February 06, 2015

The year in books

You can probably tell by this photo of our sitting room coffee table that I am a bit of a bookworm? It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that the house is beginning to groan under the weight of so many books everywhere! So, I'm very happy to be joining in The Circle Of Pines Blog's The Year in Books project - hopefully it will help ensure I actually read a few more of them, life so often seems to get in the way! And also find some wonderful new books, (and bookworms!), along the way.

My January book was, What the **** is normal by Francesca Martinez. As a mum of four including a girl in her teens, I am especially aware of how pressurizing and cruel society can be with its media-driven expectations and braying celebrity culture, especially to girls struggling to bridge the gap between childhood and womanhood. I wish every single teenager would grab and read this funny, engaging and moving account of Francesa's growing up, finding her way to accepting exactly who she is, wobbles and all.

She has the stand up comedian's gift for observation and wit, the prose is easy to read and yet bangs the nail on the head time after time. Lifting the lid on today's skewed demands for perfection and exploring what it actually feels like to work through, and then come out the other side of never feeling good enough, I really wish this was on the secondary school curriculum somewhere! If you know a teenage girl, or boy for that matter, who feels a bit crushed by their experiences with peers, I would definitely recommend this book for them.

Biographies can often seem a bit indulgent and inane, but Francesca manages to address important enough issues, and be funny enough to escape those dull twin traps. This was one of my favourite passages:

"I had spent years accepting other people's definitions of me and doing so had filled me with shame and negativity. All my life I'd hated saying 'I've got cerebral palsy.' And now I realised that I never had to say it again. I was just Francesca and Francesca was wobbly. My neighbours kids had called me wobbly years ago and I loved it. It was accurate and non-judgemental and cool. I hadn't realised that I could choose how to view myself. I hadn't even realised that, somewhere along the way, I had given that vital power away - the only power I possessed - and I had given it away without even knowing". 

My book for February is, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I will let you know how I got on with it next month. I can't think of a nicer way to while away some chilly February hours, curled up by the fire with a mug of tea or a glass of wine and a chunky historical novel - bring it on!


  1. The Francesca Martinez book sounds very good and I think a lot of teenagers would get something out of reading it. I have seen the Miniaturist on the book shelf but not picked up a copy yet. I think it may be one that will find it's way onto my bookshelf sometime soon.

  2. My home is filled with books and 19 bookcases.

    I like it that way.

  3. Both of those are on my reading list! Love your coffee table and its books. I have to say it looks considerably cooler and tidier than mine does!

  4. Another popping up to say how elegant your piles of books look ... mine are strewn all over sidetables and there's another tide of books in both my studio and the study. I really enjoyed The Year in Books but let it slip in the closing months of last year. Time to join in again I think. And happy reading :o)