Holiday reads | Book reviews

Is there anything better than reading a book whilst watching the waves come and go? I don’t think so. My favourite thing about going on summer holidays is undoubtedly the freedom to do nothing but read all day. Stepping into a new world every few days and seeing life through so many different eyes. This year we went to Sardinia for our summer holiday and I decided to buy four books that were supposed to last me 10 days. Of course they didn’t but luckily there was an array of books by the reception and I got to borrow a book that had actually been on my reading list anyway. So if you’re wondering which books to take on your holiday or just which books to read in general, keep reading, there are some recommendations coming your way. xx

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Synopsis: Live life in a bubble? Or risk everything for love? Maddy is allergic to the world. She hasn’t left her house in seventeen years. Olly is the boy next door. He’s determined to find a way to reach her. Every, Everything is about the crazy risks we take for love. 

It is about so much more in my opinion. Everything, Everything is about trust, friendship, illness, the purpose in life, mother and daughter relationships and yes of course, love. I very much enjoyed reading this book; the style of writing is beautiful and this book also contains illustrations and iMessage conversations, making it stand out from other YA books. I loved looking at all the illustrations although that meant that the actual novel was even shorter and I read the entire book within a day. It was interesting to learn more about such a rare disease and it was inspiring to see how Maddy structured her world not being able to leave the house. Speaking of Maddy, all the characters are incredibly interesting and sweet, especially Olly – the relationship between Maddy and him seems a bit utopian and I wish we would learned more about him in the novel. Just like I wish there would have been an epilogue. The ending is very interesting though – can’t really say more without giving too much away – and after finishing this book, it was still on my mind for days. All in all, a thought-provoking and inspiring novel that I can definitely recommend.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Synopsis: At nine years old, Frankie Presto is sent to America in the bottom of a boat with only an old guitar and six precious strings. His amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the twentieth century with his stunning talent impacting numerous icons along the way, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Carole King and even KISS. Frankie makes records and is adored. But his gift is also his burden, as he realises, through his music, he can affect people’s futures – with one string turning blue whenever a life is altered. Then, at the height of his popularity, Frankie Presto vanishes and his legend grows. Only decades later does he reappear, to change one last life.

One of the best novels I’ve ever read. I bought this book after seeing a fellow blogger recommend it on Instagram and I’m glad I did because I’ve hardly ever felt so inspired reading a novel. One thing that makes this book so special is that the story is told from the perspective of music itself, a loving and forgiving observer. Some chapters are written from the perspective of fellow musicians or other people whose life was impacted by Frankie. Getting to know Frankie from so many different perspectives felt a bit like solving a huge puzzle trying to fit all the different pieces together. The style of writing is weirdly soothing and I felt very calm reading this book, even though it mentioned personal loss and war tragedies. It’s hard to describe but seeing how far Frankie made it despite personal tragedies made you realise that you could do it too and that life goes on no matter what and that there will always be someone who cares and something worth living for. Apart from the style of writing, the story is really interesting too and lets you embark on a musical journey through the decades. The descriptions are so vivid, I felt like I was there with Frankie whilst reading the book. All in all, this book is one of the most inspiring and gripping books I’ve read so far and I can highly recommend you give it a read.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

Synopsis: Are you stressed out, overbooked, and underwhelmed by life? Fed up with pleasing everyone else before you please yourself? Then it’s time to stop giving a f**k. This irreverent and practical book explains how to rid yourself of unwanted obligations, shame, and guilt – and give your f**ks instead to people and things that make you happy. From family dramas to having a bikini body, the simple NotSorry Method for mental decluttering will help you unleash the power of not giving a f**k and spend your time, energy and money on the things that really matter. 

I bought this book hoping it would help me live a more relaxed life and care less about other people and to be honest, it didn’t really do the trick for me. However, there are some important things I took away from it, especially the realisation that you could only influence other people’s feelings but not their thoughts. And some suggestions on how to say ‘no’ to things were useful. Plus the style of writing is very funny (although too harsh for my liking). But there were a few aspects in this book I just didn’t agree with. One example is personal policies e.g. not donating to charities in general because then you’d have to donate to every single one of them. Which in my opinion, is the worst way of dealing with that situation. It’s a bit like saying ‘I can’t live a life that is completely sustainable and never harms the environment so why even try’. Not the way to go if you ask me. In this book, you are encouraged to write down things you give a fuck about and things you don’t give a fuck about and maybe that’s just me, but I’m a person who is interested in so many different things that I didn’t not feel any calmer having finished this list (or maybe I did it wrong?). Plus for me it’s pretty obvious that I don’t engage in activities that make me feel unhappy or uncomfortable like going clubbing until the morning (maybe I’m not as much as a people pleaser as I thought). This book did help me feel less guilty about not giving a f**k about certain things though e.g. celebrities, watching sports on TV and well, you name it. But then I think that certain f**ks just have to be given. In this book, the author mentions not giving a f**k about polar bears as an example and I just have to disagree with her on that one – sure, don’t give a f**k if your actions don’t influence others but as the species who are largely responsible for climate change I think it’s only fair to care about the species that suffer from the consequences. This is just one example but I could go on about this book for a long time. Sure, there were some aspects I found helpful but it didn’t help me achieve the enlightenment I had hoped for.

The One memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Synopsis: Flora has amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is. Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t – and the next day she remembers it. It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten. But the boy is gone.

Now on to a book I thoroughly enjoyed. As a psychology student the topic of this novel really spoke to me and although I had heard about cases of anterograde amnesia in later adulthood, I had never heard about a case like Flora’s. As a teenager, this disease must be incredibly difficult to cope with since your body changes so much and your mind with it. But in Flora’s thoughts, she is still 10 and every time she looks into the mirror, she experiences confusion. If this book doesn’t teach the art of living in the moment, I don’t know what will – for Flora only the present exists. When Flora fell in love, I was prepared to read about a typical love story that defies all odds but no, the book has much more in store than that and a lot of the things that happened completely took me by surprise. This book is about love and safety, passion and compassion, the essence of time, manipulation, trust and family. It is a page-turner for sure and it will stay on your mind for a very long time. The ironic thing is that as a reader you quickly know more about Flora’s life than Flora herself and unlike her, you have the ability to connect the different fragments. Experiencing life through Flora’s eyes will make you see your own world through different eyes and will make you want to live every moment to its fullest. If you’re looking for a YA book to read, please read this one, you won’t regret it.

Which books did you read this summer? Are there any books on your reading list? xx