January 8, 2022

10 Brilliant Books To Read (and a special one to pre-order)

Here’s an eclectic selection of books which I read in 2021 which I wanted to share with you in case you are struggling for your next good read. If you are super busy, then just scroll to the last book on the list…you’ll see why I am plugging it!

Books to help you understand the world:

The Last Girl by Nadia Murad
This is the story of nobel prize winner Nadia Murad. She is a Yazidi woman who was enslaved, tortured and raped by Isis when they took over large swathes of Northern Iraq in 2014. She lost her mother, countless members of her family and the life she knew. It’s pretty harrowing, but her courage is extraordinary. I read it because of the work I do supporting Iraqi psychologists working with Yazidi women in the refugee camps of Northern Iraq. If you take one thing away from her story it is this: ‘Every time I tell my story I am taking some power away from those men – and women who supported them.’

Why We Fight by Mike Martin
I have always been fascinated by why people do what they do (just as well I am a nosy psychologist, then), and most especially why they are willing to kill each other. Mike Martin, a biologist and ex-army officer who served in Afghanistan, looks at why we need to understand our biology and evolution if we are to ​prevent future horrors. It was an unputdownable book. I had it as my beach read by the pool, and just like the Journal of Torture Studies (yes it exists), it stops anyone starting a conversation with you as you sit on your sunlounger. Win win.

Books to uncover your creativity :

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
I love reading about artists and creativity but sometimes you discover a book and a writer who, it feels like, at least, is speaking only to you so well do they know the intricate workings of your mind. When I read this I just kept saying ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ which garnered odd looks from the other people on the tube. This book is like a good friend, and once you have read it, and please, please do, head over to Austin Kleon’s website and read all his stuff there. He’s just such a nice guy.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Another fabulous writer on creativity but also she of Eat, Pray, Love fame. Again, it feels like having an interesting discussion with a good friend. Add it to your list.

Novels with which to comfort yourself:

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

My all-time comfort book about the shenanigans of the Mitford sisters. I read it once a year...at least. Bliss.

Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
When your day job is treating PTSD in survivors of torture, you need a little distraction. It’s wonderfully written, with such dry humour, but it’s the humanity in it which really shines through.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
My favourite novels are ones which retell the stories of women from classical myth, and which are written by women (if you haven’t yet, immediately read Circe by Madeline Millar, I implore you). A captivating retelling of the Ariadne myth.

Books to help you understand yourself:

Conversations On Love by Natasha Lunn
I read it in one sitting on a Saturday evening whilst everyone else was watching Strictly and no amount of tango chat could distract me. Natasha Lunn’s series of interviews reminds us that there are so many different kinds of love, not just romantic love, which deserve our attention.

Attached by Emir Levine and Rachel Heller
If you want to understand why you behave the way you do in relationships, then you had better read this. Working from the strong evidence-based science of attachment theory, which posits that our relationships as adults are heavily influenced by our relationships with our primary care-givers, this book adeptly takes you through your attachment style and how to negotiate tricky relationship challenges based on your style. Are you secure, anxious or avoidant? Go find out!

We Need To Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba
A refreshingly honest account of money, who has it, who doesn’t, and the myths we are fed about it. These are all the questions w​e want to know, but are probably too polite to ask. Just as well we have Otegha to do it for us. Another book where I thought the author had spooky access to my secret thoughts.

One Book To Pre-Order

Stressilient: How To Beat Stress and Build Resilience by…me!
I would love it if you could pre-order it here as pre-orders make quite the difference I hear. It’s a handy, go-to guide bursting with tools to deal with stress but also to help you thrive. Plus it’s not very long and has, I think, a very nice cover. I can’t wait to hear what you think! But only if it’s good, obvs