January 2017 Book Reviews

Last year my New [Birthday] Year ‘resolutions’ included reading 100 books in the year.

I didn’t achieve this goal.

I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I failed to hit the target was a lack of accountability/regular reviews. So, here’s my attempt at doing a better job this year with a reduced target of one book per week…

January Book Reviews:

When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi

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5/5. Grab a tissue! Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT near the end of this book on a plane full of strangers without a pack of tissues nearby. My sleeve became my handkerchief and, as for privacy, there was none.

I tried to weep quietly, but my travel companion Sandra looked across in a mix of shock, incredulity, and deep concern. ‘It’s the book. It’s so sad. It’s got to the part where he dies.’ She nods with a sympathetic smile and I return to my book of tears.

I don’t know what I expected really. A book where the author writes the story of his end days as he – Paul – is ravaged by an incurable cancer. Don’t read this on a plane full of strangers!

Paul’s hurried autobiography recounts his life from high-achieving child to an inspirational neurosurgeon-writer; a rare breed, I imagine! He shares all with a great truth and vulnerability.

I am stuck between grief and celebration for Paul, for the struggle and challenges, for his determination and ability to achieve so much in such a short life, for the family he left behind, and for the sheer bad luck; the tragic twist of fate that brought him face-to-face with death when he still had so much to bring to the world. But mostly, I am inspired and encouraged by Paul’s strength, his kindness to share his story, and his clarity of focus even up to his last breath.

Paul’s decision to look death in the eye was a testament not just to who he was in the final hours of his life, but who he had always been.’ – Epilogue, Lucy Kalinithi – Paul’s wife.

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1984 by George Orwell

3.5/5. A piece of classic literature, so ripe for study and dissection because of its socio-political and philosophical nature, that it is included on the current GCSE Exam Syllabus in the UK as something every teen should read. I, personally, plucked this book suggestion from Sir Richard Branson’s recommended reading list.

Where do I even start? Winston, the protagonist, seems to be the only self-aware individual in a country filled with mindless, foolish drones – not literally (they’re human). The state controls everything. The ‘thought police’ will apparently lock you up or even kill you if you act, think or feel contrary to the will of ‘Big Brother’. Seemingly natural thoughts, acts and emotions are slowly being wiped out from human consciousness through ‘double-think’ and completely immoral (according to our contemporary standards of morality) media control tactics.

1984 still gives me day-terrors at random intervals – generally when I’m driving and my thoughts drift. [Shudders]. The unnerving part of reading this book were the thoughts that continually popped into my mind: ‘Is this happening?’ ‘Could this ever happen?’ ‘I’m pretty sure there are still parts of the world – and there certainly were in Orwell’s time – that submitted to a similar system of rule.

How would you behave in a world where almost every ‘natural’ emotion, act, word and thought is illegal and punishable by death?

Why the low score? Disappointing resolution (or lack of), in my opinion! Have you already read this book? What do you think about Orwell’s decision to end it the way he did?

Endure by Ian Warner

Filled with personal stories of endurance from athletes within the US and Canadian collegiate system right through to athletes at international and Olympic level. I particularly enjoyed Part 1, which focused on what the Holy Bible says about endurance, overcoming and fulfilling our purpose in God by doing everything to and for His glory.

Ian Warner is a personal friend of mine with an inspiring, good-natured, and determined attitude. Grab his book here.

Serving Crazy with Curry by Amulya Maladi

4.5/5. A total chick-flick! This book was silly and light-hearted despite the heavy, somewhat dark plot of a failed attempted suicide, family betrayal, lack-lustre love, lies and culture clashes. This darkness in fact serves to balance the positively-exaggerated personalities of some of the characters.

Devi’s mum is my least favourite character. Her personality bordered on ridiculous; she was portrayed as a petulant, uneducated child for the entirety of the book. Do adult women like her exist in reality?

Despite the negatives, I read this book in a day, t’was an easy read, and it had me giggling in parts so pick it up and let me know what you think!


Check out my other book reviews here!

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