I’ve been a big bookworm for as long as I can remember, taking any opportunity to stick my nose in a book and get lost in a new world for a few hours. I read a lot at home, but the number of books I pick up reaches new heights when I’m on holiday, where I spend the majority of my days around the pool with a book in hand. I’m a bit of a speed reader and can easily finish a book in a few hours if left to it, so I tend to average around 10-12 books for a week long holiday. I didn’t quite reach my usual standards this year, mostly because I napped a lot, but I still managed to fit in some brilliant reads and finished my Goodreads Challenge for the year too.
My holiday reading kicked off with Anna Kendrick’s autobiography, Scrappy Little Nobody. I’ve always been a fan of Anna Kendrick so when Lis mentioned that her book was a mere 99p on the Kindle Store I downloaded it straight away. As opposed to your standard autobiography, Scrappy Little Nobody is a collection of autobiographical essays covering numerous pivotal points in Anna’s life. This felt more like a chat with a friend in which they confide some of their most embarrassing moments and deepest thoughts over coffee, with ever-so-relatable snippets about self-doubt and growing up. It was an easy read and a fantastic glimpse of all of the hard work that Anna has put into her career.
The Circle was one of the books I was most excited about reading, as mentioned in my Summer Book Haul, but I was left with mixed feelings. Dystopian fiction is my jam, but even then I have little patience for the stereotypical notions that are so often present. The Circle is the world’s most powerful company, and Mae is given a once in a lifetime opportunity to work there. When she enters the world behind its walls she soon discovers that all is not quite as it seems, as is the case in most dystopian novels. Whilst the concept was good, and not all that far removed from the world we know today, there were points where the writing or random plot features let the whole book down. In saying that, though, there were also moments that I felt genuinely uncomfortable reading this book, which I think speaks for the pertinence of the subject. The Circle has been made into a film with a fantastic cast (hello Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Karen Gillan and John Boyega) but the plot is even weaker than the book. The book provides a much needed first person insight into the all-consuming nature of The Circle, plus the ending is better… so yeah.
Next up was the much raved about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which came very highly recommended. Starr is part of two worlds, the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the private high school that she attends every day. When Starr witnesses her unarmed best friend being shot by a police officer, everything is flipped on its head. This powerful novel is a sickening glimpse into the impact of police brutality and institutional racism on the communities in which it is rife. The Hate U Give is incredibly well written and a must read for anyone, regardless of your preferred genres. Here’s hoping that the upcoming movie adaptation can do it justice.
I think most of my book reviews contain some mention of C.L. Taylor, but it’s well deserved. She’s been one of the standout authors for me this year, and The Escape was no different. A stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift, and just like that her life is turned upside down. When everything is against her, including her own husband, Jo knows that the only way to keep her daughter safe is to run. Jo’s point of view was so well written, I found myself getting angry on her behalf, and will have you questioning everything right up until the very end. You can’t beat a good thriller that has you hooked from the very beginning, and The Escape did exactly that.
Continuing on the thriller theme, my mum passed on a copy of Second Life by SJ Watson to me for my collection. Julia has a predictably normal life until her sister is brutally murdered. She doesn’t feel that the police are doing enough to bring justice to her killer, and so embarks on her own investigation into what really happened. Having loved Before I Go To Sleep, SJ Watson’s first book, I had high hopes for this. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a letdown. It had its strong points, but overall I just found the book very slow and the main character is very frustrating. The ending left me with more questions than answers, which is a bit of a pet peeve for me.
I haven’t quite finished The Turning Tide yet, but with the beautiful weather that has blessed Glasgow today, I’ll probably finish it in the garden this afternoon. Erykah Macdonald has the sort of life that you’re “supposed” to want, but she’s about to make a decision that will change things forever. At the same time, hundreds of miles away, a man stumbles across a body on a remote Scottish beach. These things are connected, and time will reveal exactly how so. So far, I’m finding this to be a witty and complex thriller with the welcome addition of an underlying political theme. A strong start, which I’m hoping will continue right through to the end.
Finally, I’ve been slowly getting over my “self-help overload” and as a result, I’ve started gently easing myself back into the world of books that claim they’ll change my life. The first of which was actually a zine, but at 172 pages Do What You Want leans more on the side of a book than zine. This started out as a project to raise funds for some well-deserving mental health charities and has surpassed that to become a helpful handbook for mental well-being. Featuring interviews, long-form essays, recipes and more, Do What You Want brings to light the issues faced by people from all walks of life. Anything that opens up more discussions surrounding mental health is good in my books, but this is a genuinely interesting read and it’s well worth signing up for the next run of copies.
Get Your Shit Together gets some mixed reviews, but much like its original counterpart, The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck, I loved it. Maybe it was just good timing, or maybe it was Sarah Knight’s sense of humour, but it spoke to me. I never imagined that an Alvin and the Chipmunks metaphor would hit home so much, and even though a lot of the advice in this book could just be deemed common sense, the motivational power is not lost. Simple, relatable and actionable, Get Your Shit Together provides a valuable strategy for tackling life as it comes.
What’s on your reading list this summer? Tell me what I need to add to my to-read list!