Adam Kay Recommends His Top 5 Reads of 2019
Adam Kay's blisteringly funny This is Going to Hurt ruled the non-fiction roost in 2018 and now the mordant medic is back with a similarly hilarious collection of dispatches from the frontline of the NHS, entitled Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas. Below, Adam takes us through his favourite reads of 2019.
Best known for his hilariously sharp Guardian columns, Rhik Samadder’s memoir I Never Said I Loved You is a fascinating platform for his exceptional talent. He does not hold back: all his traumas, regrets, loves and losses, failings and attempts to claw his way back to feeling good again are laid bare and told not just with brutal honesty, but wit and charm. Very real and very funny.
If you’re not a fan of spoilers then you’ve already read too far. The title is the story, nutshell-ified. But what a journey to get there. Hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful – I went from floods of tears, to wracking sobs, to choking with laughter within seconds. Warning: you may feel an incredible urge to get a dog.
All families have their own secrets and grudges – I’ve run out of fingers and toes counting my own. This heartbreaking novel tells the story of a woman desperate for her two daughters to end their decades-long feud before it’s too late. Beautifully written, If Only I Could Tell You deftly reflects on how our relationships with family members can be the most challenging and harmful of all. As the gripping story unfolded, I started to wonder whether it would inspire me to be a bit nicer to, or more understanding of, my nearest and dearest over the Christmas dinner table. Probably not. But the thought was there. Briefly.
Nobody writes like David Sedaris, and when someone is as incredible as he is, you wonder sometimes where they can possibly go next. Well, he sure showed me. There’s of course the trademark amazing wit, enviable turns of phrase and the ability to turn a mundane observation into sheer poetry, but Sedaris also goes much darker, more political and probably more honest than in any of his previous writing. Dealing frankly with his sister's suicide, Sedaris changes the game yet still stays consistently, untouchably brilliant.
Oh I do wish these books were around when I was a kid. Cookie is an unashamedly geeky, plus wonderfully sassy and dramatic, central character. Because it’s so funny and smart you don’t notice that the book is utterly packed with stealthy STEM learning. A perfect gift for kids whose toes curl up at the thought of textbooks. Cute and gloriously funny illustrations – also by Huq – help move the story along and grab kids’ attention.
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