Reading Lately – You, City of Girls, Jane Eyre and Book Week Scotland

* Please note this post contains a gifted item.*

It’s been a while since I shared one of my reading posts, and with one thing and another I seem to have fallen out of the habit of posting monthly updates. Half term holidays and playing catch up means that this post covers my reading pile for October, and the first half of November, too. This week seems as good a week as any to share, though, with Book Week Scotland in full swing and a wealth of bookish events happening up and down the country. If you need an excuse to dive into a good book, you couldn’t pick a better week to get started.

And conveniently, I might have a few suggestions here….


You, by Caroline Kepnes was my first book for October, which I picked out after getting slightly addicted to its same-name Netflix adaption in September. I hoped it would be a good read for our half term holiday and it didn’t disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed it – in as much as you can ever really ‘enjoy’ a story about a serial-killing stalker boyfriend 😉 . In the book, Joe (bookstore employee, and said serial-killing boyfriend), worms his way into the life of an unsuspecting writer, while at the same time eradicating just about anyone who poses a threat to their burgeoning affair. It’s a terrifying story, humanised by Joe’s narrative – handled expertly by Kepnes, who almost (almost!) has you relating to him. In the Netflix show, the same feat is probably achieved through the Paco storyline (which is completely absent in the novel).

All in all, an edgy, thought-provoking read.


My second read for October was City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, and oh, it was a good one. It’s the story of Vivian, who moves to 1940’s New York City where the showgirls at her aunt’s theatre take her under their wing – and out onto the town. Vivian is an unconventional woman for her time though, and this story has a lot to say about gender, judgement and the nature of mistakes and learning. It’s a colourful rampage through the streets of New York City, and one of my 2019 favourites.

Whatever magic makes a storyteller, Ms. Gilbert possesses it in spades.


Now, I certainly wouldn’t class myself as a shopaholic, but I do like finding ways to be more mindful about what I consume, and how I live in general. So when I heard about The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, which chronicles one woman’s year-long shopping ban, I soon had a copy winging its way to me (via my local library I should say!) I enjoyed the structure of this book, which was a blend of personal storytelling and minimalism. It might have helped to have been more familiar with the author and her blog before reading though (this is probably as much a memoir as a minimalism guide, and there’s lots on addiction, family issues and relationships along the way).


Normal People by Sally Rooney was a novel I’d had hanging around on my bookshelves for a while, after picking a copy up in a charity shop over the summer. It’s a much-feted story about a couple who have a relationship in High School, and go on to find their lives intersecting throughout the years. Initially, I found myself completely gripped by the characters, but as the book progressed I started to feel a bit uncomfortable about some of the murkier turns in the storyline. That’s to take nothing away from Sally Rooney who is clearly an exceptional writer – I loved the sparse, economical style she adopts throughout the book. The story itself, though, left me with the nagging feeling that I might be a little out of touch with the millennial generation.

I think I’m more of the One Day vintage.

It’s that bookish experience of ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’


Onto lighter fare now, with The Beasts of Grimheart by Kieran Larwood, the third outing in the popular Podkin One Ear series, and a firm favourite with my youngest. We read this aloud together during October and were gripped by the latest adventures of Podkin and his band of rabbit friends. At ten, my son seems to be just the right age for this saga, which offers plenty of excitement without being too scary for little ones. The book is a real treat, with lots of lovely illustrations. It’s also definitely worth considering if you’re seeking out Christmas gift ideas for the book-loving children in your life.


My final book for this round up – and another I read aloud with my youngest, who is dyslexic – was Tanya Landman’s retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, which was kindly gifted to us by Barrington Stoke as an advance copy. The book, which is due for release in January 2020, is a wonderfully concise retelling of Bronte’s story – and also a super readable one, in line with Barrington Stoke’s ethos of helping dyslexic and reluctant readers experience the joy of reading books. My son loved it, as did I, and the story certainly gave us plenty to talk about. Perfect for youngsters who want to engage with a classic story in a more accessible format. And not just youngsters either – it makes a great read for grown-ups, too!


Before I go, just another reminder that it’s Book Week Scotland this week, so do look out for bookish events happening in your local area. And don’t forget to pop into your local library to pick up a copy of this free handbag-sized book published to coincide with the event.

I’ll be back soon, with a round up of my ten favourite books of 2019 – which means it’s time to get my thinking cap on, doesn’t it?

In the meantime, don’t forget to tell me about the books you’ve been reading and loving lately.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, my to-read list is always ready to expand 🙂 .


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