By Sarah Lundy, Ellie Brady, Lucy Lillystone, Amy Wright and Ana Matute
With school back in full swing and many students heading to university, we’re exploring the topic of new beginnings. Whether you’re embarking on a new adventure or rediscovering what makes you unique, these books will inspire you along the way.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
A lot of people used to believe science was just a matter of numbers, and that literature was just fiction. Reading Lab Girl shows how in the life of Jahren, literature opened a door to look at everything in context with her professional field - biology. The way she started her research was by looking at each element as a part of a living world. There’s no leaf without a tree, and no human without a community. But, most importantly, she shares how her journey couldn’t have been as it was without understanding her place in the world.
The Group by Lara Feigel
The Group by Lara Feigel is a story about facing inevitable change and embracing new beginnings when we may customarily avoid them. The novel follows five middle-class women, all close to turning forty, whose friendship goes all the way back to when they were students at Oxford University. Realising that times have changed, and people consequently have too, the friends come to terms with the fact that their simpler days are over. When new demands of motherhood, marriage and work take over, the friendships which relied so much on social class become fractured and meaningless. The women must learn that they can’t cling to a past that is inharmonious with the present, and Feigel forces these privileged women to reassess their realities.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Min Jin Lee’s memorable sophomore novel Pachinko is a perfect book to ruminate on what new beginnings can mean, and the cultural and historical significance the idea holds. This character-driven historical novel brings you into the multi-faceted and often challenging lives of its cast who encounter racial discrimination, prejudice, and hardship in their experience of 20th century Japan as Koreans. Starting in the 1880’s in a poor Korean fishing village and spanning a century afterwards, generations of one Korean family experience new beginnings – which bring new woes and challenges – in this affecting narrative, with family relationships, private hardships and the ever pressing issue of national belonging at its heart.
The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond
As the title suggests, Lucy Diamond’s The House of New Beginnings is a heart-warming story that answers the pondering question we all have asked ourselves at least once: “what if I had to start all over again?” The story details new beginnings, new friendships and new love, the beautifully crafted plot suggesting that, sometimes, change is for the best. Lucy Diamond’s warm and inviting writing style alongside the incredibly relatable characters also makes every reader feel like they’re a part of the story, and the representation of women supporting other women is incredibly refreshing. Focusing on characters that get back up with courage and bravery in the face of adversity and change, Lucy Diamond encourages us to embrace the adventures of new beginnings and her book; the perfect companion for the journey.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This utterly beautiful debut novel from Gail Honeyman is one that I constantly give to people to read. It is warm and funny while being tinged with a mysterious darkness that is difficult to understand until you delve deeper into the life of Eleanor. It is a life that revolves around routine that is slowly broken down as she begins to experience new things and puts herself out into the world. If starting something new is making you anxious, there is no better book to be your comfort blanket as you navigate your new adventure. It will make you laugh, cry and look at the world with much kinder eyes.
Girlhood by Cat Clarke
With a focus on sisterhood, friendship and love, Cat Clarke’s Girlhood is the perfect novel for those who may be starting a new adventure or chapter of their lives after experiencing a loss or grief. When Harper comes to Duncraggan Academy for a new start, she is haunted by the death of her twin sister and the struggles of fitting in. Drawing on the wit and humour of Wild Child (2008), this is also a story about the shadow grief that casts over the ones left behind and the difficulty of starting again without that important person in your life. A must read if you love contemporary young adult novels, if you love boarding school settings or if you need a book that will allow you to escape the fear of that new change in your life.