March reads

I’ve struggled to concentrate on books this month. With dogged persistence and the help of a good fantasy novel, to get me back in the reading groove, I have managed to finish a fairly eclectic mix.

My ‘Book of the Month’ is The Book of The Tree: Trees In Art. This is a contemporary collection of art around the theme of trees. I admit I haven’t read every page but I couldn’t wait to write a review because this book is just sublime. It is a comforting, soothing book to be picked up and looked at when you need a moment of calm. Every single piece of art is wonderful. It connects me to the natural landscape and also inspires me to pick up a pen or paintbrush and capture it on paper. There is a good mix of famous artists and those who are new to me. A book to treasure.

One of the beautiful pieces of art from the book

Dare To Lead by Brene Brown. Non-fiction. A book for anyone who is a leader – in work, at home, in the community. My copy is crammed full of neon post-it notes – a very good sign that I learned a lot. In this book, Brene shares with us years of research and her vast experience in training leaders. It is also peppered with her own successes and failures. There were some absolute gems – I’m regularly going to ask my team “what does support from me look like?”, and I loved the idea of turning always knowing into always learning. Some of the conversations she recounts felt over the top for my British workplace. It would be easy to adapt the words and phrases to make them feel closer to the language my team would be more comfortable with. My idea of a good business book is one that gets me out of my echo chamber, and challenges me to behave differently. Dare To Lead has certainly done that.

Winter’s Fury by A. E. Rayne. Fantasy novel. There are times when I need to escape from real life, into a world that is unfamiliar, interesting and full of intrigue. This book certainly delivered. I love the character of Jael – strong yet not infallible. It’s a classic fantasy novel – involving journeys, love, mysteries and friction between opposing sides. Who is good and who is evil. Who will survive? I couldn’t put this book down, and having bought the trilogy on my Kindle I kept going into book two without hardly a pause. I look forward to seeing where the characters go next, and hope my favourites don’t get killed off.

Recovery by Dr Gavin Francis. Non-fiction. A short informative read, which gives a brief introduction to recovery and convalescence. As someone who has convalesced, it was interesting to hear the perspective of a GP and there were a few points to consider. He told us that many of his patients need to be granted permission to take the time to recover that they need. I certainly relate to that and know from experience that if you rush your body or mind will find a way to slow you down again. I certainly agreed with his sentiment that a patient’s attitude to their illness can have a strong bearing on the nature of their recovery. My rating would have been higher had I not been previously spoilt by reading the likes of Wintering by Katherine May, and many books around the power of nature to heal – by authors including Sue Stuart-Smith, Lucy Jones, Josie George and Isabel Hardman. Those looking to recover could perhaps learn more from the stories of other patients. As a quick read though, this book packed a lot in.

Manningtree Witches by A. K. Blakemore. Historical fiction, set in a landscape familiar to me. I am equally fascinated and appalled by the tales of witchfinders. This one ebbed and flowed for me. I loved some of the passages, such as Rebecca describing her mother and when she entered Colchester for the first time. Towards the end, the characters of both Rebecca West and Matthew Hopkins really came to life. A.K. Blakemore’s portrayal of a slice of rural life in East Anglia in the mid-1600s was at times uncomfortable, but always interesting.

On my ‘to be read’ pile for April –

Some marvellous self-published books from the Write That Book gang

More self-published titles by the fellow shortlisted titles in the Selfies Book Awards:

  • Dear Tosh by Ninette Hartley
  • War Diary: The Diary of Mike Rogers by Alan Beardsley
  • Pushing Through The Cracks by Emily J Johnson
  • Married to The Man Who Washed Himself Away by Joan Leech

And of course number two in the Furyck Saga for a dose of escapism.

And in the pile of books next to my bed, and next to my computer I have titles by Marc Hamer, James Clear and more…I’m taking some time off during the Easter holidays so I am hoping to read seven books this month. But, which ones?!

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