As we enter June, it’s time for another 6 Reads in 6 Months post! It doesn’t feel like that long ago I was putting together my last one, but I guess the last few months have all merged anyway with everything going on. Since I rediscovered my love of reading last year, I’ve been determined to keep up the momentum by reading as much as I can over the last few months. Whether or not these posts remain “6 Reads in 6 Months” is uncertain, just as I’m trying to make more of an effort to get through the mountain of books I now have, but I will certainly be posting my regular book review round-ups. So, here’s what’s been on my bedside table over the last few months!
Our Stop – Laura Jane Williams (Avon, 2019) ★★★★★
From the Back:
“What if you almost missed the love of your life?
Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine.
Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his dad died.
One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper:
“To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?”
So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.”
This was just the book to kickstart my reading goals for 2020. I LOVED it! Admittedly, I wasn’t too sure reading the first couple of chapters, but as things progressed I couldn’t put it down, and towards the end I was genuinely gutted when I had to put it down to go to sleep. It was funny throughout, and had several nods to You’ve Got Mail, which I personally loved. The characters were likeable and funny but there were still a few serious moments too. With the two main characters having regular near misses throughout, it was quite frustrating at times, but in a way that meant I genuinely couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I would 100% recommend this if you love a rom-com!
The Anxiety Journal: Exercises to Soothe Stress and Eliminate Anxiety Wherever You Are – Corinne Sweet (Boxtree, 2017) ★★★
From the Back:
“While some forms of anxiety are natural, even helpful, anxiety disorders can lead you into a spiral of stress and worry, and interfere with your everyday life.
Practical, supportive and uplifting, this is a journal for anyone who struggles with anxiety, whether in the form of phobias, social anxiety, generalized anxiety (GAD) or day-to-day worrying. Beautifully illustrated by Marcia Mihotich, The Anxiety Journal by Corinne Sweet encourages you to use CBT techniques and mindfulness exercises to help you better understand your anxiety and help you to achieve peace and calm.
Whether you’re awake at 4am unable to turn off those racing thoughts, or struggling to get yourself together before a presentation, The Anxiety Journal will help to soothe stress and reduce worry, identify negative thought-cycles, and provide you with techniques to combat anxiety wherever you are.”
This had been on my Amazon wish list for a while, so I was thrilled when my Mum got it for me for Christmas. I’d read some good reviews of this and anything that has the potential to help me with my anxiety is always a win in my opinion. I really enjoyed this book – so many of the exercises are easy to do and a number of them weren’t actually ones I hadn’t heard of before, so it was quite refreshing to try something different. Combined with pretty looking designs across the pages, overall it was quite soothing to look at as well. Plus, it’s very easy to dip in and out of too, as a lot of the sections are short and sweet. I would definitely recommend it if you suffer from anxiety!
Still Me – Jojo Moyes (Penguin, 2019) ★★★★
From the Back:
“Lou Clark knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London. She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him. But what Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to meet someone who’s going to turn her whole life upside down.
Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it’ll hurt. Lou won’t know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.“
This is the third instalment that follows on from Me Before You and it’s sequel, After You. It follows Lou Clark as she embarks on a new job in New York while keeping the secrets of her employer’s wife and juggling a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, Sam. I know sequels to popular books get a bad rep, but I think this was a really good follow up to Lou’s story. Anyone who’s followed her from the beginning in Me Before You would be invested even more in her journey, and this installment was quite refreshing seeing the character out of her comfort zone, especially when you compare it with the first novel. At times, the story was quite frustrating – there’s an awful of lot of will-they won’t-they going on, along with a few twists you don’t see coming, but overall I really enjoyed this, and fans of the first two novels will definitely not be disappointed.
Help Me! How Self Help Has Not Changed My Life – Marianne Power (Picador, 2019) ★★★
From the Back:
“Marianne Power was stuck in a rut. Then one day she wondered: could self-help books help her find the elusive perfect life?
She decided to test one book a month for a year, following their advice to the letter. What would happen if she followed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Really felt The Power of Now? Could she unearth The Secret to making her dreams come true?
What begins as a clever experiment becomes an achingly poignant story. Because self-help can change your life – but not necessarily for the better . . .
Help Me! is an irresistibly funny and incredibly moving book about a wild and ultimately redemptive journey that will resonate with anyone who’s ever dreamed of finding happiness.”
As someone who is often sucked into the bullshit that self help books can promise, I had a feeling this would be something that was right up my street. I found a number of bits in this book quite relatable, both in terms of some of the ideas that the self help books posed and when it came to Marianne’s experience with them. I especially liked the chapter where she explores her relationship with money – it had some really good ideas that I hadn’t considered before and gave me a bit of insight into my own relationship with it! At times the book felt as though it was following the typical movie plot of “character decides to change their life, things go well, all of a sudden things go to shit and then main character has to work to get things back to normal,” but I thought the overall idea of the experiment quite fascinating and I really liked the overall theme surrounding self acceptance and learning to love yourself.
My Shit Therapist & Other Mental Health Stories – Michelle Thomas (Lagom, 2019) ★★★★
From the Back:
“When Michelle Thomas suffered her first major depressive episode six years ago, she read and watched and listened to everything about mental health she could get her hands on in an effort to fix herself. God, it was tedious. And, quite frankly, depressing.
Which is the last thing she needed. What she did need was a therapist who would listen and offer a wellness strategy catered to her specific needs. What she got was advice to watch a few YouTube videos and a cheerful reminder that ‘it could be worse’.
An honest, hilarious and heart-rending account of living with mental illness, My Sh*t Therapist will help you navigate the world, care for your mind and get through sh*t diagnoses, jobs, medications, boyfriends, habits, homes and therapists.
You’ll find no scented candles or matcha tea ‘cures’ for mental illness here. Instead, learn how a modern woman and her friends and followers navigate life with their brilliant but unpredictably sh*t brains.
Having a crappy mental health day? I’ve got you. Want to chat antidepressants and breakdowns? Pull up a pew and let’s get into it.”
This is the book that inspired my Therapy Diaries series. This is definitely one to read if you’ve ever been given the suggestion of positive affirmations and a couple of uplifting YouTube videos to treat a mental health condition (of course I’m not knocking them, they can be great for self care – just not so much when they come as advice from a mental health professional). So many stories in this were incredibly relatable, whether it was therapy experiences or just experiences of mental health conditions. There’s no sugar coating and it’s incredibly honest too – Michelle talks to you like a friend, and combined with stories from other people who have had similar experiences, My Shit Therapist…truly makes it feel like you’re not alone.
Straight Outta Crawley: Memoirs of a Distinctly Average Human Being – Romesh Ranganathan (Corgi, 2019) ★★★
From the Back:
“At the age of 9, Romesh Ranganathan delivered his first ever stand-up set at a Pontin’s holiday camp talent competition, smashing the other competitor, a young girl playing the kazoo.
The gig went so well that Romesh retired his comic genius for twenty-two years, hiding behind the guise of a maths teacher, before finally revealing himself again (no, not like that) at the tender age of 31. In 2010, Ranganathan staged his epic comeback gig to an almost silent room, and has since gone on to earn his place as the most in-demand overweight vegan Sri Lankan comedian in Britain.
Now, for the first time, he tells the full story of how he got here. From the delights of Sri Lankan hospitality to his struggles as a child, teacher and now parent, to his adolescent flirtation with a rap career and his attempts to make it in comedy, Straight Outta Crawley is Ranganathan’s hilarious and irreverent autobiography.”
Romesh has always been one of my favourite comedians, purely for his deadpan delivery of his jokes and the way he gets incredibly angry towards a trip to Wagamama’s. I got Straight Outta Crawley for Christmas and it was the most recent addition to my ‘just read’ list. Any fans of Romesh will love this – he looks back on his time as a maths teacher before he made his transition into comedy, along with a few childhood memories thrown in, combined with experiences of some of his earliest gigs and memories from filming Asian Provocateur with his mum. It’s hilarious and often quite heartwarming in places, and you end up reading it in exactly the same tone that he delivers his stand-up with.
What have you been reading over the last few months? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments! All of these titles are currently available to purchase on Amazon and all other good book retailers.