This post will probably make me sound like a big grump, but when it comes to choosing books I try to avoid reading series as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of positive things about reading a series. If you love the characters, you get to revisit them over and over in new and exiting situations. In recent years, it has also been the ‘blockbuster’ series which have been made into seemingly endless movie adaptations.
In a small Vermont town, an old man puts a piece of land up for sale, igniting a firestorm of protest from the local Abenaki Indians, who insist it is an ancient burial ground. To appease them the developer looking to buy the property hires a ghost hunter, Ross Wakeman. Ross is a suicidal drifter desperate to cross paths again with his fiancee, who died in a car crash eight years earlier. But after several late nights all Ross can lay claim to discovering is Lia Beaumont, a skittish, mysterious woman who, like Ross, is on a search for something beyond the boundary separating life and death. Thus begins Picoult’s enthralling and ultimately astonishing story of love, fate and a crime of passion.
Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors for a reason: every single book she writes challenges my world view. Her books explore euthanasia, racism and white supremacism, the Holocaust, and whether you can sue for medical emancipation from your parents. But Second Glance was perhaps the most challenging of her books for me because it asked me to believe in the paranormal, something I’ve always relegated to the realm of fiction. Read More
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
One of my earliest memories is of trying to draw a picture. I don’t remember what I was drawing, just that I was so frustrated because I couldn’t translate what was in my head onto the page. It was just a bunch of squiggles. That was the first time my perfectionism clashed with my creativity. Over time, perfectionism won and convinced me I wasn’t a creative person. I ended up a professional writer, yet I still believe I’m not creative. I weave words together almost every day, but I still don’t think my factual writing makes me a creative person. Big Magic made me look at things in a new light.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, I want to share some of my favourite books written by women. Looking at my bookshelves, the majority of things I read are by women so narrowing down this list was a little challenging. I also noticed my shelves were severely lacking in diversity, something I’d like to amend because I believe feminism needs to be intersectional. So, I really want to hear your recommendations.
Emma Gannon was born in 1989, the year the World Wide Web was conceived, so she’s literally grown up alongside the Internet. There’ve been late night chat room experiments, sexting from a Nokia and dubious webcam exchanges. And let’s not forget catfishing, MSN, digital friendships and #feminism. She was basically social networking way before it was a thing – and she’s even made a successful career from it.
Ctrl Alt Delete is Emma’s painfully funny and timely memoir, in which she aims to bring a little hope to anybody who has played out a significant part of their life online. Her confessions, revelations and honesty may even make you log off social media (at least for an hour).
It’s astonishing how the internet has totally transformed society in just a few decades. It’s hard to imagine life without social media and the abundance of apps most are lucky enough to have at their fingertips now. We shop online, get news online and date online. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t check Facebook at least once. Needless to say, I could absolutely relate to Emma Gannon’s debut.
It gets into your bones. You don’t even realise it, until you’re driving through it, watching all the things you’ve always known and leaving them behind. Young Londoners Becky, Harry and Leon are escaping the city in a fourth-hand Ford Cortina with a suitcase full of stolen money. Taking us back in time – and into the heart of London – The Bricks that Built the Houses explores a cross-section of contemporary urban life with a powerful moral microscope, giving us intimate stories of hidden lives, and showing us that good intentions don’t always lead to the right decisions. Leading us into the homes and hearts of ordinary people, their families and their communities, Kate Tempest exposes moments of beauty, disappointment, ambition and failure. Wise but never cynical, driven by empathy and ethics, The Bricks the Built the Houses questions how we live with and love one another.
Put simply, Kate Tempest is writing goals. From page one, I was in awe of her beautiful, lyrical style. The Bricks that Built the Houses weaves together the lives of several South Londoners with so much depth, it’s simply stunning. Tempest has become an acclaimed poet, but this book is evidence she is a force to be reckoned with as a novelist as well.
When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays. Shamed online and ostracised by everyone she knows, her boss suggests an extended sabbatical – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new acting talent, Elliot Owen. Easy, right?
Wrong. Banished back to her home town of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a man who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ in a decade, but also suffering an excruciating regression to her teenage years as she moves back in with her widowed father and judgey, layabout sister.
When the world is asking who you are, it’s hard not to question yourself. Who’s that girl? Edie is ready to find out.
Whenever I’m feeling a little down or in a bit of a reading slump, Mhairi McFarlane is my go-to girl. Her books are the perfect contemporaries; just the right mix of drama, romance and comedy. Who’s That Girl? was brilliant and helped me through a tough time at the end of last year. I haven’t stopped recommending it since.
Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.
From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.
There are very few books I’ve related to quite as much as A Quiet Kind of Thunder. Honestly, it was as though Sara Barnard was inside my brain as she perfectly described the anxiety-driven stream of thoughts which can flood the brain, immobilising and taking control.
In June 1989, Paul Du Noyer was contacted by Paul McCartney’s office in London and asked to interview the star as they had met once before and enjoyed a good rapport.
In the years that followed, Paul Du Noyer continued to meet, interview and work for Paul McCartney on a regular basis, producing magazine articles, tour programmes, album liner notes, press materials and website editorial. It’s likely that Du Noyer has spent more hours in formal, recorded conversation with McCartney than any other writer.
Conversations with McCartney is the culmination of Du Noyer’s long association with McCartney and his music. It draws from their interview sessions across 35 years, coupling McCartney’s own, candid thoughts with his observations and analysis.
Those who know me well know I’ve read plenty Beatles books and seen almost every documentary out there on the Fab Four. After years of casual research, some would (perhaps rightly) say obsession, it’s fairly unusual for me to read or watch something which gives me new information. Conversations with McCartney was pleasantly surprising in this respect, giving me more information and analysis on my favourite Beatle than I expected.
Romney Marsh, July 1940. When invasion threatens, you have to grow up quickly. Sixteen-year-old Peggy has been putting on a brave face since the fall of France, but now the enemy is overhead, and the rules are changing all the time.
Staying on the right side of the law proves harder than she expects when a plane crash-lands in the Marsh: it’s Peggy who finds its pathetic, broken pilot; a young Polish man, Henryk, who stays hidden in a remote church, secretly cared for by Peggy.
As something more blossoms between the two, Peggy’s brother Ernest’s curiosity peaks and other secrets come to light, forcing Peggy and Henryk to question all the loyalties and beliefs they thought they held dear.
In one extraordinary summer the lives of two young people will change forever, in a tense and gripping historical drama from Lydia Syson, the author of the acclaimed A World Between Us.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Second World War. I’ll read anything on the subject, but I love books which explore some lesser known elements or tell women’s stories. Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire are perfect examples; featuring female pilots. That Burning Summer was another brilliant addition to my reading on this time period.