I've decided to make an effort to read more this year. I love reading but sometimes when I'm tired or busy with sewing projects I don't prioritise it. I also find I'm an all or nothing reader - I have to really love it to keep going. If I do love it I will binge read until it's done...then comes the mourning that the book is over!
I'm going to share my monthly reading here to keep me in a routine. Consider it a book club club of sorts - please comment and tell me what you are reading and loving! It will help me add to my to-read list. Word of mouth recommendations are always the best. I'm aiming to read four books a month this year.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This book is the best selling memoir about the author's hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in the early 1990s following the death of her mother and subsequent spiral into destructive behaviour and lifestyle choices due to her grief. Recently adapted and released as a film starring Reese Witherspoon, I was keen to read it before the film and it's reviews were released.
My husband read the book first and he really disliked the personal narrative - he is a hiker and just wanted the stories about the hiking and the trail. On the other hand, I couldn't put it down and found Cheryl's personal story fascinating, frustrating and heartbreaking. The story of her travels along the trail were also addictive and I found myself cheering her on to each milestone.
For me, this book was Eat Pray Love without the privilege and self absorption. It's gritty and hard in parts and transformative and beautiful in others. I got a lot out of this book and I really recommend it, especially to women. I saw the film too but as is the case most often, two hours isn't enough to encapsulate the detail, and several important people and moments from the book are left out.
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
Ohhh I was SO disappointed with this book. I don't do this very often...but I gave up half way through. The worst part was that I LOVED The Rosie Project - that was a great read that I ripped through in about two days. This sequel picks up and follows the story of Don Tillman, a unique character who although never formally diagnosed, it is suggested throughout the first book that he has Asperger's Syndrome or other autism spectrum disorder. I don't want to say too much here because if you haven't read The Rosie Project I recommend you do, so I won't include any spoilers. In this sequel I felt that the characters had a really different feel and the charm that made the first book so enjoyable was missing.
If you have read both I'd love to know what you think. I felt so disappointed that this book didn't meet my expectations. That's the danger of sequels I guess.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
I wish this book had have been available to me fifteen years ago.
Sheryl Sandberg was an executive at Google during it's formative years and she is now COO of Facebook. Her incredible career is inspiration in itself but her book focusses on women in the workplace, women in leadership and why only a small percentage of women make it to the top of their profession. There is a variety of different topics she covers, and her TED Talk from 2010 (definitely worth watching) is a good overview of the main themes in the book.
Lean In has probably been the most motivational text I've read in many years. It may not be the same for others but I think this book came along at a time when I really needed it. It has altered my approach towards my work and my business, towards my attitude about motherhood and towards my goals for the future.
When my daughters finish school and look towards their careers I will hand them this book. I have also recommended it to my sister and a number of my friends. But most importantly I've given it to my husband and he has started reading it. The leadership themes will be helpful for him in his career, but also it is helpful for men to understand some of the issues women face and the choices that they make about their careers and their family.
A couple of things have stuck in my mind. The phrase "What would you do if you weren't afraid?". And also the idea of work / life balance. Women are always asked about their work / life balance. Men are never asked. It is expected that they lead fulfilling work lives and have active and interesting social outlets and family time.
It struck a huge chord with me so check it out.
Once In A Lifetime by Cathy Kelly
Ahhh Cathy. Her books are formulaic...three or four women from Ireland whose lives intertwine and by the end they are all best friends. It's always the same BUT her books are the ultimate in comfort reading. Perfect for winter evenings, beach reading or just when you want to binge read something that's not too heavy. Traditional chick lit at it's best. I'm only about four chapters into this one so far and the shenanigans are centring around the goings on at an upmarket department store. Such an easy and enjoyable read. If you like Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly would be another author you'd like. And best part - she has a huge number of novels to keep you occupied and you'll get all her titles at your local library.
I'll give you a proper run down on this one in the next reading post.
A Dance of Dragons by George RR Martin
I. just. can't. keep. going.
I've read all the other novels in the Game Of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire series. And while they are brilliant, they desensitise me. Every novel I read immediately after seems tame and boring in comparison to the violence, death and high drama of Westeros.
When I was reading these books, I'd have a moment like reading Where is The Green Sheep to my kids. And in my mind I'll be thinking "That Green Sheep was probably killed by The Hound." Disturbing, right?
This book has been on my night stand for almost a year and I think it's time to relegate it to the bookshelf until I'm ready to go back. I'm almost reluctant to finish it as that will see me complete the series thus far (apparently GRRM has the next two planned and ready, but no publishing date has been set and he ain't getting any younger.)
The only problem is I know it's good. I love the writing, I love the world of Westeros and I love the variance and personalities of all the characters. Good and bad. I love that GRRM doesn't do the popular thing...any character could die at anytime. And while the TV series is brilliant, there is so much detail in the books that they haven't been able to include in the show.
I might come back to this one next summer.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
On the nightstand in the queue is The Girl on the Train. Currently a best seller and lots of hype. I don't tend to go for thriller / mysteries these days but the blurb sounded good. I'll let you know how I like it.
So what are you reading right now? Traditional book or Kindle? Should I add it to my list?
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