5 Women’s Health editors share their favourite books in celebration of World Book Day
One of the most common exhortations to budding writers is that the key to honing your writing skills is to read more, so it comes as no surprise that we on the editorial team at Women's Health consider ourselves proud book worms.
We'll take any opportunity to recommend the latest book we couldn't put down, so World Book Day seemed like the perfect time to wrack our brains for our absolute favourites that we think should be next up in your book line up.
What is World Book Day?
Founded by UNESCO in 1995, World Book Day serves as a celebration of books and reading that aims to encourage young people to discover a love of reading.
According to the World Book Day website, reading for pleasure is a huge indicator of future positive outcomes for children.
On top of just being an enjoyable activity, reading has been proven to improve the memory, focus, empathy and communication skills of those who read regularly. With all this in mind, it's no surprise over at WH we are always expounding the benefits of sitting down with a good book.
Claire Sanderson, Editor-in-Chief
My favourite book is The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. It was recommended to me by a friend who said she’s never laughed and cried so much while reading a book.
It charts the life of a gay man growing up in Ireland at a time when homosexuality was illegal. Lots of the story, such as the prejudice and intolerance gay people faced in post war Ireland, is rooted in fact but the story itself is beautifully crafted, often heartbreaking fiction. I read it in a week.
Emma Gritt, Deputy Editor
My favourite novel is Asylum by Patrick McGrath. It’s a story about forbidden love against the odds, and tells the tragic story of Stella, a bored housewife who becomes embroiled in passionate affair with one of the patients at the high-security psychiatric hospital where her husband works.
I first read the book as a teen, and I have never forgotten how it made me feel. It made me understand how addictive love, lust, and lunacy can be… but how after seduction, often comes devastation and ruin.
Georgie Lane-Godfrey, Features Director and Membership Content Editor
I know this is a cop-out, but I genuinely can’t pick a favourite book (I know, I know, I need to get a life). So, instead, I’m recommending one I read recently and loved: The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell.
Set in Renaissance Italy, it tells the story of Lucrezia, fifth child of Cosimo de’ Medici – the all-powerful Grand Duke of Tuscany at the time. The book prologue starts by telling you the facts: at the age of just 14, Lucrezia was married off to the Duke of Ferrara.
A year later, she was dead, with rumours abounding she was murdered. Based on a poem inspired by her portrait, The Marriage Portrait is a brilliant lesson is dramatic tension as we build up to Lucrezia’s inevitable fate. Think of it as a historical who-dunnit, only elevated with a richly evocative setting and luxuriate prose that felt like a treat to read.
Jess Bantleman, Social Media Manager
One of my favourite books is called Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, by Fannie Flagg.
Set in Alabama, a bored housewife accidentally befriends an elderly woman living in a nursing home while her husband is visiting his mother. Each week, the housewife returns to the nursing home and listens as the elderly woman recounts stories of her youth in Whistle Stop, Alabama, where she and her friend ran a café that quickly became the hub of the town.
The book, which flits between the past and present, delicately explores the dehumanising effects of racism and sexuality in a time of extreme division, as well as the importance of family, food and community.
If you’re a fan of books such as The Help, To Kill A Mockingbird, or The Secret Life Of Bees (another favourite book), you’ll love this. I read it around 6 years ago, and it is one of the books I haven’t stopped thinking about since.
Jessica O’Donnell, Ecommerce Editor
Choosing a favourite book overall would be impossible for me, so instead I’m going for my favourite read of the past year, which is Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stewart. This wry, witty and often heartbreaking tale follows the story of the eponymous central character, a young boy growing up on an estate in Glasgow.
I won’t give too much away because I loved diving into this book with limited knowledge of the plot (but very high expectations) and falling in love with Shuggie over 448 pages of gut-wrenching, and often laugh-out-loud funny, prose.
Honourable mention for Pachinko by Min Jin Lee which comes in at a very close second, this book had me on the edge of my seat for an entire five hour flight.
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