Three nostalgic novels I could read over and over
From 1970s LA to suburban England in the '50s, these books will sweep you up in their storytelling
Autumn always makes me feel nostalgic. I think that’s because it’s a period of transition - the beginning of the end of the year - and it’s bittersweet; the sadness I feel that summer is over competing with the joy I feel welcoming cosy knits, crunchy walks, and pubs with fires.
Thinking about my annual autumnal nostalgia made me realise all the best books make me feel nostalgic for a time or place I’ve never been to. And so I chose it as today’s theme. It’s not an easy concept to encapsulate, but whatever it is, the following three novels have it in spades.
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’m still yet to read the TikTok viral Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (tell me - is it worth it?), and I’ll be honest, I didn’t love Malibu Rising. But Daisy Jones! It might just be one of my all time favourite books.
It tells the story of the rise and fall of a Fleetwood Mac-esque band. The characters and their relationships are real, messy, raw. It thrums with 1970s Los Angeles - you can feel the vibration of the music as much as you can smell the liquor. At times, this book is devastating, but mostly it is a huge amount of fun.
Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
It’s 1957 and Jean Swinney is a feature writer on a local paper. Most of her job involves writing housekeeping tips. So when a woman writes in to say her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, Jean’s investigation of the story brings excitement into her humdrum life.
Small Pleasures fizzes with mystery and wry humour. It’s a book about falling in love and finding yourself, and how unexpectedly life can change. It’s also one of those reads that wraps you up in its big, storytelling blanket - and has an unforgettable ending.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
I was worried about this one because I tend to veer away from anything remotely experimental and the fact it’s written in a poetry-prose hybrid, with no full stops, stressed me out. But I’m so glad I gave it a go. Not only do you get used to it almost instantly, but Girl, Woman, Other is also one of the most brilliant novels I’ve ever read.
It tells the intertwining stories of twelve characters - mostly Black British women - over several decades. From the playwright living in contemporary London to the 93-year-old living on a farm in New England, each chapter is so vibrant and engaging, and it all knits together to make this exquisite read. This book is very, very deserving of its Booker Prize accolade.
My bookshelves have got out of hand. My flat is now less a home and more an obstacle course made up of piles of books everywhere you look. My excuse for my long-suffering boyfriend is that I have an emotional attachment to too many of them, but since I read about Ziffit in the paper yesterday - where books are either resold or donated to schools and community projects - it has finally inspired me to do something about it.
I felt exactly the same about Daisy Jones and then Malibu Rising so have put off Evelyn Hugo for ages! I read Daisy Jones when it first came out and still think about it regularly, but Malibu Rising felt a bit forced and flat? Might bump Evelyn Hugo to the top of my TBR pile!
I’ve just finished Daisy Jones - SUCH fun. Loved the form, the characters, the general vibe... Definitely a great one for drizzly autumn days!