Book recommendations no.2
There's little better than curling up with a good book before a fire when the weather chills. Here are three books recommmended by our digial editor.
The Summer Book: We may be storming towards winter, but memories of summer are still with us; whether this one last passed, or those backdated, possibly rose-tinted with nostalgia, fizzing with homemade lemonade, beach days and tree houses. Life is indeed an adventure, but when you are a child this is true even more so. So how about as an older person, full to the brim with memories but committed to making more and occasionally touching on time past. Does repeated experience and knowledge dampen the yearning for excitement, or make it more eager? This very concept is explored in The Summer Book, a very honest, funny and wholesome tale about a child and her grandmother living the summer on an island by Finland. Written by the author of The Moomins, it’s one of Tove Jansson’s 10 adult books and is just as magical. Remote, isolated and with possibilities stemming before them like oceans, space, the universe. Everything is being experienced by the little girl for the first time, with an imaginative eye and inquisitive mind. While for the grandmother, her view point is similarly looking out to the distance, but it extends beyond life and human experience. Both lead to bravery, challenges, squabbles and a meeting of minds.
A Town Like Alice: Once again, we are on an adventure of self discovery. This time with a protagonist Jean, who learns to find her voice, physical strength and then the possibilities before her. She is an Englishwoman who leads a group of women and children hostages throughout Malaya during World War II. Jean unexpectedly falls in love with a kind Australian while trekking with the group. After the war, lost and with no way to find her love, she journeys back to Malaya and then searching the outback. With love first spurring her on and then her sense of belief in herself and her potential. The book, written by Nevil Shute in 1950, when he himself had newly settled in Australia, is an epic adventure for a woman leader, one who found herself in the position and excelled. It flits a little from London to Australia, illustrating the vast differences and distances between them, and the old and new life for Jean. Travel before 1950 was often long and arduous and Jean finds herself more at home and more herself everywhere but ‘home’. It questions our sense of place, love’s pull, and places the innate strengths of women at centre stage. Minus a couple of inequality yelps, this is a book that’s impressive and makes the reader feel like they too have travelled the globe.
The Happiness Project: Gretchen Rubin spent one year dedicated to a happiness project in an effort to answer one of the big questions; What do I want from my life? It may sound rather dramatic, but how often do we stop and consider the affects of how we go about daily life and what our long-term goals might be? Gretchen’s project involves assessing every aspect of her life, from family, work, friendship, parenthood and marriage, to vitality, leisure, attitude, money and mindfulness. She tests scientific research, lessons from popular culture and looks within. Ultimately she learns, it’s about putting the focus on now, challenging ourselves and that the very smallest changes can make the biggest difference. This book is honest, engaging, relatable and humorous. Leaving the reader considering their own life, feeling empowered to make changes and understanding their own life and goals a little better. There’s also a handy guide to starting your own happiness project. Whether this involves clearing out those forgotten cupboards, starting a new hobby, going for a new job, or ensuring you have a date night in the calendar, Gretchen inspires you to go for it.