what i’m currently reading!

Start date: 17.04.14 (My second attempt as I was too busy to read this properly first time!)

Blurb: Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world
 
Why I picked it from the bookshelf: I read somewhere that this is Barack Obama’s favourite book…

Finish date: 19.1.14

Finished date: 15.04.14

Start date: 8.04.14

Blurb: When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.

Why I picked it from the bookshelf: I needed something quick to read after the rollercoaster of Half the Sky. So far it is great!

Finish date: 8.04.14

Start date: 25.02.14

Blurb: In the 19th century he central moral challenge we faced was slavery. In the 20th century it was the battle against totalitarianism. In the 21st century it is the struggle for equality for women and their daughters around the world. Half the Sky, the groundbreaking bestseller, takes us on a journey through Africa and Asia to meet an array of extraordinary women, There is Rath in Cambodia, who escaped from the brothel she had been sold into and now runs a thriving retail business that supports her family. There is Mamitu, who grew up without and education in a remote village in Ethiopia and now trains surgeons in Addis Ababa. And there are countless others amazing women who have overcome unimaginable hurdles in order to change the world. How do we tackle poverty, disease and conflict? Half the Sky shows that women are the solution. As the chief economist of the World Bank once wrote: ‘Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest return investment available in the developing world.’ Fierce, pragmatic, full of inspiring stories of courage and determination, Half the Sky is essential reading for every one of us- whichever our gender, wherever we live.

Why I picked it from the bookshelf:I like to read important books that educate me about the world and the way in which I live it. I am reading this books for all the sisters of our planet Earth who do not have the opportunity to.

Finish date: 24.02.14

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Start date: 22.02.14

Blurb: Usually, this is where we’d tell you what this book is about. But with Chris Cleave, it’s a bit different. Because if you’ve read THE OTHER HAND or INCENDIARY, you’ll know that what his books are about is only part of the story – what really matters is how they make you feel. GOLD is about the limits of human endurance, both physical and emotional. It will make you cry. GOLD is about what drives us to succeed – and what we choose to sacrifice for success. It will make you feel glad to be alive. GOLD is about the struggles we all face every day; the conflict between winning on others’ terms, and triumphing on your own. It will make you count your blessings. GOLD is a story told as only Chris Cleave could tell it. And once you begin, it will be a heart-pounding race to the finish.

Why I picked it from the bookshelf: This has been sat unread on my Dad’s bookshelf for a while & it caught my eye every time I walked past it!

Finished date: 21.2.14

Start date: 10.2.14

Blurb: Bernadette Fox is notorious. To Elgie Blanch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she’s his talented, volatile, troubled wife. To fellow mothers at the school gate, she’s a menace. To design experts, she’s a legendary architect. But to 15-year-old Bee she is quite simply mum. Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee’s search for her mother reveals an extraordinary woman trying to find her place in the world.

Why I picked it from the bookshelf: Promised to be ‘life-affirming’, funny and adventurous. I couldn’t help but add it to my Winter reading list.

Start date:For the first time in what seems like forever I have had to put this book back on the shelf because I just don’t have the time (due to work) to devour this book like it should be! You can tell that this book is perfect in just the few lines and I want to have the opportunity to devote a couple of days to reading it. I have picked an ‘easier read’ and will pick this up again in the Easter holidays.

Blurb: Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world
 
Why I picked it from the bookshelf: I read somewhere that this is Barack Obama’s favourite book…

Finish date: 19.1.14

ished: 21.2.14

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

Start date: 14.1.14

Blurb: Kevin Powers served as a machine gunner with the US Army in Iraq. On his return, he was asked one question more than any other: ‘What was it like over there?’ In his attempt to answer that question, Powers has written one of the most haunting, true and moving novels of our time. It offers a powerful insight into the impact of war on both soldiers and their families, ultimately revealing how it feels to return home, but never to be able to leave the memories behind.

Why I picked it from the book shelf:A fellow teacher at my school saw that I was reading Shantaram. The next day she brought this in for me to read. She said that if I liked gritty, hard to read, violent but truthfully told and beautiful books I would like this. I thought I would give it ago as I’m sure she would like her book back!!!

Finish date: 14.1.14

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Start date: 6.1.13

Blurb:For decades, Grace Coddington’s personal touch has steered wildly imaginative fashion spreads in Vogue magazine. Then came The September Issue, the behind-the-scenes documentary that turned the spotlight on a woman with a no-nonsense attitude and an unerring visual instinct. Overnight, the flame-haired Grace became a heroine for fashion insiders and the general public alike.Witty and forthright, and illustrated throughout with vintage photographs and exclusive line-drawings, Grace: A Memoir shares the excitement and vision that go into producing so many unforgettable fashion images. Here are the designers, models, photographers, hairstylists, make-up artists and celebrities with whom Grace has created her ‘stories in pictures’ – whether it be Jerry Hall conquering the USSR or Tom Ford falling down a rabbit hole in Annie Leibovitz’s version of Alice in Wonderland.Grace’s own life has been as dreamlike as one of her madcap fashion spreads. Brought up in windswept wartime Anglesey, she arrived in London, aged eighteen, and quickly became a face of the Sixties. The muse behind Vidal Sassoon’s Five Point Cut, she posed for Bailey, Donovan, Duffy and Norman Parkinson in Swinging London and jumped into a pool in Saint-Tropez for Helmut Newton. Surviving a serious car-crash, she later became a fashion editor at British Vogue and during the Seventies and the Eighties started to create the fantasy travelogues that would become her trademark.Friendships bloomed – with Bruce Weber and Calvin Klein, whose offer of a job took Grace to New York. While two early marriages to restaurateur Michael Chow and photographer Willie Christie were brief, her romance with the hairstylist Didier Malige has endured. And her professional partnership with Anna Wintour – with whom she has collaborated for over twenty years – continues to have an astonishing influence on modern style.

What made me pick it from the bookshelf: My mum loved this book. I love vogue, New York and fashion…do I need to explain more?

Finish  date: 6.1.14

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Start date: 3.1.13

Blurb:Ask most women whether they have the right to equality at work and the answer will be a resounding yes, but ask the same women whether they’d feel confident asking for a raise, a promotion, or equal pay, and some reticence creeps in.The statistics, although an improvement on previous decades, are certainly not in women’s favour – of 197 heads of state, only twenty-two are women. Women hold just 20 percent of seats in parliaments globally, and in the world of big business, a meagre eighteen of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Business – draws on her own experience of working in some of the world’s most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale.Learning to ‘lean in’ is about tackling the anxieties and preconceptions that stop women reaching the top – taking a place at the table, and making yourself a part of the debate.

What made me pick it from the bookshelf: It seems that everyone at the school I work at has read this book. I thought I would join them.

 

Finished date: 30.12.13

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Start date: 24.12.13

Blurb:In 1957, when a young Midwestern woman landed a job at The New Yorker, she didn’t expect to stay long at the reception desk. But stay she did, and for twenty-one years she had the best seat in the house. In addition to taking messages, she ran interference for jealous wives checking on adulterous husbands, drank with famous writers at famous watering holes throughout bohemian Greenwich Village, and was seduced, two-timed, and proposed to by a few of the magazine’s eccentric luminaries. This memoir of a particular time and place is an enchanting tale of a woman in search of herself.

What made me pick it from the bookshelf:I am obsessed with New York. I thought this would be cool.

 

Finished date: 23.12.13

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Start date: 21.12.13

Blurb: One of the outstanding classics to emerge from the Holocaust, Man’s Search for Meaning is Viktor Frankl’s story of his struggle for survival in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Today, this remarkable tribute to hope offers us an avenue to finding greater meaning and purpose in our own lives.

Why I picked it from the bookshelf: As it’s nearly Christmas I think that it is so important to remind ourselves just how lucky we are (I am).

Finish date: 21.12.13

imagesCAY5W778Start date: 20.12.13

Blurb:Kelly Cutrone has long been mentoring women on how to make it in one of the most competitive industries in the world. In her trademark, no-bullshit style, she combines personal and professional stories to share her secrets for success without selling out. Raw, hilarious, shocking, but always the honest truth, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside calls upon you to gather up your courage like an armful of clothes at a McQueen sample sale and follow your soul where it takes you. Whether you’re just starting out in the world or looking to reinvent yourself, this book will be the spark you need to figure out what you have to say to the world—and how you’re going to say it.

What made me pick it from the bookshelf: I picked this one because I have been meaning to read more ballsy female views on the world lately!

Finish date: 20.12.13

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Start date: 19.12.13

Blurb: Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

What made me pick it from the bookshelf: My 13-year-old sister Evie has not stopped going on about it! This is for you little one!

Finished: 19.12.13

wild

Start date: 11.11.13

Blurb:At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of
her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage
crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her
life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America – from the
Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington state – and to
do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was
nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise – a promise of piecing
together a life that lay in ruins at her feet.

What made me pick it from the bookshelf: It is my one of the books that is on my autumn reading list. My idol Sophia Bush (actress and activist) recommended this book through her website so I thought I would give it a bash.

Finished: 24.11.12

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Start date: 10.11.13

Blurb:Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany. One rainy afternoon on a city bus, she realised
that she wasn’t as happy as she could be. In danger of wasting her days – always
yearning for something more, waiting for problems to miraculously solve
themselves – she realized her life wasn’t going to change unless she did
something about it. On January 1, she embarked on her Happiness Project, and
each month she pursued a different set of resolutions: to get more sleep, quit
nagging her husband, sing in the morning to her two young daughters, start a
blog, imitate a spiritual master, keep a one-sentence journal. She immersed
herself in everything from classical philosophy to contemporary psychology to
see what worked for her-and what didn’t. Illuminating yet entertaining, profound
yet compulsively readable, “The Happiness Project” is one of the most thoughtful
and prescriptive works on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of
interest in the subject. Filled with practical advice, sharp insight, charm, and
humor, her story will inspire readers to navigate their own paths to happiness.

What made me pick it from the bookshelf: Who doesn’t want to be happier?

Finshed: 10.11.2013

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Start date: 1.11.2013

Blurb: Who are you? What have we done to each other? These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

What made me pick it from the bookshelf: This book is on my autumn reading list. I also picked this book because the whole wide world seems to be talking about it! I love thrillers so am really excited to get started on this. I can’t believe I haven’t already read it!

Finished: 31.10.2013

shantaram

Start date: 1.10.2013

Blurb: ‘In the early 80′s Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay Slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail. Then, in case anyone thought he was slacking, he acted in Bollywood and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan…Amazingly, Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashed his first two versions. It’s a profound tribute to his willpower…At once a high-kicking, eye-gouging adventure, a love saga and a savage yet tenderly lyrical fugitive vision’ Time Out

What made me pick it from the bookshelf:

Having spent time in Southern India (living in the jungle with a tribal family and trekking for days on end) I have always had a fascination with the country, its people, its colours and smells. I got it as a Christmas present in 2011 from my sister and she has also been bugging me to read it! So far I’m just over half way through its 933 pages and I am absolutely addicted to it.

Finished: 23.1.13

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Start date: 18.1.13

Blurb: This extraordinary book is about what happened when the Rwandan government in 1944 implemented a policy that called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the massacres were low-tech, done largely by machete, they were carried out at dazzling speed, and 800,000 people were killed in a hundred days. Pastors in one Tutsi community sent a letter to their church president, a Hutu, that included the chilling phrase that give Phillip Gourevitch his title.

This haunting work is not only an anatomy of this genocide and what Rwandans call its ‘genocidal logic’, but also a vivid history of the background to the tragedy and an unforgettable account of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the replacement of elites and the plight of survivors, the impossibly crowded prisons and militant refugee camps. Philip Gourevitch’s intimate portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life as they cope with the psychological and political challenges of survival make their tragic situation unexpectedly immediate and familiar; his dramatic narrative also shows how resurgent genocidal forces threatened to plunge central Africa into total war, and how his sparked the drive to oust Mobutu from power in the Congo. Lastly, he contrasts the Rwandans’ provocatively original political response to the horror with the wholly inadequate reactions of international humanitarian organizations and foreign governments.

What made me pick it from the bookshelf:

Having spent a lot of time working with Rwandan refugees I have developed a fascination with the country, its history, its people and how the events of 1994 were ignored by all those that had the power to help. I also run the Amnesty society and teach Human Rights at the school that I work in so I am hoping this book will help to educate those younger than me….most who have never heard of what happened in Rwanda just 19 years ago!

Finished: 22.6.2012

the_boy_who_harnessed_the_wind

Start date:19.6.2012

Blurb: William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled, modern science was a mystery, hunger and drought were a daily reality, and hope and opportunity were hard t find. Faced with crippling adversity and unable to afford the tuition to pursue his passion for science at school, William had a ‘crazy idea’.

With only a few old text books and incredible determination, William constructed a crude windmill. This unlikely contraption would prove to be the small miracle that would eventually bring electricity and water to William’s village, changing the community and transforming the lives of those around him.

What made me pick it from the bookshelf: This book was recommended to me by the lovely Jackie who I met in Zambia this summer whilst volunteering in both Meheba Refugee Camp and in local schools in Livingstone. On my return to England I got a copy from my local bookshop and on my shelf it has sat for 10 months. I picked it up because I feel I need reminding of the great power that we humans possess, how we can use it to not only better life for ourselves but much more importantly we can use it to help others. I picked it up to learn of a new culture, a new country and a new person. We can learn so much from others stories. They can inspire us to do great things. They can make us realise how important we are. They teach us and we must never stop learning.

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