One of my goals for last year was to spend more time reading and working my way through my never ending to be read pile. I signed myself up to good reads and set myself a challenge to read 52 books over the year and then preceded to fail miserably finishing the year on just 10. Although I am not setting myself any strict goals this year, I would like to stop spending hours on end scrolling through Twitter and Instagram and start spending time on my hobbies and interests. I’ve decided to give myself another go at a reading challenge and set myself a more realistic target of 26 (one every two weeks). I’ve also used the screen time setting on my phone to set up proper downtime and restrict my access to all social media apps between 10.30pm and 7.30am so I don’t procrastinate when I should be sleeping or getting ready for work.
Something seems to be working because I’ve nearly finished my third book of the year and I have completely fallen in love with reading again. I was going to share volume 4 of my current reading list when I realised it would probably be more beneficial if I shared my thoughts on what I have read so you can decided for yourself whether or not to give any of them a go. So instead I bring you the last 6 books I read.
Fatherland by Robert Harris
If you like Man in the High Castle then Fatherland should be up there on your reading list. Set in 1964 twenty years after Nazi Germany have triumphantly won the Second World War, Berlin detective Xavier March is sent to investigate the discovery of a dead body a week before Hitler’s 75th birthday. As he starts the investigation more murders reveal themselves and March races against time to uncover the truth before the Gestapo catch up with him. What he uncovers will change history and could lead to the end of the Third Reich but will he live long enough to share his tale? I found this quite slow to get into but once I reached part two I couldn’t put it down. The blend between fact and fiction was fascinating and it was interesting to see how facts were incorporated as the mystery unfolded. I just wish it were longer or there was a sequel.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
A holocaust fiction book inspired by the story of Lale Sokolov. In 1942 Slovakian Jew Lale is transported to the Auschwitz – Birkenau camp where he is forced into the position of Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist). Tasked with the job of scratching numbers into the thousands of arms that were set to pass through the doors, it isn’t until prisoner 34902 comes along that Lale finds a sole reason for survival. This vivid and harrowing tale is highly emotional and one of the most powerful love stories I have ever read. We will never even begin to understand the extent of what these people suffered during one of the darkest times of history but this type of book remind us that every single one of the victims was an individual with a unique story. Lale’s tale is one of friendship, love and humanity amidst one of the darkest episodes of war that everyone should read.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Visiting the WB Studio Tour back in November reignited my love for all thing’s HP, so now that we’ve worked our way through all the film’s I’ve decided to go back and re-read the books. If you have never read the books then you really are missing out because there is so much more to learn about the wizarding world, about Hogwarts and about Harry and his friends. From the first of the hundred times I’ve read The Philosopher’s Stone, I quickly became enrapt with the wizarding world and everything it has to offer. There really are no words that can do the HP series justice and although my original copies are still in pristine condition I think it’s definitely time I invest in the illustrated versions.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life with the same routine week in, week out. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same thing for lunch every day and drowns her sorrows in two bottles of vodka every weekend. One small act of kindness is about to shatter her perfectly timetabled life and turn things right around. Join her as she navigates all the dark places she has spent so long hiding from. I have to say I didn’t find Eleanor particularly likeable until a couple of chapters in when her humour and her little quirks began to grow on me. Unexpectedly funny in parts, this novel balances the deep and unspoken sadness with humour and hope. A strong reminder that friendship can truly be a life saver and we should never judge a book by its cover because you never know what is going on underneath the facade.
Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight
I have never really been into self-help books as I find them to be quite preachy and not all that useful but when I read the premise of the book I just had to pick this up and see for myself. Get Your Sh*t Together is the second guide book from self-branded ‘anti-guru’ Sarah Knight teaching you how to stop worrying about what you should do, so you can finish what you need to do and start doing what you want to do. I would say Knight is an acquired taste and I found a lot of her ideas pretty obvious, but I did pick up a few nuggets of gold which really helped kick my motivation up a notch or two and I enjoyed her no fucks given attitude. Breaking each part down into easily digestible snippets meant you could come back and pick out the most useful parts to you without worrying about the rest of the book. I did find parts of the book a little samey but I am interested to see how her other books compare.
Big Little Lies by Liana Moriarty
This is the book which introduced me into Liana Moriarty who has fast become one of my favourite authors. I picked up the book to read before watching the TV series and I am glad I did because as with most adaptations, there is always more to the story in the book. The snippets of police interviews at the beginning of each chapter left you guessing as you tried to work out who was missing to establish exactly what had happened in this schoolyard scandal. A tense page turner which was near impossible to put down mingled with domestic and sexual violence, murder and the white lies we all tell to survive. This kept me guessing the whole way through as I desperately tried to piece together who had died and why. I wish I could wipe the story from my mind so I could read it all over again for the first time!
Hopefully you have found my recommendations useful and I will be back again soon with my next 6. Currently on my reading list are Stasiland, Anne Frank’s Diary and The Husband’s Secret – what are on yours?