the best kind of paper

My first memories of reading were in primary school where you’d have those cardboard reader covers with elastic running through the centre fold that you tucked your chosen book into and your parents signed the piece of paper in the back to show you read each night. Reading was a requirement of school and that’s all I saw it as. It never interested me beyond that. The first book I ever read cover to cover was Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Prior to that, I started plenty but never finished. Through high school, it didn’t change. I would never read the whole book, just enough so I could pass the written test and participate in conversation. 

I only got into reading a few years ago. I wouldn’t even say I have a genre that I really gravitate to. All I can say is I never pick up sci-fi, war stories or anything that seems too far removed from reality. I like things I can relate to. I’ve read plenty of books that were made into movies, the book is always better, but the one thing for certain is that unlike my earlier years, now I feel a bit disconnected when I don’t have a book on the go.

 I’ve always had a bookshelf but it was filled with some purchases by me, others gifted or passed on. Mostly though, it is filled with cookbooks.  I love cookbooks. I have close to sixty and I just think it’s something I will never stop buying. I’m a foodie and they’re my guilty pleasure. When I moved last February, I cleared out my books. I only kept anything that mattered to me. I want my book collection to be personal. I want a library one day in my home. And when I say library, I mean a wall dedicated to books. Four walls would be great but one will do. I’m not into e-books or kindles. I want to feel each page. Highlight parts that mean something to me. Write notes about what was going through my head. It makes me sad to think that we are headed for a world that, one day, will be completely digital. 

2015 proved to be my biggest reading year yet. It might not be a lot compared to seasoned readers lists but up until last year, I read perhaps 3 books per year. So, if you’re interested in some new reads, check out what I opened my mind up to last year. Some of them changed the way I live my life in the most profound ways. 

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

One for the ages, translated into at least 67 languages and has sold more than 65 million copies, dubbed one of the best-selling books in history. My husband was told to read this by a stranger her met. It sat on my bookshelf for a few years before I picked it up, the timing was perfect. 

Toy Soldiers, Stephen Thompson

A debut novel based on the authors own experiences of life growing up in Hackney. Crime, drugs and a broken home, it’s painful to think this is how many people spend their lives without the prospect of change or escape. 

Adultery, Paulo Coelho

Described as a book about discovering who you are, where you are going and what matters to you most. A quote from this book summed up my 2015, ‘I cannot say I’m going to miss these last 365 days. The wind blew, lightening struck, and the sea nearly capsized my boat, but in the end I managed to cross the ocean and reach dry land.’ 

A Million Little Pieces, James Frey

I first heard about this on Oprah and a storm of controversy followed. Regardless, the novel is raw and you feel everything reading it. Especially if you have lived a life affected by addiction in any form. 

My Friend Leonard, James Frey

The sequel to A Million Little Pieces, which does not disappoint. I think everyone needs a friend like Leonard in his or her life. 

Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon

My creativity piqued when reading this gift from my sister. It gave me the nudge I needed to finally get my words out there and start this blog. I then sent a copy to one of my best friends, passing on the gift on inspiration it was to me. 

Daring Greatly, Brene Brown

My psychologist recommended this to me with a warning that it changed her life. I took it away with me on my first yoga retreat and change my life it did. A book about wholehearted living from a woman who pulls no punches about the highs and lows she has faced in her own life. She achieves total connection and by the end of it, she feels like your friend.  

The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown

This came as a must read after Daring Greatly. I’ve forever been a perfectionist and it’s affected my life in a negative way. Taking a leaf from Brene’s book, I now follow her philosophy that “I am a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good enoughist.”