I don't think I need to explain to anyone why this prompt grabbed me, though I will add that I'm thrilled to feel like I can actually answer it with quite a few books to choose from! Every year I keep a list of all the books I've read, and this is the first year that I can remember since high school that I've read so many books in a year purely for leisure. Obviously doing an English degree meant reading TONS of novels for every class, and I loved it, but reading on a time scale and trying to finish all of that reading before each class, even when the literature is enjoyable, is simply not the same as picking up a book as and when you want to and reading it at your own desired pace. And of course while doing my Master's, by the time I'd finished all my academic reading I rarely had the energy to read anything else! So it's wonderful to finally feel I have the time and energy to read for pleasure, and to continue tackling my ever-growing list of "Books to Read". That list used to be an ongoing Word document on my computer, but it was getting so disorganized that I had to come up with a new solution, so it's now in an Excel document, alphabetized by author, with additional columns for "Date read" and "Must buy" (only for books I read and love so much I know I must own them). The list currently stands at 85 books and, if my reading rate were to stay the same as it has been this year so far, it would take me about six years to read all the books on my list!
Now, it may sound like I have all this "leisure reading" down to too much of a science. You may be thinking, "How can you call it reading for leisure at all?" Let me just clarify that although I have this running list, I have no plans to read all the books in any specific order and also have no qualms about picking up a book at the library/bookstore/off of Josh's bookshelf just because it sounds good! I consult the list occasionally if I'm going to a bookstore and I also hope to get myself signed up at the local library, but it's more of a place for me to remember all the titles of books that have ever appealed to me. In my current stack of books-to-read, I don't think a single one is or was ever actually on that list, but instead all were picked up along the way.
I must say I had a hard time deciding amongst the books I read which was the best, so I'll let you know why I chose the one I did. Quite a few of the books on my list of "read books" this year were ones I'd been looking forward to reading for quite a while, or by some especially favorite authors of mine (Shirley by Charlotte Bronte and Sarah Kay's book of poetry). Such factors obviously added a bias to my level of enjoyment. So I decided to look at just those books that I'd read with no expectations, and from those I picked which was the most enjoyable. And the winner is...
Josh loves Stephen Fry, but until I met Josh I don't think I knew anything about him other than having heard the name once or twice. I've grown to love him through watching QI with Josh, but this book really was an on-a-whim read. You see, when we moved, I underestimated how many books to leave out for myself to read before we unpacked the entire bookshelf. Yes, I know--definitely a first-world problem. So I finished The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold (which I do NOT recommend), and was at a loss, with all my books packed in boxes that were not able to be unpacked yet. I really wanted something to read, especially because we didn't have any TV or internet set up yet, so when unpacking a bag of Josh's stuff I spotted this. I opened it up just planning to have a quick look and see what it was like, and ended up abandoning my unpacking to start it. It's a memoir of the first 20 years of Fry's life, and I was captivated by his voice. The way he weaves humor into a lot of serious self-reflection is brilliant, and the honesty with which he recalls his childhood experiences is refreshing. I have to say, his TV personality, while lovely, doesn't do his writing style justice! If you're looking for a book with a lot of plot, then this probably isn't for you, but I personally love memoirs, and I devoured this! I've now added Stephen Fry's novel The Liar to my list, which I know Josh has in a drawer somewhere; I think he also has one or two more books following on later into his life and I plan to look those up as well!
P.S. If you want to check out the Writer's Workshop prompt series, just click the button :)