A BOOK THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER READ

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You might think this a strange title, considering that I loved this book.

But I only tell you not to read it because I worry.

I worry that you will cry as much as I did. I worry that you will laugh as much as I did. I worry that you will lose two days of your life as I did, hiding in bed in bed for hours until you reach the very end. And I worry that you will love it as much as I did and pass on its precious secrets to someone who will turn it into an oh-so-predictably-not-as-good-as-the-book film.

I became friends with Fisher as soon as Andy introduced me to him. I thought that London provided the perfect backdrop to this story. I loved that I didn’t particularly fall for Ivy. I understood the need for Switzerland. I liked that the plot line was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it’s so ordinary that you may have shared many of the same experiences as the couple. But that’s what makes this read such a success: you are drawn into the honesty of the characters and simplistic charm of Jones’ writing.

But who is Andy Jones you ask?

Well, he’s soon to be one of your favourite authors. The writer of one of your favourite stories. A man you fell in love with. A human who broke your heart. But you’ll have to read his words to find out why because I refuse to divulge anything here. The Two of Us, much like life, will take you by surprise. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

David Nichols and Graeme Simson are my two favourite authors. Andy Jones has now been added to this list.

I look forward to his second creation later this year. Will keep you posted.

THE BOOK OF BRAVE

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Self-help isn’t my thing. I don’t want to be told what to do or how I should do it. And I certainly don’t want to be told that someone else’s route to success is better than mine.

Which is why I love this short by Laura of Superlatively Rude.

Her blog found me about a year ago and I immediately fell in love with her openness. You might think that I’m pretty honest on here, but she’s naked on the Internet honest. And that’s brave. Or, as I’ve now learnt, Laura’s version of brave. My version of brave is something else entirely. As is yours, probably. And that’s okay, which is something that this book has taught me.

A far cry from those irritating ‘Guides to Life’, this book made me laugh and then it made me (on page 38) clutch my chest and gasp – just like in the movies – because I couldn’t believe that someone could get over something so shitty. I tried to put myself into her situation and struggled to cope with it within the confines of my mind, let alone in reality. But she has coped. And the very fact that she can now mention it fleetingly in her successful e-book like she’s talking about her favourite toast topping (when I know how much pain she must have been in at the time) makes me believe that time really might be a healer.

But anyway, back to her writing.

I can totally understand how people would be all like ‘WOAH THERE TIGER! I DON’T NEED TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR ONE NIGHT STANDS, NAKED PHOTO SHOOTS AND CURIOUS EXPLORATION OF THE WORLD!’ but it’s what I need. And I think, if you really lean into it, you’ll realise that it’s what you need too.

For a while now, I have wanted someone to tell me that, in her words, ‘none of us are f**king up like we think we are’ because my twenties have been hard. Way more difficult than my surprisingly spot-free teenage years. Way more trying than the years I spent loving someone who didn’t love me back in primary school. And way more frustrating than that time my brother cut off all of my hair the day before my second birthday. Laura’s book walks me through my twenties in a way that makes it okay to fall, fail, laugh and get back up again. Her writing allows me to reflect and think, ‘you’re doing okay, actually’ which is what I need. And, as I say, you probably do too- whether you are 26, 37 or 52.

I do have to mention one thing that left me feeling frustrated though, because I have to be honest. And Laura, if you’re reading this, I know that you have to be honest with yourself too.

And that’s the typos.

I only mention it because I think that the contents of this book are too good to be delivered in a way that is anything less than perfect. And I think you’re too good not to be critiqued in the way I would critique any other author.

But I digress.

Laura won’t tell you what, how or where you should begin to be your best self. But she will tell you why you should try. She will give you options as to how you can get there. She will remind you that your path won’t be her path, my path or your next-door neighbour’s path. We all have our own routes to success and happiness and Laura encourages us to be brave enough to walk down our own one, despite what other people might say or think.

I could reel off the pages, paragraphs and even sentences that spoke to me, but why would I? You’re going to read it. Because even if it’s not your thing, you’ll find the courage to try something new. And if you don’t want to read it because it might force you to push yourself, you’ll be brave enough to read it anyway.

Start your journey to being #bravereveryday and click here

THE SHOCK OF THE FALL

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I first heard of The Shock of the Fall at university. I only got round to reading it last week. And by Jove, it’s good.

A decent way into the book, I was convinced that it wasn’t for me. However, when a handsome chap on the tube asked what I thought of it, I felt like I had to smile and say, “Amazing, yeah”, mainly because of his eyes. But also because everyone had raved about it so much. But yeah, mainly because of his eyes.

So as I continued to wade through conversation after conversation about how great it was, inside I felt confused about why I hadn’t clicked with Matt – the ultimate untrustworthy narrator – and why I was decidedly unbothered about where his journey would take him.

Until about three chapters from the end, where everything clicked for me. I can’t say why it did, but I urge you to read it and find out.

It might not sit comfortably with you at first (because, why should it? it’s a story about mental illness and we’re still not over that taboo just yet) but hold out until it does and it will be worth it. Even for this quote alone:

“‘Really Matt. You’re your own worst enemy.’

That’s a strange thing to say to someone with a serious mental disease. Of course I’m my own worst enemy. That’s the whole problem.”

It’s very difficult for someone who has never suffered from mental illness to really get it. But think of it like this: as humans, we are used to fending off attackers and fighting to survive; it’s in our nature. But what happens when you are fighting with yourself? Not like cancer, where we can zap the bad stuff out and people can see what’s up. But when what you are fighting is inside your head where nobody except you can see it or hear it? I won’t insult those who do suffer by saying that I get it. Because I don’t. But what I will say is that it scares me and I would like to do all I can to at least try to understand it.

Set in Bristol, The Shock of the Fall is a story of guilt, loss and, most importantly, mental illness. Not only does Filer do what Haddon does in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and create a voice for a voice in a head, but he sheds light on the reality of the struggles of someone suffering on a daily basis – from the very real effects of NHS cuts to mistaking a helping hand for something else entirely – a refreshing perspective and far cry from straight jackets and asylums.

Matt’s journey takes us from the point of trauma and ends somewhere between acceptance, freedom and succumbing.

By the final few pages I was sobbing and smiling. And I don’t cry.

Let me know what you think of it. I think it’s great.