I’ve been unable to post as much as I would have liked to have-been due to my heavy workload at university. Nonetheless, I thought I would give a short review of my January top 2 reads.
I admit with guilt that whilst studying I haven’t been able to read as many books as I’d like. As a neuroscience student, I’m constantly reading challenging scientific journals, which are condensed to maximise content potential in a limited word count. Disclosure: 20-odd pages of figures and data doesn’t seem like a ‘limited’ word count when struggling through it at snail’s pace. At the beginning of my final year back in September, reading a scientific paper would take me the best part of 2 days in the library, but with dissertation season coming around swiftly, my skim-reading skills have ripened. I can now get through a couple a day (not sure how much I’m taking in, or if I’m actually understanding it for that matter – maybe I’ve just admitted defeat on the journal front). Consequently, I come home from a day in the library with no desire to engage my frontal lobes (the brain region involved in processing language: written and spoken), and a craving for Netflix, leaving me little time to read books. Scientific articles certainly are academically stimulating and interesting nonetheless, but not as engaging as a good fiction book.
January’s Top 2 reads were however – able to bypass my Netflix needs (yes, they were this good).
1) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman.
A book that everyone should read. A story of a woman’s struggles integrating socially, due to her traumatic upbringing. Eleanor becomes besotted by an arrogant singer who she believes is her soul mate. Unfortunately, her pursuit to make herself known to him doesn’t go to plan and Eleanor takes a turn for the worst. But with the help of her recently acquired friend, she blossoms, battling darkness, loneliness and self doubt, flourishing into a confident woman who knows her own worth.
The book has a storyline that tugs on your heart strings. It has you appreciate the value of friendship, and the importance of being kind to everyone, for you don’t know what they’re struggling with on the inside.
This book was recommended to me by a friend. I had said for months I would read it, but I kept putting it off due to my work load. As soon as I did – I couldn’t put it down. I was curious, and a tad skeptical primarily – as the first couple of chapters seemed a little too similar to Bridget Jones Diary. As I continued, Eleanor’s secrets unraveled. I suppose that was Honeymoon’s intention, to make her character out like an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. As the book progresses, one realises what a tough and unusually unlucky life Eleanor has lived. The book is a puzzle which can’t be solved until the end. There are clues and mere comments about her upbringing throughout but these aren’t put in context and explained until the final chapter.
The book is written in a first person narrative, so we experience all of Eleanor’s inner thoughts – some extraordinary and others far too relatable. By the end I was totally in love with Eleanors sweet, overly honest and familiar character.
The Lido – Libby Page.
An inspiring story in so many aspects. Based in Brixton, London – Kate, a young journalist working at the local newspaper is assigned her first real story investigating the closure of the local pool. Whilst researching she meets Rosemary, a elderly Brixton resident who has been swimming at the local Lido for most of her life. They form a strong bond and fight in unity with other local swimming pool users to prevent the closure of the lido. During her activist pursuits, Kate manages to get her dream writing job for the Guardian.
I had a lot in common with Kate. As an aspiring journalist myself and additionally having a soft spot for oldies, I could relate closely and almost saw myself in the story. As a result I really connected with the characters. The book highlights the forgotten and overlooked value of community. I was in tears during the last chapter, and wanted to read it from the start as soon as I’d finished. I have now started swimming in my local lido… and don’t regret it – despite Arctic temperatures.
My February books include:
The history of Bees – Maja Lunde. A fictional story of 3 beekeeper’s accounts over a century timescale, focusing on how the very possible extinction of bees changes the world. This book definitely makes you think about the direction in which our climate based actions have us headed in as of current.
Blow by Blow – Detmar Blow and Tom Sykes. The story of Isabella Blow, fashion editor, throughout her life until she committed suicide in her 40’s. A most inspiring and tragic story.