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Every summer, I try to spend more time reading and less time inside on a screen. This summer, I kind of failed at that, and so come September and my innate need to get off the train, I resolved to make reading a bigger part of my life. So I started reading more in bed – sometimes a page or two, sometimes a chapter or two, depending on how tired I was. I read more on weekend mornings and I tried to spend less time on my phone. I’m currently in a season of my life where I’m feeling the need to go a little deeper. I love Netflix as much as the next gal, and I also love a fun Youtube video, but I also am wanting to embrace language and the written word a little more. And spend a few more hours a day disconnected. So knowing that I was going away on holiday to the Dominican Republic in October meant that I knew I would be able to get back into reading whilst sitting on the beach.
When studying languages at school and university, I had to read a lot of heavy literature – and often not in English – which meant that in the summer I would generally pick up a light beach read that didn’t really reflect the real world at all. I have a tendency to live in a somewhat utopian world most of the time, so that wouldn’t be a shock to anyone who knows me, but I have been wanting to add more variety to my bookshelf. I am also on the committee for the Guernsey Literary Festival and I’m fed up of recognising book titles, but never having read the book. And I am fed up of discovering great books and authors AFTER having worked with them at the festival.
I do own a lot of non-fiction ‘business’ books by the usual suspects: Gary Vee, Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday… that I dip in and out of, but they remind me a little too much of my work in the online ‘hustle’ world, so I wanted to try something new. I decided to jump into a plethora of genres to see what sparked my interest. I had a few books that I had been wanting to read for a while. Others I picked up at the airport.
I read in the sun.
I read in the morning.
I made notes in the margins of non-fiction books.
I lost myself in cute romantic tales and found myself engrossed in reading memoirs of other people’s lives so truly different to mine.
And now I feel awakened and ready to read a whole host of different things.
In short, I have fallen back in love with books – of all kinds.
And it feels fantastic.
This is what I have been reading recently.
(Please note that links to each book are affiliates to Amazon. This means that I make about 3p if you buy one of the books off the back of my recommendation and as such now legally need to label this post as an AD)
Educated – Tara Westover
Tara Westover may be my new hero. I picked up this book at the airport. I knew it was one of the books of the year and the edition that I bought is covered in many, many wonderfully complimentary reviews. But I didn’t actually know the story and I kind of loved that, so I don’t want to spoil too much for you. This is a story of a girl who is denied an education by her parents and against all odds, decides to educate herself and learn more about the world around her. Where she ends up is astonishing. I went through a variety of emotions – even ready a couple of pages through my hands. It has a lot of short chapters, so perfect for picking up and putting down, but once you do pick it up for a sustained period of time, you may not want to put it down – I stayed up until 2am to finish it. Enjoy. Buy the book here.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown
When I got off the train, I decided to let go of a lot of mundane tasks on my list and focus on the more essential things in my life. To stop being a non-essentialist. This podcast got me into the idea and I had to read the book to make the ideas more concrete. And I found myself making notes in the margin – namely along the lines of “this is me” next to “non-essentialist” behaviour and “I need to be this” next to the ‘essentialist’ behaviour. It was a lesson in understanding my own behaviour and how much overthinking and nonsensical things I do when I need to ideally focus on what is actually important in order to move forward in life. I’m going to investigate this further and it may become a blog post, but I need to go back and read my notes. However, two things did stand out to me – the author McKeown says that he likes to read things filled with ideas that have stood the test of time. He reads books written before the technological revolution and takes life lessons from them. I love this notion. Also, he hasn’t written another book despite the success of this one. Why? Because it isn’t essential. He has said what he needed to say for now. Love that. Buy the book here.
Troublemaker – Leah Remini
Actress Leah Remini’s revelatory “Scientology and the Aftermath” docuseries on the Crime & Investigation channel took up a full rainy weekend in my life at the end of last year and ever since then I have been Obsessed with understanding more about this cult masquerading as a religion in the centre of Hollywood. In fact, I remember driving past the giant celebrity centre in LA a couple of years ago and being taken by just how shiny and gold it is. This book is Leah’s memoir of her life – over 30 years of which was spent in the Church of Scientology. It’s a light celebrity memoir filled with shocking revelations about the “Church” with a sprinkle of high profile celebrity name dropping, from Scientology’s biggest name Tom Cruise to Remini’s on and off-screen bestie (and my personal hero) J.Lo (not a scientologist). It’s a fun read – and most likely very shocking if you haven’t already devoured the award-winning television series. Which I very much recommend that you do. (I followed it up with ‘Escaping Polygamy’ if you want another extreme religion in modern society doc.) Buy the book here.
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Second book ✅ I couldn’t put this down! P.S. Do you follow me on @goodreads? Recently, I’ve reverted back to my fave social network for bookworms. #holidayreads #liveeattravelwrite #sgreads #socialsolopreneur #nineperfectstrangers #lianemoriarty #luxurytravel #tripadvisor
Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty is the author of Big Little Lies, now a huge TV hit starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman & Meryl Streep, so I had a feeling that this was going to be good but O.M.G., I could not put this book down. I spent two afternoons on the beach reading this, not allowing my mother who I was on holiday with, to speak to me. I’m not joking. It got to the point where we went for drinks before dinner in the evening and we had to catch up on each others’ days despite having been sat next to each other all day, because I had not been present. I was at Tranquillum House all day long instead. This is a book about a group of very different people all meeting at a health resort in the middle of nowhere in Australia for a retreat with a difference. And believe me, when the twist hits – and it’s a major twist – you won’t be able to put the book down. What I loved, in addition to the page-turning thriller style of the book, was the depth of the characters. I love being able to really feel human connections to the characters in a book and that is a credit to the author. I cannot wait to read more of her stuff. Nicole Kidman is already attached to this project to bring it to the screen so you know it’s a good one. Buy it here.
(Oh and p.s. This book also reminded me of that fabulous line “Reader, I married him” from Jane Eyre, as the main character is an author and she quotes literary things from time to time – and believe me, you’ll be seeing a blog post next summer with that title. #spoileralert (FYI I mean spoiler alert for my 2020 blog posts, not the book)
I Owe You One – Sophie Kinsella
I’m a big fan of Sophie Kinsella and her novels that are often the absolute epitome of a perfect beach read. She is the author of the “Confessions of a Shopaholic” series. Light and happy, I’ve enjoyed picking up her books in the past when on holiday. I saw this in the airport on my way to Dominican Republic and I thought it would be a good way to kick off my holiday reads. A woman working in her somewhat dysfunctional family’s business saves a businessman’s laptop from being destroyed by a flood in a cafe. He writes her an IOU. She pays him back and then writes him an IOU. It plays out like that for a while. OK – I’ll be honest; it’s a cute story, but it wasn’t hugely exciting and I struggled to connect with the characters. It ends well – and as expected – but I won’t be clamouring for a sequel. It was a good quick read to remind me of that satisfying feeling of finishing a book and the immediate need to start another one. Buy the book here.
Better Than Before – Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is one of my favourite authors. I just love how she tackles and presents non-fiction in a somewhat experimental, biographical way. She has explored the subject of happiness previously in her books The Happiness Project & Happier at Home and has taught me that the little things really do matter, that you should indulge your interests and you can make small changes in your life in order to make yourself just a little happier each day. Want a little shrine to your fave tv show on the shelf? Do it! Want to take a family photo every month? Do it! Just do what makes you happy. It’s a delightful concept. And here in Better than Before, Rubin explores habits and how routines and habits can actually provide structure in your day and in her own biographical way, she shows how you make things work for your own life and in your own home and family. Gretchen also introduces the four types of personalities that she has identified (‘The Four Tendencies’) and teaches you how to recognise what you need in your life in order to establish and maintain habits. I found this really interesting. I recognised that I am a classic ‘Obliger‘ and need outside accountability in order to accomplish things. Fascinating. Her follow-up book, ’The Four Tendencies’, is going on my Christmas list. Buy Better than Before here.
I’ll Take New York – Miranda Dickinson
Miranda Dickinson writes ‘Brit in New York’ really, really well. This book made me want to move to New York, open up a book store, drink strong, hot coffee and spend my weekends walking through Central Park. Dreamy. I had read Fairytale in New York previously, set in a florist & run by another Brit with a gorgeous old espresso maker that is as much a character of the book as the people in it. This book is a wonderful semi-sequel, where the previous characters feature within the narrative and you get a follow-up to their story, as well as a whole new magical story with truly loveable characters. And, of course, love of books & literature also features, which kept me turning the pages too. It’s light, it’s heartwarming, it’s worth a read. Buy it here.
Do you follow me on Goodreads? I’ve rediscovered my love for a social network purely about books and readers. It’s a great way to track what you’ve read, what you want to read and to challenge yourself each year to read X amount of books. (I always set 25 and fail, but I might get pretty close this year!)
Want to read more? Last weekend I also discovered this wonderful Youtube documentary by Catfish’s Max Joseph on books, beautiful bookshops AND an interesting study into how to fit more reading into your life. So interesting. What hit me the most? The fact that if you average one book a year, you will have to pick 50 books and that is all you will fit in in your life. I mean, even imagine having 10 years to read only 10 books. And what about all the books that haven’t even been published yet and would be in those 10 years. How would you pick 10?! This film just strengthened by resolve to read A LOT more.
Currently on my ‘To Read’ bookshelf before the end of the year:
What are you reading at the moment? Let me know below!