We’ve made it through the first four months of 2017 without blowing up the planet. So to celebrate I’ve decided to have a look through the books I have read so far this year and pick out my favourites.
This year so far I’ve read 34 books which sounds like a lot (for me anyway) but it’s actually because I have got massively into graphic novels and manga which are obviously quicker to read. I’ve read a really interesting mix of books this year and I’ve enjoyed most of them, which is always a plus.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
I honestly cannot recommend this book enough. I can easily fall into a reading slump if a book doesn’t instantly grab me but I whizzed through this one. I could not put it down. It might sound ridiculous but reading this was like reading a movie – fast-paced and just absolutely mind-bendingly awesome.
If you’re interested in science and the prospect of multi-verses then you’ll love this book.
See more on Goodreads. Continue Reading
I’m a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg and found her book Lean In really inspirational. I still remember reading her first Facebook post after her husband Dave passed away suddenly in 2015. I could feel her pain radiating through and it affected me a lot more than I thought it would.
Sheryl is a fantastic writer and when I heard she was writing a new book, Option B, about building resilience in the face of adversity, I knew I had to read it. Last year my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was the absolute worst time of my life. Thankfully she recently finished her treatment and everything is looking positive – but thinking back to the time around her diagnosis, I can’t believe we managed to cope. I struggle with anxiety anyway and the stress of that time – and finding out the cancer had already started to spread to her lymph nodes – meant I had to leave my job to be able to cope mentally, and to be with her during her surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Continue Reading
I love reading books that are both interesting and give me some useful business knowhow.
Not being a user of Airbnb (yet) but familiar with its staggering growth, I wanted the chance to get the inside story, warts and all.
Synopsis on Goodreads:
This is the remarkable behind-the-scenes story of the creation and growth of Airbnb, the online lodging platform that has become, in under a decade, the largest provider of accommodations in the world. At first just the wacky idea of cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb has disrupted the $500 billion hotel industry, and its $30 billion valuation is now larger than that of Hilton and close to that of Marriott.
Airbnb is beloved by the millions of members in its “host” community and the travelers they shelter every night. And yet, even as the company has blazed such an unexpected path, this is the first book solely dedicated to the phenomenon of Airbnb.
As soon as I saw this book I knew I had to read it. This is a book written by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine High School shooters. She writes thoughtfully and passionately about her thoughts and feelings throughout the 16 years since the incident happened.
Summary from Goodreads:
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.
For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?
These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In”A Mother s Reckoning,” she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.
How to Murder your Life is, without a doubt, my favourite book of 2016. Released in February 2017, this book is the autobiography of Cat Marnell’s life so far. Don’t worry, I hadn’t hear of her either but jeez, her life is SO INTERESTING.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
At the age of 15, Cat Marnell unknowingly set out to murder her life. After a privileged yet emotionally-starved childhood in Washington, she became hooked on ADHD medication provided by her psychiatrist father. This led to a dependence on Xanax and other prescription drugs at boarding school, and she experimented with cocaine, ecstasy… whatever came her way. By 26 she was a talented ‘doctor shopper’ who manipulated Upper East Side psychiatrists into giving her never-ending prescriptions; her life had become a twisted merry-go-round of parties and pills at night, and trying to hold down a high profile job at Condé Naste during the day.
With a complete lack of self-pity and an honesty that is almost painful, Cat describes the crazed euphoria, terrifying comedowns and the horrendous guilt she feels lying to those who try to help her. Writing in a voice that is utterly magnetic – prompting comparisons to Brett Easton Ellis and Charles Bukowski – she captures something essential both about her generation and our times. Profoundly divisive and controversial, How to Murder Your Life is a unforgettable, charged account of a young female addict, so close to throwing her entire life away.
Sometimes there’s nothing better to read than a new Illuminati and conspiracy-related book!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
This book demonstrates that the old secret societies were driven by the same impulse as Anonymous and WikiLeaks are today. These marginalized groups have always rebelled against the establishments; some subversively by spreading progressive ideas through art and literature, while others are far more proactive, driving revolution and exposing government secrets. The Illuminati, founded in 1776, aimed to rid Europe of the ruling aristocracy and religious control of education, politics and science. They supported the Age of Enlightenment and were accused of fueling the dissent that culminated in the French Revolution.
Since that time the term Illuminati has become a meme, giving a name to a secret network believed by conspiracy theorists to control the world. These were depicted as pranksters, working in the shadows to manipulate society. It was in this climate of pranks, memes and conspiracy theories that the hacktivist collective Anonymous were born. Their ideals of freedom from censorship and the empowering of societies against their rulers make them the spiritual successors of the Illuminati.
The kindling of the French Revolution by the Illuminati has found a modern counterpart in how Anonymous and WikiLeaks played a key role in the Arab Spring uprisings using the internet as a new weapon against dictatorships. It is the same battle fought by secret societies for a millennium but the new inquisition has shifted its focus from secret societies to wage a war on the connected communities of the internet age. This is the story of that war and how you need to be a part of it.
I found Homo Deus to be quite an odd book and not quite what I was expecting. Nevertheless I really enjoyed it.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.
What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus. Continue Reading
This month was a good month for new books!
The Muse by Jessie Burton – I loved The Miniaturist so I’m really excited to read this. And oh my gosh, how pretty is the book? This novel follows two stories, one in London and one in Spain, linked by a mystery masterpiece. Reviews for this have been great and I can’t wait to get stuck in.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – I’d heard so many good things about this book and just had to pick it up. This follows a grumpy old man called Ove and, having just finished an ARC of The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen (83 1/4 Years Old), which I loved, it sounded like the perfect follow up.
I thought writing about the books I’ve read so far in 2016 would be a good introduction to the types of books I usually read (and my thoughts on them).
Autobiographies / memoirs
I started the year reading Alan Sugar’s autobiography What You See is What You Get. I don’t read a great deal of memoir-style books, however having just finished watching The Apprentice UK, I was intrigued to read more about Sir Alan. I’d previously read his side-kick Karren Brady’s book Strong Woman – both were great books which I rated 4/5. A few months later I ended up reading his book Unscripted – mostly about his time working on the Apprentice which, as a huge fan, I really enjoyed (4/5).
Throughout the first few months of the year I read a few other autobiographies – Sue Perkin’s Spectacles (brilliant book) and Mary Berry’s A Recipe for Life (both 5/5). I also read Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road as part of Emma Watson’s book club, which I also gave full marks. Another great feminist read was Bridget Christie’s A Book for Her – it was a bit of a slow burner for me but it ended up being a fantastically funny read about her journey into the male-dominated world of comedy (another 5/5). Continue Reading