My book reviews typically come about at the end of each year, but January has been a mega month of reading for me. Rather than my usual one or two books, I’ve managed to finish seven!
I’m so pleased with this that I thought it might be fun to share my thoughts on the books I have read and listened to throughout the last month.
Take a look!
I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney
The overlapping tale of an actress on the verge of fame, and a small girl who wanders away from home and finds herself in very unsettling circumstances. The stories then begin to intertwine as we follow Aimee Sinclair returning home to find her husband, and a large sum of money, missing.
Without giving too much of this twisty-turny story away, it builds very well from the first page.
When it comes to thrillers, I need to be hooked in right away and eager to keep reading. The short, cliffhanger chapters make this a real page-turner of a book.
However, I found that the ending was quite elaborate and pretty unbelievable. It’s a shame that it took such an odd turn, but it’s well worth a read for the first 85% of the book (just be prepared to be scratching your head for the last few chapters!).
I Know Who You Are was, nonetheless, a fun, quick-paced read to kick off the year.
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
My first audio book choice of the year.
I’d been toying with buying this book for a while, but remained hesitant for fear that it would be one of those semi-helpful, but vague and idealistic books about throwing away all of your belongings and miraculously becoming happy in the process.
After deciding to give Audible a go (hello, free trial!) and realising that Cait Flanders has one of the most soothing, calm and clear voices I’ve ever heard, I exchanged my first credit for The Year of Less.
I loved this honest, realistic approach to how Cait changed her relationship with not only her finances, but other major influences on her life including alcohol, food, love, travel, work and relationships.
She didn’t shy away from the hard realities of how the changes to her attitude and approach to life began to impact her, but she also clearly demonstrates the positive effects of her hard work and commitment.
I could listen to Cait speak all day. I highly recommend reading or listening to this book if you’re looking to: change your relationship with your finances, reconsider where you put your time and money, take a more minimalist approach to life, and really think about the belongings that you choose to have around you.
Help Me! by Marianne Power
I was intrigued by the premise of this book.
Marianne starts reading a new self-help book for each month of the year but, crucially, tries to really embrace the ideas of each book and put its suggestions to the test.
I really enjoyed the first half of the book, which looked at addressing fear and pushing your boundaries. However, towards the end of the book, I found it too difficult to listen to as Marianne began meandering down a dark path. I guess it’s testament to her writing/orating that I felt the chaos and pressure of how the self-help overload was impacting her.
I decided to DNF (Did Not Finish) this book roughly 5 chapters short of the end as the topics were no longer interesting me and I came away from listening stints feeling overwhelmed by Marianne’s own stress.
Although I was unable to finish the book, it did inspire me to take a step back from reading self-help books. I have even implemented a self-help ban, which you can read about here.
If you’re into self-help books, or you’re wondering whether they’re really benefiting you, Help Me! could be an insightful read to help you reassess your relationship with the books that are claiming to improve your life.
How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
I’ve been a listener of Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail podcast for a while, so I wanted to give the similarly titled book a go. A huge sway in the decision to ‘read’ this book was, of course, Day’s beautiful voice.
The book is packed full of honest, raw, insightful, funny and devastating stories related to Day’s upbringing and adult life. She covers everything from her need to be liked and good at sport, through to her struggles with pregnancy and relationships.
She articulates herself so clearly, and is a master of the sucker punch line. I highly recommend giving the book, and the podcast, a listen.
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
Following my self-help book ban, I wanted to try something new. I was fed up of reading the same type of book all the time and keen to try different types of writing, voices and stories.
I’d come across the audio book a couple of times whilst scrolling through Audible, and decided I should just try it out – and I’m so glad I did.
It is a meandering but in-depth look at how we interact with strangers, how we communicate with them and how, as a result, we understand their intentions.
It’s a really interesting and thought-provoking exploration of how we interpret people’s honesty, their relationships with us and how, more importantly, things may not be as straight forward as they first seem. Our natural biases may be (*definitely) clouding our judgement.
If you’re interested in people, and how and why we behave the way we do, then I highly recommend this read.
Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth Greenwood
If you’ve ever flirted with the idea of running away from your life or starting over again, this book will be right up your street.
Elizabeth explores the strangely fascinating world of death fraud and what is really takes to fake your own death. But, far from being an exciting opportunity of start over again, Elizabeth speaks to a wide range of people who highlight that death fraud has some painful realities for all of those involved, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
At the end of this book, you might feel an unexpected appreciation for the mundane and a changed perspective on what life means.
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
Despite making me both angry and upset at the current state of affairs, Invisible Women is an incredibly eye-opening uncovering of the myriad ways in which the world is set up to cater for men, due to a lack of sufficient data about how women navigate their way through the world.
Exploring areas such as culture, work, health, transport, family and care responsibilities, Caroline shares a wide range of information about the ways in which this lack of data is having a continued impact on the welfare, wellbeing and potential of women across the world.
I highly urge everyone to read this book to get a better understanding of the ways that women can be included, supported and enabled to live and thrive in the world as true equals, not statistical anomalies.
Are you going to add any of these books to your TBR list?
I’d love to know your thoughts and whether you’re interested to give any of these books a go! Let me know if you have any other recommendations for me to pick up too.