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5 of my Favourite Books

Jonathan Livingstone Seagull

‘Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight – how to get from shore to food and back again,’ writes author Richard Bach in this allegory about a unique bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. ‘For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.’ Flight is indeed the metaphor that makes this story soar.

This book was life-changing for me. Have you ever had one of those? It’s such a simple concept and a simple message but it came at exactly the point when I needed it to. I was at a university I didn’t like doing a course that wasn’t stretching me. I was 19 years old and feeling like there was a world I needed to discover. This book helped me realise that I can choose my own course in life. I often turn to it now and then to remind myself to push harder and forge my own way.

Everything is Illuminated

Everything is Illuminated

A young man arrives in the Ukraine, clutching in his hand a tattered photograph. He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately, he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into bizarre new forms; a “blind” old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy Davis Jr, Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive — a truth hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war. What they find turns all their worlds upside down . . .

I really enjoyed the twisty plot, the intertwining stories, the creative use of language and the pace of this story. The characters are interesting, sometimes awful. The detail is lovely. It was a book I couldn’t put down.

Mary Wollstonecrot
The Life andDeath of Mary Woolstonecroft

 Witty, courageous and unconventional, Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the most controversial figures of her day. She published ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’; travelled to revolutionary France and lived through the Terror and the destruction of the incipient French feminist movement; produced an illegitimate daughter; and married William Godwin before dying in childbed at the age of thirty-eight. Often embattled and bitterly disappointed, she never gave up her radical ideas or her belief that courage and honesty would triumph over convention.

Mary Wollstonecraft was a woman very much ahead of her time, possibly one of the first feminists. She saw the world in a completely different way to everyone else of her time. She didn’t see why her gender should dictate her position in society. This biography reveals a real picture of a woman who was stubborn, smart and interesting. You might not always agree with some of her actions but she was a fascinating woman. It’s a really interesting read.

Material World

Material World: The Modern Craft Bible

 Tired of the clichés often trotted out about craft, Perri Lewis makes it her task to bring the world of making into the 21st century. In Material World, Perri enlists the help of luminaries from the worlds of art, craft, design and fashion to share their knowledge and advice. Among these include Rob Ryan, Emma Bridgewater, Grayson Perry, Philip Treacy, Tatty Devine, Topshop and Tracey Emin. Instead of just giving the reader individual projects, you can learn the techniques for crafts such as paper-cutting, dress-making, printing, encrusting, leather work and tailoring. However, if you prefer more guidance, there are 15 projects to make, including découpage shoes, a patchwork Louis chair and a printed scarf. With the compiled words of wisdom of these experts, and Perri’s own timeless advice, you’ll be up and running with scissors in no time.

I reviewed this book on the blog already but enjoyed it so much I wanted to mention it again. If you are newbie or an old hat at crafting this book is approachable, interesting and beautifully laid out. I have been inspired for many future projects and keep referring to it when planning the latest thing to upcycle in my house.

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point

THE TIPPING POINT is the biography of an idea, and the idea is quite simple. It is that many of the problems we face – from crime to teenage delinquency to traffic jams – behave like epidemics. They aren’t linear phenomena in the sense that they steadily and predictably change according to the level of effort brought to bear against them. They are capable of sudden and dramatic changes in direction. Years of well-intentioned intervention may have no impact at all, yet the right intervention – at just the right time – can start a cascade of change. Many of the social ills that face us today, in other words, are as inherently volatile as the epidemics that periodically sweep through the human population: little things can cause them to ‘tip’ at any time and if we want to understand how to confront and solve them we have to understand what those ‘Tipping Points’ are. In this revolutionary new study, Malcolm Gladwell explores the ramifications of this. Not simply for politicians and policy-makers, his method provides a new way of viewing everyday experience and enables us to develop strategies for everything from raising a child to running a company.

I read this book years ago, during my degree. It was a book I just randomly picked out at a bookshop because I liked the title and the cover. I was really taken by the idea of influence. How trends reach a ‘Tipping Point’ and hit the mainstream. It’s a really useful book if you are a business owner or influencer. Fascinating read.

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Do you love reading? I was a bit of a bookworm when I was a child. I was always wandering off to my room so I could read a book or a magazine or a newspaper. It didn’t matter what the format was I would read anything. I’d read a leaflet posted through the door. I just loved to absorb information, ideas and storie. I guess I am still like that but a lot of my reading has moved to the online world. Still, there is nothing quite like switching off from the digital world and absorbing oneself in a book. These are just 5 different books that I have enjoyed. I chose quite different genres and styles in my list. I have broad taste. Although it looks like I could do with a few more fictions in my favourites list. So I’m going to have a look through the others posts for Blog Every Day in May and see what everyone else recommends.

If you could choose just one what would be your favourite book to recommend to others?

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  1. I was a huge bookworm when I was little… I used to try and sneakily read under the table instead of paying attention in lessons! I haven’t read any of the books on your list but by the sounds of it I’d love them all!

    If I could recommend one book to anyone it would be Gone With the Wind, takes a while to get through but it’s EPIC.

    Loving BEDM so far! x

  2. Hi Elizabeth,
    I’m pretty much happiest with a book in hand! If you loved ‘Everything is illuminated’, I’m sure you’d also love ‘Extremely loud and incredibly close’ also by Jonathan Safran Foer – it’s beautiful!
    Jo

    1. You should also check out the books his wife, Nicole Krauss, has written. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is SO similar to The History of Love, but I did enjoy both.

  3. I had very mixed feelings about Everything is Illuminated but overall am glad I read it. I adore Wollstonecraft am interested in Gladwell books but always keen to take some of it with a pinch of salt, as he often just strings interesting anecdotes together in a way that *seems* convincing. I enjoy his writing though and it does give me pause for thought but I like reading it with the knowledge he is a good writer and is pulling together strong arguments but that is all they are, and that there might be another argument to put.

    I MUST get around to reading Jonathan Livingstone Seagull as I know you have talked highly of it before. It will be on the list once I’ve finished all the books I already have!

  4. You have just ignited a childhood memory I’d completely forgotten about. My dad raving about this Jonathan Livingston Seagull and playing the Neil Diamond soundtrack. Great choices. x

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