The Salt Path by Raynor Wynn – A week before lockdown I went into town to get my internet data allowance increased and found myself walking past Waterstones. Sensing that it could be a while before I’d be able to go to a library or buy books, I went in and bought 2 books both memoirs that were nature related. The Salt Path is an incredible story of how Raynor and her husband dealt with grief of losing their home and livelihood, getting news of a terminal illness by deciding to just start walking the South West Coastal Path. It was an eye opening story that made me angry, long for the sights of Dorset and Cornwall that bring me comfort and wish to sit around an open campfire with Raynor to just listen and chat. It felt like I was doing this journey with a kindred spirit.
Broken things and other tales by Vicky Allen – At the beginning of lockdown, my beautiful friend Vicky had her very first poetry pamphlet published. She has had poems published as part of collections and in other publications before, but this was the first book of poems that was hers and hers alone. I’ve been lucky enough to be one of her friends that she has shared her art with, and when she first stepped out into sharing her poems publicly. I’ve even been on walks where conversations and things we’ve spotted have become inspiration for the words she has written. Perhaps it’s those memories that made reading these poems over and over make it feel like a healing balm during the days where everything felt overwhelming. But honestly? If you love nature, the sea, the beach and have ever experienced grief of losing someone you love – these poems are for you.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – This is by far one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Beautifully and poignantly written, Yaa has intricately and cleverly told a diverse range of stories which begin with two sisters whose lives are impacted by colonialisation but in entirely different ways. As one sister is betrothed to a slave trader, the other sold into slavery and sent across the Atlantic we follow the lives of their descendants through history to the present day. If you’ve been wanting to learn about the history that isn’t taught in schools – this fictional tale based in real life history is a great place to start. An impactful and enriching read that I recommend to everyone.
This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay – When I was studying Health Sciences, most of my friends were medical students. With only 8 or 9 of us in my year, we were outnumbered in the medical school library! They got me onto the music of The Amateur Transplants, and I saw Adam and his friend Suman perform numerous times at the Edinburgh Fringe. For a variety of reasons I avoided reading this book for a couple of years, but I ended up reading it not long after moving back to Aberdeen. I’m really glad I did. My interest had always been in maternity care, I’d had so many frustrations with the things I saw while on placement, the stories I would hear from midwives, medical students and parents. Reading Adam’s book reminded me of what led me into my degree and eventually my honours project. An important read for every MP, MSP, NHS Trust manager, medical school deans who have the power to change how we fund our healthcare system and medical school curriculums.
And to follow on from that may I also recommend the next book I read…
I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite – Having been a long time follower of Candice on instagram, and so pleased to see her speaking up for Black women everywhere as well as being the founder of Make Motherhood Diverse, this book took me back to my last year of my Health Science degree. Candice’s story is important to hear, and more importantly to listen to and learn from. There are many moments where I felt intrigued, but also moments when I felt very uncomfortable while on placement at a maternity hospital. Reading about Candice’s experience as a first-time mother helped me recognise what had been causing those inner alarm bells to ring in those moments. It has made me regret not taking my Health Science degree further in a way that I hadn’t felt before. If my old supervisor is reading this…I know it’s been 14 years but I’m ready to seek that Masters and potential PhD route you were trying to encourage me down when I was about to graduate. I’m sorry for walking away. And to all the women that I’ve not spoken up for enough – I hope you’ll forgive me. I want you to know I see you, I hear you, and most importantly…I believe you.
If you are a midwife, doctor, health visitor, teacher – I urge you to read this book.
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks – I haven’t finished this book yet. This collection of short stories, each unique in its style and format, has been a lovely book to dip in and out of on days where I just needed to escape and read something that didn’t feel so heavy. I’ve really enjoyed it – some of the stories more than others. I really sense the influence that Tom’s own life, his acting work and no doubt the stories he has heard while preparing for roles have made their way into his thoughts as he’s put pen to paper. Each story is set in a different era, with diverse characters and some stories don’t have a neat ending (which I’ll admit, I find a little frustrating sometimes because I want to find out what happens next). If you are looking for a lighthearted read that you pick up in snatched up moments – this is a good choice of book for you.