 since I got it for Christmas but I finished it in 2016 so I'm going to count it. I finished three books in January; I enjoyed all of them (and have written reviews on each of them below) but the book of the month for me was The Illegal by Lawrence Hill.
The Illegal - Lawrence Hill
The Illegal follows marathon runner Keita Ali from the fictional country of Zantoroland from his childhood to his 20s when he is forced to flee his country to the more affluent (also fictional) Freedon State. Keita's father is a renowned journalist who discovers something about the Zantoroland and Freedom State governments and is killed for what he knows. Keita, who has only ever dreamed of being a marathon runner and running in the olympics, is then forced to run for his life.
Through his complex and diverse characters Hill creates a story that is hard to put down and sheds important light on what it means to be "an illegal" and on the refugee crisis in our world today. Hill's previous novel The Book of Negroes is one of the best books I've ever read; I wouldn't say that his new novel is as good, the ending almost wraps up too neatly, but it's a great story that I really enjoyed reading.
Dark Places - Gillian Flynn
I've only recently gotten into reading more mystery/thriller novels (I only read my first Wallander in December), I first read Gone Girl (by the same author) when I was on vacation last year so I was excited to read Dark Places when I got it as a gift for Christmas. The novel follows Libby Day who was 7 when her sisters and mother were murdered and at age 7 testified that her brother Ben was the killer. 25 years later Libby has run out of money and is approached by a group of amateur investigators who offer to pay her to approach people from her past and help them investigate the murder of her family. The novel flashes from the present to what her mother Patty and Ben were doing on the day leading up to the murders.
The clues in this novel unfold at such a rate that I just wanted to keep reading it to find out what happened next. I think this would be a great book to bring on vacation or read at the beach, it's not too long it's not super complicated but it's still interesting and engaging and I personally enjoyed it more that Gone Girl. I'm also a big fan of reading the book before the movie because the book is almost always better.
Why Not Me? - Mindy Kaling
I love Mindy Kaling. The Mindy Project is one of my favourite shows, I quote Kelly Kapoor from The Office on a daily basis; I don't care if it's not appropriate if you ask me if I have any questions I will say "I have a lot of questions. Number one, how dare you?" every. single. time. It's possible that my adoration for Mindy Kaling biases my review of her book just a little bit but I found Why Not Me? to be fascinating and funny. I found her section on work from writing on The Office to getting her own TV show very interesting and it was very inspiring to see just how much work she puts in and how much of a labour of love The Mindy Project is.
I think my favourite part of the book was the one titled "All The Opinions You Will Ever Need." This sections covers being an unlikely leading lady, her Harvard Law speech, what she worries about at 4am, and then the final essay "Why Not Me?" "4am Worries" makes me feel better about my anxieties knowing that even fabulous, brilliant writer Mindy Kaling panics about silly things at night and I think a lot of young women would find her final essay where she offers advice about confidence helpful. Basically if you love Mindy Kaling you will love this, or if you're a young woman eager to read about a successful, hard working, woman you will find this incredibly inspiring.