Reading in the time of Coronavirus.
No matter what’s going on in the world, a good book can provide insight, comfort and a welcome escape. Coronavirus meant being confined to our homes for quite some time and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who turned to reading as a form of entertainment and respite.
For me, it was the perfect time to really knuckle down with my goal of 26 books in 2020. And if you haven’t had the chance to read my last #bookstagram post, I’ll link it here so you can have a little read of the books I’d read by March.
Seeing as we’re now in September, I thought I’d take a moment or two to update you all with the 10 books I’ve read since we last spoke! Similar to before, I’m going to write a little overview/ outline of each book. These are my own personal thoughts but of course, I’d absolutely love to know what you thought if you’ve read any of the titles below!
9. ‘Legacy’ – James Kerr.
I wrote an entire post about this book because it meant that much to me. There are so many anecdotes and lessons that can be taken from it I think its a must read for everyone, leader or not. I won’t bore you with a repeat, so if you’d like to know more, please do click here.
10. ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ Adam Kay.
I devoured this book in two sittings. It is SO rare to find a book that can make you laugh and cry in equal measures but Kay does it. It’s heart warming, hilarious and devastating all in one. It’s very British and is a publication of the diaries Kay kept whilst he was a junior doctor working for the NHS.
I read this book during lockdown, when the NHS were publicly under so much pressure and scrutiny. It was a really important reminder of just how overworked the doctors and nurses are. If there was ever a time to be reminded of how lucky we are to have healthcare in the UK, it was then.
11. ‘The Cows’ – Dawn O’Porter.
I’m finding it hard to say what happens in this book, as I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll keep it as brief as I can.
It follows three women – intimately, heartbreakingly and hilariously – as they manoeuvre their way through body-image insecurities, sex, love, friendship and loss. All whilst juggling careers and/or motherhood. It’s relevant without being patronising. The characters are ‘flawed’ in a way that makes them lovably human. The book feels very current with the focus on social media and feminism. I loved this story – I couldn’t get enough of it. I now want to read O’Porters other novels!
12. ‘The Chimp Paradox’ – Steve Peters.
This book is an amazing map to knowing and understanding how we as humans function, how we are programmed by life and the how the people we meet along the way can influence our behaviours. It goes one level deeper by pulling apart how this ‘programming’ can sometimes work against us by leaving certain “gremlins” or “goblins”. I’d even go as far as saying this book could be described as an instruction manual for the brain.
This book is for anyone who frequently gets ‘hijacked’ by their chimp – meaning overtaken by their emotions, negative self-talk and self-sabotaging thoughts or behaviours. Its one of those books that now has folded down pages, underlined paragraphs and highlighted phrases!
13. ‘11.22.63’ – Stephen King.
I’ll be honest, it’s really rare that I get through a book over 500 pages, let alone 700+. This was also my first Stephen King novel. I’m not really sure why, maybe because his books have always intimidated me a little. But whatever the reason, I am proud with a capital P to say that I completed it.
Heaps of action, suspense, and lots of seeds planted throughout the pages that I’m sure King fans will have spotted. Of course all writers have to do their research to ensure stories lines and historical events match up, but the research that clearly went into this book together is incredible. I really liked the extensive storytelling. It almost felt like 5 different novels/storylines crammed into one and the funny thing is is that any of the sub-story lines would have been interesting by themselves.
I did feel at times, as though the story was ‘dragging on’ a little, but then I’d turn a few more pages and be invested again. His writing is effortless and natural. King is a true method author.
14. ‘Flat Share’ – Beth O’Leary.
One thing I’ve found since starting #bookstagram is that sometimes I’ve felt pressured to only read books that are educational or academic and that completely dismisses books that are written for entertainment and pleasure.
Flat Share bought me so much joy. There are some quite serious story lines and darker parts, but it’s just such a lovely story. I was so invested in Tiffy and Leon I couldn’t stop turning the pages and I’m leaving it at that. Please just read it and be sure to keep an eye on Beth O’Leary!
15. ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race’ – Reni Eddo-Lodge.
We have a lot to learn about the history and presence of racism and white supremacy. We have a long way to go as a country. We have a lot to clean up and change but that starts with every individual. The thoughts and beliefs that he or she has about Black people, their history, and the present racial issues BIPOC face. It’s not comfortable to face the truths in this book but it’s necessary. I don’t really feel its my place to say anything else.
16. ‘Queenie’ – Candice Carty-Williams.
“Being brave isn’t the same as being okay”. I can sum up my thoughts on this book in one sentence: it is a must read (assuming the trigger warnings are not going to cause issues for you as the reader).
Queenie is not an easy book to read at times, what she goes through is a lot. Her journey is one of growth and discovery, but it’s also one littered with anguish, self-loathing and pain. It’s one of those books that will teach you something. It made me reflect on privilege and how racism is something that very much still exists in our society, in ways that some of us (myself included) have the privilege of not realising because it isn’t something that impacts our day to day. I could go on and on about what I learned from this book, but that would make for a very long review.
17. ‘The Body: A Guide for Occupants’ – Bill Bryson.
We so often reduce our bodies to the aesthetic that it can cause us to lack respect for just quite how incredible the human body is.
Bryson marries science with story telling to help us better understand how our skin, cells and synapses make us, us. Both amusing and highly informative, the book literally covers everything. This was my holiday read and I can honestly say it was brilliant. It’s also available as an audiobook and I’m definitely keen to listen in!
18. ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ – Heather Morris.
This book wasn’t as brutal or as hard hitting as I imagine some holocaust books could be which was a welcome surprise. Morris has written a story Lale (the protagonist) would be very proud of. ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ tells the story of his and Gita’s determination of wanting to be together through one of the worst and sickening periods of our history with the utmost care and consideration. Compassionately written with sensitivity, its emotive, thought provoking and heart felt. A stunning read for 2020.
Lucky number 19 is ‘Girl, Woman, Other‘ by Bernardine Evaristo. I’m only a few pages in so I’ll report back as soon as I’ve finished it.
With 7 left for the year, I’m leaving a little room for the magic of discovering books along the way but would love some recommendations. I truely believe that sometimes the right books find you exactly when you need them. Hopefully some of these will find themselves onto your reading lists!