What I’ve been reading this summer…

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Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker – I’ve read Lisa-Jo’s blog for many years, having been drawn to it by friends with ties to South Africa. (Lisa-Jo is South African in case you’re wondering about that connection). I love her realness, her desire to be both encouraging and honest. However I’d never read her book because I figured I was not the target audience since I’m not a mother. Somehow I stumbled across an excerpt from it where she talked about the pressure on her to want marriage and children and fit a certain kind of female ‘mould’ from others in her church and the damage that did to her. That connected with me, and so I ordered a copy of her book. Though it is most definitely aimed at other mothers, I’d say if you a woman who identifies as Christian you may also get encouragement from reading this.

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The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain – I had recommended The Little Paris Bookshop to a few friends last year, and one of those friends found this book and told me if I’d liked that book, I would likely love this one too. She was correct. It’s a short book written from a few different character’s perspectives. Laure is a gilder who gets attacked outside her home and her handbag stolen. Laurent, the owner of a bookshop finds the stolen handbag and sets on a mission to find its owner trying to work out who it is from the remaining contents and how they find each other.

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Walking Home by Clare Balding – This is one of those books that has been on my reading pile for more than a year, as I got it when it first came out on paperback as part of one of the Waterstones’ ‘Buy one get one half price’ deals…because why buy wouldn’t you buy two (or four) books in one go? I loved Clare’s autobiography My Animals and Other Family and so I had to buy her next book. What I didn’t realise until I got home was that it was all about walking. I’m not sporty or hugely outdoorsy mainly because I HATE being cold (good job I live in Scotland then – HA!) so it remained on the pile. And then I picked it up, because since getting my camera last November, I have discovered a love of going for walks. And then when I read it, I realised Clare likes walking for the same reason I do. I had stupidly made the assumption that Clare being a sports journalist would be all about extreme hikes and marathons and stuff. Instead what I’ve got is a collection of real tales of grumbling through walks led by people who say they are shorter than they are (been there), wonderful stories of everyday people and how there is pleasure in walking because it lets you stop and pause to take in the views. YES! I’m loving it, and I would have finished by now if it wasn’t for me trying to finish up books of authors and editors I’m going to see at Edinburgh International Book Festival

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Nasty Women by 404 Ink – There couldn’t be a more appopriate or relevant time to be reading this and The Good Immigrant.  I’m so glad to say that it is not just white middle class straight women who have contributed their writings to this fantastic collection of essays. What is it like to be mixed race and have the white members of your family voting for Trump? What is it like to suffer as a consequence of the cinderella service of women’s health care? What is it like to be a woman of colour growing up in Scotland? I’m learning, and identifying and pausing for thought. I can’t wait to meet some of the people who put this book together next Saturday.

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