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Books I’ve read recently and loved

Books I’ve read recently and loved

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I’ve learned quite a lot from these past six months of travelling (I can’t believe it’s been six months since we left the UK!). I’ve learnt that spending time outside is extremely important to me, that powdered milk is a satisfactory alternative to real milk when you have no fridge, and that I love reading and should make more time for it.

I started off the trip by downloading a few books on my phone to read but I much, much prefer reading an actual book. It turns out I’m not alone in this. recently discovered that us bookish British are avid readers on their holidays and that we much prefer reading paperbacks on holiday over any other reading material. Despite the fact we no longer have to pay to use data abroad and are often confined to hand luggage on cheap flights we still prioritise putting a couple of paperbacks into our suitcase or picking up the hottest summer read at the airport (although apparently only 7% of us do the latter!).

Whilst I’ve bought a couple of books during our travels, since we’ve been in Vancouver I’ve been making the most of the library. The Vancouver libraries are pretty great and and it means I get to read any book i want for FREE. How’s that for budget travel?

Here are a few of my favourite summer reads this year. Have you read any of the ones below and do you prefer paperback or ebooks?

Pretty much everything ever written by Bill Bryson

When we were travelling across the US in our van I read a lot of books by Bill Bryson. I’d read The Road to Little Dribbling when it first came out and loved it. If you want a humorous look into the UK from the eyes on a foreigner read it for sure! Whilst in the US I thought I’d read some of the books by Bryson based in the States.

I started with A Walk in the Woods (probably my favourite) and also polished off Notes From a Big Country, The Lost Continent and The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt KidIf you opt for Notes From A Big Country then be aware that some of the materials from the books is repeated in this collection of columns written for The Mail on Sunday. Having said that Notes From A Big Country acts as a great introduction if you’re new to Bryson – you’ll quickly see why he’s one of the most well known and popular travel writers. His observations are always hilarious and on point!

Born to Run, Christopher McDougall

I absolutely LOVED this book. Sure, it probably helps that I’m trying to get into running at the moment, but I think even if you hate running you won’t be able to help but find this book interesting.

The book takes a look at the mysterious Tarahumara tribe who live in the Mexican canyons. They’re reputed to be the best distance runners in the world; in 1993, one of them, aged 57, came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing a toga and sandals!

The book makes you question everything you thought you knew about running as you learn about the tribe and read different views about the science of running. By the end it even had me wanting to try out an ultra marathon (I don’t think I ever would, but I’m definitely not as opposed to the idea as I once was!).

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari

Thom was pretty surprised when I said I had just picked up a copy of Sapiens (before this I’d been reading only travel books!). It’s definitely not the type of book I’d usually pick up. It’s not exactly easy reading, you need to be concentrating but it’s endlessly fascinating, that’s for sure! And whilst there’s still a lot in the book that’s up for debate, finding out a bit more about where we ‘humans’ come from and how the things we take for granted, like money, were created is so interesting!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain

If you’re even slightly introverted and have wondered why what it is that makes you different you’ll find Quiet a very interesting read. I (like a lot of bloggers) am pretty introverted sure I’m fine if I’m in a small group, but put me in a big group and I’ll often struggle to speak up.

Cain shows how the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts differs, and how society misunderstands and undervalues introverts. She gives introverts the tools to better understand themselves and take full advantage of their strengths and you’re definitely come away having learnt something!

His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet

This book was in the shortlist for last year’s Man Booker Prize which goes some way to explaining what an interesting read it is. Each year I try to read every book on the shortlist. They’re often a bit strange, but they’re always a good read.

In His Bloody Project you follow the real life trial of Roderick Macrae. Macrae brutally murdered three people and whilst there’s no doubt of his guilt, the question of his sanity remains. Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. It’ll leave you questioning how you can ever know the truth in this fascinating read.

All that Man is, David Szalay

I’ve almost finished this book and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s pretty much the only true fiction book I’ve read recently and was also on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize.

The book features short stories on various men all over Europe at different stages in their lives. You start with some teenagers inter-railing around Italy, get an insight into the lives of married men and men in their old age. Whilst most of the stories seem to be about how obsessed men are with chasing women (seriously I think that theme features in every story I’ve read so far…) All that Man is is an easy, enjoyable summer read.

Other good summer reads I’ve finished recently to add to your list:

  • The Sellout, Paul Beatty: Whilst a good read I’m not sure this would have been my winner of the Man Booker Prize last year. The main character sets out to reintroduce discrimination against black people in the small town he lives in in order to put it back on the map
  • Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer: An interesting look into the meat industry and farming in America. It’ll really make you think about the dodgy standards and the environmental and health impacts of the meat industry on everyone and everything
  • Hot Milk, Deborah Levy: An interesting book about a 20-something who is forced to confront her difficult relationship with her mother and find out more about herself in the process
  • The Handmaid’s Tale: Margaret Atwood My Mum told me about the TV show and so I read the book first. The TV show has pretty much nothing to do with the book apart from the basic idea but they’re both pretty good!

What have you been reading this summer?