Since finishing the degree, I have re-discovered the joy of reading for pleasure again. It took a few months after finishing to settle down as I kept getting the anxiety 'I should be studying' attacks, then realising that no, I didn't actually have to study anything and could indulge in reading for reading's sake.
I've got through several tomes and a few stand out in the memory, Jon Krakauer's, Into Thin Air, for one. You may have seen the film that was based on the book, Everest, starring among others, Jake Gyllenhaal. I had read Jon Krakauer's, Into the Wild, a few years ago, which was also made into a film and I really enjoyed it. I could also certainly identify with Christopher McCandless's wish to escape from the drudgery of life and go live in the wild, but climbing Everest is something that in a million years, I would never have a desire to do. Even if I had ever entertained the notion, this book would have killed it off forever. The pain, the suffering, why would anyone want to put themselves through it? Cerebral oedema's, pulmonary oedema's, it's beyond me, or maybe I've just suffered enough!
Another stand out, is Waris Dirie's, Desert Flower. Waris was a desert nomad from Somalia who went through female-genital mutilation at 5 years of age. She ran away as a teenager to escape an arranged marriage to an old man and ended up becoming a model in London, and hung out with people like Naomi Campbell and Iman, David Bowie's wife. It's amazing how she came through it all and how it all happened. Definitely, worth a read.
Other notables in the biographical genre are Tom Michell's The Penguin Lessons, a heart-warming tale of a man and a penguin; Carol Drinkwater's The Olive Farm, and that other famous tale of life in France, Peter Mayle's, A Year in Provence, both of which had me dreaming of upping sticks and moving!
On the fiction front, I enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and The Savage Garden by Mark Mills. I got the Mark Mills book in a local charity shop, and it still had its original receipt in it. It was bought in Borders Books, Music and Cafe, Briggate, in Leeds in August 2007. It's interesting to see how it has travelled since it was first purchased. I wonder who the original buyer was!
Another gem I've had sitting on the shelf for a while, and finally got around to reading, was Irving Wallace's The Seven Minutes. It was given to me a few years ago by a friend. It was originally published in 1969 and it does show its age in parts, but on the whole a good read and quite a long one too, at over 500 pages.
I read mostly biography and one of the most heart-breaking, and frustrating, was When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Paul was a brilliant, highly-driven doctor and this is what made it quite a frustrating read. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and I just wished he had stayed off work longer and given himself time to recover but he didn't. Maybe the outcome would have been the same but then again, maybe not.
So, there’s a few recommendations, I'm now on Philippa Gregory's, The White Queen. I'm not a fan of the historical novel, it was lent to me by a friend but I’ll give it a go and it isn’t too bad so far. I still have many more to get through but with the telly being so bad at present, at least books offer a respite from 3rd rate reality shows and endless cooking.