I’m going to start this post with a confession and end it with a plea. You see, when I talk about ‘reading’, I’m not referring to what you’re probably expecting to hear about ie. novels I am currently enjoying. That’s because I don’t read novels, and I honestly cannot remember the last novel I even read. Maybe I’m rebelling against my degree at Oxford where I had to read 3 books a week, though I suspect the actual reason I have turned away from fiction is that I simply don’t seem to have either the patience (slightly embarrassing) or the time (should I stop blogging ?) to fully engross myself in one (sidenote – I also don’t watch or really enjoy TV series). How do you find the time, people? How do you find the focus? What’s wrong with me?! Am I the only one?!
But all that said, I do LOVE reading other sorts of literature; books that I can dip in and out of during a tube journey, grab to read a few pages of whilst I’m breastfeeding, flick through whilst I’m waiting for the dinner to cook. But a whole novel? Forget it.
So these are the books – the non fiction, self-help, travel, food, interior and entirely non novelesque books – that I always come back to, cherish and highly recommend getting hold of and browsing (yes, BROWSING not necessarily reading from front cover to back cover) when you do find that ever-elusive moment:
1.The Idle Traveller: I love everything about this book which encapsulates the concept of the *journeying* to somewhere being just as important (if not more) than the end destination. It explores and celebrates slow travel as well as why we even travel in the first place (I also adore the book of Idle Pleasures) with a perfectly down to earth and unpreachy tone.
2.Mama: Love, Motherhood and Revolution: Now this is one of those rare books that I genuinely could not put down. It explores how motherhood and love are intrinsically linked to well being and how a lack of respect or maternal love is at the root of widespread dissatisfaction with modern life. (I did a full review of it here and interviewed the author here)
3.How to Hygge: Hygge is about finding solace in nature, outdoor activities and celebrating the simple things in life. A Nordic concept, it is also translated as cosiness and implies a sense of warmth and kinship. The book explores ways to adopt these elements into your every day life and is truly beautiful from cover to cover.
4.What it means to be Human: a book that looks back over more than two centuries (and discovers that in 1872 a woman published an open letter entitled “Are women animals?’ in which she protested the fact that women were not treated as fully human…) as well as forward to what the future might hold for humans and animals alike. Totally fascinating.
5.Simple Matters: This is a topic that I am becoming increasingly passionate about; the basic idea and importance of living only with things you truly love, or really, really need. This is another one I have trouble putting down and I find every page truly inspiring whether eschewing the merits of open storage or offering ideas on entertaining in tiny spaces.
6.The Mindful Manifesto: How doing less and noticing more can help us thrive in a stressed-out world: I became hooked on this book after the author came to Google (where I work) to do a talk. The title was enough to tell me that it entirely chimes with my way of thinking, anyway but the content, neatly divided into different chapters each examining Mindfulness from a different slant (Mind, Body, Feelings etc) make it an easy and digestible book. Its aim is to make mindfulness relevant to our modern lives and show how it optimises health and well-being. I absolutely love diving into this book if I’m having a bit of an ‘off’ day.
7.The Flavour Thesaurus: I always refer to this book when I have a few random things in my fridge and zero idea what to cook (ie. a lot of the time) This aesthetically stunning book offers up a ‘Recipe Index’ and an ‘Ingredient Index’ so you can get ideas for what to do with that one sodding courgette left in the fridge. Excellent. On top of that it really gets you thinking ‘outside the box’ with flavour at the forefront so if you like experimenting in the kitchen and being a little adventurous, this one is definitely for you. Butternut squash and cinnamon? Genius.
8.The Business of Sharing: This super interesting guide to something known as the ‘sharing economy’ where people rent and sell what they own and become micro entrepreneurs in the process. Air b n b and Uber are probably the most well known example of the businesses tapping into this new economy and there are new ones popping up all the time. After all, why buy a milk expresser when you can borrow someone else’s? (sidenote: yes, my brother may have written this book but this does not detract from the fact I find this topic totally fascinating)
9.Recipes for Natural Beauty: This is my go to guide when I am making my own beauty products and is full of wonderful recipes for everything from hairdyes to handcreams. It also includes a glossary of natural and chemical ingredients which I find super helpful along the way.
10.The Truth about Love: This is the sweetest little book I picked up from a charity shop years ago and is a tongue in cheek look at the different sorts of love and the myths about love. I love reading it to Jack as it is full of super sweet and funny cartoons. (It is currently being sold on the Amazon marketplace for 1p! Please go and buy it)
11.Ice cream for breakfast: Not only does this book look kinda awesome on my bedside table, it’s also always the one I reach to when I’m after a little pick me up. I’d describe it as a self-help book with a big dollop of British self-deprecating humour and a reminder not to take life too seriously. Definitely one to read in the bath…
So there you go, that’s my confession; that I don’t read novels. I’m off to leaf through some of them (again!)
Thanks so much for reading.