Book Club

Back in April 2016, some friends and I started a book club. I don’t think any of us expected to keep it going for three years! We’re now firmly into our fourth season (we choose one book each per season) and are very much enjoying it.

My friend and fellow book-clubber Natalie has been keeping a record of what we’ve read and the scores we have given each book and the following blog is a amalgamation of my words and words and information from Natalie…

Book club has given us all opportunity to read things outside of our usual go to genre. We’ve had psychological thrillers, fantasy, post apocalyptic worlds, historical and non fiction. Through book group I personally have discovered a love for ‘who done it’ detective novels. I don’t know why I’d never read that type of book before because I love that sort of thing on tv!

We take it in turns to choose a book each season and then meet up after approx 6 to 8 weeks which gives us plenty of time to read each book without too much pressure.

Our meetings normally consist of dinner, drinks and general chatting for a few hours before realising that we’ve not actually talked about the book yet! Our best meeting took place on the beach while we were on a camping holiday in Cornwall – we dug a hole in the sand and all sat with our feet in it, discussing Us by David Nicholls. The book only got an average review but the location was lovely!

The four books I’ve chosen so far for book club have been…

The Year of Living Danishley by Helen Russell

I can’t remember where I heard about this book, but it was around the time that I discovered Minimalism and everyone was talking about getting hygge!

We all enjoyed reading it and until recently it was the highest scoring book at an average of 7.9 out of 10.

Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman

Phillip Pullman is my favourite author and His Dark Materials are my favourite books. I don’t generally re-read books, but I’ve read this trilogy four or five times and can’t wait for the second installment of The Book of Dust later this year.

I’d previously avoided reading his other books because I was scared I wouldn’t enjoy them as much and that it might taint my love of His Dark Materials (silly… I know). But last year I took the plunge and read his Sally Lockhart mysteries. I’m happy to say that I loved them.

Northern Lights got a fairly average review from the group but I’m pretty sure I gave it a ten!

The third book I chose (on the recommendation of Richard & Judy) was Together by Julie Cohen. I’m not putting a link for this one because I don’t want to recommend it… you’ve got better things to do with your time! (Sorry I made you read this book clubbers).

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This is my fourth choice for book club and I haven’t started it yet so I can’t tell you much about it.

It was recommended by my friend Rebecka and I’m looking forward to reading it when I finish How Not to be a Boy by Robert Webb (not a book club book but I would recommend both this and How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran… they work well together if you like that kinda thing).

Our highest scoring book to date is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. We unanimously loved this book and scored it at 8.9 out of 10 which might be a bit difficult to beat!

Anther popular book was Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig which we gave an 8.3 average.

Psychological thrillers have taken some low scores from us recently. Perhaps they’re becoming more predictable the more we read that genre or perhaps we’re just tired of the ‘big twist’ format?

Historical and fantasy books get our most varied reviews with with a love or hate reaction – but it makes the discussion interesting when when we disagree!

Book club has definitely encouraged us all to read more. it sparks discussion, expands understanding and knowledge, reduces stress and most importantly makes us plan time together in our ever busy lives.

If you have any book recommendations for us please pop them in the comments – Thanks!

Thank you Natalie for your help with this blog x

Moody Reading 

Beardie’s guest blog got me thinking about self reflection and how and when I reflect.

Knitting the Moody Blanket means that I’m taking a bit of time at the end of each day to reflect and think about what my mood has been throughout the day. But I’m also finding myself reflecting whenever I have some quiet time…perhaps whilst driving or brushing my teeth!

I often find I need a nudge to give myself some quiet time and stop my mind racing around. I recently started using head-space and I find the guided meditation a really effective way to clear my head and get a good night’s sleep – particularly when I’m away with work.

I tend to use reading as a way to quiet my mind and I’m currently enjoying escaping to Hogwarts each night! I also enjoy reading books which are not an escape as such – but have made me reflect, altered the way I view the world and in some way ‘changed’ me.

Yes ManOne of these books was Yes Man by Danny Wallace. I haven’t seen the film because it sounds pretty awful and nothing like the book! And when I re-read the book a few years back it was nice to read but not as amazing as I remembered. But it had such an impact on my life at the time and continues to do so.

I think the effect this book had on my life was a lot to do with timing. Yes Man begins with Danny Wallace sitting around playing computer games and making excuses not to go out. Then, after being told by a stranger to ‘say yes more’, he decides to say yes to everything for a year…and much hilarity ensues! At the time I was not long out of uni, feeling rather negative, a bit overwhelmed by life and could very much relate to the finding excuses not to go out part of the book. I didn’t take things to the extreme of saying yes to everything, but after reading Yes Man, I started to say yes more, go with the flow more and go out more. This influenced a lot of big decisions I needed to take at that point in my life ultimately shaped my life as it is now.

Recently in our book group – it was my turn to choose, and I went for The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. Denmark is the happiest nation in the world and with the Moody Blanket Knit-along approaching I was interested to know why and if there was anything I could take on board to make my year more yellow.


The most interesting thing for me was hearing the response from the other book group members. The general consensus seemed to be that it wasn’t a book they would have chosen to read but they enjoyed it. Whilst reading the book we had all reflected on our own lives, happiness and work/life balance, and as well as our normal rating of the book out of ten – we also decided to rate our own happiness out of ten!

This book reminded me a little of Yes Man in the sense that it was a true story of a year long challenge. Both books are wrapped up in witty anecdotes but ultimately have a vibe of positivity and the message that we have the power to make ourselves happy.

After reading The Year of Living Danishly – one of my friends really took on board some of the things which supposedly make the Danes happy, such as trusting people and having lots of candles! I love our little book group and the fact that my choice of book may have had the positive impact on others that Yes Man had on me is a lovely thought.

Have you ever read something which has made you look at the world differently without expecting it?

Summer Hibernation


It’s that time of year where I retreat into hibernation! With very few workshops during the summer months, I make the most of having time at home to get ready for the knitting season ahead.

I’m busy knitting up samples for new patterns which will launch in time for Yarndale. And even more excitingly – I’m preparing a knit-along for 2017, which you will be able to sign up for from late September. I can’t wait to tell you more about that!

And of course I’ve also been making the most of the sunny days and working in the garden (when it’s not been too hot or rainy!).

I love reading whilst knitting in the garden – although it does slow me down a bit. I’ve joined a book group where we’ve read The Girl With All The Gifts which gave me nightmares and The Song of Achilles which I thought had a good beginning and end but a bit boring in the middle! We’re now reading Us by David Nichols which I’ve read before so I’m re-reading for a re-cap. I think I’m enjoying it more this time because I haven’t spent the first half of the book lamenting the fact that it’s not One Day! It’s very different to One Day but still good.

In between book club books I’ve also re-read Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy. This is my comfort blanket book that I always go back to if I’m not sure what to read. I think it’s my fourth read and I’m sure it won’t be my last!

I hope you’re enjoying the summer so far, whether you’re hibernating or holidaying or staring dreamily out of the window! x

Reading and Knitting

Despite being a rather slow reader, I love books and always have a novel on the go. I mostly read in bed to help me switch off and get to sleep, so my consumption varies wildly from reading half a page and waking up with a book on my head, to staying up most of the night reading – knowing that it’s a more productive way to deal with insomnia than ‘trying to sleep’. This normally averages out at a few books per year, and often a few started books that I just lost interest in or left in a hotel room when away with work!

But this year there has been a change. I realised last week that I am reading my tenth book of 2015 and I have thoroughly enjoyed most of them!

The main reason for this change is the fact that I got a Kindle paperwhite for Christmas. It means I can read until late without worrying about keeping Beardie awake by having the light on, and more importantly – I can read hands free while knitting!

I normally choose my books based on recommendations from friends and family, and for the most part this works out well. But it has also meant that occasionally I’ve tried to force myself to continue reading books that I’m just not enjoying and that always makes me lose my reading mojo for a while. Like with knitting – I read to relax at the end of the day. It doesn’t have to be clever, well written or a classic – I just want good characters and a gripping story that I can disappear into. I’ve joined Goodreads, and I’m finding that a great new way to get recommendations based on how I rate the books I’ve read, and it also jogs my memory of books I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

Here are my mini-reviews of this years reads.

distant hoursThe Distant Hours by Kate Morton

This was the first book I purchased for my kindle. I’ve read a couple of Kate Morton’s books and really enjoyed them so I thought it would be a safe bet. It didn’t disappoint with a good amount of intrigue and mysteries that unravelled throughout the book – but were slightly predictable so that I could feel a bit clever for working them out!

Her books tend to have a similar format, which I don’t mind – but I do get them confused with each other so it’s good to leave a gap between reading her books!

MemoryKeepersDaughter The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards

A good and interesting read. I borrowed this from my mum so I was reading it in book form rather than on the kindle and I think I enjoyed it less because of this!

I’m already struggling to remember details of this book, so that might suggest that although I enjoyed reading it, I maybe didn’t love it.


the roadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy

Back on the kindle – I went for the cheery ‘The Road’ (!). I saw the film when it first came out and my brother scared me by explaining how the post-apocalyptic world portrayed could happen and most probably will in our children’s lifetime. Thanks bro!

Despite this – I loved the film and equally enjoyed the book. I couldn’t put it down. Sometimes seeing the film before reading the book can spoil it, but not in this case. As soon as I finished the book I wanted to watch the film again, so we hired it that evening!

the-secret-keeperThe Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Back to a ‘borrowed from mum’ paperback. I mentioned above that Kate Morton’s books are a little similar in format and I get them confused with each other – and reading two in a year was a mistake because it got confusing! I was glad to be reading this in book form because I went back and re-read a couple of chapters – which isn’t so easy on the kindle.

Despite the confusion – this is now my favourite Kate Morton book. As with all her books, it flips between two time periods. I read it really quickly because each chapter would have a little cliffhanger, so I would be desperate to get through the present day chapter to get back to war time and find out what happened next and vice-versa. Loved it!


usUs by David Nicholls

I bought this for the kindle after hearing David Nicholls talk to Radcliffe and Maconie on 6 Music. It was really interesting hearing him talk about the success of ‘One Day’ and the fact that he sort of has to accept that that will only happen once. He spoke about writing a whole book after the success of One Day that was basically just thrown out before going back to the drawing board and writing Us.

I found it a bit difficult to get into at first. Perhaps because One Day is one of my favourite books and this is so different. Or perhaps because I couldn’t relate to a middle aged man as easily as Em & Dexter’s characters in One Day. But it didn’t take long, and I ending up loving it. When reading One Day I burst into tears and threw the book across the room. With Us, I just welled up a bit and sighed in a content manner. I’d like to think that was the reaction David Nicholls wanted.

gone girlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This book was fantastic! I think I read it in about a week. I wanted to see the film when it came out, but find it’s always best to read the book first. I knew that Ben Affleck played Nick, so his face was in my mind, but I didn’t know anything else about the film which was great as that might have spoilt it.

I’m not going to say anything else because I don’t want to give anything away! Read it.

finding emmaFinding Emma by Steena Holmes

Having suddenly become a 12 books a year sort of reader, I had now run out of ideas and recommendations for what to read next. So I bought this based on the fact that the cover looked nice, it’s apparently a best seller and it was reduced to 99p on kindle.

This was a mistake! I think it might be written for young teenagers? Maybe I’m missing something because, as I say, it’s a best seller – but I felt it had no depth, in places was really badly written and I had no empathy for any of the characters.

After reading this I joined Goodreads, to get recommendations based on my ratings, so hopefully I won’t get sucked in by a discount and a nice cover again!

 roomRoom by Emma Donaghue

This was a Goodreads recommendation and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It’s about a mother and son held captive in a room, written entirely from the point of view of the five year old boy. I can’t say more without spoilers really!

I think they’re making it into a film as well which will be interesting. In the book we only know what Jack is thinking and feeling which might be difficult to maintain in the film.

still-alice-500x772Still Alice by Lisa Genova

This is another one that I wanted to read before seeing the film.

Such an interesting book, as it is written entirely from the point of view of Alice as she succumbs to early onset Althzeimer’s, with only glimpses of how it affects the people around her.

It was a happier book than I expected and I’m looking forward to seeing the film.



life-of-pi-book-cover1Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I’ve only just started Life of Pi, but I’m enjoying it so far. I particularly enjoyed the sloth facts in the first chapter!


What are you reading at the moment? If you have any recommendations for me – do get in touch! I’ll get back to my knitting and reading now x