Best books: Winter 2015

My goal is to read fifty books this year, and so far I’ve read twelve in three months. Almost on pace! Listed in this post are the ones I’ve enjoyed the most.

Non-fiction

On Writing, Stephen King

On Writing

This book is part biography, and part inspiration/kick-in-the-pants. The first half is short vignettes about Stephen’s early career (including a vivid description of him writing with a typewriter on his lap, next to a laundry machine, in his home trailer). The second half is tips, how-to’s, and addressing all the excuses that hold writers back.

I re-read parts of this book, and loved it for the writing inspiration. It’s now one of my favourite books about writing.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield is a Canadian icon, and his leadership, determination, and humility is truly inspiring. In this book, Chris writes about his journey getting to space and his recent experience as commander of the ISS. His laser focus on his goal to get to space, yet being able to stop and enjoy everything along the way is amazing.

This is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read, and Hadfield is up there as one of my heroes!

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, Oliver Burkeman

The Anti-dote

This is a book that questions traditional self-help. Each chapter covers a different idea such as: thinking about the worst-case scenario, practicing meditation, facing fears, pondering death, and accepting failure. The author immersed himself in the concepts which makes it a book that mixes personal stories with research and philosophy.

It’s a book I wanted to read slowly and reflect on, but the stories are so interesting that I got through it pretty quickly. It’s one I’d read again as reminders of how to live a full, happy life.

Fiction

The Radleys, Matt Haig

The Radleys

I really enjoyed The Humans by Matt Haig which is about an alien who loves math and poetry, and is trying to fit in and adapt to life on earth. I decided to read earlier novels by Matt Haig, and while I didn’t enjoy them as much as the Humans, The Radleys was a fun read that I whipped through in two days. Instead of aliens, it’s about vampires who are trying to suppress their urges and adapt to a suburban British lifestyle.

Vampires in hiding, Britain, and a talented writer – what more do you need?!

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project

I got this recommendation from Bill Gates’ list of favourite books. It didn’t disappoint! It’s about Don Tillman, a professor of genetics who approaches his life as a series of experiments. He starts a quest to see if he can find a woman to love, which he calls the Wife Project. He meets Rosie, who has her own quirks, and they go on a journey to figure out who her father really is – the Father Project.

It’s a great book, and reminds me of the simple joys of being in love.

The Children of Men, P.D. James

Children of Men

I’m always entertained by P.D. James’ books and her ability to build suspense in her murder mystery novels, especially the Adam Dalgliesh series. This one is a bit different – it’s about a dystopian future where the human race has stopped reproducing all of a sudden, and the last generation is in now in their twenties.

This book has the suspense, drama, and essential British-ness that P.D. James is famous for, but in a futuristic novel. If you like The Handsmaid’s Tale, 1984, and books like that, then this one is for you.

How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran

How to Build a Girl

I read this one for a book club. It’s not one I would normally pick up – I try to forget about my teenage years for the most part – but I’m glad I stuck with it. It’s told from the perspective of Johanna, a teenage girl growing up in the early nineties. She’s trying to find herself, and after a series of stumbles, re-invents herself as a music writer for a magazine. She leaves school, and by the time she’s 16, she’s partying, doing drugs, drinking all day, having sex with different men, and generally being the crazy teenager that as a parent, you hope you never have to deal with.

It’s the modern coming-of-age story about discovering who you are, and learning from your choices. Moran combines shock-value with humour which creates a fun story.

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