First we make the beast beautiful by Sarah Wilson

Amy First we make the beast beautifulIt was really great to get a picture of what anxiety can be like to live with; how it feels, and how easy it can be to misunderstand an anxious person. I found that element of this book fascinating and helpful. Otherwise, I found it confused and confusing, contradictory and scattered. There are many more questions in the book, than answers, but perhaps the journey will be helpful to other travellers.

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Not drowning, reading by Andrew Relph

Amy not drowning, readingAndrew Relph was born after a tragedy in his family. The event left his parents unable to respond to him, emotionally, as they should have. Though he, himself, had great difficulty reading, his mother read to him, and in books he found the connection, relationship, conversation and emotion that he was missing. There is a fair bit about psychotherapy in this book, the author became a psychotherapist, and perhaps because the particular books he has written about, are not ones I have loved, I didn’t connect with this book so much. It is about the immense power of reading, but I found How Proust can Change Your Life , by Alain de Botton, a far more engaging book on the subject.

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The hate race by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Amy The Hate RaceThe Hate Race is a thoughtful, nostalgic, confronting, funny, sad, and important book. Maxine Beneba Clarke grew up in Sydney, not too far from where I grew up, in the 90s. Though she is younger than I am, there is so much that is familiar in her childhood, including her feelings of being different , being left out, being made fun of. Her “fault”, however, was not being uncool, or failing to meet the current standard of beauty, it was that she is of Afro-Caribbean descent. The racism she experienced, and continues to experience, is both insidious and in your face; from those you’d expect, and those from whom you would expect protection. It is relentless, shocking and destructive. We need to know what it is like, so we can do our part in resisting this element of our culture. Clarke is a great storyteller, and this is a great story for us all.

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The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

astronaut-wives-club

What a wonderful read this hidden little treasure of a book is.  Not only does this detail the strength of these women, it documents how smart they were despite the times determining their destiny to a large degree.  They were conditioned to support their men in their space quests and largely take a back seat to their accomplishments and fame, however, this book really individualises these amazing women, their daily lives, and how they coped with the stress, loss, danger and least of all the unrelenting press of the day!  It was difficult to have a favourite; they were all amazing and admirable women in their own right. 

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The happiness project by Gretchen Craft Ruben

caitlin-happiness-projectBook lovers – is there anything much more exciting when planning your holiday than deciding what to take to read?
The beginning of a new year brings a mental refresh of your life, a chance to examine the way you are living and the impetus to change it if desired.
Gretchen Rubin’s memoir The Happiness Project provides a thoughtful template for examining your life and inspiration for ways to change it, should you wish.
Rubin is the first to admit she has little to be unhappy about, as such, this book is not directed at overcoming adversity, rather it is about small changes, actions or resolutions you can make and setting yourself a plan to make it happen. Continue reading

Wishful drinking by Carrie Fisher

amy-wishful-drinkingI borrowed this from the library for my holiday reading, with no inkling of what would happen to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds just weeks later. Wishful Drinking is one of Carrie’s memoirs, and is a funny, gossipy, self-deprecating, touching account of the ups and downs of her life. A wild ride, read in an hour or so. What a life she had; I’m glad she shared it.

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Letters and papers from prison by Deitrich Bonhoeffer

amy-bonhoefferThese are letters and papers written while Dietrich Bonhoeffer was in prison, until he was executed just before the end of the war. There is little about why he was imprisoned, and nothing about his thoughts regarding Hitler or what was happening in Germany. What there is, though, is evidence of his deep thinking; theology, the state of the world, the power of love and friendship and the sure hope found in God. In light of what happened, it is sad to read, but also full of wonderful, hope-filled, theological thinking and strong friendship.

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Charlotte Bronte : a fiery heart by Claire Harman

amy-charlotte-bronteI weep for Charlotte, how relentlessly sad her life was! This is an engaging and thorough biography, opening up the lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne; giving great insights into their novels. Harman has given a rounded picture of an extraordinary, intelligent, spirited and flawed woman whose faith sustained her through terrible trials, and who, together with her sisters, wrote some of the world’s most beloved, revolutionary novels.

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Between you & me by Mary Norris

between-you-and-meConfessions of a comma queen, sounds right up my alley, and I did enjoy a lot of this book. Mary Norris is a copy editor for the New Yorker, a pencil enthusiast and an amusing storyteller. The parts about her early life, and career at the New Yorker were fascinating, and there was some of the smug superiority I was expecting from a grammar queen, but I had to skim the actual grammar lessons, as terribly dull.

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Men we reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Amy Men we reapedThis is a powerful book; not an easy subject, though beautifully written and compelling. It is a memoir of a southern, Black woman, who lost five men in her life. They died because of drugs, accidents and suicide, but their deaths were about more than that; the extraordinary disadvantage of their heritage in Mississippi. Ward’s grief is raw and harsh, not lessening as the years go past, and the questions raised are worth raising, and worth deliberating on, particularly given what has been happening. This is an American story, but black lives matter everywhere.

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