Books

My five for a Friday

My five for a Friday

It’s getting more and more difficult to find time to blog. I’m a broken record. Children getting older gives you less time not more. How wrong was I? Giving up uni has made no difference to my spare time. Work is all-absorbing as the reality of counselling becomes absorbed along with an ever increasing workload.

So, the blog has gone by the wayside. And it absorbs me with guilt. The need to just stop. But it was never meant to be anything more than my outlet, my escape. And by any logical process I need that more now.

So, just to get back on track. Here’s what I have been doing which I can share. I am still loving the escape of reading and these are a few of my favourites of late.

I’ve no doubt I’ll be back with five more next week – books really have been my respite.

The Party by Elizabeth Day

The Party

A wonderfully clever, cintriguing story of best friends. The Party can’t help draw parallels with The Talented Mr Ripley. Martin Gilmour is a socially awkward child who befriends Ben Fitzmaurice through his scholarship to a boarding school.

Taking the opportunity to accept responsibility for a serious accident, Martin embeds himself in the Fitzmaurice home with the ideal that he has taken the place of Ben’s dead brother.

Whilst Ben and Martin are now married, and The Party follows the first-person narrative of Martin and his wife, Lucy. Revealing the emotional impact of the actions of the core characters, this is a book which holds you through the detail and intrigue of what happened at Ben’s 40th celebrations.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why was a recommendation from a friend, and a book far from what I expected. Maybe it would have helped if I had seen the Netflix series.

Thirteen Reasons Why tells Hannah Baker’s story. Her classmate, Clay Jensen, returns home from school to find a package of cassette tapes on his porch. Recorded by Hannah, preceding her suicide two weeks earlier, her voice enables Clay to bear witness to the thirteen reasons she decided to end her life.

Whilst it isn’t a book I’d usually choose, it kept my interest, reminding me of the complexity of life.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You

I loved Little Fires Everywhere so I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading Celeste Ng’s debut novel. And I don’t think it’s possible for me to decide which I preferred.T

Everything I Never Told You tells of Lydia’s death. Whilst the story of Lydia’s life unfolds, it is through those around her. Lydia’s parents and siblings contend with the cause of Lydia’s death, and in doing so, the decisions underpinning their own lives come into question.

Celeste Ng successfully explores the discrimination and biases which underpin life. The ability of individuals to unconsciously over-compensate. And in Everything I Never Told You potentially to the detriment of those they love.

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Tin Man

Sarah Winman’s Tin Man feels light at first take. At little over 200 pages it is easy to underestimate what it contains.

Tin Man first introduces Dora, a housewife who’s single act of defiance is hanging a print of Van Gough’s Sunflowers on the wall after winning it in a raffle.

Leaping ahead to her son’s story, we grow to understand Ellis, the choices he has made. Some from the heart, but many through circumstance.

Somehow, through its too few pages, Tin Man explores the complicated emotion of love, the futility of life and the beauty of redemption. There is a pace to Winman’s writing which eases you in, allows you to absorb, and before you realise how much you have absorbed, there are tears. This is a beautiful read.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air was another recommendation, following my praise for This is Going to Hurt. It’s fair to say there’s little comparison on the surface. Whilst This is Going to Hurt treads the fine line of humour and health within the NHS, Paul Kalanithi writes from the perspective of a US neurosurgeon.

The essential difference is the When Breath Becomes Air is published posthumously. Paul Kalanithi begins writing as he approached the completion of his training as a neurosurgeon, and after his diagnosis of lung cancer. He died at the age of 37.

Paul writes about his journey to studying medicine, the complexities in understanding the brain and its impact on being. Comparably to Adam Kay’s writing, it is the intensity of the commitment to the medical profession which astounds and is surrounded by a hint of regret.

This book feels like a greater contribution than I can appreciate, but even though I knew the ending, it did nothing to stall the sadness, that so much thought had been put into one’s contribution to this world, and halted before realised. I know this book goes some way to righting this wrong.

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