I absolutely love reading, but I go through phases in terms of actually being bothered to pick up a book and get stuck in. It’s so much easier to scroll through Instagram or half watch a TV programme than to fully engage the brain with words but when I get in the zone, BOY do I go in hard.
So to celebrate the fact that I’m firmly back on the wagon and with the long cold nights drawing in, I’ve devised a list of my most recent reads, in case you’re in the market for some literary inspo.
At this time of the year I like to hibernate and with my impending maternity leave next month (and lack of plans due to my zero alcohol consumption), some time under the blankets with a flickering candle and a good book sounds like the absolute dream.
Lily Allen – My Thoughts Exactly
I’m an inherently nosy person, I won’t even try to pretend I’m not, so an autobiography will often spark my interest if I’ve got a vague likening to the person writing it. We all “know” from the media that Lily Allen has had a colourful past and the book kept popping up on my social media as a “must read!”.
I read the book in just over a day (partly because I was in the zone, partly because it was interesting.) It’s not a light hearted read by any stretch of the imagination and I’d like to put a trigger warning out there for anyone who is currently pregnant or has any birth trauma / baby loss in their life as I found that particular part harrowing (especially at the moment). But in general the book felt like an open and honest account of Lily’s life, the struggles of being a woman both in her industry and generally and an insight into how mental health issue’s can spiral / how important it is to have a support network behind you. I’ve never highlighted passages of a book before but I did in this one:
“What a waste of headspace. What a waste of consciousness. What an insult to every person struggling with illness or poverty or homelessness; what a diss to the sunshine and the sky and the birdsong and to any number of small pleasures or preoccupations that could have more joyfully and usefully occupied space taken up with worry about body weight.”
“I don’t want to be silent. Women have been silenced for millennia, and I’m not going to be part of that. I want to speak up, and if that means I sometimes get it wrong, then I should be able to correct myself, apologise, move on and still carry on speaking up. As a woman, I’m not meant to be an angel or a saint or a martyr or to have faultless encyclopaedic answers all the time. I’m a woman only, and, like all women, I don’t ask for special treatment. Like all women, I just ask not to be repressed or silenced.”
I personally think it’s a very eye opening read, not just about Lily’s life but about important topics that we should all look to consider.
Holly Bourne – How Do You Like Me Now
This one I picked up after hearing it mentioned on the High Low (a podcast hosted by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes). I loved it and again read the whole thing in close to a day. It is a book set in that transitional phase of life from your 20s to your 30s, the panic that sets in as a woman who is not married or mothering when everyone else seems to be and the art of portraying one version of yourself on social media / to your friends and family when inside, you’re struggling.
The book delves into long term “comfortable” relationships, questioning what is and isn’t acceptable and the fear of starting again at 30. It tackles the social media bubble we live in and not only the dangers this poses on our mental health but also this “new reality” we create where we honestly believe that everyone is living this magical life and our own is a pile of shit. The book also looks into female friendships and the cross over from fun free and 20 to up to you knees in kids at 30, the judgements that are attached to being the career woman and the walls that can inadvertently be created between you.
As a woman who is nearing her 30’s I found it to be an interesting read and definitely one I would recommend, whether you are of a similar age or not.
“Being in your thirties is like a game of Snakes and Ladders. You may think you’re beating everyone, but you’re only one dice roll away from falling down a snake and suddenly coming last. And the person stuck on square four may randomly land on a ladder and suddenly overtake you in this game to get everything sorted before your ovaries go kaput.”
“True success is living the live you want to live and not caring what other people think.”
Louise Pentland – Wilde About The Girl
I read Louise’s debut novel Wilde Like Me and although I didn’t take to it instantly, I soon grew to like the characters and got hooked. So when the next book was announced, I purchased as a nice easy read – a bit of chick lit to kick things off. Turns out I was more invested than I thought in the characters previously and found myself in tears at Lacey’s news and totally rooting for Robyn and the life she deserves. Again this book includes a heart breaking storyline, which was probably not what I should be reading at 7 months pregnant, but despite this I was engaged throughout and really enjoyed the book. It portrays the difficulty of a new family dynamic on a young child, the mind fuck that comes with starting a new relationship when the last one screwed you over so badly and the complications a friendship can go through when you are both processing similar but also very different trauma.
Gillian Flynn – Sharp Objects
This is not a book I would usually pick up. As you can see from my previous reads I’m more of a chick lit / non-fiction kinda gal than a grotty murder story reader, although weirdly I AM into murder TV programmes, which is how this one came about. Having watched Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams, on Sky Atlantic I was left with soooo many questions on what exactly had happened, who really did it and how/why. Cue a frantic discussion with my pal Penny who informed me that the book apparently went more in depth and painted a clearer picture. So that was that … I HAD to read the book. I think if I hadn’t watched the programme I would have struggled to get into it but I already had the story and the characters pretty firm in my mind so it was a quick read for me – I was WAY more satisfied with the information I was given and I could finally go to sleep without thinking, BUT WTF DID THAT EVEN MEAN? So if you, like me, watched the programme and need more, I would highly recommend giving this a read. Similarly if you’re into the crime / murder genre, it’s a gooden.
As a knocked up Nelly there will be no surprises that I am currently dabbling in some birth books to prepare / inform myself on what’s to come. (Note: I’ve not finished either of these yet but I’m a good way through both.)
Clemmie Hooper – How To Grow A Baby *and push it out
I think I saw this on Hannah Gales insta / blog a while ago and of course also follow Clemmie myself so this is the first book I purchased. It is a weekly guide on how your baby is cooking, along with some great hints and tips. Unique in the fact that the author is both a midwife and a mum of four (including twins) so she has basically seen it all. I also purchased the journal version of the book which is SO lovely (and would be the perfect gift for a pregnant friend). Again with updates on what the baby’s up to however, you also have space to write about your thoughts and feelings, prompted by specific questions relating to the stage you’re in.
Milli Hill – The Positive Birth Book
An absolute must have in my opinion! Fully informing you on your body, birth and the whole process. Getting you confident in making the right decisions for you and an amazing compliment to any hypnobirthing course you may be looking to take. Milli also includes an amazing resource which includes icons for your birth plan, allowing your care provider to take a quick glance and know what you want / need.
And because I’m easily influenced in the book buying department, here is a list of the books I plan to read next:
This Is Going To Hurt – Adam Kay
(although not till after I’ve had the baby)
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) – Scarlett Curtis
Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life – Katherine Ormerod
The Multi Hyphen Method – Emma Gannon
The Mother Of All Jobs – Christine Armstrong
(downloaded a sample)
Yes She Can – Ruth Davidson
(downloaded a sample)
Normal People – Sally Rooney
(Although still undecided because I downloaded a sample and not sure I like the style it’s written)
How To Be Famous – Caitlin Moran
(I started this but wasn’t in the right frame of mind, so I will go back to it)
The Unmumsy Mum
Cordially Invited – Zoe Sugg
(Not one to read all at once but I bought it and it’s beautiful and I will dip in and out of it)
147 Things – Jim Chapman
(Another one to dip in and out of, I started this a while ago and need to pick it up again as it was actually really interesting)
Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls (1&2) – Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
(I’ve started the first one but will obviously be reading these to my little girl eventually)
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
(Another one I’ve started and need to pick back up, I found it really interesting learning about the history of race from a British point of view as, for some weird reason, we only learn about the American history at school. Obviously a really important book to read!)
Parenting The Shit Out Of Life – Mother and Papa Pukka
(gift from a friend which I’ve started and will carry on soon)
I wonder if I can get through all of these before my time is taken up by a small human? haha. Let me know if you’ve read any of the above, would love to hear your thoughts.