They’re not all recent releases, but these are the books that have influenced me in the last 12 months (in no particular order).
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Thanks to Red magazine for introducing me to Gretchen Rubin, without doubt the inspiration for this blog and a great motivator for me. There is so much in this book- ostensibly about habit-forming but more broadly an observation on what makes us all tick- that I could identify with: not only in my personal traits, but also the differences between my friends and me. I’d never imagined I’d find myself reading a ‘self-help’ book, which I suppose this is, but I went straight onto Amazon and ordered its predecessor, The Happiness Project. I expect there will be much more to come on this blog about what I have learned from Ms Rubin.
Small Wars by Sadie Jones
I spent a few months working in Cyprus last year and this novel, set in 1956 Cyprus under a British regime, really helped me appreciate the recent history of the island (of which I must confess I was embarrassingly ignorant). The story is a sad one and left me feeling deflated, but it’s written beautifully and I found it especially evocative to be living in and visiting the same places half a century on.
The Art of Eating Well by Jasmine Hemsley and Melissa Hemsley
There’s so much out there at the moment about ‘clean eating’ and this enormous hardback takes it to a serious level, cutting out gluten, grains and refined sugar. I was intrigued and wanted a taste of the latest wellness craze- and you can’t ignore the fresh faced beauty of the Hemsley sisters, so they must be doing something right. In all honesty, I love my bread and pasta and occasional sweet treat too much to stick to their philosophy religiously, but this manual has some great recipes and alternative ideas for super healthy eating. Whilst I don’t make the complete recipes very frequently (they always take longer than advertised, and many of the ingredients are just too obscure for my local supermarket) I have taken a lot of their methods and some of their philosophy into my everyday cooking (broccoli rice, for example, is now a staple) and I will continue to work through the book.
Us by David Nicholls
My latest holiday reading- I’ve enjoyed all of Nicholls’ novels so far and Us didn’t let me down. True to form there are plenty of laugh out loud moments, and his characters are so real and relatable that you can’t help but be stirred by the narrative. A good blend of lighthearted holiday reading, with a thought provoking story of familial relationships at its heart.
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
I’ve not even finished this book yet but I know it’s going to be an important read for me. I wouldn’t have looked twice at this autobiography (I don’t tend to read bios, have uncomfortably mixed feelings about feminism, and have little interest in the cutthroat world of business executives) had it not been for the subject of ‘Impostor Syndrome’ that was referenced in a review. Now having read only the first couple of chapters I know this book will make me re-explore my feelings about confidence, personal barriers and different approaches to the roles of women.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
It took me a while to get round to reading this bestseller as the blurb on the cover didn’t really grab me at first, but when somebody recommended it and I took a second look (family mystery? Big twist?) I couldn’t understand what had initially put me off. It’s certainly an unusual, absorbing story, with quirky and interesting characters- and without giving anything away, it prompted a lot of research and discussion in our household of the real-life parallels that inspired the story. I always enjoy it when a novel teaches me a little about something I previously knew nothing of.
Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
Yes it’s a twee and trite children’s book, but I really wanted to re-read this story. I had vague recollections of watching the film as a little girl and I’ve always been aware that my mentality tends towards the positive; I think subconsciously I’ve been playing the ‘glad game’ for years, but it’s only recently that Pollyanna was mentioned in something I read and I decided to revisit. What did I learn? I am not naïve enough to think that the glad game can solve everything, but I do think what Pollyanna practiced was an early form of Positive Thinking or perhaps NLP, the kind of mental discipline that so many people are now trying to tap into. I feel lucky (glad!) that my mind works this way without having to train it.
Running like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley
Another departure from my normal genre; I think it must have been a quotation in a review that drew me to this. I started running for pleasure in my late teens, but never really pushed myself until my late twenties. Unlike many runners (I don’t think I’ve ever labelled myself a ‘runner’ before, either) I’ve always enjoyed it- but I could still relate to Alexandra Heminsley’s hilarious anecdotes of the highs and lows of her marathon training. I’m not sure I can do this book justice- why on earth did I buy a running book in the first place?- other than to say I loved it, and if you are already running, or thinking about running, in a race or just around the block, then please read it (boys as well as girls)!