#17 Read 3 new books – one of which has to be non-fiction

I have always loved reading. After a slow start as a young child I became a bit of a book worm.

I have early memories of trips to the local library, before it sadly shut down. The smell of all the books is extremely evocative.

I also remember really clearly hounding my mother in Sainsbury’s supermarket to get the next Enid Blyton book of whichever series I happened to be reading at that time (I’ve ream them ALL).

Happily Ecclesall library reopened several years later in a new building, located very close to the old original library.

My mother took us out to Totley library after we moved out to Dore and I remember being so frustrated that you could only take 5 books out each and week – how on earth were 5 books a week not enough on top of school works and extracurricular activities!?!?

Oh to have that much free time to read nowadays!

The last 2 years have been a bit of reading black hole and I found myself only reading when I needed information – which whilst useful is slightly sad.

Over Christmas/NY 2014/2014 I went through a phase of reading autobiographies from inspirational business people and entrepreneurs.

This was actually really inspiring and motivating and I loved it – I would honestly say that Steve Job’s biography is one of the most gripping reads I’ve read in a long time – definitely check it out if you haven’t already. Although, I don’t think I would have liked him at all…

I also loved Richard Branson’s autobiography – I believe he has several now, he’s such a likeable guys. Although I find the fact that he sells himself as the successful everyman a bit misleading as comes from what sound like a privileged background. However, loved that one too….

I was however, totally scarred after what can only be described as a hard won battle – which put me off reading altogether for months – I almost wanted to throw a party when I finished it! I am very much one of those people that will always finish a book, no matter what -I will not be defeated by literature! But this was serious struggle.

This particular book was “Gates: How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented an Industry and made himself the richest man in America” authored by Stephen Manes & Paul Andrews. This may be a great, thrilling read for others, but my god it was not for me!

However, I survived and was therefore inspired to get back in to reading this year with my challenge #17 Read 3 new books – one of which had to be non-fiction.

I am quite firmly back on the reading bandwagon and have smashed this one out of the park.. I have been putting off writing this post as keep reading more and more and more…

However, it will get to be too long and ridiculous if I don’t cover it off now… I may just comment on great reads on my monthly (ha ha yes I know they’re supposed to be) update posts…

So far this year I have read 10 books – yes that’s right 10, a pretty decent number I reckon…  Below I have rated each book and provided minor comments on each, but not exhaustive – you can follow the amazon links if you want more info or to buy a copy…

Or maybe you might want to go and check out your local library even!

This is actually the order I read the books in too…

  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak 4/5                                                                                                                                                                                      I had been wanting to read this for a few years as it had been recommended by several people. It’s interesting to see the war through the eyes of a child and the perceptions and understandings grow as you see her grow up.                                                                                                                                                         I found the end rather predictable, but an enjoyable easy read non the less.  I still don’t think I want to see the film though…
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez            5/5                                                                                                                                            This book combines the historical novel with the fantasy and spectacle. I genuinely never knew what was coming next or why, but I was completely and utterly absorbed!   I have to admit I was surprised to enjoy this book as much as I did, I truly loved it.         I had previously read “Love in a time of Cholera” and hated it, so was unsure how I’d get on with this, also the fantastical content isn’t really my usual cup of tea.          Something a bit different for me and I reckon I would happily return to this book in the future.
  • Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman tells you what she’s “learned”, Lena Dunham 4/5                                                                                                                                                I find Lena Dunham to be a very interesting woman. She seems so free and liberated, so confident and assured in her self-expression and her freedom to express it all.    I think the content of this book is fairly brave and she even seems pretty unlikeable at times.                                                                                                                                             Again this is a book about someone I outwardly find extremely interesting, but ultimately if I was left alone in a room with wouldn’t feel a close affinity to.               There are one or two sections of this book that really hit home with similar experiences I had as a young adult and seen as I read this book in a single weekend I would say it’s extremely readable.
  • My Mother, My Father: On losing a parent, Susan Wyndham             5/5                                                                                                                                          This was a great and dreadful book both at the same time. I really struggled at time due to the close nature of the content.                                                                                            This book is essentially a collection of essays about how different people have coped with the death of a parent.                                                                                                         One Friday on the flight home from work I just had to put it down to stop myself from openly bawling on the plane.                                                                                                     This book really touched a few nerves, but it was good, it was both confronting and comforting in that it made me feels things I didn’t want to and also provided the relief of knowing others feel the same way at difficult times.
  • Guns Germs & Steel, Jared Diamond                                                                      3/5                                                                                                                                                     Technically I’m still reading this… I keep dipping in and out of it for about 20 minutes on each flight home on Friday. The topic requires a bit of concentration so it’s not exactly a sensible choice for light end-of-the-week relaxation, but it’s extremely interesting.                                                                                                                                    This books discusses how human societies developed in different ways and in different rates in differing continents/locations and therefore, the stages they were at by the time European colonisation started in earnest.                                                                      For anyone with an interest in understanding how and why our societies’ wealth and power is distributed globally then this is a good book to check out.
  • The best of Miranda: Favourite Episodes, Miranda Hart                                   6/5 – yes I know                                                                                                                      Such Fun !!! I do love Miranda hart. I have read all her books and seen all of her shows, except her stand-up comedy, which I am waiting to get my hands on.                                                                                                                                                        I just love her, she’s so true and honest and simply just so like us all really.                                                                                                                                             After reading this I had to go back and watch all 3 seasons again back-to-back and cried when they were finished because I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend – or at least a fruit friend (if you don’t know the reference then get on it).                                                                                                                                                  What more can I say but… “What have you done today to make you feeeeeeeeeeeeeell prooooooooooooouuud”.
  • 12 Years a Slave                                                                                                                 4/5                                                                                                                                                   Yet another book on my list that was turned in to a film – seems to be a terrible coincidence as I had downloading this one about 2 years ago and it’s just sat there since.                                                                                                                                              This was surprisingly more readable than I thought and is really rather heart breaking.                                                                                                                                        Coming from a liberal background and given the on-going racial tensions in the USA at the moment, it is interesting to read about the historical relationships.                                                                                                                                     I just find it completely inconceivable some of the things that people can believe, really truly it’s just crazy and that’s putting it politely.                                                                        I actually might go and watch the film after reading this book – but maybe next year so it’s not too fresh in my memory and I won’t draw direct comparisons.
  • The Longest Ride, Nicholas Sparks            3/5                                                                                                                                             Ah yes Nicholas Sparks, never fails for a bit of romance.. predictable and cheesy but not vomit worthy…                                                                                                                                   I see this is coming out as a movie this year with a highly modified plot. I will likely watch it one night when I’m on my own in my PJs with a bottle of wine and a take away… Classing it up Bridget Jones style of course.                                                          Every now and again I just want to get lost in something romantic, I think I am a bit of die-hard romantic, even if not many get to see me be really open about it.                      Embrace the naff, take a strong whiff of Emmental strength cheese and throw yourself into it knowing fully what it is and you’ll enjoy it… otherwise stay away I reckon. Good beach read.
  • Tracks, Robyn Davidson                                                                                         5/5                                                                                                                                                I really enjoy books about expeditions and have read quite a lot over the years.      Robyn Davidson crossed from Alice Springs to the Western coast of Australia with 3 camels, largely unsupported.                                                                                                     Her trip was, rather reluctantly, funded by National Geographic, who sent out a photographer to record certain points of her journey.                                                              I enjoyed this book, the scenery and the wildness and remoteness of what she did has a strong draw                                                                                                                                       In books like this there’s always the need for the writer to justify and try and explain why they made the choice to undertake the trip that they did. I feel that when this information is offered it is interesting but almost superfluous as I think you’re either a person who gets it or doesn’t with respect to ‘adventuring’.                                                    I feel like I am constantly fighting the urge to run off and spend my life wandering, travelling, exploring, experiencing. It’s not because I want to run away from my life in anyway, it’s just this feeling, this niggle in the pit of the stomach that can only be satiated for so long…                                                                                                               Whenever I read books about people making long painful journeys, climbing mountains etc, I never think why, I always think – how and when can I do that… I only wish I got to do more of it.
  • Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found – Cheryl Strayed                   4/5                                                                                                                                           Like the books above this is another expedition by a woman through remote terrain – this time along the PCT in North America.                                                                         Again like many of the books above I don’t feel that I could ever be friends with the author; however, I enjoyed her book and could mainly identify with her struggle.    Cheryl undertook her journey after being devastated by the loss of her mother, which resulted in her “going off the rails” as you might call it.                                                           I think after huge events in our lives some people can stop take and breathe and carry on, which is very admirable. Others need to draw a line, take a giant leap and go and re-set.                                                                                                                                                This book is almost like a story of personal redemption and given the meagre means she achieved it with is very admirable.                                                                                          I also now want to go and do another big trek…

I’m definitely going to keep up with my reading streak, so if you’ve got any good suggestions let me know!

If you decide to check out any of the above I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

Right, now I’m off to plan more adventures…

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