2016 is the year that I’m going to get back into reading. Both for pleasure and to educate. There are so many subjects that I am interested in, but feel like I know very little about, so this is the year to change that.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
This was passed to me a while back by a member of my knitting group. She told me it was a book she’d received from a friend on World Book Night, but she thought it might be a bit too sad for some of the older members of the group, so she gave it to me instead. I wasn’t too sure what to make of that, but actually I found The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to be quite a good read. Harold receives a letter one day from a woman that he worked with years ago. A letter addressed from a hospice in Berwick, saying that Queenie was dying, but wanted Harold to know. Harold wrote a brief response and set out to post it, but on his way decided to walk from his home in Devon all the way to Berwick to hand deliver it. He has no map, walking boots or mobile phone, but he does have a determination to succeed.
I actually really enjoyed Harold’s story, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. It goes along at a nice (walking) pace, but I found myself really connecting with Harold and his plight and looking forward to find out out how he got on next. The whole thing becomes quite emotional towards the end, and certainly made me think about how life is a journey and how you need to treat it as such, rather than just a race to reach a destination.
Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
Reasons to Stay Alive is an utterly brilliant book. I came across this first on twitter after I saw a few people talking about it. Soon after Waterstones featured it as non-fiction book of the month and I decided it was time to get myself a copy. Matt Haig talks so honestly about his own depression and as a reader you find yourself nodding along with him, crying with him, and on a couple of occasions even smiling with him. He helps the reader who has never suffered from depression understand what it is really like, and the reader who has put into words what they have been through.
If you’ve ever suffered from depression, have it now, or are friends with someone who does, then I would describe it as a must read book. It really does help you to understand that there are reasons to stay alive, and what those reasons are for you. There’s also a great section on how to support friends who have depression. I also particularly liked discovering that Matt also found that running helped him and that particular chapter fitted in so well with restarting my running journey this year.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – Marie Kondo
My final read of the month was actually something that I started back in August, but then, somewhat ironically, I got so caught up trying to put what I’d read so far into practice that I didn’t get round to finishing the book.
Much has been written about Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and it is no exaggeration to say that this book can change your life. I’ve not been as good at tidying after reading it as some of my friends have, but I have definitely noticed a difference around my home. Firstly there are some things that I have completely blitzed in the way that Kondo suggests. My bathroom being one. I managed to fill a bin bag with toiletries and cosmetics that I would never actually use again and where just taking up space and collecting dust. It’s made a huge difference in my bathroom and the whole room feels much calmer as a result. I’ve made a start on my clothes too, but I need to give myself a kick up the backside and do it properly. One of my aims for the year is to completely Marie Kondo the whole house!
Her simple idea, which does work so well, is picking up every item you own and asking “does this spark joy?” If not, then get rid. It may sound daft, and I was very sceptical at first, but once you make a start you really get into the mindset. Then again, I’ve also found myself (after reading Kondo’s book about what she does) hanging up my coat when I come in from the school run, and thanking it for keeping me warm and dry whilst I’ve been out.
Maybe I’m just going mad?