Round up reviews

I remember walking around the library of my soon to be secondary school aged 11, the headteacher led us through lines and lines of books, my mum piped up saying ‘this is great, she’s such a book worm.’

I was the child reading under the cover late into the night. I can lose myself for days in a good novel, transported to other worlds, cultures and lives. I have found a love of travel through books and it has given words to deep and indescribable feelings within me. I find it the most relaxing way to wind down, books have got me through hard times and have put words to joyful times. 

“Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.” – Lena Dunham 

I recently listened to a great podcast on Happiness. Author and Journalist Helen Russel talks about how different cultures around the world experience happiness. It was a wonderfully uplifting listen. She mentions how some cultures love to read, and the amazing benefits of reading. She mentioned how reading develops our empathy skills, encourages neural pathways, improves memory, encourages group bonding and is a wonderfully cathartic exercise. 

Anyway, enough about my love of reading, here’s a round up of some of the novels I have most enjoyed over the last year or so. I haven’t gone into a great deal with reviews as I never like to read lengthy ones, just a snippet of my thoughts.

The Power of One  - Bryce Courtenay 

  • Set in South Africa in 1939 an epic story about humanity, friendship and courage. Written from the perspective of a young English boy, this is his take on the world at a turbulent time in the nations history. Beautiful, funny and heart wrenching. The boys childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and continues believing in his dreams, which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. Ed and I read this together, we cried on the beach in Thailand as I read the final chapters, so, lets just say we loved it and want to call our next pet after the main character Peekay.  

Great Small Things  - Jodi Piccoult 

  • As always a good book with fascinating perspectives by Jodi Piccoult. Touching on the topics of race in America, I gobbled this one up on Audio whilst sick in India. Not necessarily my favourite of hers, but nonetheless thought provoking. I found the ending a little unrealistic which spoilt it a bit for me. A Black nurse treats the child of a White Supremacist and is taken to trail for malpractice. I found it very interesting from a healthcare perspective especially!

Everyone brave is forgiven - Chris Cleave 

  • A beautiful novel about three individuals thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging in the ever-changing landscape of WWII London. It’s a story of friendship and bravery, and loss in a tragic time. The descriptions of London made me yearn for home whilst we were away. I always love a historical novel and this one was lovely. 

About Grace - Anthony Doerr 

  • My first Anthony Doerr novel, and not my last! Stunning writing, very descriptive. It spans from Alaska to The Caribbean and tells the story of a father and his heartbreak of family separation and loss. At times it could feel a little slow, the story is essentially very simple, but deeply descriptive and detailed. Doerr is a fantastic and captivating writer. I have already bought another of his books! 

The Great Alone  - Kristin Hannah 

  • I am a big fan of Kristin Hannah and this has been on my list for ages. I found it a heavy and heart wrenching read, but totally captivating. Another stunning writer. Her descriptions of Alaska are breathtaking. Family and tragedy and loss and love are wonderfully tied together in this beautiful story. I read it within three days!!

Home going - Yaa Gyasi 

  • I borrowed this from my Sister in Law, mainly because of the pretty cover I hate to add. Took me a little while to get into it, and if i’m honest if found the start of her writing a little like reading teen books. Not sure why, but then it seemed that she progressed as the novel went on and found her style more. To give her credit this is Gyasi’s first book and a great one! I loved the format, each chapter written from the perspective of a different character and generation starting in the 1800s and ending in early 2000. At times harrowing and raw, very challenging and informative, stories taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi, spanning generations of African women. Powerful and empowering! 

What are you reading and what do you recommend?