• Abi Prowse

5 Books That Changed My Life

Having been a self-confessed bookworm for as long as I can remember, literature has always played an important part in my life - and this obsession with reading only seems to have grown larger as the years have passed! With a job that now requires me to keep up-to-date with linguistic nuances and literary trends, you can always find me with my nose buried in a book. But with so much free time currently on everyone's hands, it seems difficult to know how to narrow down your ever-growing TBR (to-be-read) piles.

These 5 books, each decidedly different but equally wonderful, are always high on my list of literary recommendations. From heart-wrenching tales of life and love to no-nonsense, side-splitting non-fiction, these are 5 must-read books that have changed my life.

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood (@therealmargaretatwood)

A novel celebrated around the world for its pioneering views on female equality, The Handmaid's Tale has earned its reputation for good reason. Originally written in the 1980s, Atwood is a standout literary and feminist figure, and has the somewhat eerie gift of predicting the future in her writing. Set in the fictional dystopian society of Gilead, the book tells the story of Offred: a 'handmaid' whose sole purpose is to bear children for the 'commander' of her household and his wife, who are unable to conceive. A dark, poetically-written, and piercing novel, The Handmaid's Tale is perhaps more relevant today than it was in its time. Despite its solemn undertones, and its commentary on capitalism, religion, and climate change, as well as gender equality, the novel is also one of hope for a better future.

Fans of the book will enjoy the newly-released sequal, The Testaments.

Never Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro

Set in the rolling hills of rural England, this novel is actually a well-disguised dystopia masquerading initially as a story about childhood friends. Never Let Me Go focuses on the idea of humanity - particularly of what makes us human. The answer, in short? Our relationships. Following the lives of three characters, Never Let Me Go is set in the fictional boarding school of Hailsham: an institution in which every student has been scientifically created to become 'donors' at some point in their lives. The book marries these disturbing, sci-fi theories with Jane Austen-esque landscapes: a combination which has created one of the most thought-provoking novels of our time.

The book has also been made into a successful film.

A Little Life

Hanya Yanagihara (@hanyayanagihara)

Following the intertwining lives of four friends as they navigate their way through the challenges of a fast-paced New York lifestyle, A Little Life is one of the most celebrated novels of the past decade. With Yanagihara's beautifully descriptive writing style, the characters seem to come to life on the page; by the end of the novel, you are so drawn into the lives of these four men that you seem to care for them as if they were dear friends. A Little Life is a book which makes you consider your relationships, your mortality, and your life in a heart-wrenching way, showing you a side to New York that many visitors never get to experience. Although the novel is 800 pages long, it can easily be finished in a number of days.

The Immortalists

Chloe Benjamin (@chloekbenjamin)

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

A morbid thought, maybe - but one that begs an answer. In this enchanting novel by Chloe Benjamin, four siblings decide one dreary day to visit a local psychic, who claims to tell each of the children the exact date that they will meet their demise. What follows is a well-crafted, magically-written book which details the lives of each character as they navigate through their destinies. Will the psychic be right? How can she possibly be right? And how exactly does this knowledge influence the decisions made by each sibling throughout the course of their life? The Immortalists is a story about relationships and mortality, with a sprinkling of the fantastical thrown in for good measure.

Everything I Know About Love

Dolly Alderton (@dollyalderton)

A non-fiction gem which resonates deeply with any woman in their twenties (and probably many men, too!) Dolly Alderton's Everything I Know About Love is a feel-good, straight-talking piece about adulthood. The writer's infamously dry humour is peppered throughout the book, leaving readers gasping in delight and howling with laughter - but the book is not without its moments of seriousness. Everything I Know About Love is devinely relatable, centred around the importance of friendship, and has since paved the way for a series of books which discuss the tricky business of 'growing up' with frank openness.

Dolly also hosts a podcast with fellow writer and journalist Pandora Sykes: 'The High Low'.


Let me know some of your all-time favourite books in the comments below!

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