So this past month I’ve read:

How Long Have I Got?: The Story of a ‘Terminal’ Cancer PatientHow Long Have I Got?: The Story of a ‘Terminal’ Cancer Patient by Fi Munro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s lots to chew over in this book – still thinking how i feel about ‘cancer warrior’, ‘grateful for cancer’ , etc. I finished reading this book not long after Fi died which makes it even more poignant… and as new tumours have been found in my body which makes death a much closer thing to have to think about and contemplate. Like Fi, I have pursued the academic career, dealt with trying to fit in society, sought to challenge society norms – does stage IV finally offer freedoms from that? There’s a mix of practical and spiritual type advice in here – we definitely don’t sit in the same place spiritually but are overlapping concerns. Definitely asks good questions and lots to think about.

Stranger Planet (Strange Planet, #2)Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous. Love these cartoons … occasional head-scratcher ones but most there’s a ‘oh yes’!

The Cancer Whisperer: How to let cancer heal your lifeThe Cancer Whisperer: How to let cancer heal your life by Sophie Sabbage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really can’t decide what I think of this book – there’s some really excellent tips, especially about mentally coming to terms with metastatic cancer .. and despite a 2014 poor prognosis Sophie is still here and active in life. There’s some excellent lists that she’s done to get friends on board with how to help, there’s lots of excellent stuff about sorting out priorities, and all preparing for death (regardless of medical status). I’m less comfortable with the ‘emotional interrogation of the roots of cancer’ (though she does say this isn’t meant to be toxic blaming), and also the large £ spent on nutrition and other therapies (feel patients are vulnerable to this kind of thing) – but like that’s she’s found an oncologist where she’s found a balance between convention/‘alternative’ treatments. Book is not prescriptive and very much gives plenty to think about.

Faith, Hope and MischiefFaith, Hope and Mischief by Andrew Graystone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, I have just finished chemotherapy today and wanted something with a little hope that was gentle – and this certainly fit the bill (including a chapter in Andrew’s own cancer story)… even though I’m tired and ricocheting between steroids and antihistamines- just found myself smiling.

Full caveat – Andrew is a good friend of mine, but his voice comes through the pages and that is very comforting today. As he tries to work his own way through life (no magic answers) he takes us upon the journey of life’s everyday adventures.

Humankind: A Hopeful History Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, should it be a 5… it’s very close. As a fellow historian, thought this was well put together and made good use of stories. The narrative carried the material along well, lots of references… and I liked how he gave insights into how academic systems/knowledge work… and especially how he demonstrated how his own thinking had changed over time. A book with hope, combined with realism … not sure agree with everything he says, but plenty to chew on!

Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive EatingAnti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve followed the author’s work on social media for quite some time, and find her to draw material from a range of academic (and other) sources in creating her arguments …. as she does in this book. I can be wary about the notion of ‘intuitive eating’ as a ‘must get it right – more rules’ type of thing, but the author clearly doesn’t go in this direction. There is a compelling argument throughout – driven by Christy’s own understanding of coming from a place of disordered eating, to peaceful eating (albeit with the occasional diet type thoughts – which take years to clear) … health at every size, body liberation – and the need for structural change. All whilst being v readable.

Summer SistersSummer Sisters by Judy Blume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was curious – think picked this up for 25p – as like most teenagers I read ‘Forever’ – and in some ways the book feels v similar – but with a more sophisticated storyline woven in between. The book does centre on the main character but also offers perspectives from a range of different characters – v readable in short bursts.

Touching The VoidTouching The Void by Joe Simpson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Undecided about 4 (because doing crazy dangerous things) but a 5 because the book is v well written and really draws you into the story of how Joe Simpson broke his legs miles up a mountain, then fell down a crevasse – thought he was done for, and then found a (painful) way out (I don’t think that’s a spoiler, as he’s the book author). A lot of emphasis on how his friend made the difficult decision to cut the rope – because that clearly led to kickbacks … and overall an interesting insight into the will to hang on to life when everything looks like it’s against you …

The Girl in the Pink RaincoatThe Girl in the Pink Raincoat by Alrene Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set in the Second World War – in Manchester – this Story has a real mix of sad/happy … and trots along at a good pace. Read pretty much in one go – not too saccharine – characters feel well rounded.


Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the WorldSmile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World by Barbara Ehrenreich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As someone who’s dealing with breast cancer (incurable), has trained as a life coach in the past (and finds a lot of aspects of it helpful), and someone of faith – this was a really interesting book (well referenced) demonstrating the origins of what I (not uniquely) refer to as ‘toxic positivity’ and how it has permeated so much of (American) culture – and the focus on optimism led to the big crash of 2008/9. I get frustrated at how much pressure is put on cancer patients to be ‘positive’ otherwise it’s ‘our fault’ … and same other aspects of life. This book gives a balance to that across a number of aspects of life … including how it has infected faith to produce the ‘prosperity gospel’.

The Weight of ThingsThe Weight of Things by Marianne Fritz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I couldn’t decide whether to go for 3 because I got quite lost in this book, or 4, because that seemed to be the point – giving and insight into the traumatised mind of one of the main characters. Set around/between WW1 and WW2 there’s quite a lot of darkness here …


Seeing Miss HeartstoneSeeing Miss Heartstone by Nichole Van
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A pretty decent regency romance – with a strong female character and a decent plot line – and thankful that unlike many – doesn’t feel the need for a sex scene… which always feels pretty unbelievable for regency … although some would say a 19 year old woman with that much independence and business nouse may not be either – anyway – I enjoyed it!

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