Top 5 : Weepy Books

May 4, 2009

It’s not often a book reduces me to tears, but there have been a few.  I usually sneak off somewhere with book in one hand and a wad of tissue in another.

Here are our top picks if you’re after a reason to weep:

1. Marley and Me by John Grogan

Marley arrives in the Grogan family as a puppy and spends the next 13 years destroying their belongings and eating them out of house and home.  Marley is a dog that just doesn’t get the idea of what humans expect, but shows undying devotion to the Grogan’s as they have a family and grow to love and accept him.

2. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

I know!  It’s ages old, but I remember sobbing to this book at a very young age. A love story between Maggie and Father Ralph which spans many years, it keeps you wondering whether they’ll be  a happy ending.  Being torn between the woman he loves and the clergy haunts Father Ralph all his life.

3. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult

The story of a child,  Anna conceived to be a genetic match to her sister, Kate who has leukemia.  After blood and marrow transplants, Kate’s kidneys fail and Anna is expected to donate one of her kidneys.  Anna hires a lawyer to become medially emancipated from her parents which succeeds.  The story doesn’t end there, but I won’t spoil it for anyone that may want to read it.

4. My Best Friends Girl by Dorothy Koomson

The story of two friends whose friendship breaks down when Adele betrays Kamryn by sleeping with her fiance, resulting in the birth of Tegan.  Some years later, Adele contacts Kamryn and begs her to adopt Tegan as she is dying.  With a great job and a hectic social life, the last thing Kamryn wants is to adopt a child, especially one that is her ex fiance’s.

5. Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Not being too specific here, but several of these books have had me weeping.  I only discovered Harry when the fourth book came out and then read books one to four in  a week.  Just great books and if you haven’t read them yet – er why?


Top 5 : Recession Reads

April 27, 2009

As the recession sinks its teeth in a little bit deeper and we’re increasingly feeling the effects of belt-tightening and economic insecurity, we might be able to find solace and inspiration in the humble book for living a more frugal, less consumer-hungry life.  Here are our top picks for when you’re feeling the pinch:

1.  The Money Diet by Martin Lewis
As a true thrifty missus, I didn’t actually buy this book but read through a friend’s copy after spotting it lying on her coffee table.  You may have seen Martin Lewis on GMTV, or perhaps have stumbled across his website.  Well, he continues his good work in his book.  Stuffed full of Martin’s practical tips, it dispenses no-nonsense advice for those who are finding themselves overwhelmed by the day-to-day task of keeping on top of their spending.  Please note this book is geared towards a UK audience.

2. Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton
Why are we all spending so much anyway?  Alain de Botton investigates the social and historical reasons for our buy-now-pay-later society and provides us with the tools to break away from our desire to spend-spend-spend.  It’s more of a philosophical study than self-help guide, but there’s no better start to changing habits of a lifetime than to understand the root cause of them.  Written for the masses, it’s an easily accessible philosophy book, peppered with humour and a scarily accurate observation of our world.

3. The Kitchen Revolution by Rosie Sykes, Zoe Heron & Polly Russell
This is the meal planner’s bible.  As the website says “The Kitchen Revolution is the life-saving cookbook you’ve been waiting for – home cooking using fresh, seasonal produce, with weekly planners, recipes and shopping lists that will enable you to maximise the weekly shop for you and the family. It’s the ‘back to basics’ approach, minimising waste through thoughtful shopping and a little preparation. Each week features a Big Meal from Scratch (a delicious, filling meal for the whole family); Something for Nothing (two easy meals that use leftovers in a tasty and inspiring way); a Seasonal Supper (a quick, simple supper made from seasonal ingredients); Larder Feast (for when the fridge is bare, a whole meal just from storecupboard ingredients) and a 2 for 1 meal (a comforting meal that freezes well so that you can eat half immediately, and store half in the freezer)”. 

4. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Okay, I might be dabbling in a bit of schadenfreude here, but no matter how bad you think you have it, there’s always someone out there who has it worse.  Frank McCourt’s memoirs take us through his poverty-stricken childhood in Limerick, surviving such dangers as an alcoholic father, malnutrition and a typhoid-induced stay in hospital.  This is a moving story of desperate poverty and provides some important perspective in these times of recession.

5. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
What on earth has this got to do with a recession?  Well you know what, when the world’s economies are crashing down around our ears and all anyone can talk about is doom and gloom, there is nothing better than a bosom-heaving, breeches-wearing romantic romp to make you forget your woes.

Don’t forget to tell us about any of your suggestions for great recession reads – we’d love to hear from you!