I rarely get to read in large chunks at the moment, but I have (slowly, but surely) managed to wade through some books over the last few months, so I thought that I’d share them. There is no particular theme, as you will soon realise:
Becoming Michelle by Michelle Obama
This book has taken me months to get through. It is huge and was hard going in places, but I’m so glad that I ploughed through it. All I can say is – what a woman! Michelle has been so generous with details and I found it completely fascinating. Her journey is an amazing one, and so unexpected for both her and Barack. I love how she always worked so hard and did what made her happy, because it meant she was prepared for the monumental opportunities that came her way. She’s especially relatable because she came from such humble beginnings.
My tiny bugbear about Michelle’s book is the way she tries to justify herself too much, which could sometimes be irritating because she really didn’t need to. It’s immediately obvious what a caring, conscientious and successful human Michelle is, so I found the constant justifications tiring, however, I understand that she has points to prove and cynics to persuade. I left this book feeling so much respect and kindness towards Michelle, Barack and their family – for the insurmountable sacrifices they have made for others, and their unwavering determination to change the world for the better. They worked tirelessly, and did so much to help equality within America, and for females especially around the world. Whether we agree with their political beliefs or not, there is no doubting what good, intelligent people the Obamas are.
The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) by Philippa Perry
I heard about this book when listening to a podcast and knew that I needed to read it straight away. Philippa is an experienced psychotherapist and a wise owl when it comes to understanding people in relationships. Philippa’s tone is non-judgemental, calm, friendly and non-prescriptive, which I think is such an achievement when writing a parenting book. I read this book with Winston in mind, and although I feel like we are doing well, we definitely have some improvements to make. I also felt quite reassured in lots of ways, so that was nice too.
I would recommend that parents everywhere to read this book. The most important message from this book is that relationships are never too damaged to fix, and that is really powerful. We can all change the way that we communicate, we can try to understand people better and we can become better at recognising our triggers and dealing with them. We can understand our children better and really listen to them.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
I loosely belong to a local book club, and this was the book that received the most votes one month, so I read it, not expecting to enjoy it very much. It features Harold, an ordinary man, going on incredible journey – taking very little with him. He starts walking and doesn’t stop until he reaches his destination – 600 miles later. What took me by surprise with this book is how inspired I felt by Harold. He’d led such a normal life complete with complications, heartache and regrets, but he did something unexpected, and very difficult. He put one foot in front of the other, and achieved something truly great.
Harold is quite a forlorn character, and frustrating at times, but by the end I had such admiration for him. I felt very moved by him and his ability to do something spontaneous to make sense of his own life and to help free himself from regret. The book set off some thoughts about my own life. I hope that no matter how old I am, or how ‘normal’ my life feels that I never stop thinking – ‘Why not just go for it?’ I’m so glad that I read it, as I would never have chosen to read it, and I think this book is relatable to many people at various stages of life. There is a follow up book called ‘The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy’, which I haven’t read, but have heard great things about.
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
This book by Adam Kay – doctor turned comedian, is hilarious, worrying, sad and disgusting all at the same time. It is quite sweary in places, but it is such an honest account of the scenarios that Adam found himself in as a junior doctor. From the objects that people put in various places (!), to the overworked, dedicated NHS staff, to the utterly bizarre and complete heartbreak. I read it very quickly, and had many moments crying with laughter, mixed with so much sadness. Young doctors are under so much pressure and are faced with such difficult decisions every day. This book is brilliantly written and so insightful.
Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
I know that I have a slight obsession with books relating to WWI and WWII. I’m not sure why. I feel so bewildered about it all. I have war postcards dotted around our home, because I find them so emotive, and they remind me every day to count my blessings. This book is based on real people, and many real circumstances (although it has had some heavy criticism because it is based around a love story). This book had a profound effect on me, whether all of the facts are true or not. How can people be pushed to their darkest depths and still have a glimmer of hope? It’s utterly harrowing. We visited Auschwitz a few years ago, so being able to picture where everything happened really brought this book alive for me.
Another recent read is ‘Born Survivors by Wendy Holden’. It’s the incredible true story of three babies born in concentration camps. What strength their mothers had, and the desperate conditions their children were born into. It’s not for the fainthearted. The three babies meet as adults and share the most beautiful bond.
What have you read recently that you loved?