My favourite books - Fiction and Nonfiction

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This post may be a different from my usual food related posts, but as the days go by, I feel more inclined to share a little more about me.  Maybe you’ll love it, maybe you’ll hate it, who knows. 

Here goes… 

Although at times, I find it a struggle to read for pleasure whilst studying, I recently feel that I’ve finally rediscovered my love of reading. There’s something so mesmerising about getting lost in a book, so much so that you don’t want to put it down. It’s rare, but it happens, and when it does, it’s magical. 

I love reading actual books curled up in bed, as well as listening to audiobooks when I’m on the go.

Last week I asked you for book recommendations and then, consequently, lots of you asked for mine back. Instead of writing the world’s longest Instagram message, I decided to take the time to properly sit down and write a blog post. 

Even since I was a child, I’ve always loved listening to Harry Potter. Whether it was a long car journey, just before going to sleep, or just because I wanted a break, Stephen Fry’s ability to capture an audience, time and time again, has always been a comfort to me. But there are other books that have stuck in my mind, as well as the Harry Potter series, and that’s what I thought I’d share today! 

When writing this post, I realised how broad my book interests are. When it comes to fiction, I seem to go for a particular style; one that is almost a true story, but it’s not quite. When it comes to nonfiction, I can see where my passion for psychology, and the study of the mind, has grown from. There’s a range of books, but the theme remains – understanding human behaviour and why individuals do what they do. 

I haven’t included any food/cookbooks, as they could take up an entirely separate post, but do let me know if you’d be keen for these too. 

I hope you find these lists helpful and that they inspire you to read something new. I’ve added direct links to each book so you can find them really easily, as I find this helpful myself when reading other people’s posts! 

Without delay, here’s a few of my favourites that sprung to mind… 

Fiction:

  • The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simsion: These Australian books are heart-warming, funny and thought provoking.  They describe Don Tillman’s, a man on the autistic spectrum, and the pursuit of his ‘Wife Project’. They are far more than just you’re average rom-com.
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineGail Honeyman: I read this book recently and really enjoyed it. It’s the story of a young office worker in Glasgow, who struggles with appropriate skills and her journey in overcoming her habitually solitary lifestyle. It’s warm and uplifting and well worth a read. 
  • The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger: I read this book many years ago, but still remember it fondly. I’d highly recommend reading the book before seeing the film, as the book has so much more to it. It’s a love story about a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to travel in time unpredictably. It’s beautifully written and very moving.
  • PS, I Love You – Cecelia Ahern: Again, you’ve probably heard of this one, but I had to recommend it. although the film is good, I’d suggest reading the book first, as again, it’s so much more in-depth. It describes Holly’s life after her husband Gerry sadly dies. He’s left her ten envelopes, which each end with “P.S. I Love You” and the journey she goes through in rediscovering herself. This is Cecelia’s first ever novel and undoubtedly my favourite. It’s heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. 
  • My Not So Perfect Life – Sophie Kinsella: This book is a little less serious, but a recent read and worthy of a mention. It describes Katie Brenner, a London newbie, and the struggles of settling into her first job and fulfilling her dream life. If you’re looking for something light hearted to take you away, then Sophie Kinsella is your lady. Her books make you appreciate the simple pleasures in life. 
  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss: Yep, I’m serious about this one. It might be a children’s book, but it’s honestly one of the best I’ve ever read. The underlying message of this book has got me through some dark times and never ceases to make me smile. It takes five minutes to read, but it’s five minutes (and a few pounds) well spent. Give it a go. I dare you? 

Autobiography, Biography & Memoir: 

  • Somebody I Used to Know – Wendy Mitchell: I found this book incredibly moving. This book describes Wendy’s story of her journey with early-onset dementia. It really made me think about the challenges that people face when diagnosed with this disease. Wendy is an incredibly brave and inspiring woman. 
  • Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert: I imagine that many of you have already read this, but I had to share it. When you can reread a book over and over again, you know it’s a good one. This book is a memoir of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert’s, search for meaning as she travels across Italy, India and Indonesia. It’s relatable and inspiring and not one to miss.    
  • When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi: This is another really moving and insightful book. When coming to the end of his training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. His memoir describes his battle with terminal cancer as he goes from doctor to patient. For me, this one is unforgettable.   
  • Touching the Void – Joe Simpson: I read this book as a teenager and have never forgotten it. This book describes the incredible expedition of Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, as they face disaster in the Andes after climbing to the top of a 21,000-foot peak. It’s a true story of courage and friendship, which makes you determined to fight on. 
  • A Life Without Limits – Chrissie Wellington: My Dad suggested I read this book many years ago and I’m so glad he did. Chrissie is a female Ironman triathlete, who takes the world by surprise. It describes the mental and physical endurance required for such a sport, the challenges she faced, and the battles she won. I’d recommend this, whether you’re into sports such as swimming, running and cycling, or not.
When Breath Becomes Air
By Paul Kalanithi

Nonfiction:

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain: This book has stuck with me over the years. As an introvert myself, I often question whether I’m a lesser person. This book is a wonderful description of why those labelled “quiet” may offer some of the greatest contributions to society. It’s not those who speak the loudest who are the most successful. Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or you’ve no idea, it’s certainly one to make you think.
  • Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell: Gladwell is an incredible writer. This book asks the question: what makes high-achievers different. He describes the secrets of what makes someone a successful individual; the 10,000 hours it takes to master something and the value of perseverance. This book can be applied to so many aspects of your life. 
  • Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps... - Nick Littlehales: My boss on placement last year recommend this book to me, as we often used to discuss how tired we felt. I’ve now read it three times, and will undoubtedly read it again. Nick Littlehales is a sleep coach for many famous sports individuals, but he writes in a way that is accessible and inviting. This book isn’t prescriptive. Instead, it inspires you to think about your sleep and you might improve it. As someone who often struggles with sleep, I’ve found it really helpful and am actually hoping to share a full blog post about it soon.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo: I mentioned this in my Spring Clean post, but thought it worthy of a mention again. Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes decluttering to a whole new level. Although in parts, it may feel quite extreme, the fundamental message of needing and living with less resonates strongly with me, and has helped me as I’ve moved out from home and begun my journey into adulthood. 
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight: Again, I mentioned this in my Spring Clean post. Although with a similar title, this book is very different. It’s an easy read, it makes you laugh, and it makes you think. I may not agree with everything that Sarah Knight says, but she’s really helped me learn to say no. 
  • Life without Ed – Jenni Schaefer: As someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder, I’m hesitant to recommend any ED related books, as personally, I often feel they do more harm than good, but recently I read this book my Jenni and I was blown away. Jennie describes her struggle with her eating disorder, separating him from herself and naming him Ed. For anyone who is struggling, this book is a wonderful read. It’s inspiring and compassionate and it’s full of practical exercises to help you along your own journey. Importantly, it makes you really begun to question those thoughts, so please do give it a go. 
  • Gut: the inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ – Giulia Enders: If you’re passionate about nutrition and the mind body connection then this one’s for you. Interest and research in gut health is growing rapidly and Giulia Enders got in there early, with an accessible book that reveals why we should all really be taking much better care of our digestive system. I found this book really interesting and would like to read it again, to reiterate what she said. 
  • The Man Who Couldn't Stop – David Adam: As a psychology student with an interest in mental health, this book captivated me. It’s an honest description of a man called David, who has suffered with OCD for twenty years. It’s eye opening, moving, as well as funny at times. Definitely one to read if you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, or if you’re just interested in knowing more.
  • January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her – Michael Schofield: This book is another true story. It’s a moving account of a father who refuses to give up on his daughter, despite the challenges she faces, as someone diagnosed with acute child-onset schizophoneia. It’s a passionate description of the father’s journey as he attempts to find out what makes his daughter so different from everyone else’s. Another powerful read. 
  • Henry's Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son's Story – Patrick Cockburn: Along similar lines, this book is a raw and incredibly touching account of Henry’s experience of schizophrenia. Written from both the perspective of the father and his son, this book really opened my eyes to the challenges that face individual’s with schizophrenia and their family, and the challenges of a life in and out of institutions. 

And before I finish, here’s your recommendations from my recent Instagram story request. I haven’t had time to go through each one in detail, but I’m really looking forward to doing so.  

I know there’s a lot here, but once I began writing, I couldn’t’ stop. Equally, I know that I’ve missed out lots of great books. This list is definitely not exhaustive. So please tell me, what have I missed? What’s your favourite book? Fiction or nonfiction, I’m keen to know. Either comment below or drop me a message on Instagram @mylifeisforliving with your thoughts as I’d love to hear from you. 

Until next time,

Hannah x

#mylifeisforliving