So after a weeks holiday where I was reading almost one book a day, I have lots here to catch you up on! I have been trying to alternate between fiction and non-fiction so that I don’t get too stuck into reading one type of book and neglecting others. Also far its been working really well for me, as it feels like a nice balance between books that feel heavier to read, and ones you find harder to put down.
The Truants - Kate Weinberg
Starting with the only one on the list that was really not for me. I dragged myself through this one. The premise is a girl going to University, to be taught by a tutor there who is her literary idol, only to find herself caught up in all sorts of debauchery and drama. It was a painful read!!!!
The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides
This was such a page turner! I am not the biggest thriller fan, but sometimes I just find one I can’t stop reading. This had all the twists and turns you could wish for, was easy to read (I almost read it all in one London-Amsterdam flight) and one you don’t want to put down. It follows the story of a women who commits a crime, and in turn chooses to be mute as she is institutionalised, making her psychiatrist’s job of unpacking what happened to her very difficult indeed. This would be an amazing holiday read, or one for a lazy weekend where you can set aside a few hours for reading.
The Gulag Archipelago - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
It took me about three weeks to get through this almighty book. It was such an eye opening read to me about a HUGE part of history I knew nothing about. Assuming some of you may not know too, the Gulag Archipelago is a term coined by Solzhenitsyn to describe the Russian Gulag (mostly operational under Stalin), the series of labour camps around Russia that claimed the lives of 60 million lives over a 40 year period. Solzhenitsyn was in the camps himself, and his account of that experience is harrowing. The book did get hard to read towards the end - but to say this is such a huge topic, and a heavy one at that, it’s surprisingly easy to read. Thankfully its also the abridged version, sitting at around 500 pages as opposed to the original 18,000 Solzhenitsyn wrote!!
The Paris Architect - Charles Belfoure
This fiction follows the story of a French Architect employed by a man to design hiding spaces for Jews in occupied Paris. I really enjoyed this book and found it such a warming story with characters I loved in it. It isn’t one that will stick with me forever, but I loved it all the same!
A Year Of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion
Now this is one that will stick with me forever. If you have grieved, are grieving, know someone who is grieving, then hand them this book. After reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem last month I have been wanting to read more of Didion’s work (I also watched the documentary about her on Netflix and loved it). This book was written the year following her husband's and daughter’s deaths - as she navigates grief through the practical advice, the abstract writings, the philosophical, alongside documenting memories and her life at that time. It was incredible and a book I wished I had read much earlier.
In The Distance - Hernan Diaz
This book did the rounds with a few people on the boat with us in Greece and everyone loved it! It is an adventure story following Håkan as he embarks on a journey through America in the 1850s trying to find his brother in New York. It documents his loneliness, struggles, and people he meets along the way. It isn’t the sort of book I would normally opt to read but I loved it - and I am currently reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy which feels like a much darker and more descriptive version of this story too (and also more post-apocolyptic).
Educated - Tara Westover
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! A memoir of Tara Westover, looking back over her childhood with a mormon family in Idaho, who sheltered her from anything governmental that could brainwash them; education, modern medicine. She finally leaves for college aged 16, and embarks on a new part of her life as she comes to terms with her family and upbringing. I couldn’t believe the life she lived as a child, and although it has hard to relate to, I couldn’t put this book down!
The Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar - Cheryl Strayed
Another one I didn’t want to put down. This is a collection of letters from Strayed's years as an agony aunt for a magazine. The letters cover all types of topics; love, heartbreak, addiction, sexuality, family, motherhood, career. I loved how varied it was and found it such a soothing read to give me so much perspective on so many things. I have already given away my copy and bought another one for another friend; it’s one of those books everyone should read!