Books I’ve Loved Lately

The pandemic really reignited my love for reading and I’ve been trying to keep it up while the world has been opening back up. I have been keeping a log of everything that I’ve read this year, and will probably do a round up or ‘best of’ post at the end of the year, but for now I thought I’d just let you know about a couple that I have really loved.

No Shame, Tom Allen

This book was hilarious. Just all out amazing-greatness-hilariousness. Now Tom Allen is pretty new to me. Having seen him on a programme last Christmas and cried with laughter multiple times, I loved him so much and had to see more of him. I then heard him on a few of the podcasts me and my Bearded-Boyfriend listen to, and just became so smitten with all things Tom Allen.

Now if you don’t know who Tom Allen is, I urge you to google or search him on YouTube. He is not your average male. He is dapper. In his uniform of three piece suits he is always put together like something you’d see on men in photos from the roaring twenties not in suburban London. This book is a very frank memoir with the chapters serving as vignettes of parts of his life, especially those from his early life and when he was coming to age.

When I was 16 I dressed in Victorian clothing in a bid to distract people from the fact that I was gay. It was a flawed plan.

Tom Allen

The book is sectioned into chapters which are labelled Driving, Working, etc; all of which come in heavy with the anecdotes. They are witty and sharp, honest and hysterical but also heartbreaking at times. He bears all in this book, even writing it in a fast and personable way rather than mimicking the narration style of some academic scholar with long-winded accounts. It’s a very accessible book to read or listen to -I actually downloaded it on audible too after I heard a sample of him narrating it himself. While I do highly recommend getting your hands on a couple, the audiobook just brings so much more colour to it. The timing of which he narrates it and accents he puts on just adds so much to the experience.

Intimations: Six Essays, Zadie Smith

This little book is a collection of essays from a pretty hefty time in history. I wouldn’t call them essays, more so reflections or vignettes of a moment in time. They all relate to the beginning and surge of Covid and how we, humanity as a whole, got through some of that. Smith explores some of the mundanity of life and the stillness most of us were engulfed in. While the humdrum subject matters in here seem wearisome, Smith details them in such an intimately powerful way. She muses about the unprecedented events in a way that now on (somewhat) the other side of them, gives the reader a lot to think about and reflect on.

What I’ve tried to do is organise some of the feelings and thoughts that events, so far, have provoked in me, in those scraps of time the year itself has allowed

Zadie Smith, 31 May 2020

I enjoyed this book so much. I must say this was my first book I had read by Zadie Smith on the recommendation of a friend. It was a welcome reprieve from a lot of anxiety and uncertainty as the covid statistics started to rise over winter. It is also the perfect little size to fit in my bag and for that reason it came everywhere with me; I often found myself dipping in and out of it for a moment of calm. I would recommend this for any reader, not just for the moments of reflection but also just for posterity. I now have a small collection of books that have come out post-covid that I will definitely refer back to when I’m talking about covid; this being one of them.

Within these four walls, mindfully Evie

This book is not necessarily one piece of work but rather a collection of eloquent pieces of poetry, prose, letters and journal entries tied together beautifully around the theme of self-discovery, healing and growth. They exude a resilience that I think really speaks to a lot of people like myself who suffer from chronic illnesses, which I would say is the central topic of this book. As the author herself puts it;

Spanning over nearly three years this book is a testament to my time being housebound and proof that despite all the suffering, there is always happiness to be created, peace to be unearthed, and a life to be live‘.

The books has three sections to it: The Storm, The Aftermath and The Calm. It also has an extra chapter called A Conversation with Wisdom. Each section holds such a selection of writing, from the wisdom in some pieces to the thoughtful and reflective pieces in another; all oozing powerful emotions in such an articulate way.

Now, I did really love this book but I will say that this is definitely one you pick up every so often and I wouldn’t recommend reading it all at once like other poetry collections I’ve read in the past. As I type this, I do wonder whether this is purely because of my own emotional and physical journey with my chronic health or if the pieces would stick with someone else in the same way. What I mean by this is, sometimes Evie’s words were too close to home for me and transported me back to darker times which were much harder for me to handle and live through. Literature has always been an enjoyable escape for me but sometimes the pieces would strike a cord and, while they did illustrate how I felt at times so eloquently, they also at times were too potent or vivid. Having said this, I do think this is a wonderful collection of work and I cannot recommend it enough to those looking to understand the lives and journey of those who suffer from chronic illnesses. It really serves well as a looking-glass into the realm of a Spoonie’s journey. Mindfully Evie also has another book newly released called Everything is Always Changing. I haven’t got my hands on this book as of yet but it’s sitting pretty on my list of books to buy so stay tuned!

Thats about it for now but keep an eye out for my bookish content coming soon – I’ve been rather busy on the book front lately so there’s lots to come.

Cheerio for now!

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