A new year and a new reading challenge. I would love to aim to beat last year’s number of 78, but part of me doesn’t want to reach anywhere near it.
I’m hoping that the world resumes to some sort of order in 2021 and that I will be too busy living life to be reading 24/7. So I’m going to again aim for 52 books in 52 weeks. A hefty challenge that I didn’t even attempt at the start of last year, but now that I’ve got the reading bug, I’m hoping to hit it.
Keep up with the books I’m reading in real-time over on Instagram at @ocbookshelf.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. It’s a life he once had, long-since buried but buried secrets have a habit of catching up with you and nobody can outrun their own past.
My rating: ★★★
I really enjoyed the concept of this book and at times wished the character really had known Shakespeare and met F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda. I just don’t think the ending of the book was the best and didn’t build to the climax I was expecting. It was interesting to read about the different eras and about old London, which makes me want to read more historical books rather than so much modern fiction.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.
Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call ‘catching greenlights.’
My rating: ★★★★★
Alright, alright, alright. I was already obsessed with Matthew McConaughey, but now even more so. What a book.
Greenlights is a memoir and also, isn’t. It details McConaughey’s life, from growing up, his family life, his travels around the world, his acting career and his wife and children. It also reveals everything that life has taught him and what he can pass on from the most important moments of his life.
The book also features a lot of McConaughey’s writings and poetry, musings and words of wisdom. There is a lot to learn in this book and a lot to think about. One thing all of us can take away is that live is for livin, not just existing. You’ll know why I left off the ‘g’ when you read his book.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
When Addie LaRue makes a deal with devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone. Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day. Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.
Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever.
My rating: ★★★
I don’t know if it’s because I recently read a time-travelling/time-hopping book about someone that was immortal and didn’t age, but I just really couldn’t get into this book. I had heard SO many great things, and was so excited to finally get to read the book, but it just didn’t live up to expectations for me.
Maybe a little over-hyped for me, but then again I could have been making too many comparisons to How To Stop Time, but the book is 500+ pages long and it just wasn’t the five-star bestseller that I was expecting.
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
You no longer need to work nine-to-five in a big company to pay the mortgage, send your kids to school and afford that yearly holiday. You can quit the rat race and start up on your own – and you don’t need an MBA or a huge investment to do it. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau is your manual to a new way of living.
Learn how to:
– Earn a good living on your own terms, when and where you want
– Achieve that perfect blend of passion and income to make work something you love
– Take crucial insights from 50 ordinary people who started a business with $100 or less
– Spend less time working and more time living your life
My rating: ★★★★
A relatively short book but filled with a lot of great information. The book showcased many examples of businesses that started by accident, that started by transferring online or by turning a hobby into a full-time job. I personally felt quite inspired by the book and took some things away that I can implement into my own projects. The overall message from the book that I took away was that a lot of these entrepreneurs were working in very high-paying jobs but took large pay-cuts to work in their hobbies instead, because money doesn’t equal happiness. Especially when it’s in a job that you plan to do for the rest of your life. Often, it is worth the risk to do something you love and put all of your passion and energy into it.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the unsolved murder of a preteen girl and the disappearance of another. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.
My rating: ★★★★
A very twisted tale which is exactly what Gillian Flynn is known for. The author of Gone Girl, Flynn is famous for suspense crimes with a lot of twists and turns, and Sharp Objects did not disappoint on that front. I was almost disappointed as nearing the end I thought it far too easy to have guessed the murderer in this case, but a very sharp twist in the final pages reassured that Gillian Flynn is a great author and that I need to read more of her work.
Ladies Get Paid by Claire Wasserman (Gifted)
Filled with Claire’s personal stories and straightforward advice, this is a must-read for anyone who wants to take their career to the next level. If you’re looking to get a raise, navigate a promotion, or break the glass ceiling, Ladies Get Paid will show you how. Part how-to guide, part manifesto, Ladies Get Paid encourages the self-advocacy and activism that will help you close the gender pay gap and take the power back in your career.
My rating: ★★★★★
I’ve been questioning my own career of late; am I where I want to be right now? Is this what I want to be doing for the next year or more? Does this job fulfil my passion? Reading this book made me realize that I shouldn’t settle for what I don’t deserve when it comes to my career, and as a woman, I need to speak up in the workplace and make sure that I am treated as an equal to my male counterparts. Ladies Get Paid features different stories from various women in the working world who faced discrimination, toxic managers, salary-bias and racism. We are in the year 2021. Women before us fought for us to be at the same table as male CEOs and Executives, yet we still represent such a small percentage of this number. Progress still needs to be made and we cannot settle for less than we deserve.
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
32-year-old Nina Dean is a successful food writer with a loyal online following, but a life that is falling apart. When she uses dating apps for the first time, she becomes a victim of ghosting, and by the most beguiling of men. Her beloved dad is vanishing in slow motion into dementia, and she’s starting to think about ageing and the gendered double-standard of the biological clock. On top of this she has to deal with her mother’s desire for a mid-life makeover and the fact that all her friends seem to be slipping away from her…
My rating: ★★
Ok. We have lots to talk about. I loved Dolly Alderton’s debut novel, Everything I Know About Love and expected more great things from this second novel, Ghosts. I had heard great things and seen many great reviews. However, I just didn’t get the hype whatsoever. I felt that the book was a little all over the place with so many random storylines and plots – the part with her downstairs neighbour in the last 30 pages – where did that come from?? What happened to Max? What was the ending with her dad? I have so many unanswered questions. I hate to say that I just really didn’t enjoy this book – would love to know your thoughts if you’ve read it!