November is just about over and we’re speeding towards Christmas. I hope you’re making the most of the cold, dark nights for reading. I certainly am. There’s nothing I like more than curling up with a hot chocolate and a good book.
This month has been mainly about non-fiction. It is non-fiction November after all! Here’s what I’ve been reading. What about you?
Eat, Drink, Run by Bryony Gordon
As a runner, I’m always keen to read books about running and how the sport has changed lives. In her memoir, Eat, Drink, Run, how I got fit without going too mad, Bryony Gordon writes about how running helped her mental health. She was not a runner. A loafer, a dawdler, a drinker, a smoker, yes. A runner, no.
But like so many people, myself included, she realised that running can make a huge difference to her mental as well as physical health. In the book, Bryony talks about how she trained for and ran the 2017 London Marathon, her work for mental health charities and getting Prince Harry to open up about his mental health.
The book is funny, honest and moving. Whether you’re a runner or not, you can’t help but feel inspired.
The Life Diet by Laura Jane Williams (audio book).
In The Life Diet Laura Jane Williams gives an insight into what it means to curate your life in order to fill your time, thoughts and relationships with inspiration, motivation, and love — by getting rid of everything else.
The book encourages you to think about what is truly important to you, and how to take back control so you are only doing what you value. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it will help you establish boundaries and claw back some control.
Becoming by Laura Jane Williams
Having read, The Life Diet, I also started reading Laura Jane’s first book, Becoming, a memoir about what happened when the man Laura thought she would marry, dumped her and married her friend. Devastated, she lost control, drinking too much, sleeping around. Realising that she didn’t want to go on in this way, Laura declared a year-long vow of celibacy as she slowly put pieces of herself back together.
I’m currently halfway through this book and enjoying it, mainly because Laura also talks about her writing and her development as a writer.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
In fiction, I finished reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. It was first published in 2013 and it’s been on my to read pile since then, I just haven’t got around to it. Maybe it was the size of it that put me off. At 864 pages it’s a big book, but I breezed through it. It was a delight to read. I only wish I’d not waited six years before making a start!
Here’s the blurb: “Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and an absent father, miraculously survives a catastrophe that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Theo is tormented by longing for his mother and down the years he clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld.”
Books on writing
Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing
by Libbie Hawker
When it comes to writing books, I am a discovery writer (aka a pantser). I am not a plotter or a planner, just the thought of it sends me into a panic. But, after finding myself with hundreds of thousands of words and a book that still wasn’t working, I decided that perhaps it was time to take a different approach.
I have spent November outlining my book with a little help from Libbie Hawker’s fantastic book. It was recommended to me by another writer and it’s been extremely useful. Libbie explains the benefits and technique of planning a story before you begin to write. She shows how to develop character arc and plot, as well as how to pace your book. I would definitely recommend this if you’re a writer struggling to outline.
Stop Worrying; Start Writing: How To Overcome Fear, Self-Doubt and Procrastination by Sarah Painter
I heard Sarah Painter being interviewed on The Self-Publishing Show. During the interview she gave some fantastic advice about how to deal with anxiety (writing anxiety not clinical anxiety), so I decided to read her book, Stop Worrying; Start Writing.
If you want to write but can’t seem to get started or if you’re struggling to finish your novel or are frustrated by your slow progress, then I recommend this book. Sarah gives advice on how to cope with negativity and self-doubt, free-up writing time and beat procrastination. It’s useful for both new and established writers.
What I’ve been watching
I’ve been loving Giri/Haji, a BBC2 series written by Joe Barton. As well as that there’s been a few dramas that I’ve enjoyed including World on Fire, Dublin Murders and Gold Digger.
My writing, an update
In other news, I graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a master’s degree in writing. While I was delighted to graduate, I was also sad that for the first time in 20 years I’m not studying. I’d love to continue with my studies but, for now, I need to focus on finishing the two books that I’m currently working on.
I spent November outlining book one. As I mentioned above, the discovery writing style has caused a few problems with my book so I’m trying a different approach. Thankfully, this seems to be working.
So, that’s what I’ve been reading, writing and watching this month. What about you? What are you reading? What are you working on? Let me know in the comments, connect with me on social media or drop me an email. I’m always looking for book recommendations.