I read loads in the first half of August, but towards the end I found myself struggling to concentrate. This has been a recurring theme this year, I find myself in the mood for reading but due to brain fog I can’t focus on the words in front of me.
Of the books I did read, there is a good mix of fiction and non-fiction.
So Sad Today: Personal Essays by Melissa Broder
What is So Sad Today about? The short answer is that it’s a collection of personal essays about living with anxiety and depression. But it is so much more than that.
With these essays Melissa Broder explores everything from addiction to eating disorders to ethical non-monogamy and caring for her ill husband. Broder’s humour is dark, something followers of her @sosadtoday Twitter account will be familiar with, and her writing captivating. I read So Sad Today in one sitting, underlining passages as I went.
Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown by Gerri Hirshey*
I have a mixed relationship with modern day Cosmopolitan magazine, but there is no denying that Helen Gurley Brown was one of a kind when she took the helm, as editor, back in the 60s.
I was looking forward to learning more about Brown and Not Pretty Enough* provides that. It is an in-depth look at Brown’s life from childhood to her death in 2012. It is meticulously researched. Unfortunately, Gerri Hirshey’s writing style isn’t for me. It feels like a text book; dry and lacking in the very spark that made Helen Gurley Brown so interesting.
In Another Life by Carys Jones*
Marie Schneider has always wanted a more exciting life. She finds her job in advertising boring and though she is engaged, she can’t shake the feeling that something is missing.
On the drive home, to visit her parents, one weekend Marie is involved in a car accident; an accident that leaves her fighting for her life. While in a coma, Marie finds herself in Azriel. An alternate world where Marie discovers she is really Princess North and the people of Azriel have been awaiting her return.
Awakening from her coma in this world, Marie is faced with the realisation that no-one believes her tales about Azriel. Her doctors and family are convinced it is a result of the coma and nothing else. But when people begin approaching Marie in the street and calling for her return to Azriel, fantasy and reality collide and Marie must figure out where she really belongs.
In Another Life* is an enjoyable blend of fantasy and thriller. To say anything more risks wandering into spoiler territory.
Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi*
I’ve already written a full review of Nina is Not OK*, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Nina is Not OK* is an exploration of consent and the role alcohol plays, rape culture, victim blaming and the politics of teenage girls. Shappi Khorsandi has written powerful and complex debut novel (her first book is a memoir) that is as funny as it is thought-provoking.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena*
I’ve already written a full review of The Couple Next Door*, so I won’t go into too much detail here. The Couple Next Door* is full of unreliable narrators and characters that all seem to have something to hide. Lapena’s concise style ensures that this web of intrigue remains tense until the final page.
The Sober Revolution: Women Calling Time on Wine O’Clock by Sarah Turner and Lucy Rocca
As the title suggests, The Sober Revolution looks at the relationship between women and alcohol. Through a series of case studies, the consequences of alcohol dependency and addiction in women are laid bare.
This is firmly aimed at women who want to give up alcohol, but it contains information that is useful it every woman. The book is not without its own issues. The tone is very much ‘women can’t have it all’ and self medicating with alcohol is inevitable. There are myriad of reasons women find themselves dependent on or addicted to alcohol. The reality is far more complex than The Sober Revolution makes out.