Sometimes a book is so good it clings to me and never lets go. The stories in them just burrow under my skin and make homes within my very bones. So much so that even when I have all but forgotten the finer details of these stories, I still remember what it felt like reading them and how I felt long after I put them down. These are books that have stayed with me- books that I still think about til this day simply because of how they made me feel.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
If you know me personally, you should not be surprised that this is first in the list. The Book Thief is hands down my favourite book ever. I love stories that explore the human side of war and also stories that reimagine the way we see death. The Book Thief then becomes a cheat code because it's set in Hitler's German and narrated by a humanised version of death himself - which I found absolutely genius for obvious reasons. It explores concepts of well dying ( because - of course) and loss overall. But it also delves into issues of friendship, and love and found family and hope. It's tearjerking. I cry even at the thought of it. It's beautifully bloody brilliant. I will never not recommend this book.
The Seven Husband's of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins
This is the most recent read on this list. But also the book that took me out of a reading slump. What a remarkable book, my gawd. It basically follows the life and times of a virtual nobody who rises to Hollywood stardom and the complicated decisions she (and those around her) make - such as marrying a number of different people to deter the press from certain aspects of their lifestyles. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I might have devoured this in one sitting but it would take 24 hours and then some for me to divulge everything I felt during and after I read this.
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
I don't remember much of this. But I do remember how I felt when reading it - which is jealous. Never have I been more captivated by the surrealness of a story and its writing. Emezi uses terrifyingly riveting language to weave the ethereal story of Ada who contains multiple selves that soon take more control of her and her decisions - pushing her into the very dark recesses of her own mind. I was blown away by everything in this book. Extremely creative. Extremely groundbreaking. Extremely memorable. Good all the way through.
Stay with me by Ayobami Adebayo
Stay with me is what I'd like to call a love story that isn't a romance. It follows a marriage in which the husband and wife clearly love each other from the beginning but is put to the test when they repeatedly fail to conceive. Outside of the pressure from the husband's family, the wife herself also wants children of her own which leads to a lot of drastic measures that in turn drive rifts between them but also unravel a lot of truths and untruths. Just an absolutely compelling rollercoaster of a story. True to its name, it stayed with me.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
Another gorgeous piece by Emezi that made me both absolutely uncomfortable and enthralled. God I'm so jealous of their writing. The Death of Vivek Oji is about love between two cousins (which was so weird in itself) but also an exploration of being both openly queer and closeted in a country that's totally against it. But also, about reincarnation? It's a lot really, but in the most compellingly good ways possible.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
This is such a beautiful and haunting love story told from the two points of view of girl named Violet who has some sort of survivor's grief and forgotten how to live and a lovely lovely troubled boy named Theodore who struggles with bipolar even though he refuses to accept it. This book is so gorgeously tragic that even thinking about it breaks my heart.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Unlike all the other stories on this list, I didn't immediately appreciate how beautiful this story is. Angasa (and so many people) gave it good reviews, perfect 5/5s and I just didn't get it. But as the days went after putting it down, I couldn't get the story out of my mind. What a riveting exploration -told through two generations - about finding a path, white passing, sisterhood and being trans in the 19-whatevers. I may not have thought much of the story while I was reading, but I thought of it long after I closed the last page. So much so that my rating of it has since gone up.