top of page

My reading from July to September 2020

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

I love to keep track of what I read every quarter, so here is the latest update which goes up to September.

Before we dive in a quick message regarding links to books I mention.

Disclaimer: I have recently started to support, please have a quick read of the following to understand how I may benefit from you purchasing books that I recommend.

" is an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops. We also support anyone who advocates for books through our affiliate programme, which pays a 10% commission on every sale, and gives a matching 10% to independent bookshops."

First of all, a recap of what and how I've read this year, there are links to each quarters blog too.

In the first 3 months of the year I read 11 books and listened to 5 audio books

In the second quarter I have some how read 27 books and listened to 12 audio books. Lockdown!

Running total 38 books and 17 audio books

And now on to

July to September

39. The Mueller Report - Robert S. Mueller

Admission, I may have finished this book during this period, but I've been reading it for ages. It is not exactly a page turner. Plus all the redacted pages made it hard to make out in places. But I was interested enough to buy a copy when it first came out and keep at it. My overall take away is probably the same thing you'd get by reading or watching any of the many news articles or television programmes about the Trump administration. It's corrupt, it resembles the mob in the way it operates, it seems to be coming apart at the seams at every turn, and yet somehow survives. The coming election should be open and shut, and yet we watch with bated breath. And if you want a spoiler for the book, it concluded with saying, whilst there wasn't enough evidence of the president doing anything dodgy ( really?) Mueller also didn't believe it wasn't out there for the finding.....

40. The Saboteur of Auschwitz - Colin Rushton

I've read a lot of holocaust books this year. I can only explain it by feeling a horrified fascination. Some books are better than others. If you didn't know that British soldiers were kept in concentration camps during WW2 then this comes as something of a shock. This book tells the story of Arthur Dodd, who along with others was forced to work for German companies who had factories at the camps. It also tells of their efforts to sabotage the war effort, and ultimately to survive.

I really didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I didn't know anything about Jo before I started reading, other than the passing fact that she had risen to the top as a british business woman. This book covers her life from early childhood, her charismatic but problematic parents and the other people who shaped her life to come. Jo certainly had a very turbulent life, despite having married young. Family complications seem to have followed her, and she also had breast cancer. In spite of all of this, she built an empire of a business that was bought by a global pharmaceutical company and created amazing fragrances loved by people all over the world.

My first experience reading an Isabel Allende book. This is a beautiful, sad book, about her daughter Paula who unexpectedly slipped into a coma induced by porphyria and never recovered. However the scope of the book is much larger as it ranges from the family life in Chile, covering the political climate, the reasons they left, and multi generational family history. There is something about her writing that draws you in and keeps you reading for long periods.

I've had my copy for ages, and like to dip in and out, but at times re-read the whole thing. So this was one of those times. If you haven't read it before it is surprising how relevant and fresh the short life lessons feel considering they were written by a Roman Emperor between 160-180 AD. The lessons are supposed to be around self improvement and life guidance.

This is a short young adult book, written entirely from the perspective of a 14 year old boy who becomes drawn into gang culture in London, and ultimately pays the price. I felt the tone and language were authentic, and despite the short length of time spent with the main character felt sadness at the ending to his short life.

This book inspired many emotions in me as a woman. It is essentially the story of all that is still stacked against women despite all of the supposed improvements in law, and society to protect us. From protective clothing that police women have to wear that does not fit (stab vests) to medical procedures that have never been practised on the female body before being approved by the government. The facts roll on, and the horror mounts. The whole point of this book, and hence the title is that women are still not high profile enough in the world to ensure that the world works for women.

I knew many people who loved this book, and raved about it, so I knew I'd read it at some point. For anyone who is trying to do anything creative in life I'd class it as essential reading. Elizabeth Gilbert is an incredibly warm writer, you feel the writing is just for you. And yet it could be for anyone. Full of advice on how to develop a creative practise and how to overcome those little voices that threaten to stop us pursuing our dreams.

Set on Bougainville Island, part of Papa New Guinea, this book blends in the story of Great Expectations against the backdrop of civil war and all the violence that entails. I have to confess I knew nothing of the conflicts before reading this book. Told through the eyes of a young islander, Matilda, after the majority of men have left the island, Mr Pip is a somewhat strange white man who has been living on the island for a long period with his wife. He becomes the only teacher to the islands children, and brings Great Expectations to life for them in a way that it becomes almost like a bible.

This book promises to examine the hidden side of everything. If you have read much Malcolm Gladwell there is a very similar pattern at play of comparing seemingly unrelated things and finding connection and interest. For example how could abortion affect violent crime rates? Some of it feels a little dated in places now, but it is over 15 years old.

Kings first book, almost thrown away until his wife read it and made him see just how good it was. I must be one of the only people who have yet to see the film! I did enjoy this book, I agree it is very well written. I think like others I found the way it is structured, with bits of the story happening now, and others in the form of reports, a bit disjointed.

50. The Rum Diary - Hunter S Thompson

Another classic book, this tells the story of Paul Kemp, an American journalist sent to Puerto Rico in the 1950s to work for a local paper. Whilst there he meets and falls in love with the partner of one of the other journalists, the book mainly revolves around him trying not to get involved with her. That and epic drinking sessions.

51. The Clothes on their Back - Linda Grant

This is an excellent book. It tells the story of a young girl,Vivien Kovaks who finds out that her uncle, who has been written out of family history was a notorious London slum landlord. Apparently he is based on Peter Rachman. Unknown to her family Vivien makes a connection and begins finding out about her family history through her uncle.

This book tells the story of the gig economy. People who work without the protection of contracts. Uber employees form quite a big part of the discussion. There is a lot of examination of how we got to the point we are at now both politically and economically.

Not a book I'd recommend or read again. It took me ages to realise that each chapter is a separate self contained story, although that makes it feel like there was structure, and I didn't really find one. Endless non tales of rich and messed up characters taking drugs, having relationships, and going nowhere. The end of the book is just utterly weird.

I was so impressed reading this book at what the author had achieved in her life. The sting in the tale comes when you find out she has, since writing it, lost it all. I was interested enough to watch the Netflix show of the same name, and to see what is next for her.

One of Moores oldest books now, this was published just after 9/11. What I found about the story was that if you removed the word Bush and inserted Trump, nothing much has changed. They tried to stop this book being published because of the feeling at the time that America couldn't cope with a big anti-America book. The publishers tried to go back on Moores deal, he was threatened with a large legal bill, and told to rewrite it or else. Who saved the day? Librarians. One of them sat in on a talk Moore gave, then took it upon herself to organise a national movement, and that turned into a groundswell of support and lo the book was published without any amends made. It sold out immediately. And became a global best seller.

This book tells the story of a world where people are used as organ donation clones. Focused on the theory of how this world is constructed, children are sent to a boarding school, like many you would find in the UK. Except that the role of the school is just to provide focus and purpose for the clones before their eventual placement as organ donors. It did draw me in and the writing is amazing. But ultimately not a cheerful story.

I first became aware of ex navy seal Jocko, via the Tim Ferriss show, and now often listen to Jocko himself on his own podcast. I also enjoyed his audiobook earlier this year. A fascinating man, since leaving the navy he has founded a management consultancy, and talks of extreme ownership as the way towards success. When he is not doing all the other things, he writes children's books. The Warrier Kid book I read was my sons, but he didn't like it. So I read it instead. I found it very positive and encouraging for anyone let alone kids. Eat well, exercise and put some effort into your education. That's it pretty much.

This one is more of a novel than Paula was, it tells the story of life in Chile under the dictatorship. Weaving a story that includes several different families, it focuses on two main characters Irene and Fransisco who expose corruption and muder via their roles as a newspaper photographer and editor.

Having read Lullaby earlier in the year I was fascinated to come back to Slimani again but this time in a very different mode. Sex and Lies is about the situation in Morroco for unmarried people. I was shocked to learn that no one, from young to old, is allowed by law to live together in Morocco unless they are married. This book tells the true life stories of many women and their struggles to lead normal lives within the restrictions.

You probably know Rose McGowan from the series Charmed, or one of her films. She has more recently become known as a #MeToo movement member and accuser of Harvey Weinstein. This book is all about her life, which has not been straightforward, from her start, born in Italy to American parents, and raised in a cult, The Children of God. To later life as an Actress. She is now known as an activist and artist.

I've read quite a lot of Faulks, but not for years. I spotted this and thought I'd have a go. It seems to have attracted mixed reviews, and I can see why. It focuses on the main character and his belief that he is somehow better than other people because of his intelligence. The plot focuses on the time Engelby was at one of the top universities in the country ( never named) and the disappearance of a girl who he was in love with. She vanishes never to be seen alive again. The novel goes on through time and covers his later success as a journalist and eventual downfall.

I picked this up as a fan of Gillian Anderson, I'm not normally one to read about wellness. But this was a really useful book. Divided into sections on numerous wellness activities from journalling to meditation, with lots of interesting life stories from both the authors. I did enjoy it and it reminded me to carry on with my gratitude practise, writing down what I am grateful for each day.

Having loved the series (except the ending of season 8 of course, we all have to say that don't we?) I was quite intrigued to see what the books that started it all off were like. So far I'm up to book 3, and not disappointed. They are not quick reads at all, with thousands of pages, and of course hundreds of characters, but they keep the pace up and have lots to interest fans of history, drama and fantasy. I'm sorted for winter I think.

Audio Books June to September (cont)

17. Alchemy - The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense

- Rory Sutherland

I loved this book, I'd attended Nudge Stock, an online behavioural science conference, this year organised by Ogilvy and Rory Sutherland was the host for much of the 13 hours. I enjoyed his own talk, and thought I'd check out his book. I'm really glad I got the audiobook version as it meant I could listen to his thoughts as he spoke them. I think for anyone working in marketing/advertising, they would find this a great book.

18. Gotta Get Theroux This - Lois Theroux

This was a great book to listen to during long lockdown walks. I thought there was so much of interest although with the note that the Saville case takes up a large part of the books content. It is obviously something that has affected Lois Theroux. Since listening to it I've also watched quite a bit of his Weird Weekends programmes and other podcast content.

19. The Bee Keeper of Aleppo - Christy Lefteri

This book is all about the life experience of refugees, in this case the two main characters are fleeing from Syria. Read by Art Malik, the story is often sad, dealing with the loss of a child, the loneliness that can occur even as a couple experiencing loss in different ways. And the awful things that happen to people forced to flee for their lives.

20. The Wolf Hall Trilogy - Hilary Mantel

( Wolf Hall, Bringing Up The Bodies, The Mirror and The Light)

27 hours of storytelling. By the end I was sad to let Thomas Cromwell go. If you haven't already watched the BBC series this is a great audiobook to catch up on all 3.

If you got to the end of this epic ramble on books, then thanks for reading, I hope you found something of interest, I'd love to hear if you read any of them too.



Apart from reading books I have also written one of my own, which launched on September 22nd 2020 if you'd like to find out more read on!

Disclaimer: I have recently started to support, please have a quick read of the following to understand how I may benefit from you purchasing books that I recommend.

" is an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops. We also support anyone who advocates for books through our affiliate programme, which pays a 10% commission on every sale, and gives a matching 10% to independent bookshops."

Would you like more help with your marketing? My new book is out now

If you would like a book of 100 Marketing Tips written just for small business owners then do have a look here. I wrote this book to be easy to read cover to cover or to be kept as a reference to dip in and out of!

About Me

Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in SE London. Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.

69 views0 comments


bottom of page