Stuff I’ve read this year: v 2.0

November is a shit month. October’s OK because it can be crisp and bright and not that dark. December is too because drinking copious amounts of booze is fine, but sandwiched in between them is November – and it’s just a bit shit.

As such, I’ve spent many of my autumn evenings sprawled across a two-seater couch, eating flumps in a make-up stained dressing gown. Disclaimer: I don’t really even like them – they just claim to be ‘fat free’ and kind of resemble that of a sweet treat, so I eat about 94847 in one sitting.

TL:DR: To fill the void left by British summer time, I’ve smashed through more books than you can shake a proverbial flump at, so I thought I’d review a few of ’em.

Just by happenstance all of the below books are written by women. As Lily Allen recently said in relation to her book ‘When women share their stories, loudly and clearly and honestly things begin to change’ which segues nicely into…

…Lily Allen – My Thoughts Exactly

I’ve got a bit of a penchant for a musician’s memoir, so much so that I’m rarely fussed who that musician is. As well as being a frank look into Lily’s personal life this book was also a good insight into the music industry as a whole. At times she comes across as in denial about her privileged upbringing, but there are also really sincere parts where she broke my heart. Overall it’s a compelling read that I was genuinely gutted to finish.

Sally Rooney – Conversations With Friends 

Sally Rooney’s writing ability is next level. It’s so good that her sensual descriptions of mundane going’s on make you forget that nothing has actually happened for six chapters. Seriously, there was a section where Frances (protagonist) was drinking a cup of peppermint tea because there was no milk (really) and it was so enchanting it made my knees weak. If this book was a musician it would 100% be Lana Del Rey.

Hated the characters though – they’re all unlikeable and it’s hard to invest time into a story about ignorant people who grow and learn very little throughout the book. I also struggled because there are lots of cultural references that suggest the novel is set now in the present day, but the characters all interact via email ? I mean when was the last time you sent your BFF an email ?

Alexandra Heminsley – Running Like a Girl

This book is AH’s personal journey from non-athlete to 5-time marathon runner. It’s more of a memoir than a guide, and I would wholly recommend it to anyone who thinks they can’t run.

If you follow me pon de ‘gram you’ll know that running has become a hobby that I enjoy. Even as I typed that sentence I still don’t quite believe it. I’m defo not a natural runner, I’m really clumsy and partial to the odd Marlborough gold – so it’s a miracle that I’ve actually come to like it.

Just before embarking on my journey from chain smoking caterpillar to actual event finishing butterfly I read this book and it changed the way I felt about running. It was just what I needed to read in the beginning when running 5k seemed like a monumental and unreachable goal. Sometimes running can be quite a solitary hobby and I found it comforting to read tips about experiences like chafing and buying compression socks written by someone personable.

My highlight was the chapter about female runners who made history, in which AH writes about Uta Pippig, who crossed the finish line of the 1996 Boston marathon with menstrual blood down her legs. This really stuck with me and made me think if she can do that in the face of adversity, then I can run a 10k.

Miranda July – No one belongs here more than you

My friend Fran sent me this in the post. I’d never heard of Miranda July before picking up this book, but she’s a multidisciplinary artist & quite the powerhouse.

I know you should never judge a book by it’s cover but that’s exactly what I did… on the back of this book there’s a high-praise quote from David Byrne – this alone made me want to love it.

It’s difficult to review it as one book because some of the short stories were incredible and others felt like they were written by a controversial A level English student. MJ’s writing can come across as pretentious, and some parts of this book are actually really fucking weird – but don’t let this put you off, for me it was definitely part of its appeal. I like that she uses her writing as an outlet for her eccentricity and although I was hooked on it I did find it deeply irritating all at the same time.

Gail Honeymoon – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is a bit of an odd ball. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. She has an unusual appearance and spends much of her time alone.

This had the potential to be one of those nice enough chick lit books, fine for reading in the bath but that you’ll never remember in a year. It exceeded my expectations because It is so much more than that. GH’s characters are consistent and unapologetic and although this is very much Eleanor’s story – the other characters are equally impactful and well constructed. I laughed, I almost cried, it made me feel empathetic and it made me feel grateful. Read it and then talk to me about the part when Eleanor becomes ‘shiny’ and tell me you didn’t well up. I dare ya.

Thanks 4 reading & Merry Christmas LaDz.  If you wanna book swap holla at me. x