Reading, Watching, Listening to Lately – May 2017

May has been a good month for me on the entertainment front, and despite a lot of lovely weather lately, I’ve still managed to fit in quite a bit of reading (in the garden, mostly, while trying to ignore the pesky weeds). I’ve also stuck pretty rigidly to my reading before bed routine, which I find helps me get to sleep a lot quicker and allows me to get through a book about every 10 days or so – although I’m still pushed to finish more than 3 books in any given month. Things are all relative of course and a few years ago when the kids were tiny I would have been delighted to finish three books in a year! So if you’re struggling to find the time to read don’t fret – you’ll get back into it eventually if it’s something you really enjoy doing. In the meantime, why not read some of the recommendations from me and the other book blogs out there – that way you’ll have plenty to put on your to-read list when that happy day arrives!

The first book I dipped into this month was The Year of Living Danishly, in which journalist Helen Russell tries to understand the secret behind Denmark’s consistently high performance in world happiness ranking surveys (clue: it’s not the weather – it sounds like Danish winters are even worse than our’s). During the course of a year she and her husband spend in Denmark (while he works at Lego), Russell spends each month looking at a different aspect of the Danish way of life – including hygge, work-life balance, parenting and leisure – with quite a few pastries thrown in along the way. It’s a really well written, witty book that makes Denmark, at least in the most part, sound like a very happy place to call home (in fact I saw many parallels with life in the north of Scotland). It’s definitely worth a read if you’re looking for some ideas to up your happiness quota (the sections on hygge and coping with long winters will be particularly interesting for us sun deprived Brits). And although it hasn’t got me packing my bags to leave Scotland, I can imagine this book might have some readers filling their suitcase before they turn the final pages. It’s a travel guide with a difference, and as far as Summer reading goes, I couldn’t recommend it more.

The Year of Living Danishly

My next book for May was Davina McCall’s Lessons I’ve Learned, a fantastic self-help guide/memoir packed with insights from one of Britain’s favourite tv presenters. I literally sailed through this book, in which Davina dispenses all sorts of wisdom on parenting, friendship, relationships and just about everything in between. The chapters are handily packaged into easy-to-read nuggets which make it ideal for on-the-go reading, even if you only have a spare 5 minutes at a time. I loved Davina’s chatty, non judgemental style, and came away with a list of books to read, apps to download, and even a few new life mantras for our family. ‘Give More Than Is Expected’ – Davina, we have you to thank for that!

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My final book for the month was And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, by Fredrik Backman, less of a novel than a ‘novella’, which actually just means that in reading terms it is very very short. It’s actually the first time I’ve read a novella and was able to finish it in one sitting while my kids were on a playdate – at less than 80 pages long it’s ideal if you haven’t got a lot of time. It’s written by the man who wrote one of my favourite books, ‘A Man Called Ove’, and tells the story of a Grandfather, losing his memories to dementia and trying to hold onto his precious relationship with his grandchild. It’s an utterly beautiful story with all of the warmth and compassion any lover of Backman would expect. And it has some of the best quotes I’ve read in any book for ages: ‘I would rather be old than a grown up’ says Noah, (the grandchild in the story). ‘All grown ups are angry, it’s just children and old people who laugh.’

Every Morning the Way Home

On to what I’ve been watching lately, and the main theme this month has definitely been emotion. We’ve enjoyed a few films that really pulled at the heartstrings, such as A Monster Calls, The Light Between Oceans and Lion – all fantastic movies which coincidentally, all happen to be based on books. Whether I will go on to read their literary counterparts is undecided – I’m often less inclined to read the book of a movie when I know the story first.  Given that the books are almost always better, though, I’m guessing these three books are literally amazing. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on this predicament, please do let me know!

TV-wise, I’ve been loving the BBC’s new series of Doctor in the House, on iPlayer, in which Dr Rangan Chatterjee is invited into the lives of people with health problems to try to find solutions to their issues. As someone who suffers from a chronic illness, I find Dr Chatterjee’s holistic approach to wellbeing really inspiring, and have loved seeing the massive improvements in the individuals he’s been working with. I’m really looking forward to future episodes of this series – and no doubt to buying his new book next year (in case you’re interested it’s due out in January ’18)!

Another thing I’ve been looking forward to is the long awaited new season of House of Cards on Netflix, that fantastic political drama starring Kevin Spacey in what has to be his finest role to date. While we were waiting for it’s release date, my husband and I started watching Designated Survivor, another fab political drama, this time with 24’s Kiefer Sutherland taking up residence in the oval office. If you like House of Cards you’ll probably like Designated Survivor – but please no spoilers on HOC until we’ve finished watching Kiefer’s President Kirkman as the opposite of everything President Underwood stands for first!

Music-wise, I have been really enjoying the new Harry Styles album this month, and I’ve also been doing quite a lot of listening to Amazon having discovered that music is included in Prime membership – quite handy when you have a husband who is always hogging Spotify.  I have to admit to not doing much other listening this month, having decided to take a little break from podcasts for a while and just enjoy my dog walks free of any ‘noise’. Does listening to the birds singing and the waves crashing count as listening? Sometimes I think that cutting out the noise means hearing that bit more.

That’s it for this month, I hope you’ve enjoyed this round up of what I’ve been reading, watching and listening to lately. See you again next month – and don’t forget to tell me what you’ve been reading, watching or listening to lately too!

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