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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Weekly Wrap-Up (19 Nov)!

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I want to start this post by saying a huge thank you to everyone who visits my blog, and especially to this who have commented recently. I’m aware that I’m slow to respond at the moment, and also that I’m not managing to comment on as many of your blogs as I’d like to, but I will get there. Please know that even when it takes me a while I respond, I do very much appreciate every comment.

This week has been quite quiet as I’ve not been feeling great. I have got a lot of reading done though, which has been lovely. I’ve been seeking escapism in books as I have another round of medical appointments and tests coming up and I don’t want to think about those until I have to.

Last night my husband and I curled up and watched The Deer Hunter, which we haven’t seen in a few years. It was so nice to just relax and watch a film together but it doesn’t matter how many times you see this film, it’s never not heartbreaking.

 

This week I’ve finished reading seven books:

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

This is a book that I was going to put on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR and then forgot about! I spotted it this week and was just in the mood to read it so decided to go ahead anyway. I read it in two sittings and found it such a fascinating insight into what goes on in Wall Street.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I really enjoyed reading this book! I read it a chapter or two at a time throughout the week in between other books and it really worked for me like that. If I’m to be completely honest I did find the author a bit irritating and she didn’t seem to have much of a concept of how lucky she was but, having said that, I loved reading about the lifestyle in Denmark and it has made me want to move there! I’d still recommend the book too.

Whatever… Love is Love by Maria Bello

This is another non-fiction book that wasn’t on my TBR for this month but it caught my eye amongst my audio books. It was an interesting listen, and some parts were thought-provoking but I don’t think it’s a book that will really stick with me.

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

This is a novel that I read this week as I was in need of some escapism and non-fiction wasn’t giving me that so instead I picked up this book, which I owned before this year so it’s another one that counts towards my Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads. I enjoyed this thriller, it kept me interested all the way through and I’ll definitely pick up Sam’s next book, Bad Sister.

Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)

This is such a powerful book about Rio’s grief after the death of his wife. I found it to be a really honest and moving book. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read more of my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

This was the other novel that I read this week when needing some escapism. I really enjoyed this book – I do love Lucy Clarke’s writing.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a very short book that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and I’m glad I finally got to it. It’s one of those books that makes you think about your own thoughts and ideas about things.

 

This week I’ve blogged three times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I just started this book yesterday but it’s already got me engrossed. I don’t think it’ll take me very long to read this. I’m expecting it to be quite harrowing at times but I’ve seen so many people recommend it that I have to read it.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon and Mary Phelan

This is letters between Catherine and Mary in 1984 – the year they leave school and one goes on to further study and the other goes to France to be an au pair. I’m so enjoying this one, it’s wonderful.

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

This is a really interesting look at Coco Chanel’s life and I’m really enjoying it. My copy of the book is physically very heavy so I’ll be quite slow to read this but it’s such a treat every time I pick it up.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week but I will be getting back to it soon as I was finding it really interesting.


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

#BookReview: Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand @HodderBooks @rioferdy5

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About the Book

‘When Rebecca died, the idea that one day I might begin to feel better would have struck me as laughable … I know how persuasive this kind of permanence thinking can be.

I know too that anyone locked in its grip will laugh if I promise them that their pain will one day ease. It will. Of course it will. But I know better than to expect anyone to believe me.’

In 2015, former England football star Rio Ferdinand suddenly and tragically lost his wife and soulmate Rebecca, aged 34, to cancer. It was a profound shock and Rio found himself struggling to cope not just with the pain of his grief, but also with his new role as both mum and dad to their three young children.

Rio’s BBC1 documentary, Being Mum and Dad, touched everyone who watched it and won huge praise for the honesty and bravery he showed in talking about his emotions and experiences. His book now shares the story of meeting, marrying and losing Rebecca, his own and the family’s grief – as well as the advice and support that get him through each day as they strive to piece themselves back together. Thinking Out Loud is written in the hope that he can inspire others struggling with loss and grief to find the help they need through this most difficult of times.

This book has been written by Rio Ferdinand with help from Decca Aitkenhead.

My Thoughts

A couple of years ago I wrote a list for Riffle of books that helped me through the grief I felt after my mum died (which you can find here if you’d like to read it). The loss of my mum changed me in so many ways and I find that I’m still drawn to books where other people have worked through their own grief. Thinking Out Loud is a book that I’ve been interested in ever since I first heard about it and I finally picked up a copy last week. If I were to re-write my list, Thinking Out Loud would definitely be on it.

Thinking Out Loud is such an incredibly open and honest account of Rio Ferdinand’s grief after losing his wife Rebecca. After her death he suddenly found himself in sole charge of their three children and had to not only work out how to run a household but, more importantly,  he had to figure out how best to help his three young children through their grief and he is so open about how he struggled to know what to do. Each of his children outwardly reacted differently and Rio is very candid in sharing how he just didn’t know how he could help them whilst desperately wanting to help them through it.

Rio is very honest in this book and fully admits that he was in denial about his wife’s illness, that he buried his head in the sand and he explores why he did that. He also shares how some of the things that happened were seemingly lost from his memory, that he genuinely couldn’t remember how things had happened. I can understand that – it’s like your brain just can’t cope with the horror of what is happening and it seems to shut down.

In the book we get to hear a bit about Rio’s childhood, and then how he met Rebecca along with the story of their relationship. Rio wasn’t brought up in an environment where feelings were spoken about and then he became a professional footballer at a young age and his mindset became very focused on how to win, how to move on from failure without dwelling on it. He is very candid in the book and on looking back he sees that he perhaps wasn’t always the easiest person to live with and how he wishes he had listened to Rebecca more. Guilt is something that Rio keeps coming back to as the book goes on and I could really identify with that. I think it’s really common to feel guilt when a loved one dies, we always feel like we could have done more or been better. I appreciate when someone is so honest about it, like Rio is in this book, as it will help others to understand their own feelings.

As Rio was making his documentary for the BBC, Being Mum and Dad, he got to speak with other widowers and some of their stories are featured in this book. It was heartbreaking to read those stories and to see how much their wives still meant to them but it was also lovely to read of the men who had eventually gone on to find new relationships.

Rio acknowledges at the start of this book that he realises that some people will want to read his whole story but others will just want, or need, the advice that he has to give so he tells readers they can skip to a later chapter where it’s more about what he’s learnt, which I think is brilliant. These later chapters have such great wisdom in them about things that might help, and all the advice is spot on. I used to take a notebook to my mum’s oncology appointments but having a friend there who could do all the listening and the note-taking would have made things so much easier. I also completely agree that however hard it is for you, it’s really important to let your loved one speak of their wishes as they come towards the end of their life. I know that listening to my mum talk of what she wanted at her funeral broke my heart but after she died I was so glad that I could do that one last thing for her exactly as she’d wanted it. Rio is right – as difficult as it is – we all need to learn to be better at talking about death.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, and especially to people who are looking after a terminally ill loved one and people who are grieving. I cried a lot when I was reading this book but by the end the tears were healing tears. This is one of those books that will really stay with me, and one I will re-read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thinking Out Loud is out now!

 

About the Author

Rio Ferdinand is a former England footballer who also played football for Manchester United during Sir Alex Ferguson’s time as manager. Rio played 81 times for England and in 3 World Cups, and is one of the most decorated footballers of all time.

He had his first son with Rebecca in 2006 and they married in 2009, going on to have two more children before her death in May 2015 from cancer.

Rio is now a TV football pundit for BT Sport and as well as his BBC documentary on bereavement, Being Mum and Dad, has made a short Heads Together charity film with Prince Harry on mental health. He is also working alongside Child Bereavement and Jigsaw.

(Bio taken from: Hodder.co.uk)

WWW Wednesdays (15 Nov)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now:

Coco Chanel:The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

This gorgeous book was a Christmas gift from my husband seven years ago! I’m horrified that I somehow haven’t picked it up until now but better late than never and I am thoroughly enjoying this book. It’s a beautifully published book with lots of great photos throughout.

Whatever… Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves by Maria Bello

This wasn’t on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR but it is non-fiction so it still counts. I have the ebook but I was looking for an audio book and spotted it so decided to part listen and part read it. It’s an easy book to listen to so I’m glad I picked it up.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I’m about half-way through this now and am really enjoying it. I love the way it’s a personal story with facts weaved in throughout.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

I’m still finding this book eye-opening and interesting but my reading of it has slowed a little as I’ve been in need of lighter/easier reads over the last week.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

So, I broke my own #NonFictionNovember2017 rule to only read non-fiction this month as I just needed the pure escapism that I can get lost in for a while and so I turned to fiction. This was a fast-paced thriller and definitely got me out of my own head for a while.

Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand and Decca Aikenhead

This book wasn’t on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR either but it is non-fiction so that’s okay. I’ve been interested in reading this for a while so when I spotted it on the read now part of NetGalley the other day I immediately downloaded it. It’s a very moving book and I’m glad I read it. I hope to get my review finished and posted later this week.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

This is the other novel that I read this week and I really enjoyed this one. I’m a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing and it’s always great to get engrossed in one of her novels. I really enjoyed this one.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is another book that isn’t on my November TBR but this is one I’ve wanted to read since it came out and so I finally picked it up yesterday. It’s a really interesting book and one that makes you think. I recommend it.

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

This book was wonderful! I loved reading about John Peel’s radio shows and being reminded of just how brilliant he was. I felt really quite sad when I turned the last page of this and I’m missing having it to dip in and out of. I highly recommend this one.

The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddharta Mukherjee

This is such a fascinating read! It’a long book and yet I seemed to fly through it – it’s written in such an accessible way and I very much enjoyed it.

What I plan on reading next:

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon & May Phelan

I’ve had this book on my TBR for ages and every time I see it I’m reminded of how much I want to read it because I know I’ll love it. So, I’m listing it here and hope I get a chance to read it in the coming week.

Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton

I was huge fan of Queen and can still remember hearing that Freddie Mercury had died. I’m always keen to read biographies of artists I’m a fan of so I hope to pick this book up this week.

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

I’ve wanted to read this for a while too but it’s one of those books where I feel I’ll get the most out of it if I pick it up at the right time. I’m really drawn to it at the moment and given my current mood I think now might be the time so I intend to start this once I’ve finished one of my current reads.

 


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Which books are you looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.