A takeaway that I heard this year both at Surrey International Writers’ Conference as well as Calgary’s own When Words Collide is that writing is as much about reading as it is putting words on the screen.
And so, as David and I backpack Southeast Asia, I loaded by Kobo with books for the road. I’ve always been a slow reader, jealous of people that put away a book a week, let alone a certain friend of mine who can read a book a day (you know who you are!). Bus journeys on which I planned to read instead involved me looking out the window taking in the sights of local villages and the stunning scenery. I didn’t want to miss a thing, and who knows, this kind of epic adventure might only happen once… though I hope not.
Here’s what I’ve worked my way through:
If I Stay – Gayle Forman
I heard of this YA novel first through the movie trailer. Given that the trailer nearly moved me to tears, I felt confident it would be a good read. I also knew I had to read the book before seeing the movie – it was going to be one of those reads. What I wish hadn’t seen **spoiler alert ** was the title of the sequel.
If I Stay (If I Stay, Book 1) begins pretty early on with a car crash and young Mia finds herself in limbo. She sees her body there on the ground, but she isn’t dead… yet. She realizes she has to make the conscious decision to either stay, an orphan, but with the boyfriend she loves and her grandparents, or to move on.
The title of the sequel is called “Where She Went” and while it could take place in the beyond I had a hunch that it didn’t and that it meant she chose life. That said, it was an emotional journey. I have been reading more and more YA and have grown to appreciate the complicated themes that YA is working in. I’m not sure if I’ll make it to the sequel, but the original was a great read!
Start With Why – Simon Sinek
If you haven’t seen Sinek’s TED Talk, stop reading this blog and go watch it now. Right NOW! Then come back… please. Okay, so, was that twenty minutes well spent? I thought so.
Sinek’s first book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, carries his voice throughout. I felt like I was receiving a personal TED Talk for the hours I read. He explores leadership and how to get to the root of an issue, a motivation or a challenge. Why? Why do we want to inspire people to work harder, faster, longer, more efficiently? Why, when two brands do the exact same thing, does one monumentally surpass the other?
What I also love is that Sinek believes in leadership beyond the traditional titles of supervisor, manager, president, etc. I’ve always had this belief that leadership happens at all levels in different ways. In many situations, both at work and in my personal life, I’ve been more likely to follow the unofficial leader who demonstrates meaningful leadership over a leader in name that doesn’t motivate. That said, I’m lucky also to work for some leaders who have got the perfect combo.
This book is a thought provoking read for anyone interested in the psychology of motivation and leadership. I look forward to reading his second book “Leaders Eat Last.”
The First Last Kiss – Ali Harris
First off, thanks to my sister-in-law Lyndsey for introducing me to Ali Harris, a British writer of women’s fiction. Harris’ style is one I admire, and would love to be considered in a similar category to her… one day. I’ve read two of Harris’ novels and I love that there is a tool, for lack of a better word, in both novels. In Miracle on Regent Street, the chapters are divided by the shopping days left to Christmas. It’s a ticking clock for the reader and the main character to achieve her goal.
In The First Last Kiss, it took me a little bit of time to wrap my head around it. It centres around the relationship between Molly Cooper and Ryan Carter, but it doesn’t take place in sequence. Throughout the novel, Molly is packing up her apartment, their relationship seeming to have ended, but we don’t know why. This is broken up by memories scattered over a nearly fifteen year time period, the pair having met as teenagers.
I was not expecting the ending, which as a writer and a reader is always a delight. I love to be surprised. It was also great to see how artfully Harris crafted the scenes together in the right, wrong order (if that makes sense). It was a yo-yo of emotions and it was great to see that the heroine was massively flawed, but you love her anyways.
So, that’s what’s been on my reading list recently. How about you? Anyone got any great recommendations? Please share below. I read anything!
Please note this post includes affiliate links. If you’re interested in any of these books, the links will take you to Amazon where I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.