I’m one of those people who have to read before bedtime in order to get off to sleep. I use it as my sleep barometer, deciding to turn off the light only when I realise I’ve been looking at the page with my eyes closed for the past few seconds. I keep a note of my favourite quotes in my phone- phrases or paragraphs that resonate with me when I’ve been reading- and as well as being something inspiring to look back on, it’s a great log of books I’ve read. So here are a selection of my favourites from 2018, and a list of books I’m looking forward to reading this year.
1. Hormonal, Martie Haselton (non-fiction)
This book serves to remind us just how powerful our hormones are and how, for women, our behaviours change sub-consciously depending on where we are in our cycles. For example, did you know that studies have shown that women tend to dress more provocatively around ovulation, or that men interpret the scent of a woman to be more or less appealing at different points in their cycle? As a doctor, I also found the chapter on the effect of hormonal contraceptives on our normal, evolutionary behaviours really interesting.
2. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg (non-fiction)
A truly inspiring book that I remember devouring lying in the garden over summer. Written by the COO of Facebook, it is full of fantastic quotes and anecdotes from her own life to show that women can do it all.
3. Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker
Possibly one of the most talked about reads of 2018, this book is what it says on the tin! Give it a go so you’re in on the secret.
4. Hunch, Bernadette Jiwa (non-fiction)
A short read which will inspire anyone who has thought about inventing/becoming/introducing “the next big thing” but feels trapped/uncertain. Here are a few of my favourite quotes:
“Genius requires an open heart”
“True innovation isn’t about finding an alternative that gets us from A to B; it’s about envisaging new As and new Bs”
“Every breakthrough idea starts with not knowing for sure but by understanding why it might be important to try”
5. This is going to hurt, Adam Kay (part-autobiographical)
Is this the most talked about book of 2018? Written by comedian/ex-O&G doctor Adam Kay, I would recommend this book to anyone- including my colleagues on my current Obstetrics and Gynaecology job! Sometimes reading books about being a doctor when you are a doctor, you can sense the exaggeration and it can detract from it, but not this one: it was relatable, funny, emotional, cathartic and an altogether brilliant read.
6. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Joanna Cannon (fiction)
Set in the heatwave of 1976, this novel follows two children who become intrigued by the secrets hidden amongst the adults who live on their street. I didn’t know this was written by a psychiatrist until I’d finished it, but looking back it makes a lot of sense: each character has his own story; it is introspective; it deals with social isolation and uncomfortable differences between different people. It makes for a poignant read. Here are some of the quotes I wrote down:
“Policemen were like doctors. They started off with their own idea about something and cherry-picked your words to prove themselves right.”
“The summer built a dusty bridge to September”
“Instead of saying I love you, he placed her umbrella at the bottom of the stairs so it wouldn’t be forgotten, and in the winter he put her gloves on the chair by the door so she would remember to pull them on to her hands before she left.”
“He held the words in his mouth like pieces of food.”
7. The Travelling Cat Chronicles, Hiro Arikawa (fiction)
I love the Japanese style of writing: it just feels unique. I remember reading this on the platform at Waterloo station with a cat carrier at my feet- it was just after our cat had had kittens and I was bringing it home for them. It felt very fitting to be reading this book! This novel is incredibly sad and poignant, but also uplifting and hopeful. A beautiful, beautiful read.
8. Christmas at Tiffany’s, Karen Swan (fiction)
Karen Swan writes the perfect “holiday” reads. I picked this one up in a charity shop and loved it. Her novels always take you to a beautiful city, normally with a beautiful female protagonist dealing with heartbreak or grief (or just life) trying to find her feet again. The ultimate chick-lit: feel-good escapism.
“Cassie felt as steeped in traditional Christmas cheer as a pear in port”
9. everything I know about love, Dolly Alderton (autobiographical)
I’ve saved the best for last. This is the book every 20-something-year-old wishes they’d written. I say that because you feel like you could have written it- it just feels that relatable. I know this will be one of those books (like Eat, Pray, Love perhaps?) that every girl will pass around and read over and over again. I’m thinking about reading it again now, actually. It is honest, raw, relevant and somehow makes you feel less alone.
My wishlist for 2019.
Currently, I’m reading Good Companions by J.B. Priestly – a gift from a friend – and The 5am Club by Robin Sharma. Below is a list of books which are also on my radar to devour this year. Some are recommendations or gifts, others the result of ghost-shopping at Waterstones or the desire to read old classics.
1. Milkman, Anna Burns
2. Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata
3. Becoming, Michelle Obama
4. Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig
5. milk and honey, Rupi Kaur
6. Warlight, Michael Ondaatje
7. The Birth of Homo, the Marine Chimpanzee, Michel Odent
8. Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thein
9. The Noise of Time, Julian Barnes
10. Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
11. The Harry Potter novels, J. K. Rowling
12. Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, Gail Honeyman
Feel free to comment below if you’ve enjoyed any of the above books like I have, or if you’ve got any further recommendations for me! I hope you enjoyed this post.
Love, Laura x
All images courtesy of Amazon