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The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

She had, she realized gradually, simply traded one domestic prison for another.
Against the backdrop of the setting up of a mobile library in 1930s rural Kentucky, exploited by those who owned mines, is the tale of how changes in women's lives tend to be the substitution of one prison for another, and of how, regardless of how independent a woman thinks she is, society will find a way to shackle her. Still, there exists friends in the midst of despair and people who have one's back. 


The Plague by Albert Camus

At such moments the collapse of their courage, willpower, and endurance was so abrupt that they felt they could never drag themselves out of the pit of despond into which they had fallen. Therefore they forced themselves never to think about the problematic day of escape, to cease looking to the future, and always to keep, so to speak, their eyes fixed on the ground at their feet. But, naturally enough, this prudence, this habit of feinting with their predicament and refusing to put up a fight, was ill rewarded. For, while averting that revulsion which they found so unbearable, they also deprived themselves of those redeeming moments, frequent enough when all is told, when by conjuring up pictures of a reunion to be, they could forget about the plague. Thus, in a middle course between these heights and depths, they drifted through life rather than lived, the prey of aimless days and sterile memories, like wandering shadows that could have acquired substance only by consenting to root…

Normal People by Sally Rooney

With only a little subterfuge he can live two entirely separate existences, never confronting the ultimate question of what to do with himself or what kind of person he is.
A coming-of-age tale in which a man and a woman, who've been friends since childhood, ultimately found themselves and perhaps each other too despite making mistakes along the way. A reassuring reminder that there's very little non-commodified friendship can't withstand.





The Wall by John Lanchester

It’s cold on the Wall. You look for metaphors. It’s cold as slate, as diamond, as the moon. Cold as charity – that’s a good one. But you soon realise that the thing about the cold is that it isn’t a metaphor.  [....] Time has never passed as slowly as it did that day. Time on the Wall is treacle. Eventually, after you have put in enough hours on the Wall, you learn to cope with time. You train yourself not to look at the time, because it is never, never, ever, as late as you think and hope and long for it to be. You learn to float. You become completely passive; you let the day pass through you, you stop trying to pass through it. But it takes months before you can do that.
In what's supposed to be a dystopian novel (although it feels like little more than a variation of what one might expect to soon see in the news), young people are sent to guard a border against 'others'; every time a migrant gets in, a guard is exiled while migrants themselves (once they're caugh…

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne-Jones

In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.
Appearances can be deceptive as they are in this fantasy YA novel about three sisters in a land where magic is commonplace, and a house with portals designed to give the appearance of a moving castle in which a wicked wizard (who's not really all that bad) lives. As an aside, John Donne's suggestion to go catch a falling star is not always good advice at all.

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

Cultured women, comfortable circumstances, they broke like knickknacks in the hands of their straying men. [....] I thought of beauty as of a constant effort to eliminate corporeality. I wanted him to love my body forgetful of what one knows of bodies. Beauty, I thought anxiously, forgetfulness. Or maybe not. [....] Pay attention, though, reorder the facts. Already in the course of the night something inside me had Yielded and broken. Reason and memory had flaked off, sorrow that lasts too long is capable of this. I had believed I was going to bed and yet I had not. Or I had and then had got up. Disobedient body. It wrote in my notebooks, wrote pages and pages.
A woman close to forty finds herself entirely unmoored after her husband, with whom she's been 15 years and with whom she's had two children, abandons her for a younger woman he's been involved with on the sly for years. Soon enough though, she learns that she doesn't need him after all and that she doesn't…

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

She instead feels that he is that dust and those thistles and those rocks and that early-morning fire, a force that holds her up. For weeks, she feels her grief like this. But she can also see through her grief, and what she sees is the end of their time on earth. It is finally over; it died with him. In a few years, the whole world—the dust of it, the thistles, rocks, and fire—will recover itself from that brief time when the Mitchells lived and when she destroyed them. How could such a rupture, of time and earth and the human heart, ever heal from that August day, when all things separated, broke into parts that lost one another in an instant?
A lyrical novel exploring the consequences of illicit love, how inconsequential all of us are, and how we are none of us, as adults,  blameless.