The Reading Pile

What’s on your list? I always have several things on the go and more on the to be read pile. I thought I’d share a few that have grabbed my attention. Some are new, others are a little older and have taken time to get to.

Hot Milk

I read and loved Levy’s book, Swimming Home, and I have high hopes for this one.

Short listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Goldsmiths Prize in 2016, this is a hypnotic tale of female sexuality. Two women arrive in a village on the Spanish coast. Rose is suffering from a strange illness andher doctors are mystified. Her daughter Sofia has brought her here to find a cure with the infamous and controversial Dr Gomez – a man of questionable methods and motives. Intoxicated by thick heat and the seductive people who move through it, both women begin to see their lives clearly for the first time in years.

Through the opposing figures of mother and daughter, Deborah Levy explores the strange and monstrous nature of womanhood. Dreamlike and utterly compulsive, Hot Milk is a delirious fairy tale of feminine potency, a story both modern and timeless.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I picked this one up because of the hype surrounding it (marketing really does work, folks!) and the awards it has received. Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2017, Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 and the Desmond Elliott Prize, this successful debut novel is about to be turned into a major film produced by Reese Witherspoon. 

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live. She leads a simple life, wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. She is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Much like Levy’s Hot Milk, I picked this up because I loved the author’s previous work, The God of Small Things. Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 and the Man Booker Prize 2017, this is, “a sprawling kaleidoscopic fable,” according to The Guardian. 

‘At magic hour; when the sun has gone but the light has not, armies of flying foxes unhinge themselves from the Banyan trees in the old graveyard and drift across the city like smoke . . .’

So begins The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy’s incredible follow-up to The God of Small Things. We meet Anjum, who used to be Aftab, who runs a guesthouse in an Old Delhi graveyard and gathers around her the lost, the broken and the cast out. We meet Tilo, an architect, who, although she is loved by three men, lives in a ‘country of her own skin’. When Tilo claims an abandoned baby as her own, her destiny and that of Anjum become entangled as a tale that sweeps across the years and a teeming continent takes flight . . .

Dare to Lead

I really enjoy Brene Brown’s work and, having read Braving the Wilderness and Rising Strong, I have been anticipating the release of this gem. This is a work of non-fiction and is based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers and culture shifters, she’s showing us how to put ideas from her previous work into practice so we can step up and lead. 

Many of us lead in different spheres of influence. This is a book for everyone who is ready to choose courage over comfort, make a difference and lead. 

When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it and work to align authority and accountability. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into the vulnerability that’s necessary to do good work.

But daring leadership in a culture that’s defined by scarcity, fear and uncertainty requires building courage skills, which are uniquely human. The irony is that we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of leaders at the same time we’re scrambling to figure out what we have to offer that machines can’t do better and faster. What can we do better? Empathy, connection and courage to start.Dare to Lead answers these questions and gives us actionable strategies and real examples from her new research-based, courage-building programme. 

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