Reading is a huge part of my life so I wanted to create a space to highlight some of my favourites. Happy reading!
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Expectation By Anna Hope
A Little Life By Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life is the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in recent years. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light.
A Little Life is one of the best books I've ever read despite the difficult subject matter it covers. Although this book is rather dark at times, it also left me feeling hopeful that support and true friendships do exist and they can make a difference in a person's life.
The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories can, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.
I read this book when I was much younger, near the time when I decided to move to England for love. It helped me trust my intuition and made me feel confident in my choice to follow my heart.
When Breath Become Air By Paul Kalanithi
When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father. Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.
This book made me sob from beginning to end, but I couldn't put it down. A reminder of how precious life really is.
The Year Of Magical Thinking By Joan Didion
Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete sceptic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later – the night before New Year’s Eve, the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, 40 year partnership was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LA airport, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Centre to relieve a massive hematoma.
This was the first Joan Didion book I read and before I had even finished it I had already ordered several of her other books and she has become one of my all time favourite writers. Joan Didion has a way with words that is so descriptive it makes you feel as if you were there and it was happening to you. I get lost in her writing and this book is one I recommend to people over and over again.
Call Me By Your Name By André Aciman
Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.
No surprise that this book is featured on this page. Like so many people I am such a fan of the film and immediately had to read the book which was certainly a bit different to the film adaptation, but I really enjoyed it. If nothing else, I really loved seeing what the director chose to leave in and what he chose to leave out of the film. Beautiful story of a love that is so strong it becomes painful.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running By Murakami
In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he'd completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and on his writing. Equal parts travelogue, training log and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and settings ranging from Tokyo's Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston.
I am not a runner, but I am a huge fan of Murakami so I wanted to give this a go. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and enjoyed learning about why a person might love to run. I also learned a lot about the author which I found interesting as a fan of his work.
A Natural History Of The Senses By Diane Ackerman
Diane Ackerman's A Natural History Of The Senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth.
I read this book over the summer and finally finished it during a yoga retreat in Italy-which was a time I was trying to become more in touch (pardon the sense of touch pun) with myself. It's the perfect book to read if you consider yourself in love with life or perhaps want to be a little bit more in love with life. It made me think about our senses in a way that I never had before.
Men Without Women By Murakami
Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Lovesick doctors, students, ex boyfriends, actors, bartenders are all brought together across seven tales to tell stories that speak to us all.
I really enjoy books of short stories because I can pick it up and put it down whenever I feel like. Murakami's writing style is one of my favourites (there's a reason he's a bestselling author). These short stories pop up in my mind every now and then at the most random times. His writing is the gift that keeps on giving.
The Unbearable Lightness Of Being By Milan Kundera
Milan Kundera tells a story in The Unbearable Lightness Of Being about a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and one of his mistresses and her faithful lover. Milan addresses himself to the nature of twentieth century ‘being’ in a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events.
This one took me a long time to complete because I found it very sad. It was also very beautiful though and ultimately that's what kept me coming back to it for more.
Notes To Self By Emilie Pine
Emilie Pine speaks to the business of living as a woman in the 21st century, its extraordinary pain and the extraordinary joy. Emilie writes with radical honesty on birth and death, on the grief of infertility, on caring for her alcoholic father, on taboos around female bodies and female pain, on sexual violence and violence against the self. Devastatingly poignant and profoundly wise but joyful against the odds. Notes to Self offers a portrait not just of its author but of a whole generation.
I would say this is one of the most vulnerable and raw books I have read recently. I really enjoy autobiographical stories because I think it shows that we can all see a bit of ourselves in each other. This book was beautiful to read because of its honesty.
The First Bad Man A Novel By Miranda July
The first novel by the filmmaker, artist and bestselling author Miranda July confirms her as a spectacularly original, iconic, and important voice today, and a writer for all time. The First Bad Man is dazzling and unforgettable.
I really need to read more from Miranda July (I love her!) because this was the first book I've read from her and instantly knew I was going to adore it. This book is weird in the most wonderful way. I recommend it to everyone in my life that goes against the grain.
Circe By Madeline Miller
A spiritual tale about Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child – not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft.
I don't typically read books from this genre, but I was instantly hooked on this one. It sucked me into a fantasy world and I learned a lot about Gods and Goddesses as well as witchcraft and love. Perhaps I do love this genre!?
Vagina A Re- Education By Lynn Enright
Vagina provides girls and women with information they need about their own bodies - about the vagina, the hymen, the clitoris, the orgasm; about conditions like endometriosis and vulvodynia. It confronts taboos, such as abortion, miscarriage, infertility and masturbation. It tackles vital social issues like period poverty, female genital mutilation and the rights of transgender women. It is honest and moving as Lynn Enright shares her personal stories but this is about more than one woman - this is a book that will provoke thousands of conversations. We urgently need to talk about women's sexual and reproductive health, about our experiences of sex and pregnancy and pain and pleasure. Vagina: A Re-Education will help us do just that.
I learned more from this book than I can tell you. I really do think every person could benefit from reading this book and I even went as far as to interview the author for my podcast (listen here).
Sapiens A Brief History Of Humankind By Yuval Noah Harari
In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities.
I'd seen so many people reading this in café's, on the underground, on airplanes etc. and finally I just succumbed to peer pressure and picked it up. If it's good enough for Obama, it's good enough for me! I was really afraid this book was going to be a bit like a textbook, but it was such a fun read and I learned so much! Highly recommend this one - it's fascinating!
Stay With Me By Ayobami Adebayo
Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.