The Book Edit: My Favourites Books & How To Read More

…because yes, I am a Kindle convert.

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Right now there are two things that are getting me through this uncertain and worrying time; baking and books. Bake a cookie, eat it whilst devouring a book. It’s a winning combo and whatever your circumstance, if you can find a few hours to bake a batch of cookies (I mean it would be rude not to put a plug for my Super Gooey ‘Levain & Créme-style Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Cookies here, right?) and then read a chapter or two whilst you chomp down on your still-warm-from-the-oven cookie and I can guarantee you’ll feel just a tad more zen. If there’s someone in your life who hasn’t got the time, then cook them up a cookie (or ten) and pop them on their doorstep with a book or a nice relaxing bath product on top and I’m sure they will love you forever.

My original plan with this post was to have a chat about how to find more time in your life for reading. LOLZ. With everyone’s schedules thrown off course you’re probably finding yourself with either more free-time than ever, or at the other end of the spectrum (and if you’re on that end then I’m sending big love and huge amounts of respect for the work you are putting into our country – THANK YOU!), and seeing as I sort of covered my top tips about how to read more in this post anyway, I just wanted to share my one new discovery that has completely changed the game when it comes to reading for me.

It’s a Kindle* (I’ve linked there to exact one I have). Oh yes I’ve transitioned to the dark side and I don’t think I’m ever coming back. I picked one up over Christmas as a little present for myself and although it took us travelling to Sri Lanka for me to finally download some books onto it and get to grips with the whole digital reading thang, I have fully been bitten by the bug for two main reasons. One, it’s just so easy to hold and read from. It’s small to travel or commute with and the backlight means that I can turn the light off to keep reading whilst Mark goes to sleep. It’s light and so when I’m reading a monster of a book, I don’t have to give up on reading for the evening simply because I can’t get comfy. And secondly, the ‘percentage read’ figure in the bottom corner is so ridiculously motivating. I find myself just wanting to read ‘5% more’ then realising that I’m so close to the end of a chapter and so reading to finish that x10, before I actually fall asleep. I’ve told you before I’m a numbers gal and I find it so motivating. It also calculates how long it’s going to take you to finish the book, and how long until the end of the chapter, (these are all figures that can be turned off if you’d rather not know), but I’ve been ploughing through books at a rate of knots. Who’d have thought it? 

I always say to check out my Goodreads page for my most up-to-date reading recommendations. I tend to tag what I’m currently reading on there, as well as sharing ratings for my most recent reads and what’s coming up on my shelf too. But I thought I’d share with you an edited list of my top books from the past six months or so if you’re not quite sure where to start. Here’s what I’d suggest…

If you fancy some non-fiction in your life… ‘Catch & Kill’ by Ronan Farrow*. I borrowed this from a friend and gobbled it up. A behind the scenes look at how Ronan investigated the Harvey Weinstein cases and how the big networks tried to shut him up. A fascinating look into the world of media and cover-ups.

If you’re a thirty-something… ‘Expectation’ by Anna Hope*. A story told from the perspective of three different friends who met at University and how their lives divert and intertwine as they get older and into their late thirties. It flows easily and doesn’t shy away from subject matter that gives grit and reality to the whole thing.

If you liked ‘A Little Life’… ‘The Interestings’ by Meg Wolizter*. I’m a big fan of stories that follow groups of friends and/or family members over the course of their entire lives and this book does exactly that. Think ‘A Little Life’, but a little less heart-breaking. Similar to ‘Expectation’ it covers topics like money, success, careers and children; one of my favourites I’ve read this year.

If you fancy some humour… ‘Calypso’ & ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls’ by David Sedaris*. I just adore David’s writing. It’s weird and wonderful, dry and witty and some of the personal essays make me gasp out loud, whilst others tickle me and I just have to read them out to everyone who I met. I mean he wrote a whole essay about a gigantic turd that wasn’t his that got stuck in the toilet. Gross in places but utterly hilarious.

If you want some gipping fiction… ‘The Other Americans’ by Laila Lalami*. I read this book over Christmas in two days flat. It was brilliant. Although mostly told through the central character, Nora, the narrative dips shortly into that of other people in her life, which gives you mini insights into everyone’s internal thoughts and feelings. A story of racial tension, privilege and bereavement.

If you like mind-bending fiction… ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ & ‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood*. I’m sure this is a series that many of you have heard of by now but because I refuse to watch anything that isn’t the U.S version of The Office, I had never seen the series or read the books. WHAT A FOOL. Read it now and thank me later.

If you want something that’s going to make you think… ‘Home Fire’ by Kamila Shamsie*. My friend Katie gave me this book and I sat on it for about a year before I finally read it and realised what a gem of a book I’d been sleeping on. Completely unlike everything else that I’ve ever read it tells the story of a young family and their struggles with radicalism penetrating into their lives.

If you want to read one of my favourite books I’ve ever read… ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’ by John Boyne*. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s a tomb and a half, so be prepared but it offers utter escapism and brilliant story-telling that is funny, sad, heart-breaking and optimistic. Telling the story of one boy and the twists and turns that his life takes until the very end. Such a beautiful book.


Photos by Mark Newton