As an English student, it goes without saying that I spend a lot of my time reading books. This year, however, was actually a little different; there were surprisingly few novels on my reading list – but like last year I’ve compiled my top five set texts from my second year at York.

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Back in January I announced that I would be starting a new series on the blog, entitled on my bookshelf. The plan was to share a list of books in each post which corresponded to a theme, whether that was my favourite picture books as a child or my current collection of feminist theory, and I was also planning on including guest posts too. For one reason or another, though, I never managed to get it off the ground – until now, when I’ve finally got the time.

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Books are pretty much my life. Regular readers will know that I currently study English and Related Literature at the University of York, but in truth it’s been this way for as long as I can remember. Dad recently told me that when he used to pick me up from after-school club back in primary school, he’d often find the room chaotic with under-tens running amok, whilst I would be curled up under a table with whichever book I was reading at the time.  When I was a kid I’d go through at least a book a week; once I’d got through my bookshelf, I’d raid my sister’s.

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*potential trigger warning* (I wrote this very early on this year, in response to this article by Tanith Carey.) ‘As plots go, it’s mawkish at best, exploitative at worse.’ – Tanith Carey describing John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, one of my absolute favourite books, and proving she also hasn’t read it when she continues to incorrectly describe the storyline.But that is pretty much the best sentence of the article. ‘While the media stops short of reporting even the most basic facts of suicide for fear of encouraging copycat behaviour, publishers are commissioning entire works of fiction on the subject.’ The Daily Mail, of all papers, appears to be trying to argue the case that the media avoids topics such as terminal and mental illness, eating disorders, self harm, murder, suicide and rape, which is what these so-called ‘sick-lit’ books are portrayed as tending to focus around. Yet it only takes a quick flick through a copy of their paper or a speedy scroll down their website homepage to find headlines such as ‘Former teacher at £28,000-a-year school jailed for sexually abusing boy, 14, while coaching him at rugby’; ‘Pensioner, 71, charged with murder after his wife, 70, is found strangled at farmhouse in rural village’; ‘Anorexia is a disease of the middle classes…’ and ‘Soldier, 24, who spoke of ‘buzz’ of surviving Afghanistan bomb blast is found hanged at home while on leave’. If a writer for this paper hasn’t even read their recent headlines, what hope do we have of her having read any of the works of literature she is about to discuss?

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