2023 Book Challenge

This year I have set myself the same goal as last year – to read 25 books!

Got a good xmas haul this year so should keep me going for at least a few months!

I was feeling a little underwhelmed by my goal as 25 books doesn’t seem like a lot (I used to be able to read up to 40 books a year before I had kids!) – however my daughter has pointed out that if I include all of the story books I read to my youngest daughter every night at bedtime I am probably reading around 1000 books a year, so that certainly made me feel better!

Book 1: Menopausing, by Davina McCall

Category: None

This was a very illuminating read. I think all women (and all men for that matter) should be better educated about the menopause. It affects 51% of the population, without exception, and can start earlier than you would think (the average age for menopause is around 55, but women can enter peri-menopause up to 10 years earlier, and 1 in 100 women will go into early menopause (under 45).

Very few GPs have had any training AT ALL on menopause as it is not currently compulsory on the GP curriculum (and our mostly male government has justy voted NO to making this part of standard GP training). Reading story after story of miserable women being put on anti-depressants instead of HRT is frightening. The symptoms are wide-ranging and can be debilitating – the number of women who have lost their jobs due to untreated menopause is in the tens of thousands in the UK alone. Somerthing like 1 in 10 women have had to leave the workforce due to untreated menopause symptoms. What a colossal economic waste!

There is also a massive misconception that menopause is a transitional “phase” that women pass through and come out the other side of, but in fact peri-menopause is the beginning of a decline in oestrogen levels that becomes a chronic hormone imbalance for the rest of your life. HRT is the best treatment but you will be on it for the rest of your life. And yes women have to continue paying prescription charges for what is essentially a chronic illness.

Book 2: Wilful Creatures, by Aimee Bender

Category: A book you bought secondhand

This was a nice quick set of rather odd short stories.

Peculiar and strange but enjoyable. Not the greatest short stories I’ve ever read, but not the worst either. Makes me want to re-read The Most Beautiful Book in the World as THAT was a WONDERFUL set of short stories….

Book 3: The Storyteller, by Dave Grohl

Category: A book by a first time author

This was ok. I loved learning about Dave Grohl’s young life and his years with Nirvana as well as how the Foo Fighters came into being. However it was VERY American, with an awful lot of gushing about the universe guiding us and gushing about other famous people and how amazing they are.

It did make me want to go and listen again to Nirvana and Foo Fighter’s greatest hits, but I am also mostly convinced now that Dave Grohl might be a borderline alcoholic. I know he’s a rock star so booze is par for the course, but some of the stories are a bit cringey in terms of how he relates to alcohol.

Book 4: The Mermaid of Black Conch, by Monique Roffey

Category: A book about mythical creatures

This was a really good book – interesting and totally different. I loved the use of language and patois and the shift between voices in the narrative, as well as the fairy-tale style story arc. lt was wonderful and magical and not like anything else – great!

Book 5: Nightbitch, Rachel Yoder

Category: A book about a family

This was a completely surreal book about motherhood and the patriarchy and giving up parts of your identity to become a mother, and a woman who thinks she is turning into a dog. It is feral and visceral, and powerful and weird. I really enjoyed it.

Book 6: The girl in the flammable skirt, by Aimee Bender

Category: A book with the word “girl” in the title

This was ok – I usually love a short story and I loved this author’s novel The Particular sadness of lemon cake, but this one was a bit blah, didn’t particularly grab me. Wouldn’t read it again.

Book 7: Exiles, by Jane Harper

Category: A book published in Spring 2023

This was another classic from Jane Harper. I love her books. I can never guess who did it no matter how hard I try and I always love the twists. It was excellent.

Book 8: The most beautiful book in the world, by Eric-Emmanuel Schmidt

Category: A book you think your best friend would like

I re-read this one as I needed something short to read before we went on holiday and didn’t want to start anything big or heavy. I loved it the first time but less so on a re-read. They are good short stories but I’m not convinced they held up over a second reading. Perhaps it’s because I knew how they would end.

Book 9: Lessons in chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus

Category: A book becoming a TV series or a movie in 2023

This was EXCELLENT – easily my favourite book this year and I’ve read several really great books so far. It’s funny and clever and sad and poignant and feminist and everyone should read it before the tv series comes out!

Book 10: Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Ronan Hession

Category: A book recommended by a friend

This was also excellent although it was completely different to the last book!

It was very gentle and mild, funny and sad, but a lovely reflection on people, the characters were carefully thought out and likeable, if rather odd, and I really enjoyed it.

I still don’t know why he’s called Hungry Paul, or why there is a fish on the cover though!

Book 11: Decider, by Dick Francis

Category: A book you read more than 10 years ago

This was a bit of a cheat – I fancied something quick and easy and this was one of my grandmother’s reader’s digest condensed books so it was very short and easy to read in a day or two. Just what I needed! Still a good book – plenty of drama and easy to skim. I first read it when I was a teenager after my grandmother donated a large pile of reader’s digest condensed books for my happy consumption!

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