The first snow has made its appearance in Amsterdam this weekend, and it is the perfect weather for cupping a warm cup of tea with two hands with a good book in my lap. It’s not quite time to review the statistics about all this year’s reading, so for now I’ll just share three recommendations from the last months, as inspiration to read during the cosy evenings of the Christmas holidays!
All the birds, singing – Evie Wyld
I came across this book at the library by chance and it kept me in its grip for the few days I spent reading it. The story telling is well done and you can really feel the heat of the Australian bush as if you were there. It brought back very clear memories of a trip we took with my family over 25 years ago to a farm in Australia where we saw sheep being sheared, it’s amazing how those images remain ingrained in some deep corner of the brain after all those years!
Tattoos on the heart: the power of boundless compassion – Gregory Boyle
I found this book in a little free library, and though it is written by a pastor it is not at all the ‘religious’ as I thought it may be. This book will warm your heart. It is a bundle of anecdotes from Father Gregory’s time working in Los Angeles in a neighbourhood with high gang activity and his amazing project to find concrete solutions. It’s a powerful mix of down-to-earth, hilarious stories and deep reflection about hope and how to value every single person whatever their situation. It’s inspiring to read about the effects of acknowledging our common humanity and approaching it with unconditional love.
Vox – Christina Dalcher
This is the latest book we are reading in our book club (great suggestion by Paolo!), about a world very similar to ours, except women can only say maximum 100 words a day, after which they receive an electroshock for every extra word. The frustration and anxiety you feel just reading about such a situation is a serious reminder of how precious our voices are and a powerful call to activism.
Previous book recommendations: books I enjoyed lately, books about creativity, non-fiction books, discovering new voices.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #86
At the beginning of the year, I looked back at the books I had read in 2017 and the statistics about how many of those books were written by men and how many by women. I aimed to read more books by women in 2018 to counterbalance that number.
As we are half-way through the year (already!) I thought I’d check my progress. So far I have read 22 books, of all sorts of genres (novels, crimes, non-fiction, self-help…). Of those books 12 were written by women, 8 by men and 1 by a woman/man couple (Nicci French). Some books were favorites that I re-read just for the pleasure and others were new discoveries. I thought I’d recommend the books I preferred for anyone looking for some holiday reading:
Carpentaria – Alexis Wright
A dear Australian friend recommended me Carpentaria when I told her I was looking to read more works written by women and wanted discover some new voices. Though it took me a little while to get into the book, pretty soon I was captured by the story and characters. It reads like a mix between ‘A hundred years of solitude’ and ‘Life of Pi’, with changes of rhythm as the author portrays the Aboriginal reality of a small town in Northern Queensland. A great read!
Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff
I found this book discounted in a local book shop and though I’d never heard it, I was tempted by the cover. It was a flowing read and I love a good peek into people’s lives (even if they are entirely fictional!). I won’t say much more as I don’t want to spoil it for you (something the cashier at the book shop couldn’t help doing when I bought it… luckily I enjoyed it all the same:).
The Monk of Mokha – Dave Eggers
If you like coffee and adventures, this is one for you! It’s the true story of a Yemeni American importing coffee from Yemen, the birthplace of coffee. An incredible and gripping true story of how far following your dreams will take you.
As the days are getting shorter and the rain pours down outside, I’m enjoying reading more, it’s the perfect way of spending a quiet afternoon indoors. If you are looking for some ideas for non-fiction books to read, here are a few that I’ve read over the last years that really changed my view on the world.
The gifts of imperfection – Brene Brown
This was the first book I read by Brene Brown, who is now one of my favorite authors and inspired my joyful gratitude posts. It’s a thin book that goes straight to the point, and really helped me to put things into perspective about how I wanted to live and what is important to me.
Non-violent communication – Dan Rosenberg
My Dad gave me this book years ago and my copy is falling to pieces from frequently going back to it. Despite its strange title, this book is a wonderful guide to communicating better with others. I’ve read it many times over the years, and even if I have to admit I am far from being capable of applying all its wisdom I am glad that it at least makes me more conscious of the traps we fall into.
Art of Non-Conformity – Chris Guillebeau
I found this small book whilst exploring the shelves of a lovely second-hand bookstore in Chicago. It’s a great reminder on how the status quo can and should be challenged, and the power of doing things your own unconventional way.
Cross-roads of should and must – Elle Luna
This is a colourful and beautifully illustrated book that I couldn’t resist buying once I flipped through its pages in the bookstore. It is very simple and gets you to be aware of all the ‘shoulds’ we have in our life and what might happen if we identified and chose our ‘must’ more often. So inspiring!