Natalie's Top 5 for 2017

Natalie has been absolutely devouring books this year, and here is her top five!!

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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

From the New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself.

I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.
In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as "wildly undisciplined," Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care.

In Hunger, she explores her past-including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life-and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved-in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

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I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O'Farrell

An extraordinarily intimate memoir of the the brushes with death that have made Maggie O'Farrell the woman and the writer she is today, for readers of The Last Act of Love and When Breath Becomes Air.

I Am, I Am, I Am is Sunday Times bestseller and Costa Novel-Award winner Maggie O'Farrell's electric and shocking memoir of the near death experiences that have punctuated her life; it will appeal to readers of Cheryl Strayed's Wild or Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking.

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital.

This is a memoir with a difference: seventeen encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal to us a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots. It is a book to make you question yourself: what would you do if your life was in danger? How would you react? And what would you stand to lose?

I Am, I Am, I Am is a book you will finish newly conscious of your own vulnerability, and determined to make every heartbeat count.

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

A compulsive, brilliant novel about race, identity, family and secrets for fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith.

The brilliant new novel by the author of the New York Times bestseller, Everything I Never Told You.

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren an enigmatic artist and single mother who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons' friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family and Mia's.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

'I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting' Jodi Picoult

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Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes

A moving celebration of what Bill Hayes calls "the evanescent, the eavesdropped, the unexpected" of life in New York City, and an intimate glimpse of his relationship with the late Oliver Sacks.

Bill Hayes came to New York City in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city's incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera.

And he unexpectedly fell in love again, with his friend and neighbor, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose exuberance "I don't so much fear death as I do wasting life," he tells Hayes early on is captured in funny and touching vignettes throughout. What emerges is a portrait of Sacks at his most personal and endearing, from falling in love for the first time at age seventy-five to facing illness and death (Sacks died of cancer in August 2015). Insomniac City is both a meditation on grief and a celebration of life. Filled with Hayes's distinctive street photos of everyday New Yorkers, the book is a love song to the city and to all who have felt the particular magic and solace it offers.

"A beautifully written once-in-a-lifetime book, about love, about life, soul, and the wonderful loving genius Oliver Sacks, and New York, and laughter and all of creation." - Anne Lamott

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Tin Man by Sarah Winman

The unforgettable and achingly tender new novel from Sarah Winman, author of the international bestseller When God was a Rabbit and the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller A Year of Marvellous Ways.

It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men, and then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything.

Tin Man sees Sarah Winman follow the acclaimed success of When God was a Rabbit and A Year of Marvellous Ways with a love letter to human kindness and friendship, loss and living.