Stories from a book club #7

The Stories from a Backpack Monthly Online Book Club – A round-up of the books we’ve loved each month to inspire you to read and share your thoughts!

Beach book club

The sea glistened and glittered, stretching out toward the horizon as far as I could see.

The sound of the waves gently crashing on the shore was only slightly louder than the crinkle and rustle of the palm tree leaves above my head. Peaceful and restorative. It was just what I needed.

‘Excuse me, Miss.’

I jumped, pushing my sunglasses to the top of my head. It took me a second to realise the voice was talking to me.

‘Yes?’ I said, whilst looking around cautiously.

‘Would you like a book?’

It was like he was speaking directly to my soul. Of course, I would like a book. I would like hundreds of books. I had nothing but time and space. I wanted to fill my backpack with books.

But I hesitated, feeling myself draw back. I was nervous. My first few weeks in India had been a bumpy steep learning curve. And I was needlessly on edge. All the time.

But he said books.

I sat up.

He slowly opened up a battered brown leather briefcase and I left that beach, the glistening sea, the fluttering palm trees, and I entered a whole new world.

Backpacking books

This is such a strong memory of India for me. Buying books on the beach from an old leather briefcase. I poured over the titles of books. Books and authors, I’d sort of heard of. Books I’d seen other people reading. Books about films I’d seen. It felt like an education. The books I was ‘supposed to read’ whilst on the road. I wanted them all. But more than that, I want their stories their knowledge.

You can’t beat reading a book on holiday. You can’t beat reading books whilst backpacking. The total freedom and decadence of reading for a whole day. Days like that are so special to me. Like the book swaps, second-hand street stalls and black-market books sold on beaches.

I’ve fallen in and out of reading at different points in my life, but I’m back on books.

Here’s the May round-up, random and eclectic as always:

Total books read: 8
Fiction: 3
Non-fiction: 5
Total pages: 2,425

Book #1 – My Midsummer Morning – Alastair Humphreys

Where was it from?  A lockdown buy from Amazon, after hearing a really interesting interview with Alastair Humphreys on Joanna Penn’s podcast – Books and Travel.

Non- Fiction: This is creative non-fiction. A collection of short stories weaved together to tell the story of Alastair’s busking trip across Spain. It’s based on a similar journey made by author Laurie Lee. Books about walking in Spain are some of my favourite sort of books, for many reasons but mostly because that’s the sort of trip I could do time and time again.

I like the format of the book, very short chapters and small snippets of stories. I didn’t warm to Alastair as much as I’d hoped, but his reflections on life and travel and walking are really interesting.

Read this book if:  You want to explore travelling Spain on foot. Or if you want to see an example of how an adventure can be planned very cheaply.

Quotes I think you’ll love: 

  • “Travel long and slow and you learn to pay attention.”
  • “Pessimists always bend me towards reckless optimism.”
  • “The life I could still live; I should still live.”
  • “I still struggle with being too restless for ordinary life.”


Book #2 – The Road to Character – David Brooks

Where was it from?  A library book, that I STILL have on loan as I can’t take them back. I’m glad I stocked up before lockdown.  I’ve heard so much about David Brooks and his books, I’ve had this one in my wish list for a while.

Non- Fiction: Do you ever wondered how about how to achieve true fulfilment in life? Or what traits make up a person of ‘strong’ or ‘good’ character. David explores men and women from history who are strong examples of moral courage, he uncovers how they were able to face their weaknesses and build a fulfilling life.

 I’ll be honest, I struggled to read this one. There are some amazing people from history in this book and their stories are really interesting, but I struggled to get stuck into fully. The last chapter was a fantastic summary and really broke down the findings from the book, I totally recommended reading the last chapter if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing.

Read this book if:  You want to explore how to create a life that’s remembered and become a person who is remembered.

Quotes I think you’ll love: 

  • “Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning.”
  • “We are all ultimately saved by grace.”
  • “There’s joy in a life filled with interdependence with others, joy in a life filled with gratitude.”
  • “Make the beginning of a new habit a major event in your life.”


Book #3 – The Doorstep Mile – Alastair Humphreys

Where was it from?  Lockdown purchase. Amazon.

Non-Fiction:  Most people assume adventures are big, expensive trips or scary and a dangerous challenge. Alastair confronts this and challenges you to start living micro-adventures and explore the world closer to home.

Read this book if:  You want some ideas and advice to help you force adventure into everyday life.

Quotes I think you’ll love: 

  • “Just getting on with my life and working towards becoming.”
  • “Travel shows you many different versions of ‘normal’.”
  • “The long-term risk of doing nothing.”
  • “Perfect is the enemy of done.”
  • “The greatest hindrances to everyone’s adventures all lay before the journey began.”

Book #4 – Life Lessons – Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler

Where was it from? Stolen from my Dad a while ago. Hopefully, I won’t have to give it back.

Non-Fiction: If you only had a few days left, how would you live your life differently? Elisabeth Kubler-Ross created the grief and loss cycle. This is one of her many books about how understanding how short our lives really are, can allow us to live more fully and only go after the things that really matter. Sharing learnings from people on the edges of death, we can see the truth about life.

Read this book if:  You want to explore how our mortality can teach us about life and living.

Quotes I think you’ll love: 

  • “Deep inside all of us, we know there is someone we were meant to be.”
  • “Love is really the only thing we can possess, keep with us, and take with us.”
  • “To see who we are we must shed everything that is not authentically us.”
  • “You are the common denominator in every single one of your relationships.”
  • “The small things in life become the big things.”

Book #5 – Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Where was it from?  Fully influenced to buy and read this during lockdown. Amazon.

Fiction: Kara is the ‘Marsh Girl’, spending years living on her own out in the swampy corners of the North Carolina coast. Forced to fend for herself, she builds a life and a home. Yet she longs for love. The brief episodes of human contact she’s had, have helped her and hindered her. But could they also ruin her life as she knows it?

Read this book if: You want to get lost in fiction again.  You remember the books you read when you were younger, and it made you feel like you were watching a film? This book is like that. For the first time in a LONG time, I stayed up past midnight to get the book finished.

Book #6 – Killer Cruise – Dawn Brooks

Where was it from?  A prize! I won this book. But fun fact! It was written by someone on my MA course, who earns a very decent living from writing self-published books.

Fiction: Have you ever heard of a cosy mystery? It’s a genre of mystery that allows you to solve the ‘whodunnit’ but without all the gore and bloodshed of a thriller.  Think of Agatha Christie and you’re starting to get close.

Rachel Prince is a policewoman who loves cruises! After meeting an elderly woman and saving her life on a previous cruise, she finds herself solving another murder on another cruise, but as soon as she starts investigating Rachel finds herself in serious danger. Will she solve the mystery before she gets hurt?

Read this book if: You fancy a nice escape. A quick read that will leave you guessing who did it, right until the end!

Book #7 – Uncommon Type – Tom Hanks

Where was it from?  A second-hand shop in Devon. It’s sat on my shelf for a while. It’s not making it back onto the shelf.

Fiction: Short stories about people and typewriters. All laced together with some loose themes and characters.

Read this book if: I don’t want to leave really negative reviews, but I’m struggling to think of something good to say about this book. Sorry, Tom.

Book #8 – Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig

Where was it from?  A book I’ve had on my shelf for a long while.  I loved Matt’s first book, How to Stay Alive. I would recommend you read his first book for sure!

Non-Fiction: Self-help /exploration of how the world can affect our anxiety or how our anxiety is affected by the world.

Matt explores how the world around his affects how he feels and questions what we can do about it. It’s written in a way that makes it really easy to read and digest. Short chapters and lists, with stories and quotes too.

Read this book if:  To start to explore some conversations around anxiety and its links to the world.

Quotes I think you’ll love: 

  • “My worry is limitless.”
  • “Maybe happiness is about what we already have.”
  • “Life isn’t about being pleased with what you are doing, but about what you are being.”

Stories from a book club #7

Stories from a book club #7 I read and review some books each month, to find some I think you’ll enjoy. Here’s how the book club works:

You pick one you like from the list above and read it. We then get to chat on Instagram about all the things you loved and thought about when you read the book. No time pressures. No complicated questions. Just DM me and we can chat.

Just two friends reading the same book and chatting through how it made us feel. Sound good? How about if we turn this into a Facebook group? Let me know if you’re keen.


This post contains affiliate links.  It means if you buy the book through the link I make a very very small amount of money, but it doesn't affect the price of the book you want to buy. It helps pay for my coffee and book addiction. 

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