This blog is also meant to be about reading even if it has focussed pretty much solely on triathlon up until now! I’ve been reading lots but am working on a piece for the wonderful For Books Sake so haven’t been blogging about it just yet.
BUT you may have seen the #thisbook hashtag floating around twitter. I love this idea and the idea for a blog came to me while I was trying to distract myself from cycling up this hill…..
The #thisbook project was created by the Bailey’s Prize for Women with an aim to promote books written by women, to ‘shine a spotlight‘ on the books written by women that have made the most difference in our lives. Books are so important, they take us out of ourselves, they can open our eyes and understanding to something we will never personally experience, they can make us feel like we are not alone, they can teach us and they can inspire us. For less than £10 you can be completely transported to a different country, a different era, surrounded by different friends. With our favourite books we can end up feeling as if we know the characters as real people and anyone who has loved reading has felt that feeling of utter sadness and loss when a loved book comes to the end.
With all that in mind, you can understand why there’s no way I could pick just one book! So here are a few that I may not have read for several years, but I still remember every detail of, that are important to me for one reason or another, that I always come back to like a warm comforting hug and a mug of tea.
The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
This wonderful book was published in 1977 – I only came across it age 22 in 2011 which was definitely the right time for me as it marked my feminist awakening!! I just remember reading Mira’s story and all the way through thinking “yes!” It really spoke to me – the things the main character went through in her life, despite the fact that this was America in the 1950s, were still my worries for life as a woman in the UK in the 21st century. It especially spoke to my fear of having to choose between career and children, my fear of being stuck in a tiny little world with only babies and children for company. (Note: those are my feelings on it – many women don’t see being a stay-at-home mum that way and that’s entirely fair enough! There’s also of course a chance my feelings will change ENTIRELY when (if) I have children of my own.) But leaving my views on feminism to one side, this is an incredible book that I’d recommend to all women 🙂
Eve was Framed by Helena Kennedy
Following the feminist theme, I couldn’t possibly not mention Eve was Framed. This book first dropped into my hands when I was studying to be a lawyer and it made me fall in love with Helena Kennedy. It’s about how the legal system in all its many forms treats women – how it treats women as victims, women as witnesses, women as criminals, and also women as lawyers themselves. It’s about the treatment of women by the courts, the judges, the police, the juries, the media and how prejudice and stereotypes dominate. It may be an impassioned polemic but also seems to me to be meticulously researched, full of facts and examples presented in a way that is never dry and academic. It inspired me, angered me, and resonated with me. I’d give you a few choice quotes but I’ve lent it to a friend in order to get more people reading this incredible book!
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
From books which have resonated with me, to books that have taken me to a different place and time completely. This love story is the first of a trilogy, beginning in St Petersburg, Russia, on the day Russia entered into the Second World War. I loved this novel for the history, especially the chapters set during the siege of St Petersburg, but the reason why I’ve chosen it for #thisbook is due to the writing and the characterisation – these were characters I loved and knew. The quality of the writing also had me sitting by the fire after a big dinner at home, feeling freezing cold and starving hungry after the siege of St Petersburg. I remember putting the book down, looking around me and feeling a physical coming back to earth moment. I remember that feeling so clearly despite the fact it was 8 years ago! As a teenager, the love story really gripped me – I wanted someone who would love me the way Alexander loved Tatiana! I’ve reread this book at least five times and it’s often the book I come back to when I’m slightly stressed as it just completely takes me out of myself.
Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
This wasn’t the first book I’d read about Palestine and Israel (that was The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan) but this story of a family through the generations gripped me and wouldn’t let me go. The main characters are challenging and interesting and likeable throughout but the beauty of this book hangs on the descriptions of the land that immediately evoke timelessness and nostalgia. It depicts the shocking reality common to so many people in wars, of forcible removal from homes, of indiscriminate bombing, of adjusting to life in refugee camps, far from the olive groves where you grew up. I’ve picked this one not just for the beauty of the writing and of the story, but of the importance of its subject matter, which left me feverishly researching wars and refugee camps and with a passion and support for a whole new subject.
What’s your #thisbook?
p.s. Juneathon Day 12….. cycling commute (so around 1hr 15 in total) and 45 minutes ‘Body Blast’ – lots of lunges and press-ups and lots of weights. My arms are killing me 😦