Fox&Songbird

Books that are truly worth reading

Rachel

I’m Rachel and I do a little bit of everything. I spend most of my time blogging, making Youtube videos and taking photos, but I also work as a freelance digital marketer and web designer. In my free time I enjoy painting, going to gigs and spending far too many hours looking at pictures of dogs on the internet. Oh and reading. I do a lot of that too!

Books have always been a huge part of my life and I credit my sister with my love of crime fiction and science books. I also enjoy reading graphic novels, nature books, fantasy, horror, short stories and even a bit of poetry now and again. Basically, if it sounds cool I’ll give it a read.

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is one of those books I can (and do!) read over and over again. It has everything I could possible want from a good book; an intriguing plot with twists that I get genuinely invested in every time I read it, one of my all-time favourite couples whose relationship develops in such a subtle yet compelling way, and, of course, a heroine who I seriously admire.

Jane is my hero. Growing up, I saw a lot of my own traits in her but also a lot of the things I wanted to be. She’s never really accepted by society because she’s ‘plain’ and not as traditionally feminine as other girls but she never lets that hold her back. She’s headstrong with clear morals and she’s never afraid to fight for them, even when that means making difficult decisions. She’s intelligent, witty and fiercely independent and, to me at least, that makes her a pretty awesome role model.

Jane Eyre changed my opinion on the classics. I always assumed they were dull, slow and unnecessarily difficult to read, but this is none of those things. It’s a genuinely compelling story of Jane’s life from childhood to marriage with elements of gothic horror, romance and even a little action!

Fables Volume 1: Legends in Exile

By Bill Willingham

I got into graphic novels and comics far too late in my life and I thoroughly regret the fact I dismissed them as 'silly' for so many years. While the first graphic novel series I read was Angel: After the Fall (thanks to the TV series ending so abruptly), it was Fables that made me fall in love with the format.

Legends in Exile is the first volume in the Fables series which tells the story of all your favourite characters from fairy tales, legends, fables and myths living in modern-day New York after escaping the evil Adversary who has conquered their homelands. This first volume is the perfect introduction to the characters and world they now live in, as we see the now reformed Big Bag Wolf (or Bigby as he’s now known) investigating the murder of Rose Red.

Fables is the perfect combination of fast-paced storytelling, beautiful artwork and a thoroughly original interpretation of some of the greatest character in literature. Throughout the series it showcases magic, action, fantasy, romance and even some James Bond-style spying, so there really is something for everyone!

Furiously Happy

By Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy is Jenny Lawson’s second book and it’s less of an autobiography and more of a collection of funny and ridiculously honest stories, which made me snort-laugh several times while reading it in public.

While as individuals I feel like me and her are completely different, she still made so many parts of the book so relatable; she talks a lot about mental illness, being a blogger and just the everyday occurrences of being a slightly weird person, surrounded by slightly less weird people.

One of the big things I loved about this book is how it’s not some preachy manual for ‘how I got over my mental illness‘. Instead, she talks candidly about how she still suffers with anxiety and episodes of depression in a way that shows she’s accepted it as being a part of who she is but not in a defeatist way. She’s obviously smart, she’s funny and she’s successful and it’s really uplifting to read about a woman who doesn’t let the bad moments overwhelm the awesomeness of the rest of her life!

Awakening

By Sharon Bolton

From what I remember, this is the book that got me into crime-fiction and thrillers. My sister leant me this book when I was around 16 and it’s still one of my favourites today.

Awakening is the story of a young, reclusive veterinary surgeon who is thrown into the centre of a murder investigation when, first, snakes start to invade the homes of her neighbours and then, a local man is found dead, supposed killed by a snake bite. Without giving too much away, this is one of the creepiest and most intriguing books I’ve ever read. It gave me literal chills in parts and I read it pretty much in 1 or 2 sittings.

As only her second books it doesn’t quite have the polish or the fast pacing of some of her later novels, particularly the Lacey Flint series, but it does have some wonderful characters, a really exciting and unique plot and a way of drawing you in and keeping you hooked from the first pages. I got so immersed in this story I was actually sad when it ended.

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime

By Val McDermid

I wanted to end this selection with a non-fiction book and there were a hell of a lot I wanted to talk about but one in particular kept coming back to me. It’s not the kind of book everyone will enjoy but for anyone with an interest in human biology, history or crime, it is fascinating.

In Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime, Val McDermid outlines the history of forensic science and the different methods used to investigate a crime scene. She starts with the basics of crime scene investigation as it was in the 1800s and goes on to detail how each field has developed over the years, alongside scientific advances and changes to the law.

It’s by no means the most detailed or scientifically specific book out there but it gives a fantastic overview of a large number of fields including entomology, pathology, toxicology, fingerprinting, DNA analysis, blood splatter analysis and a number of others. Unlike similar books, what makes this stand out is that it also looks at things like Fire Scene Investigation and Digital Forensics (tracking people’s activity online) so it really does talk about investigating and collecting evidence from all crimes, not just murders or assaults.

Val McDermid is, ultimately, a storyteller, so while this book is super-informative, the highlight is probably the examples she gives and anecdotes she tells about how each technique has been used in real crime investigation throughout history. Despite such a dark subject matter it is a very enjoyable read and you come away having learnt a hell of a lot.

Published April 2017