Lets talk about books, baby

Seeing as we are stuck indoors for a while, with the majority of us having a lot more time on our hands (shout out and sending love to key workers and parents with young children who have less time). I’m taking this opportunity to read all the books I never normally have time too. Here are some recommendations of books I have read recently if you need some inspiration.

Books I have read so far this year…

Everything I know about Love // Dolly Alderton

This book was so eloquently written. The diary entry style of writing reminds me of Helen Fielding in her Bridget Jones books. Dolly address the struggles of adulting and friendship in such a relatable way. The tales she tells are not out of the ordinary, you and your friends will have similar stories to tell. Dolly simply captures the ordinary and expresses it such a beautiful way. Exhibit A:

‘I know that love happens under the splendour of moon and starts and fireworks and sunsets but it also happens when you’re lying on blow-up air beds in a childhood bedroom, sitting in A&E or in the queue for a passport or in a traffic jam. Love is a quiet, reassuring, relaxing, pottering, pedantic, harmonious hum of a thing; something you can easily forget is there, even though its palms are outstretched beneath you in case you fall.’

The Interestings // Meg Wolitzer

Wolitzer’s character development creates the atmosphere that these characters could be real people as they have such fleshed out personalities. You watch the characters grow from children through to adults and eventually having their own children. They struggle with friendship, money and loss. The book is chunky in length and it utterly absorbed me.

‘When you located someone from the past online, it was like finding that person trapped behind glass in the permanent collection of a museum. You knew they were still there, and it seemed to you as if they would stay there forever.’

Olive Again // Elizabeth Strout

Fastly becoming one of my favourite writers Strout brings back her well-beloved character Olive, and we get to dive into her story all over again. Normally I don’t enjoy sequels, but I loved getting to know more about the main character. The novel addresses old age in raw unfiltered way, which I hadn’t read about before.

‘But it was almost over, after all, her life. It swelled behind her like a sardine fishing net, all sorts of useless seaweed and broken bits of shells and the tiny, shining fish…the billion streaks of emotion she’d had as she’d looked at sunrises, sunsets, the different hands of waitresses who has placed before her cups pf coffee – all of it gone, or about to go.’

My Name is Lucy Barton // Elizabeth Strout

This book is based all around a hospital visit and the conversations had between a mother and daughter. The timeline jumps all over the place adding such perspective so what might seem an insignificant conversation. It’s a tale about family, memory, abuse and how these affect the decisions made in later life. Strout’s writing style pieced fragments of stories together producing a short yet beautiful read.

‘I have said it before: It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it’s the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down’

Never Greener // Ruth Jones

Written by Ruth Jones who I associate with light-hearted comedy about community and family. This book is the opposite, covering heavy subjects such as loss of love and breakdown of families. I didn’t like any of the characters and I wasn’t rooting for any them which normally would ruin a book for me but despite this I found it an enjoyable read and was invested in the story line. I would really recommend listening to Dolly Alderton’s interview with Ruth Jones on her podcast Love Stories.

The Night shift before Christmas // Adam Kay

Adam Kay, back at it again. If you read only one book on this list make it this. It’s so short will take hardly anytime but it is so worth it. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry. The message he conveys is one needed more than ever whilst COVID-19 is taking over our lives. Let’s support our NHS and care workers.

Eve // WM. Paul Young

I never normally read fantasy novels, but this has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone as I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is based on the creation story but with a whole other dystopian world alongside. It bring to life stories you have heard since a child by adding other elements. If you look deeper than the initial story line it speaks about feminism and trust.

An American Marriage // Tayari Jones

A heart-breaking love story. The love letters that start on page 42 had me swooning and then crying within a matter of minutes. It addresses the legal system in America and the racism that still stands.

‘Sleeping by myself didn’t kill me then and it will not kill me now. But this is what loss has taught me of love. Our house isn’t simply empty, our home has been emptied. Love makes a place in your life, it makes a place in your body, rerouting all your blood vessels, throbbing right alongside your heart. When it’s gone, nothing is whole again. Before I met you I was not lonely, but now I’m so lonely I talk to the walls and sing to the ceiling.’

Books I am currently reading…

These are books that I have been reading a page/chapter/section at a time for the past few months.

Live in Grace, Walk in Love // Bob Goff

There’s a thought for everyday of the year. He is a legend and his thoughts are so thoughtful.

A History of the World in 21 Women // Jenni Murray

Each chapter is the story of a women, the impact they have on history. Very interesting to dip in and out off.

You’re Not Broke You’re Pre-rich // Emilie Bellet

A book about organising your dollar, insightful for people like me who historically haven’t been very good with money. Got good tips on how to save etc

Grand Union // Zadie Smith

Love love love this. I am going back and rereading the short stories before I’ve finished reading them all.

Engines of Privilege // Francis Green & David Kynaston

This explains how the class system really starts in our schools. It explains the unfair advantage private school children get. To go alongside this I would recommend Annie Mac’s podcast episode interviewing Jess Phillps.

Books I will be reading next…

Tender is the Night // F.Scott Fitzgerald

Calypso // David Sedaris

Little Women // Louisa May Alcott

Where I source my books…

I should and will when this pandemic is over join a library, however I do still manage to get my books cheap, I always buy them second hand. Here are my recommendations of where to source your books :

World of Books – Who doesn’t love free delivery? This is probably my most used and favourite site to order books off.

AmazonLet's be honest Prime is taking over the world. I hardly need to tell you about it. Each book I've mentioned is tagged with an amazon afflicate link if you fancy supporting moi.

eBay – I’ve got books for less than £1. The delivery is normally longer than Amazon but it’s lush to receive a present you bought yourself a week ago late at night and forgot you ordered.

Abe Books – I haven’t used this website myself, but I know my dad uses it all the time

Charity Shops Instead of hearing of a book I want to read and finding it online buying from charity shops encourages me to try new authors I haven’t heard off. You have a much smaller selection to choose from but often this is the perfect way to find a hidden gem.

My dad’s bookshelf – I am lucky to have a dad who also enjoys reading similar books to myself. A few times now I have bought a book that he already has on his shelf. Would recommend raiding your family, friends and neighbours’ bookshelves.

Would love to hear what you are all reading / any recomendations.

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