Well, a dream of mine is one step closer to becoming reality: the team at Penguin Random House has been sending me books to review for them.
The last six they have sent me have been so incredibly on point that I am embarrassed they weren’t on my TBR in the first place. And so, here they are, in no particular order.
Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One, by Raphaelle Giordano
In Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One, Raphaelle Giordano manages to dance with great mastery the fine line between meaningful and patronizing. An easy, relaxing, inspiring read, it can sometimes hit close to home in that way you need it to. A self help book at the end of the day, this novel is delightful, insightful by the page.
Summer Cannibals, by Melanie Hobson
Those of us lucky enough to have good family dynamics will learn a thing or two about toxic families by picking this one up. Those of us who have toxic relationships in general, but especially with our parents and siblings, will have the opportunity to gain insight into them. In my case, I identified something in a long term friendship that never felt right thanks to this book.
Either way, the five characters at the centre of this story will stay with you for a very long time.
Beautifully written, dark yet easy to get through, a very uncomfortable read at times in all the right ways, Melanie Hobson’s Summer Cannibals gets a firm 4/5 stars!
Confessions of a Teenage Leper, by Ashley Little
Author Ashley Little writes very well. This is a dangerous trap of a book, the kind that sucks readers in and before you know it, it’s waaaaay past your bedtime, not that your kids will understand or be forgiving about.
She makes a cliché and already overdone plot — pretty, popular high school girl falls from grace, gets abandoned by her BFFs and dumped by her boyfriend, only to learn that there is more to life than her looks, while of course meeting new and improved BFFs and boyfriend — seem quite fresh with the reason for the fall from grace (leprosy) and the diary-like writing style.
I do wish we had more to work with regarding the main character’s evolution in Confessions of a Teenage Leper — in the form of a more lengthy post treatment section. Did she actually change or, when her looks came back, did she make her way back into the same place she was in? And why/why not?
This makes me add this book to my Book Club pile. It would make for great club conversations on topics vital to the world today. And who knows… It could help others transform from selfish and self centered to selfless and outward looking.
Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change, by Beth Comstock
Author Beth Comstock leads readers into a discussion about the importance of flexibility and creativity that made me sigh with relief. Although she mainly aims her talks at organizations, a lot of what she writes about applies to the person as well.
As a creative who is also deeply invested in the sciences, I always found it hard to explain to people how I can be both a creative and a scientist. Another reason I’m grateful to have read Imagine It Forward is that I can now explain better the way that my creative side helps me navigate the rapidly and constantly changing scientific world with a lot more ease than my colleagues who don’t embrace their creative side.
And most importantly, this book gives me hope that despite the insanity kicked up by the spectacular speed of progress we are seeing this century, it can work out for the best.
Hippie, by Paulo Coelho
Woah, Paulo Coelho!
Always curious to see what he comes up with, and disappointed with some of his more recent work, I was hesitant about this one. But it was for naught; I really enjoyed this book!
Partly because it was a fun way of discovering some of what my grandparents had worried about and my parents had enjoyed, “Hippie” is yet another book in what I call “reflective fiction”, the kind that really makes you think — if you let it.
It’s probably because it is autobiographical in nature that this book is so insightful. Coelho clearly demonstrates wisdom in all his books, and it comes as no surprise that he applied this same wisdom when reflecting on his whole life.
Then again, seeing the people that our society deities, perhaps this wisdom is a breath of fresh air that one wishes was the norm. Who knows.
A Spark of Light, by Jodi Picoult
Reading a book by Jodi Picoult is like giving your heart to a meat grinder.
Love her books but I have to be prepared to be an emotional mess by the time I’m done.
Why, then, should you pick up her books? Because this emotional mess is exactly what is needed for readers to look into themselves and make a change for the better.
The timeliness of the issue of reproductive health can’t be ignored, as, out of fear, we move into judgmental decision making that negatively impact the lives of people in ways that we can’t imagine — unless we read books like “A Spark of Life“. Whatever your personal convictions are, doesn’t matter. We are all allowed to believe whatever we choose to believe. It’s the way we interact with others whose beliefs are different that the conditions of our society are defined. To understand the effect of imposing someone’s opinion on others, read books like this one.
I’m out. Gotta go cry some more ugly tears.