It’s Saturday afternoon and the toddler babe is currently napping like a Queen. I’ve got a big cup of tea and I’m ready to share all of my book-worm geekery with you.
I genuinely get asked all of the time, mostly on the ‘gram, what I’m reading and which books I would recommend, so I’m going to try and make this a monthly feature. Consistency isn’t a strong point though so bear with me on that…
Anyway, this is my collection from August to now (mid-October), so let’s get stuck in shall we because I’ve got a lot to say.
Crazy Rich Asians
I think I’m starting with my favourite but that’s a tough call this time round.
Let’s not pretend that Crazy Rich Asians is a serious, sensible or thought provoking read because it isn’t. Simply put, it is an age-old fairytale classic dressed up in modern day, Kardashian-style glory.
Oh but it’s good though. Really, really good.
This book is a fictional look at the ornate lives of the crazy rich, asian upper echelons, using the fairytale of the girl next door and the handsome wealthy prince (or heir to a business fortune in this case). Capturing the zeitgeist of the moment and the public interest in the romances of the rich and famous (hello Meghan and Harry), this book feels like it should be a guilty pleasure but in fact offers far more than your average romcom. I’m not entirely sure if it is the fascinating peek into Asian culture, the way Kwan weaves a dry humour throughout the story or if it is the perceptive look at what is essentially the human psyche dressed up in glitter and gold, but this book is one to watch and top of my list to recommend to family and friends.
Why Mummy Drinks
I know. I’m really pushing my literary boundaries this month…
Bear with me though, because sometimes you just want to curl up with something safe and easy. A bit like literary comfort food, you know? That’s what this book is. Comfort for the soul of a tired working mother.
The sequel to Why Mummy Drinks (equally hilarious), Gill Sims uses a stressed-out Mummy to document the struggle between parenting and personal ambition. If you’ve read her previous book, you will know to expect much hilarity and cursing, for which this book is no different. I’d definitely suggest reading the prequel to this so you understand the background, family dynamics and general levels of frustration which jump out at you when reading it, but essentially it’s just a really frank and funny look at life caught between motherhood, middle-marriage syndrome and starting all over again with your career.
My only criticism really, is that it is a painfully middle class read; 2.4 kids named Peter and Jane, groceries from Waitrose, life on the PTA committee, a good middle-class Surry-fied home and clearly a shit tonne of money to be going to the local wine bar every Friday night with. I wonder whether this will alienate a lot of readers who live hand to mouth, solo parent or work in a job they can’t stand just to pay the bills, but I was happy to slip into my Boden slippers and laugh along nonetheless.
I’m not too sure what to write about this other than to urge you to find a copy, lock yourself away and gorge on it.
It sort of reminded me of Heat magazine from back in the day – utterly cringeworthy from page to page but completely transfixing nonetheless. Of course we know who Lily Allen is and most of us have a fair idea about her famous father and music career. But what you don’t really expect, or at least I didn’t, was to read a book quite clearly actually penned by the subject matter. Usually they’re ghost written and glossy right? This is not any of those things.
I felt like I was sitting on the therapists couch with her – wanting her to stop because the level of detail and honesty was triggering me massively but urging her on to spill more and more.
This book didn’t exactly make me like her more, it just made me more fascinated in another human’s experience. You’ll laugh and cry with or at her depending on the moment in question. You’ll stare in disbelief at the unadulterated arrogance she sometimes writes with. You’ll sympathise and surprise yourself in relating to someone who seems so far removed from your own life, you’ll wonder how you could ever draw a parallel. And you will grieve hard for her as a mother who has lost her baby. It’s heartbreaking, heartwarming, hilarious and staggeringly honest.
Just go and read it.
Adventures of a Young Naturalist
I have a feeling I’ve written about this book before but it’s taken me so long to read it, I think it’s worth a mention here. For such a fascinating man, with such an incredible wealth of knowledge, experience and observation – this is a really dry read. I wanted to love it, I really did. But I have come to the conclusion that I just didn’t.
The book is basically a collection of stories from his time as a naturalist (if you think that’s to do with nudity then we can’t be friends) and some of them are really interesting. How he manages to make them sound dull I have no idea.
Also, as someone who is passionate about the way we treat animals, this was a mightily uncomfortable read. I understand that this is written from a different era, where animal conservation was viewed very differently but honestly, it was just not good. Not good at all and at times I felt quite angry at what I perceived to be, hypocrisy.
If you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts.
This is a great read but a slow burner for me.
Les Parisiennes, is a factual but story-telling read from a historian who has studied and interviewed the women of Paris from the time of occupied France in WWII. Obviously, the period of history plays the main protagonist here, but actually I found it to be a book filled with stories of human nature; both of bravery and of cowardice, spirit and treachery.
The most interesting part of this book for me is that it pushes you to ask yourself some painful questions about how you would have acted in the various scenarios.
For most of us, I think we feel sure we would not have betrayed our friends, families and neighbours and that we would most certainly not have been fraternising with Nazi soldiers!
And yet, as you turn the pages, you realise that these lines between right and wrong were actually horribly blurred and incredibly difficult to navigate. Nothing is ever black and white in life – something that is searingly obvious in the pages of this book and at times it’s a difficult read as a result. Despite the discomfort, this is an important read but an uncomfortable look at human nature under pressure nonetheless.
So that’s what I have been reading over the past few months. If you’ve read any of these then I’d like to hear what your thoughts were and if you haven’t then drop me your book suggestions so I can try something new.