Book Review: Quiet by Fearne Cotton

What’s it about?

From Sunday Times bestselling author Fearne Cotton, this is the handbook for modern life we all need. Including expert advice, ideas to put into practice, adventures to complete and interviews with everyone from Bryony Gordon to Billie Piper, Quiet seeks out ways to help you tune out the negative backchat that holds you back, so you can hear the positives that will guide you forwards . . .

 

My thoughts

After having a particularly stressful week and my brain going into overdrive with constant negative thoughts (I won’t go into the why’s) I found myself going out for some well-needed fresh air and ended up in my local supermarket where I came across this book.  It was a tenner for a paperback which I thought a bit excessive so I got a copy from the library instead.

This was my first experience of a self-help book and as I took it out of the library I raised my eyebrows and rolled my eyes, really not knowing what to expect or that it would possibly help.

I liked that it was written in a very chatty way, just like Fearne was in the room having a chat with you, so it didn’t feel like being lectured. I also found it refreshing to hear that a celebrity you might think has a cushy lifestyle still has the same negative brain “Chatter”!

There are activities scattered throughout the book but I didn’t do these (it’s a library copy, remember) to help you understand where your own negativity is coming from.  I know where my current issues breed from and I didn’t feel like I needed these, perhaps a few steps too far for me but I can see their value and how they could be helpful.

I found the chapter on sleep and dreams particularly interesting as getting to sleep and making my brain switch off is something I often suffer from in times of stress or high emotion.

Overall, the book has a restful “Quiet” colour palette together with cute illustrations.  It remains to be seen if what I’ve read will stay with me going forward but here’s hoping!

Book Review: The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

What’s it about?

Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.

Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.

 

My thoughts

This book had been recommended to me by several people, all saying how wonderfully inspiring and emotional it is, so I finally got round to reading it before Christmas.

I found the book to be exceptionally honest and I couldn’t help but warm and want to befriend Raynor and Moth during a particularly difficult and challenging time.

There was one thing that did perplex me and that was their desire to make the walk in the first place. I totally understood their financial and housing situation and how completely devastating and demoralising that would be, but why would a 600+ mile walk seem like your only choice.

I’ve visited Cornwall many, many times over the years and very much enjoyed the description of the scenery.  This contrasted with the interesting perspective of the couple, not being residents or tourists in the villages and towns they passed through and the, mostly, hostile reception they received.  I therefore applaud the their dedication, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness to start this walk and make it as far as they did.  It’s amazing what you can achieve with nothing!  Also loved the presentation of the book and the cover illustration.

A book I wholeheartedly recommend as an inspirational read for the start to 2020!

Book Review: Somebody I Used To Know by Wendy Mitchell

What’s it about?

When she was diagnosed with dementia at the age of fifty-eight, Wendy Mitchell was confronted with the most profound questions about life and identity. All at once, she had to say goodbye to the woman she used to be. Her demanding career in the NHS, her ability to drive, cook and run – the various shades of her independence – were suddenly gone.

 

 

 

My thoughts

This was our most recent book club pick and overall it was received by the group quite well.  None of us thought the topic an easy read but we all agreed it was one that everyone should try and read.

It wasn’t really a book I looked forward to reading and often throughout my mind kept straying to how a woman with early onset dementia could have written a book.  As you read you discover what a resourceful woman Wendy Mitchell is.  This is going to sound awful but as much as I applauded her bravery for speaking out in this way I just couldn’t take to her.  I sympathised and empathasised with her but did find her to be somewhat annoying in equal measure.  She just came across as a bit Mary Poppins – practically perfect in every way.  That said, this is an important resource for all generations to discover!

Book Review: The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding

What’s it about?

In 2013, Thomas Harding returned to his grandmother’s house on the outskirts of Berlin which she had been forced to leave when the Nazis swept to power. What was once her ‘soul place’ now stood empty and derelict. A concrete footpath cut through the garden, marking where the Berlin Wall had stood for nearly three decades.

In a bid to save the house from demolition, Thomas began to unearth the history of the five families who had lived there: a nobleman farmer, a prosperous Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, a widow and her children and a Stasi informant. Discovering stories of domestic joy and contentment, of terrible grief and tragedy, and of a hatred handed down through the generations, a history of twentieth century Germany and the story of a nation emerged.

 

 

My thoughts

When I was handed this book as our next book club read I had this sinking feeling in my stomach that I was going to be bored to death by it and would neither finish or enjoy it.  Well, I did finish it and whilst enjoy is probably not quite the right word, it is very interesting and surprisingly easy book to read.  The author has cleverly made it read like a fictional novel rather than a non-fiction text book.

The book follows the house and the its inhabitants through WW1 and WW2, the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall and the separation and reunification of Germany and the lives that these events affect.  For me, my take away from this book, the most surprising thing was the systematic presecution of the Jews prior to the start of WW2: I’d thought it all happened at the start of the war but is was so much earlier, some 7 or 8 years earlier which I just found incredulous.  I didn’t study history at school past compulsory education and this book is a fascinating read for seeing WW2 from the ordinary German peoples’ perspective.

Not a book I’d ever choose for myself but a perfect read if you’re interested in Germany and German history.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author Links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Library
No of pages: 464
Publisher: Windmill Books

Book Review: This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

What’s it about?

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

 

 

 

 

My thoughts

I’d had a copy of this book on my TBR for well over a good 6 months and was looking for something different for my next book club choice.  We’d not read any non-fiction as a group before so it was out of our comfort zone.

The book is a series of diary entries and anecdotes which lifts the lid on hospital life; warts and all.  A lot of it is actually much worse than warts 😉

“I’m all for explaining terminology as we go along, but if you don’t know what a stethoscope is, this is probably a book to regift”

The quote above is from the beginning few pages of the book and this is the kind of humour that you’re in for throughout.  One of our book group members described it as a perfect toilet book, with no disrespect to the book intended, it’s ideal for picking up for 5/10 minutes at a time and reading a few stories here and there!

The book is witty, tough and gave me proper belly laughs but also made me angry.  I came away from the book with an overwhelming sense of what a total loss to the NHS Adam Kay is.  Brilliant for him that he had the foresight to keep this diary for later life – even though at the time it was probably an outlet for the frustration because even as a reader you will think it’s no bloody wonder the NHS is crying out for medical personnel when this is what their day to day routine is like.

OMG!! If you do this….This Is Going To Hurt!!

If you liked this book, you might also like to try Confessions of a GP by Dr Benjamin Daniels.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author Links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 280
Publisher: Picador