book · book review · Uncategorized

What I Have Been Reading

I’ve been super busy and have not had much time to blog but I have been spending a lot of time reading so here’s my thoughts on some of the books that have filled my time recently:

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Recommended for: people who love dystopian novels

The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of a society in which a military dictatorship rules. We hear about this from the point of view of a woman known as Offred. She discusses details of what life was like before the Republic of Gilead was formed which lies in stark contrast to how things are now. In this society, fertility of women is of huge importance. Handmaid’s have the responsibility to get pregnant by a Commander and the baby is handed over to the Commander’s wife.

It took me a while to get into this book but once I did, I was hooked. Some parts of the story are very unsettling which is understandable considering the nature of this place in which Offred is living. She is part of the generation of women who still remembers what it was like before everything changed. This generation therefore, is sometimes known to rebel.

It’s a really interesting concept and take on society; a comment on the oppression of women who are not allowed to exist outside their household in Gilead. Women’s bodies are used for politics. Atwood explores what would happen if the oppressive views about women were to be put into law and practice.

Yes, Please – Amy Poehler

Recommended for: fans of Amy Poehler

This was a book that I did not feel desperate to read but wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I like Amy Poehler, I think she’s really funny and a good representation of a strong woman in an industry full of men. ‘Yes, Please’ is full of personal stories, life advice and funny bits.

It’s written how one would expect Poehler to talk; an informal and funny read. I would not say that there are any stand out parts but it did make me smile. However, it does at times, seem a bit jumbled and not entirely coherent.

I think perhaps this is a book suited to those who absolutely love Amy Poehler. If you don’t then this is probably not for you.

Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Recommended for: lovers of books, people who enjoy dystopian novels

Another dystopian novel I have read recently was ‘Farenheit 451.’ The name refers to the temperature at which books in this story are said to burn. Bradbury describes a world in which firemen have a job very different to how we know them – they are hired to burn books.

The story follows Guy Montag, a fireman who becomes curious about what is inside all of the books he is burning. This curiosity results in him questioning everything around him and getting frustrated when those around him just accept things as they are. Why burn books? The increasing pace of life left books being shortened until they were no longer seen as necessary, the material in them often being seen as controversial or outdated.

I really enjoyed this book because the concept is not completely out of the realm of possibility. We all know about censorship, the Nazi book burnings and such. This leaves one wondering if one day governments will decide to rid the world of books to aid their control over society. It is pretty fast paced and an unsettling read but that’s what makes it so good and adds to the plot.

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Recommended for: carers, people interested in moral dilemmas

I do not want to write too much about this book as it would be easy to give away a twist which feels very important to experience on your own. So bear that in mind.

Lou is the main narrator, we go through all the ups and downs with her, she is a very lovable character. Set in recession Britain, Moyes looks at job loss and money struggles as a theme throughout the book. Lou eventually starts a job as a carer for Will who is a quadriplegic after getting hit by a motorcycle.

The story follows Lou’s difficulties in this role she has never had before. This was something I could relate to having gone into mental health support work with no experience of it. The uncertainty and problems that come up are fairly accurate to what it is really like having to care for someone.

We learn more about Lou’s and Will’s individual past and what has shaped them into the people they are. Their relationship is full of ups and downs which are presented in a heart wrenching way.

Lou was hired by Will’s mother for a particular reason and when Lou finds out about this, she has a big decision to make. The moral dilemma dealt with in this book is one which a lot of people have had to struggle with and Moyes writes about it with great understanding and compassion.

A film based on the book is due to be released soon, I would highly recommend reading this before the film comes out and there are story spoilers everywhere. You may also appreciate having some tissues nearby for the last 100 or so pages because there will be tears.

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story – Ned Vizzini

Recommended for: parents who have children with depression

Vizzini is well equipped to have written this as he was inspired by his own stay in a psychiatric hospital for depression. I guess it is kind of a modern day ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

The story is told by Craig, a teenager with depression. One night, he decides he wants to kill himself but makes the brave decision to call a suicide hotline and is eventually admitted to hospital for treatment. Craig meets some interesting characters in the hospital and also learns a lot about himself.

This is a pretty accurate representation of psychiatric hospitals and of having depression as a teenager. I liked this book because it focused on Craig finding an ‘Anchor,’ something to keep him grounded and keep him living. Vizzini addresses the wide use of medication for treating depression and the importance at looking for alternatives.

There is already a film based on this book which I haven’t seen and do not really have any desire to. I’d suggest reading this if you want to learn more about living with depression or have an interest in mental health.

Currently reading: Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

What were your thoughts on these books? Do you have any recommendations for me? 


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