Wanna join my online book club?
The nights are drawing in, what better way to hibernate this winter than with a good book and good chat about it in my online book club.
There is nothing I love more than a long train delay. Or a friend who’s late for coffee, or a Saturday filled with rain… as long as I’ve got a book with me that is. I could spend all day sitting and reading and waiting, using the stolen time to turn pages and explore stories as I drift in-between new worlds.
2018 was the year I fell in love with reading and 2019 is the year I’ve fallen in love with writing. 2020? I’m not sure yet. But I know reading and writing will always be there. The hidden prompts, the structures that make me feel supported. That make me feel alive.
You can’t write if you don’t read and I want to spend the rest of my life writing so I thought it best to start making an extra effort to read. I’ve tried to find spare seconds in the day to crack open a book and devour a page, a chapter or even just a paragraph. On the bus, in bed, on evenings when I should be drifting off into sleep, waiting for the dentist and even when I’m cooking our tea. I force myself to read because books have changed my life and I know they are going to keep helping me to see all the colours of the world. Keeping my imagination alive and allowing me to dream.
What is an online book club?
Books can change your life too, if you let them.
When was the last time you lost yourself in another world? When was the last time you woke up early to read before work? When was the last time a book made you cry? I used to cry in cafes all the time. Or laugh? Or feel scared? Or angry? Sometimes it can be really hard to choose which books to read. We are so busy living our own stories, we often don’t stop or we don’t have the time to pick up a book and lose ourselves in someone else’s story. This is where I can help.
The stories from a backpack online book club!
It’s been a while since I’ve written a post about books! Each month I thought I would start sharing a round-up of the books I’ve read. An online book club, if you will. You can then browse the list and see if any take your fancy. We can then talk books and stories and share our thoughts. What do you think? When you read a book on the list tag me with the hashtag #storiesfromabookclub and we can compare notes. Essentially I’m reading all the books so you don’t have too, you just get to choose your favourite ones.
WARNING – I read the most random selection of books. I’m trying to learn about technique and style and storytelling so my choices each month a super diverse. Hopefully, this means you’ll find new books, strange books and books you would never have ever thought about reading.
BUT I DON’T HAVE TIME – Reading is a habit and like all habits, it’s not an easy one to force into your life. Start small. Build momentum. But the key thing is to find a book you love! Here’s a post about how to read more.
I promise there will be no spoilers and I’m not into ripping books apart just to make a good review. You’ll find a short description and honest overview, highlight the things I loved and the reasons why you might like the book too…
Here’s the November round-up:
Total books read: 6
Total pages: 1,968
Book #1: How To Say Goodbye – Katy Colins.
Fiction – Grace Salmon is a funeral director, running away from her past life, hoping to make people happy by going a step too far in her funeral planning…
The book opens with this quote (which I love), ‘That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet’ – Emily Dickinson. This sets the tone for the rest of the book. A women’s fiction read that deals with grief and loss in a humorous way. This is a book you could take on holiday or read instead of watching a Christmas film. It was ok, a bit slow in parts, but an easy read that makes you hug the people you love a little tighter.
Read this book if: You want a quick chick-flick read with a more sombre topic.
Book #2: Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon.
Non-fiction – Columnist for the telegraph Byrony Gordon explores her relationship with OCD and depression.
This book made me cry. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t like Bryony after I read her first book earlier this year, ‘The Wrong Knickers’, but this one made me blurry-eyed. She talks so openly about her mental health and battles with OCD, anxiety, antidepressants and motherhood and I absolutely love her honesty. I love her truth-telling. She says the things that we cannot say. She epitomises the saying, ‘we don’t really know what people are going through just by looking at them.’ Her writing style is incredible, your eyes scan through pages like you’re watching a TV show. She swears, talks about sex and her intermittent drug use is more than intermittent, but this book is real, so I wouldn’t expect anything less.
Read this book if: You want to learn more about what life is like for other people. If you’re not easily offended and if you want to join Byrony on her journey. It’s not a light read in terms of topic, but her writing style makes it an easy read.
Book #3: My Not So Perfect Life – Sophie Kinsella.
Fiction – Katie has the perfect life, well according to her Instagram. When she loses her job and has to go back home to Somerset. Katie battles with the idea of settling back home or fighting for the life she wants.
Confession. I’ve never read a Sophie Kinsella book before. This was a good book for research for me. I’m interested in understanding why ‘chick-lit’ books keep us reading, even if we ‘cringe’ (even the word is cringy). Predictable, but it’s supposed to be. Easy to read. Sometimes we all want a book that turns the pages itself.
Read this book if: You want a lighthearted book to read before bed.
Fiction – Tony Webster is coming to terms with his past. Did his life turn out the way it was supposed to? Was it too simple? To boring? Tony is haunted by a ghost from his past and we follow his journey from growing up to growing old.
I think this is classed as literary fiction? Because it was shortlisted for an award or two. The story was interesting. But I wouldn’t enjoy this sort of book unless I was reading for research. Julian’s writing technique is something I really admire. I learnt a lot about writing from this book, but I’m not sure it’s one I’d shout about reading.
Read this book if: You want to read a literary novel to say you’ve read a literary novel…
Book #5: Building a Story Brand – Donald Miller.
Non-fiction – Donald talks about storytelling and how you need to sell your business as a story and solve problems for your audience. He breaks it down as a step by step process.
Donald Miller wrote a book that changed my life, so whenever I see a new book written by him, I pick it up. This is a business book, it’s great if you are interested in building a brand and using stories to help guide your marketing. I’m in the business for story making and telling so it was a pretty interesting read for me.
Read this book if: You interested in branding and marketing.
Non-fiction – Bill Bryson wrote a famous book a few years ago about him exploring the UK. He returns to lots of places quite a few years later and we follow him on his journey.
Guys, I think this is the sort of book my Dad would read! I didn’t really enjoy it at the time. However, since finishing it, I’ve found myself talking about some of the things he said and laughing in real life when I saw things and I realised the imagery he had created, or seeing how the way he had described something was true to life. I love creative non-fiction books, I love seeing the world from someone else’s eyes. Sometimes I think Bill took the piss too much, unsure where his jokes started and his sarcasm ended. But it was SO interesting to read about parts of MY country that I didn’t really know existed.
Read this book if: You want to know what sort of book your Dad read. Or if you want to explore the UK without leaving your sofa.
What do you think?
I would love to know what you think about the online book club #storiesfromabookclub send me a message this week and let me know. I would also love to know what you’re reading? I always love book suggestions.
** This post contains affiliate links. Don’t worry the books won’t cost you any extra, I wouldn’t play you like that. It just means, if you buy a book clicking in this post, I can continue to fund my book and coffee addiction **