Those of you that know me, know that I am a huge bookworm so I thought I would do a monthly post of what I have read each month. I am aiming to read 100 books this year, so get ready for a long list of reviews and recommendations!
I have quite a mixed shelf of books, so there will be a combination of fiction and non-fiction as I work my way through my ‘to read’ pile.
So, here is what I read in January and my honest opinions of them…
So, I started off the year with this fabulous book by Matt Haig. I fell in love with Matt after reading Reasons To Stay Alive, so while I was at home for Christmas I pinched my mum’s copy of The Humans.
Matt Haig has such a beautiful way of writing, his books really make you think about life. The Humans is a powerful story of a man discovering what it means to be a human. Andrew Martin finds himself lost and naked in Cambridge one morning. He can’t bring himself to eat, he is confused by clothes and struggles to communicate with people around him. The story follows Andrew as he searches for the meaning of human life. He learns what it means to truly be in love and the meaning of sacrifice for those we love.
This was one of those books that everyone should read. I struggled to put it down and just never wanted it to end. It is full of wisdom and really challenges you to look at the world around you and what it really means to be alive. My favourite line in the book has to be: “No one will understand you. It is not, ultimately, that important. What is important is that you understand you.” (page 275).
I definitely recommend this book 100%.
Next up was a bit of non-fiction. I am really interested in reading about politics and gender so this one caught my eye.
To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting of this one as I had never really considered the relationship between music and gender politics. It was more of a long essay than a full book, so it was fairly straight to the point.
It was one of those books that is just overly academic to the point that i was struggling to understand what she was trying to say. Rhian E. Jones is extremely talented and intellectual, but this book was just a bit too much. I would recommend this one to those actually studying politics and gender rather than to someone just interested in this topic.
For being such a book worm, I must confess that I am not so much one for reading the classics. I was in the library one afternoon and came across some Ernest Hemingway. I wasn’t really sure which one to go for so just picked this one at random. It turns out, that this is the book that won Ernest Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature!
The story is set off the coast of Havana and follows the old man’s battle against a giant fish. The story begins with a poor old man who hasn’t caught a fish in 84 days. On the 85th day the old man starts his day as normal and is taken on a wild adventure out into the sea by a giant fish. The story is all about the battles we have within ourselves and ultimately, do we have the strength to really fight for what we want?
The book was published in 1952, but it still seems relevant today. It really is one of the worlds classics and would urge everyone to read this if they haven’t already.
I have had my eyes on this one for such a long time, so I was very excited to finally add it to my collection. It is a very hyped book so I wasn’t too sure how it was going to fair to that, but I was surprised. I just couldn’t put this one down.
This is one of those books that you just can’t describe. There are just no words for how this made me feel. It’s a rare thing to find a book that is so powerful that you just have to pick it up and drown yourself in it. So I will leave you with the blurb on the back of the book and urge you to read this right now. Be ready to cry. A lot.
“We are liars
We are beautiful and privileged
We are cracked and broken
A tale of love and romance
A tale of tragedy
Which are lies?
Which is truth?
This book was another random find in the library one afternoon. It is a Scottish book and I was drawn to it because it is the same title as one of my favourite songs by Frightened Rabbit. The author, Catriona Child, is the sister of the Scottish olympic athlete, Eilidh Child.
The book is written in my favourite style, chapters flipping between different characters point of view. The story is about 21 year old Hannah who has been forced to give up her professional swimming career due to injury. She is working in a shop in a small Scottish town when one day there is an accident in the shop involving an old lady. The story then tells the story of how the woman came to be where she was while Hannah thinks about what she is going to do with her future. The story combines present day with the past, as the old lady, Marièle, reveals her involvement in WW2.
I didn’t really have any expectations for this book but still ended up slightly disappointed. It felt the whole way through it was leading up to something big but nothing really happened. It was written well, and the story of Marièle was by far the best part of the book. If you are looking for an easy read then this is one for you.
Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, an extremely intellectual woman and a mother. Her book challenges woman to “lean in” to their careers and push forward as well as urging men to make changes to the working world to make it more equal.
The book is well researched and shows just how the working world is just as gender biased as ever before. She addresses the issues that women face on a daily basis within their careers and challenges the inner dialogue women so often have with themselves that prevents them from progressing. This book is really like a manual, it is full of tips, advice and personal stories that really challenge your thoughts on women, and men, in the workforce.
I’d suggest that both women and men read this one, no matter what industry you are in. Although Sheryl Sandberg is in the tech industry, so much of this can be applied across so many fields. It is only through challenging society that we will really make any change.
This book is from the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas so I knew it was going to be a good one.
The story follows the childhood of Pierrot, during World War 2. In 1935, Pierrot is taken from an orphanage in Paris to live with his aunt in a mysterious house on the top of a mountain. When he arrives he is only 7 years old. He is told that the ‘master’ of the house does not like noise or children. It doesn’t take long for the ‘master’ of the house to warm to Pierrot and take him under his wing. The house is the Berghof, and the ‘master’ is Hitler.
The book follows Pierrot growing up into this world full of secrets, betrayal and lies. He is swept in by the uniforms and the power the Nazis hold.
It is a beautifully written book from John Boyne and it perfectly draws you into that world.
“Be ready. Be seated. See what courage sounds like. See how brave it is to reveal yourself in this way. But above all, see what it is to still love, to profoundly influence the lives of others after you are gone, by your words.”
This is the memoir of Paul Kalanithi, a 36 year old neurosurgeon with inoperable lung cancer. He shares is journey of starting at university, torn between studying english literature and medicine. He perfectly recounts his search for what makes life meaningful as a medical student, and then his struggle and triumph of becoming a neurosurgeon, working with people at their most vulnerable. He tells his own story, as well as those of his patients, as his life is turned upside down.
Paul Kalanithi really challenges what life is really all about throughout this book. He is honest and unafraid. He is brave and remarkable. This book will always be a part of me.
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So, thats it for January. Can you believe it’s over already? What did you read this month? I’d love to hear what you are loving, or if you have read any of these…