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Reading list: 12 books to relight your reading fire #cbias

Reading List: cbias header

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Hello, my name is Helen Neale and I am a recovering librarian


Right, I said it…I am a trained librarian. However, I don’t actually read much anymore. A cardinal sin.

Something happened about eight years ago that affected my ability to sit still long enough to pick up a book, and to relax sufficiently to read it. I seem to be more concerned with making sure that:

a) My kids don’t maim each other

b) My kids enjoy reading

c) I know what everyone else is reading by checking Facebook all the time, and

d) I am getting more sleep than all my Facebook friends. Parenting creates this obsession with how much sleep you are getting right… *hope that isn’t just me*

But NO MORE…my 2014 resolution (if I actually made them) is to make sure that I actually read books again.

You can see from the bedside table in my picture above that I have had other things on my mind, things that are pushing my reading into about last place in the long list of stuff for Helen to do; craft, reading to the kids, the latest soft toy…in fact, the last time I read more than one book in a week my daughter looked like this…

Reading list: My daughter then

She now looks like this…

Reading List: My daughter now

Still quite excitable you see; from two hours old to eight years old, she didn’t change much, right?

I read ALL the Harry Potty books when I was breastfeeding her. *Careful spoiler coming…*

It was rather peculiar weeping over my daughter’s head as JK Rowling wrote out one of the main characters. Not sure what Chatterbox would make of that now…

“Oh, Mum”

I am sure would feature somewhere.

Given this, one book has to be at the top of my list…

Reading-list: JK-Rowling

Having enjoyed those Harry Potter breastfeeding (!) moments, I am intrigued to know how JK Rowling and The Casual Vacancy compares. There is nothing like reading a book from an author you know, but with a twist, to get you back into reading again.

I can blame Facebook, social media and probably this blog, for a large amount of my “wasted” hours without a book since those cherished Harry Potter moments. So, I thought I would ask all the lovely people I have met online to help me to rediscover my love for reading.

I used to read anything and everything, except romantic fiction. I just get annoyed with it. For some reason when it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing that makes me cringe more, or say…

“But that wouldn’t happen…ever.”

Considering I love Terry Pratchett books, this really doesn’t make much logical sense. Suspending my belief about elephants carrying the world on their backs is fine. However, if it involves champagne, chocolates and a whip *50 shades* then it just annoys me. Don’t even begin to analyse that one…

After some wonderful suggestions, I hit the WHSmith website to fill in some title and author blanks, and then hot-footed over there to get my first two books to start me on the road to love again.

As luck would have it, the gods were smiling on me because what should I spy but…

Reading-list: Offer

So there was absolutely no excuse for not getting a couple of the books, right – otherwise why on earth did they have this offer on, if not for my benefit *self-centred*

I am now ready to take on the reading challenge. In no particular order, here are mine, and Facebook’s, recommendations for finding your love of reading again – a sort of Valentine’s reading list I suppose, but not with gooey love stories. This reading list will give you back your own desire to read; to relight your fire as some young boys and an older lady once sang.

My one request to the world of social media was that the books should be page turners, so thanks to each and every one of you for sharing your thoughts:

  1. JJ Abrahms – S: a book about how the discovery of a book with notes in the margin sparks a conversation between the readers of that book. A fascinating idea…
  2. Ann Cleeves – Harbour Street: a crime novel which has now been turned into a TV series
  3. Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl: a book that divided Facebook, some loved it, and some didn’t. Which has, of course, got me intrigued. A story of “a perfect wife’s disappearance” and how that impacts on her husband’s view of their marriage and his role in her disappearance
  4. Nell Fraudenberger – The Newly Weds: a story about modern marriage and heroism
  5. Hugh Howey – Wool, Shift and Dust: A Sci-fi trilogy that is meant to be a new classic of it’s genre
  6. Romamund Lupton – Sister: a thriller, where the author has been likened to Daphne de Maurier and Rebecca is one of the most compelling books I have ever read
  7. RJ Palacio – Wonder: An uplifting story about a boy, August ‘Auggie’ Pullman, born with facial disfigurements who is teased. Somehow the book remains uplifting though
  8. Terry Pratchett – Truth: A discworld novel that clearly has to be read because if it discusses the existence of the new Discworld newspaper, and its journalist who keeps being pestered by “the man who keeps begging him to publish pictures of his humorously shaped potatoes” Who can resist a humorously shaped potato?
  9. Gregory David Roberts – Shantaram: A story of a man’s journey in life from an armed robber and heroin addict to Bollywood and beyond
  10. JK Rowling – Casual Vacancy: the death of a local counsellor and the resultant “Casual Vacancy” in the town that reveal some of the best an worst in human nature
  11. Donna Tartt – Goldfinch: A young boy’s life is torn apart by a tragedy and his need to stay close to his mother and a particular painting draw him into the underworld in New York
  12. SJ Watson – Before I go to sleep: A superbly chilling idea of a young woman who forgets everything as soon as she goes to sleep, and the one person that she thinks she can trust isn’t telling her the whole story…

A fantastic list, and I can’t wait to get started.

What do you think of them all? Am I missing any great books here? I would LOVE some of your recommendations too. The more the merrier.

Thanks to the following bloggers and other lovely people for their input in particularly American Resident, Here Come the GirlsMummy Barrow, Five’s a Fellowship, Being Mrs C, Hello its Gemma, Plus 2.4, Cakes to Party, Saffron Walden Salad Days, and Baby Baby.

Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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Emma T

Sunday 2nd of February 2014

Your number 10 sounds intriguing. I might have to look that up, and I still haven't read the new JK Rowling book.

Slummy single mummy

Thursday 30th of January 2014

Great post Helen! Of that list I have only read Gone Girl and the first two of the Wool trilogy (third is on my bedside table) but I can definitely recommend all of those. Gone Girl totally had me guessing and normally I am good at knowing what's coming next in books.

My Two Mums

Wednesday 29th of January 2014

Great list! I loved Before I go to sleep, such a thrilling book.


Wednesday 29th of January 2014

Wonder is going to make you SOB! But is fab

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