Thinking about what to read next? I keep a monthly list of what I read and listen to on audio-book. Maybe something here will take your fancy?
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Previously on Shona's 2021 reading...
What I read in March
I'm not normally one for biographies and yet I've already read two this year. I really like a lot of Daphne Du Mauriers books, and reading this made me want to dip in again. Rebecca is obviously the stand out, but I had not realised that The Birds was a Du Maurier.
I think it's hard as a woman living in our times to try and understand exactly what life was like for women before WW2. Whilst you cannot feel sorry for someone raised with the level of comfort and standing that she had, you can empathise on the level of male control she endured. Her father particularly was hard work. An actor, he was famous, talented and successful, but very insecure. There was apparently a question mark over the closeness of the relationship he and Daphne had.
She was certainly glad to start a new life in Cornwall with her husband and eventually children.
Like Enid Blyton, who I read about last month, Daphne was complicated. Cold and perhaps neglectful towards her children, totally focused on her work. You always have to ask yourself whether a man would receive the same level of criticism as these women did and do for being so devoted to expressing the talent they possessed through the work that kept them and their families in a high degree of material comfort.
I have always been vaguely aware of Lord Lucan. I don't think you can live in the UK and not be. The papers still publish stories even now with fabricated claims about what really happened that night.
People often talk about 'doing a Lord Lucan' meaning to disappear. So I literally devoured this book by Laura Thompson and whilst I was reading it I thought constantly about the case.
For the uninitiated this is the story of a man who was heavily in debt at the time of his disappearance. He had lost custody of his children. His ex-wife appeared to hold all of the cards. Then one night the nanny who worked for his wife was brutally murdered. He was at the scene and his wife claims he tried to kill her as well, although she fought him off and ran out into a local pub and collapsed.
He made a few phone calls to members of the family, made a visit to a friend living in Sussex, and then disappeared never to be seen or heard of again.
The book goes into lots of detail about what may have happened, as well as showing how the situation between the police, and members of the upper classes were fraught with issues around class.
I am slowly creeping my way through the stack of work that George R.R Martin has produced. Fire & Blood is a bit controversial as far as the fans are concerned.
After the Game Of Thrones TV series ended there were still two books left to be published in the series. Many people feel that if the TV series had those books Season 8 may not have been so painful. Instead of delivering the long awaited Winds Of Winter, the fans got, Fire & Blood a book set 300 years before the rest of a Song Of Ice And Fire.
I read it, and did enjoy chunks of it, but I'm not exaggerating when I say most of the narrative is around someone being born, getting married, having babies, then dying. That is it on repeat. It is very hard to remember any of the characters because they all have the same plot lines.
Suffice to say the house Targaryen is well stocked of humans, but a bit low on Dragons.
This book is incredible. I'm sitting here now thinking how do I explain it? One of the main elements is the love story of Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach, which is just so beautifully written. Aside from that it's about people learning to live in a way that makes them happy, and doesn't involve living for others. I enjoyed reading about how Glennon and Abby along with previous partner Craig have created a family that works for them and their children.
There is a lot in the book about concurring demons, alcohol and drugs, plus eating disorders. I know Glennon has written other books about her life before so I'll definitely look those up too.
Glennon Doyle is the founder of a charity Together Rising, which has helped to provide support to endangered people, children and refugees among lots of other things. They have done so with an average donation of $25 which is incredible and shows the community organisation element of the charity.
17. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness - Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler
A nudge is when someone or something designs a situation in a way to encourage us to take an action.
For example a school canteen may decide to arrange food in such a way that the children see carrot sticks before chips. Or milk before soft drinks. This helps to guide a certain decision that is better for the nutrition of the children.
This is happening all around us, from road layouts with markings designed to help us slow down on fast turns to signs to help us avoid walking where we shouldn't.
This book covers a lot on financial nudges like encouraging people to save more into pensions and to make only minimum payments on credit cards.
Next time you are in a supermarket or cafe, have a look and see if you can spot a nudge in action!
The Resilience Project - Finding Happiness Through Gratitude Empathy And Mindfulness - Hugh Van Cuylenburg
Sometimes it's better listening to than reading a book. This was definitely one of those occasions. I started listening expecting a business founder story but instead discovered myself finding out every single detail of Hugh Van Cuylenburg's personal life challenges.
The story of Hugh's sister and her eating disorder is heartbreaking. The eventual discovery of the reason it started, even more so.
Then there is the trip to India where he meets children who are so deprived and yet so grateful for simple pleasures like eating plain rice for lunch or having shoes.
The stories about the young men he meets and supports via his involvement in youth cricket coaching are all incredibly moving.
If you want proof that good humans still exist I highly recommend a listen.
Natives - Race And Class In The Ruins Of An Empire - Akala
I had only just finished listening to Natives when the Sewell report was published. Akala has created a real masterpiece in this book. He opens with his early life experience, being written off in his junior school despite being highly intelligent. His mother had to fight for him to remain in mainstream education because of the prejudice he experienced from teachers.
Certain people he experienced whilst in education made him feel that he could not be black and bright, it was simply not going to happen.
Later in the book, he goes back again to the early years experience of black school boys and asks why certain boys are bright, well meaning, and open to the world at 9 and 10 yet within a few more years have turned to street crime and drugs. The obvious answer according to Akala is the way society makes these children feel about themselves. We have a big problem to address in helping to stamp out this prejudice.
A Brief History of Seven Killings - Marlon James
A Dance With Dragons - Part 1 -Dreams and Dust George R.R Martin
21 Lessons for the 21 Century - Yuval Noah Hurari
Can't Hurt Me - David Goggins
Thanks for reading
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