If You Like That, You’ll Love This! #Fiction #NonFiction #BookPairings

nonficnovgraphic-e1569211904841-768x768

It’s week 2 of Non-Fiction November and this week’s prompt is over on Sarah’s Book Shelves and it is all about pairing up non-fiction books with fiction.

I thought this was going to be really difficult but once I took a few minutes to think about it, and to scroll through my Goodreads account, I came up with a few!

Firstly I have a couple of nonfiction books to recommended.. If you loved one then I think you’ll love the other too!

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer + Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

I read both of these books in 2019 and they are both such fascinating reads. Each features explorations of very cold, inhospitable places and reflections on what happened along with some history. Dead Mountain is looking at a mysterious case from the 1950s where a group of experienced explorers all died in very strange circumstances. Into Thin Air is about a group who climb Everest in the 1990s but something goes wrong near the summit and people died. Afterwards there was a lot of discussion about the truth of what happened that day. I think if you enjoyed one of these books you would also enjoy the other.

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink + Past Caring by Audrey Jenkinson

I read these books quite a long time ago but it’s testament to them that I still remember them so clearly. The Last Act of Love is an incredibly moving book about the aftermath of an accident that seriously injured Cathy’s brother. She and her family looked after him from then on until his death. Past Caring is a book that I discovered in the months after my mum died and it was a huge help to me. It’s all about how it feels, and how to cope, when you have been a carer for a loved one who has since died. It’s hard to suddenly not be a carer anymore, to not be needed when it’s been your life for so long. I recommend both of these books – the first is a book for everyone and the second is more for if you have been caring for someone, it really is an excellent resource.

 

Then I have some fiction books that I’ve read and enjoyed so have paired them with some non-fiction titles that are linked in some way.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett + How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS by David France AND And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Schilts

I just finished reading Full Disclosure at the weekend so I haven’t yet written my review. As soon as I started writing this post though I knew I had to include it. It’s about a teenage girl who is HIV Positive (which she contracted from her birth mother). She lives with her two dads and lives a very normal life. The book is a brilliant portrayal of what it is to live with HIV in the present day and I recommend it. I wanted to pair it with two books that both give such an excellent overview of the history of HIV and AIDS. Randy Schilts book is an older book so it doesn’t cover more recent developments but it is still a very good read. David France’s book is very recent and I found it fascinating. Both non-fiction books are well-researched but they’re written in a very accessible way and I would recommend them to anyone wanting to know more.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith + It’s All in Your Head: True Stories of Imaginary Illness by Suzanne O’Sullivan

The Things We Thought We Knew is a brilliant novel following a teenager who is bedbound with chronic pain. Through the novel we learn that her childhood best friend went missing and she has struggled to cope with the loss. Her situation is complex and I felt such sympathy for her. I adored the novel and am keen to re-read it. The non-fiction I recommend after reading the novel is It’s All in Your Head. I read this book whilst recovering from neurosurgery and I got engrossed in it. It’s a book by a doctor who is exploring illnesses where there is no apparent physical cause. She never says it’s all in your mind in a dismissive way, it’s more a fascinating look at how our minds can cause symptoms to present in the body. These symptoms need treating just as much as actual physical illness but O’Sullivan shows how patients and doctors need to be open to exploring other avenues such as psychotherapy. I loved the book and highly recommend it.

Carry You by Beth Thomas + Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman

I read Carry You about five years ago and it’s a book that’s really stayed with me. It’s a contemporary novel and the main character is trying to re-build her life after the death of her mum. I loved the book and want to re-read it soon. I’m pairing it with Motherless Daughters, which is a book I discovered in the months after my mum died. It was the book I needed in those months and I recommend it to anyone who has lost their mother. I liked how Hope tells her own story but the book also contains lots of other women’s stories too so it really is a book for any woman whose mother has died. It’s perhaps not a book if you haven’t experienced that loss but it’s one to make a note of, I have since gifted copies to friends who are grieving the loss of their own mother.

Still Lives by Maria Hummell + After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry 

I read Still Lives very recently and found it a really interesting read. It features an art exhibition by a female artist who has painted herself into the murder scene of women who became infamous after their deaths (such as Nicole Brown-Simpson). It’s a crime thriller but what stood out to me was the exploration of how society either fetishises murdered women, or it ignores them completely to focus on the killer. I’m pairing this with After the Eclipse, which is one of my favourite non-fiction books that I’ve read this year. In this book Sarah Perry writes about the murder of her mum when she was a young teenager. Sarah explores her own emotions from the time but also looks back on the time through her adult eyes. She really made me think about how in our fascination with true crime documentaries we often almost forget that the murdered woman was a person, she had a family and friends. This is a book I recommend to everyone.

The First Time Lauren Pailing by Alyson Rudd + I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

I read The First Time Lauren Pailing Died a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. It’s about Lauren Pailing and she has a fairly ordinary life but when she’s a teen she dies in an accident. At this point we see the aftermath of her death and how it affected her loved ones but we also see Lauren survive the accident and go on with her life. She later dies again and the splits occur once more and you follow all the timelines. It’s such a good read, and even though it sounds confusing I found it easy to follow. I think if you enjoyed this book you should read I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. I’m the biggest fan of her writing so was eager to read her first non-fiction writing and it’s a brilliant book. Maggie looks back on her life through each of the times that she had a brush with death. This book really resonated with me and I’m definitely going to re-read it next year. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it.

Histories by Sam Guglani + Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon

Histories is an interlinked short story collection that I found really powerful. You see the hospital through the eyes of different people who are there – doctors, nurses, cleaners, admin staff and patients and each story adds depth to another story in the book. It’s a great read and really stays with you. Breaking and Mending is Joanna Cannon’s reflections on her time as a junior doctor and it’s an incredibly powerful book. I found it breathtaking in how she shows the realities of working in the NHS and it’s made such an impression on me. This is a book I recommend to everyone.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech + Good As You: From Prejudice to Pride – 30 Years of Gay Britain by Paul Flynn

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is one of my favourite novels so I recommend it if you haven’t already read it. It follows Ben who is working at a lion reserve in Africa, which he’s always dreamt of doing but he’s not happy. Over the novel we find out about Ben’s relationship with Andrew and it’s such a stunning read. It made me cry when I read it but now when I think of it I remember the beauty and hope in the early days of Ben and Andrew as they fall in love. I’m pairing this with Good As You, which is a book looking back at 30 years of what it is to be gay in Britain. It’s one of those non-fiction books that you learn things from but it’s written in such a way that you fly through it. I was picking it up every chance I had, just like I do with fiction. Both books have heartbreak and hope and I recommend them.

Accidental Emeralds by Vivienne Tuffnell + The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

Accidental Emeralds is a poetry collection that I read around the time I started reviewing books on my blog. It’s a beautiful collection that looks at longing and love through the changing of the seasons. I loved the collection and plan to re-read it but I was very apprehensive about reviewing it because I never feel like I’m clever enough to fully understand how to write about poetry. Earlier this year I read The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt which is a brilliant book that looks at a selection of poems and explores them in a way that makes poetry feel so accessible. The book even made me re-read a poem that I detested while studying at school and I ended up finding I really enjoyed it. The Point of Poetry is for everyone and I recommend it to anyone who has ever felt intimidated to read poetry or to write about it.

The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister + Stand Against Injustice by Michelle Diskin Bates

This pairing was a late edition to this post but I wanted to include it anyway. The Evidence Against You is a crime thriller that follows a young woman as her father is about to be released from prison. He was convicted of killing her mother but now he’s  protesting his innocence. She doesn’t know what to believe but she decides to try and find out what the truth is. A couple of weeks ago I read Stand Against Injustice which is about a terrible miscarriage of justice. Barry George was wrongfully convicted of murdering TV presenter Jill Dando and this book, written by Barry’s sister, explores what the family have been through over the last twenty years. It really gives an insight into what it is having a loved one in prison, and how much it takes to fight for justice. I highly recommend this one.

 

 

My Top Non-Fiction Reads from 2017!

My top fiction reads of-2

Today I’m sharing my top non-fiction books that I read in 2017! I posted my fiction favourites yesterday, which you can read here, and because I have read quite a lot of non-fiction over the last year it seemed fitting that it got its own list!

So, in no particular order here are the non-fiction books that I loved in 2017:

21051588

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while and finally picked it up towards the end of last year. I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long because once I picked it up I was engrossed until I finished reading the entire book. It’s a scary and fascinating story of a rare illness and how it affected her.

IMG_0029

The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson

This was my first ever Maggie Nelson book and it absolutely won’t be my last. Her writing is incredible and moving. This book is her exploration of her thoughts and feelings around the re-opening of the investigation into her aunt’s murder.

11482376

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

This book is described as being a biography of cancer and it’s fascinating! I put off reading it because I worried it would be very heavy but it actually wasn’t. I learnt things that I didn’t know and it was such a page turner of a book.

36368180

Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand with Decca Aitkenhead

This book has made my list because it was such an honest and open memoir about Rio’s grief over the loss of his wife. Later in the book he shares the things that really helped him through the darkest days and all the suggestions are excellent. I recommend this to anyone but particularly those who are grieving. You can read my full review here.

41oXT7KHouL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Just Kids by Patti Smith

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while and somehow never picked it up until 2017. I’m so glad that I finally got to it because I loved every second that I spent reading this book, it’s wonderful.

26220328._SY180_

Good Night and Good Riddance by David Cavanagh

This is a book containing a wide selection of John Peel’s radio shows. There are descriptions of the shows, parts of transcripts and short lists of the bands and singers he had on his show. I adored this book, it reminded me all over again how many artists I discovered through listening to John Peel.

22340465

It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice

This is another book that I put off reading for a long time because it felt like it might be a bit too close to home for me. I’m so glad that I finally read it because it’s a really moving and honest account of living with MND. It actually felt quite life-affirming and it’s a book I highly recommend.

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

This is a brilliant book that really does what it says on the cover. I read this in one sitting when I bought it and have since dipped in and out of it, it is a comfort and a solace to have this book to go back to as needed.

IMG_0229

Good as You by Paul Flynn

This is a non-fiction book that I bought and started reading immediately. I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a look over the last thirty years of homosexuality in Britain and it’s fascinating from beginning to end.

How to Survive a Plague- The Story of Activists and Scientists by David France

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This book took me a little while to read but it’s one that has really stayed with me. It’s a look at the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and is a really detailed account of how it was for people dying from AIDS alongside what was happening politically and medically. It’s a harrowing read but one that I highly recommend.

IMG_9880 (1)

I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

My list of non-fiction is roughly in no particular order but I have to be honest and admit that this book is my top non-fiction book of the entire year. I’m a massive Maggie O’Farrell fan so to read this book and find out more about her life was brilliant. There were things in this book that sent shivers down my spine because similar things have happened to me, and it really made me think. This is a book that I want to re-read this year, and I fully intend to keep on shouting from the rooftops about how amazing this book is and how everyone should read it!

I really enjoyed the non-fiction that I read in 2017 and am already looking forward to discovering lots more non-fiction in 2018. Have you got a non-fiction favourite from last year? Or any books you can recommend me? Here’s to a great reading year in 2018!

Life Update and a Weekly Wrap-Up!

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

It has been ages since I was blogging regularly and I can’t even remember the last time I posted a proper update. I have honoured my commitments to blog tours so they are the only things I’ve posted since early in the summer. I do want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has continued to read my blog, and to comment even when I’ve not been around, it really does mean a lot to me.

So some of you will know that a year ago I took the decision to start reducing my pain meds. I’d been on incredibly strong meds since before my diagnosis but my pain levels have remained high despite the meds. So I did a lot of research and the general consensus in the medical profession seemed to be that painkillers don’t really work for people with chronic pain like mine. I discussed things with my doctor and I started a reduction plan. It has been a rough year as every time I reduced I had a period of feeling very unwell with pain throughout my body but it would eventually settle again. A few weeks ago I finally got completely off my long-acting pain medication, which was a big achievement. I was still taking the short-acting morphine though so that was the next thing to tackle. I was meant to wean myself off it but I decided to go cold turkey. It was hell. It was worse than I was expecting, and I’d planned for it to be awful! My husband is a huge support to me and he got me through it. I’m now almost six weeks down the line and while I still don’t feel great, I do feel like my body is very gradually beginning to adjust. I am on a lower level pain medication now but I’m continuing to utilise all the things I’ve learnt in the last two years and hope that in time I can reduce these meds too. I will be in pain for the rest of my life because it’s just the nature of the damage done in my neck and spine but I really want to see if I can find a way to live with the pain rather than taking loads of painkillers.

As you can probably imagine, for a lot of the summer and into autumn my reading has tapered off quite a lot. I haven’t been able to concentrate very well, plus I’ve had a lot of headaches etc. This past week I treated myself to a book I’ve been so keen to read and I devoured it, and that made me happier than I can even put into words. My reading mojo feels like it’s on its way back as I’ve read quite a few books this week so I’m really hoping that this trend continues!

Now I’m reading closer to my normal level again I’ve felt like I want to get back to blogging but it’s been such a long, and unplanned for, break that I haven’t felt like I could just start. So I’m writing this weekly wrap-up and life update as a way of letting you all know what’s been happening with me and a way of just feeling my way back into the blogging world!

 

 

So without further ado, here are the books I’ve finished reading this week:

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

I got a review copy of this from NetGalley but also discovered the audio version on my subscription service so I part read and part listened to this. This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be but I flew through it because it had me engrossed from the very first chapter. I will write a full review of this on my blog soon.

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t really get on with this book, which is a shame because I was really keen to read it. I think the cover makes it seem like this is more of a graphic novel than it is, and also it doesn’t make it clear that this is a brief overview of queer theory. I’ve already studied queer theory as part of my degree so there was nothing new for me in here, but I’m not sure I’d even recommend it to someone who wanted to know more as it all felt very dry and it skimmed over lots of things and gave very little detail in my opinion.

Good as You: From Prejudice to Pride – 30 Years of Gay Britain by Paul Flynn

This is a book that I’ve wanted ever since I first heard it of it earlier this year and I finally treated myself to the lovely hardback this week. I’m so happy to say that this book is brilliant, I loved every minute that I spent reading this. This is a great non-fiction book because it’s informative but written in such an easy-to-read style. This is the book that I flew through over a couple of days… I highly recommend this one!

I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

I love the I Heart… books so when I saw a new one was coming out I was super excited to read it. I picked this up at a perfect time when I just needed a light-hearted read and I found I just couldn’t put it down. I read an ARC so I will be reviewing this one on my blog soon.

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages and it caught my eye on my bookshelf this week. I read it two sittings and found it to be such an open and honest exploration of her love for her daughter and grief at her loss. This is one of those books that I will re-read, and it’s certainly one that will stay with me.

 

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This book is so good! I love the way it’s a take on the sliding doors idea and takes the reader through two alternate realities of happened next in the aftermath of a terrible incident after a night out. I’ve been racing through this book because I just don’t want to put it down, and I’m so keen to find out how it will all turn out in the end.

Trust Me by Zosia Wand

I was thrilled to be sent a copy of this novel to review as it’s one I was aware of and was looking forward to reading. I’m really enjoying it so far and can’t wait to read more.

Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann

This is one of those books that I don’t really know what to say about it. When I’m reading it it has me engaged and wanting to know more but when I put it down the plot drifts away from me. I am enjoying it though and am keen to see where it’s going.

Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life by David Cavanagh

I’ve had this on my TBR for a little while now but I was keen to pick it up after listening to some of the highlights of John Peel’s radio shows during Radio 1’s recent 50th birthday weekend. I loved listening to John Peel over the years and still miss discovering new music via his recommendations. This book is a look at some of his shows and his relationship to the music and the artists. It’s easy to dip in and out of, but it’s also easy to lose and hour or two of time as you read and reminisce. I definitely recommend this one!

Aches and Gains: A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming Your Pain by Paul L. Christo

This is a non-fiction book about the different types of pain, and various conditions that cause pain; plus a look at the range of treatment options available. I’m finding it interesting, in particular where it relates to my own conditions. I’m reading an ARC so I will be reviewing this once I’ve finished reading it.

 


 

As you may remember I decided to track my TBR on my blog this year and have been showing the sums of how my TBR has increased or decreased over the course of this year. I’ve recently got rid of a stack of books and am in the process of sorting through my kindle books so my TBR numbers are a bit all over the place just now and I’ve lost track of it a bit. I do want to continue with following the state of my TBR but I’ve decided to put this to one side for the rest of this year and will start it again in 2018.

 

How has your week (or even the last few months) been for you? Have you read any good books recently? I’d love to catch up so please feel free to leave a link to your latest wrap-up in the comments below.