Another month has passed, so once again it is time for WIRLM. March was a bit of a slow burner in terms of reading. I only managed to read the one book (1984 by George Orwell). This seemed like a bit of a let down compared to January and February. However, I was chuffed to have finished that book. Overall I enjoyed it, and it was definitely a good time to read that novel. I mentioned in last month’s post that I had started another book, but wasn’t finished with it so I wasn’t going to include it in March’s read list. Instead, we’ll dive right in with that one to start off April.
12. The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore
Find it: ISBN 978-1471151880
I was lent this book by Kay (if you haven’t read my previous posts, Kay is a lovely lady I work with who adores books even more than I do. She brings in the stories for me to read that she thinks I’ll love or enjoy because she’s super thoughtful!). The main character, Fran, finds herself back in her childhood home when her father falls rather ill. Putting touring the world as a classical musician on hold to come and run Minster Glass, she finds herself falling into the rhythm of a new life. Minster Glass is an age old business, that has been running for generations. When Fran takes on the task of running the shop alongside craftsmen Zac, she unearths a diary from the Victorian era. Fran decides to read through the diary and discovers the world of Laura. Laura’s documentation of events begins to align with Fran’s present day ones. Of course, there is heartbreak, romance, and love all interwoven into both Fran’s and Laura’s stories too. Everything a person could want from an easy summer read, right? Unfortunately, not me. When I started this book I felt it wasn’t going to be for me. However, I was determined to see it through and give it a chance. Personally, I don’t feel I was enriched at all by this stubbornness to finish the book. I should have let it go. The pace of the book was far too slow for me. It seemed unnecessarily long, despite being able to see why all the events were included. My biggest struggle was Fran. I found her a bit ridged, melodramatic, and annoying really. In fact, there were certain parts where her character seems to flake out entirely. For example, her and Zac have a fight that’s described as heated and just as it’s starting to get that way they seem to lose any fight they had within them. At no point in the story did I connect with Fran. I liked Laura’s diary chapters a lot more. I would have probably enjoyed a book just on her life more than Fran’s. Perhaps it still wouldn’t have grabbed me, but it would have interested me more. We can’t like every novel we read.
13. Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
Find it: ISBN 978-1781253410
Oh my goodness, this book! Love, love love.
I have a habit of asking people what their favourite book is. I never expect their answer to be the complete utter truth, because how can anyone pick just one, right off the top of their head?! However, I do take their answers as recommendations. I’m so glad I did that with this one. One of my managers at work, Ev, mentioned this book to me many months ago. I finally added it to my wishlist for Christmas last year. This one, along with the next read for this month, were the only ones my brother and mum didn’t pick up for me. (They spoilt me, so I got most of my list). I was so desperate to get this one that I went and purchased it, and two other books (the two mentioned below), the week after Christmas. It wasn’t until April that I finally worked down my TBR pile to this one. I was stoked to read it, and still am about it. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Better yet, non-fiction isn’t my usual pick. Francis takes you on a tour through the human anatomy. Dividing the body up into main sections, and working through from head to toe. Quite literally in this book. Francis’ writing style is informative, yet full of humour. He hits the nail on the head with sounding like a doctor who knows what he is talking about and also sounding like a genuine human being. At no point is there the air of superiority that can definitely come with working in such an advanced industry. Better yet, the writing is accessible to anyone. If your knowledge of human anatomy goes as far as knowing where your hands and feet are, this book will welcome you in and explore human beings in great depth. Each section contains patient cases, of course, anonymised for privacy, and history about beliefs/treatments in regards to each case. I could not recommend this book more highly, and it is definitely a firm favourite with me. Thanks, Ev!!
14. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Find it: ISBN 978-1784701994
I purchased this one with Adventures in Human Being at the end of last year. Whilst I wouldn’t put Paul Kalanithi’s writing style up there with Gavin Francis’, this was a damn good read. All the way through I was fascinated by what was being described and explained. Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon. He was making great strides in his field and was a blooming good doctor from the sounds of things. The only problem? Cancer. In this book, Kalanithi shares his story from doctor to patient. It’s a memoir of his own life. Sadly, Paul died before the book was finished. Thankfully, his own writing had come full circle so that it could still be published. Thanks to his wife Lucy, I can hold that book in my hands today. Everyone knows that training to be any healthcare professional is hard at best, gruelling at worst. Kalanithi splits the writing into two parts. The first being his training, the second being post illness. There were times where the cancer was believed to get better. But even he, an experienced doctor, missed some early signs on his scans. The other doctors did too. His illness was really a rollercoaster ride. There’s a lot of stories and works on cancer these days. People seem to be more open about their experiences. I have never really read any of these. To have read an insight from an experienced doctor turned patient was an eye-opening read.
15. Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life by John B. Arden, Ph.D
Find it: ISBN 978-0470487297
“If you want to change your life, you need to change your brain”. In this self-proclaimed self-help book, Arden breaks down the key factors that contribute to a healthy brain and in turn a healthy lifestyle. Breaking free from anxiety, depression, loneliness, tiredness, restlessness, the list goes on. By explaining how our brains are in fact ‘soft-wired’ and not ‘hard-wired’ as once believed, this book explores how we can all rewire our brains with a little effort. In fact, the FEED method summarises the key stages to rewiring your brain, near the beginning of the book. For me, this one was another slow read. I believe it could have been half the length and still contained all the important, relevant information. I’ll be honest and admit that by the end I was skipping some pages. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve read up on some of these ideas before, but it all seemed repetitive. Each point was explained well but seemed to take a while. Instead of a few sentences of explanation, there were paragraphs. Let’s not forget all the technical jargon. Yes, of course, I was expecting some, I was even keen to learn them at the beginning. Now having finished (of sorts) I don’t remember many, and that doesn’t bother me. I’ve taken away the FEED method, and will perhaps utilise that in my daily life. I think the concept is clever. The only part of the book that got straight to the point. I also learned that in females the two halves of the brain work better together than in males. Nice. Again, not a book for me.
I always feel mean when I don’t enjoy someone’s work. I know that a person has worked, putting their time and effort in, to produce each book that I read. However, I can’t possibly enjoy every single book that’s out there. If we all liked and enjoyed the same things we’d be living in a very boring world. Perhaps I don’t enjoy some books, and really dislike others. That’s okay because those ones just aren’t for me. It doesn’t mean they aren’t for someone else. It also doesn’t mean that my thoughts are the truth. Maybe I find something dull, doesn’t mean it actually is dull. Opinions are weird. So are we.
April seemed to take a turn for anatomy, medicine, and what it means to be human. It was definitely a fun adventure.