There’s nothing better than reading a good book whilst you’re away. With help from my wonderful friend @laurawhitehead52 who always recommends amazing books to me, here are some of my favourites that I have read and recommend for your own enjoyment.
I’ll upload my favourite book each month with a coconut rating so make sure you subscribe to our page (at the bottom) for my Book of the Month updates.
(If you click on the book covers you will be re-directed to their Amazon pages where you can buy them for yourselves)
Happy reading x
Modern Love – Daniel Jones
A joyful collection of the most popular, provocative, and unforgettable essays from the New York Times ‘Modern Love’ column, featuring stories from the upcoming anthology series starring Tina Fey, Andy Garcia, Anne Hathaway, Catherine Keener, Dev Patel, and John Slattery.
A young woman goes through the five stages of ghosting grief. A man’s promising fourth date ends in the emergency room. A female lawyer with bipolar disorder experiences the highs and lows of dating. A widower hesitates about introducing his children to his new girlfriend. A divorcée in her seventies looks back at the beauty and rubble of past relationships.
These are just a few of the people who tell their stories in Modern Love featuring dozens of the most memorable essays to run in the New York Times “Modern Love” column since its debut in 2004.
Some of the stories are unconventional, while others hit close to home. Some reveal the way technology has changed dating forever; others explore the timeless struggles experienced by anyone who has ever searched for love. But all of the stories are, above everything else, honest. Together, they tell the larger story of how relationships begin, often fail, and-when we’re lucky-endure.
This is the perfect book for anyone who’s loved, lost, stalked an ex on social media, or pined for true romance: in other words, anyone interested in the endlessly complicated workings of the human heart.
In At The Deep End – Kate Davies
Until recently, Julia hadn’t had sex in three years.
• a one-night stand is accusing her of breaking his penis;
• a sexually confident lesbian is making eyes at her over confrontational modern art;
• and she’s wondering whether trimming her pubes makes her a bad feminist
•Julia’s about to learn that she’s been looking for love – and satisfaction – in all the wrong places…
Frank, filthy and very, very funny, In at the Deep End is a brilliant debut from a major new talent.
Pinch of Nom – Kate Allinson & Kay Featherstone
Sticking with the theme of food after Christmas, we felt that this would be the perfect book for many during January. This book has become Sarah’s bible over the last year with us eating many yummy dinners that are healthy yet still exciting. The perfect accompaniment for those healthy January weeks.
Sharing delicious home-style recipes with a hugely engaged online community, pinchofnom.com has helped millions of people to cook well and lose weight. The Pinch of Nom cookbook can help novice and experienced home-cooks enjoy exciting, flavourful and satisfying meals. Accessible to everyone by not including diet points, all of these recipes are compatible with the principles of the UK’s most popular diet programmes.
There are 100 incredible recipes in the book, 33 of which are vegetarian. Each recipe has been tried and tested by twenty Pinch of Nom community members to ensure it is healthy, full of flavour and incredibly easy to make. Whether it’s Cumberland Pie, Mediterranean Chicken Orzo, Mexican Chilli Beef or Chicken Balti, this food is so good you’ll never guess the calorie count. This book does not include ‘values’ from mainstream diet programmes as these are everchanging. Instead the recipes are labelled with helpful icons to guide you towards the ones that suit you best – whether you’re looking for something veggie, fancy a fakeaway, want to feed a family of four or have limited time to spare.
This month, we’re recommending something a little different. As it’s Christmas, a time of eating and drinking, we felt it might be nice to show you what we’ve been cooking from, in the lead up to – and after – Christmas.
‘Jamie’s got you covered with his ultimate festive guide – the perfect gift for anyone hosting Christmas which they’ll come back to year after year.
With classic recipes for every part of Christmas dinner, veggie alternatives, clever ways to use up all of those leftovers, top tips for cooking meat perfectly, and even recipes for edible gifts and Christmas cocktails – he really has thought of everything!’
The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell
FROM THE #1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THEN SHE WAS GONE
In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.
In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.
They’ve been dead for several days.
Who has been looking after the baby?
And where did they go?
Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets
Cilka’s Journey – Heather Morris
The sequel to the International Number One Bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz, based on a true story of love and resilience.
I’ve absolutely loved reading this book. From someone who has suffered with anxiety and insomnia for as long as I can remember, there are many insightful explanations and tips in ‘The Anxiety Solution’ that I found extremely useful. If you struggle to switch off, or you persistently overthink, I recommend this book in helping you to learn more about how you might begin to cope with daily mental health struggles.
‘Having experienced severe anxiety and panic attacks first hand since her teens, and having found her own path to inner healing, Chloe now feels privileged to be able to share with others the transformative tools and techniques she used herself to achieve a sense of control and inner peace’.
The Wife Between Us
‘A clever thriller with masterful twists’ Karin Slaughter
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
It’s about a jealous wife, obsessed with her replacement.
It’s about a younger woman set to marry the man she loves.
The first wife seems like a disaster; her replacement is the perfect woman.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
You will be wrong.
The Rules of Life – Richard Templar
This is by far one of the best motivational books I’ve read. Focusing on a whole range of topics, it really helps you to think about you approach to creating the best version of yourself.
Couldn’t recommend it more highly.
“The Rules of Life: A Personal Code for Living a Better, Happier, More Successful Life” is a motivational guide from Richard Templar, as he explains how to live life with your head held high, understanding how to live and work with the many different personalities around you. With plenty of common sense and simple wisdom, “The Rules of Life” will motivate and inspire many a reader.” –Midwest Book Review
First Man In – Ant Middleton
Special forces training is no walk in the park. The rules are strict and they make sure you learn the hard way, pushing you beyond the limits of what is physically possible. There is no mercy. Even when you are bleeding and broken, to admit defeat is failure.
To survive the gruelling selection process to become a member of the elite you need toughness, aggression, meticulous attention to detail and unrelenting self-discipline, all traits that make for the best leaders.
After 13 years service in the military, with 4 years as a Special Boat Service (SBS) sniper, Ant Middleton is the epitome of what it takes to excel. He served in the SBS, the naval wing of the special forces, the Royal Marines and 9 Parachute Squadron Royal, achieving what is known as the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the UK’s Elite Forces. As a point man in the SBS, Ant was always the first man through the door, the first man into the dark, and the first man in harm’s way.
In this fascinating, exhilarating and revealing book, Ant speaks about the highs and gut-wrenching lows of his life – from the thrill of passing Special Forces Selection to dealing with the early death of his father and ending up in prison on leaving the military – and draws valuable lessons that we can all use in our daily lives.
The tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris
In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.
Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.
So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.
Watching You – Lisa Jewell
You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow. You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room. That’s when you meet the man next door. He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him. All the time.But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession.Or that someone is watching you.
On the Front Line with Women who Fight Back – Stacey Dooley
Through the course of her documentary making, Stacey has covered a variety of topics, from sex trafficking in Cambodia, to Yazidi women fighting back in Syria. At the core of her reporting are incredible women in extraordinary and scarily ordinary circumstances – from sex workers in Russia, to victims of domestic violence in Honduras. In her first book, On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back, Stacey draws on her encounters with these brave and wonderful women, using their experiences as a vehicle to explore issues at the centre of female experience.
The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**K – Sarah Knight
A slightly different book this month, not a story but more of a coffee table eye-opener.
The Blurb – 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 will free you to spend your time, energy and money on the things that really matter.
F**k it: Do What you Love – John Parkin
Louis – This is a book that I’ve absolutely loved reading recently. By highlighting the importance of doings the things that you love to do and giving you the kick needed to stop making excuses as to why you don’t do them, I’ve found this book to be really inspiring.
Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if we all did the things that we want to do, removing the barriers that we create for ourselves that stop us from doing the things that we love. I was immediately drawn into into this book by the list of ‘life’ excuses that John Parkin references at the beginning; something that I’m sure most of us can relate to, whether it be from ourselves or the people around us.
Seriously good book and my top recommendation for the start of 2019 with all of those New Years resolutions coming into play 😉
‘In this highly entertaining and motivational book, John sets out to prove that when we do what we love, we’re actually more likely to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more successful. He addresses the significant blocks that people experience when they consider doing what they love, including: ‘Doing what you love is for time-off, not work’, ‘Doing what I love would be selfish’, ‘I just don’t know what I love’ and ‘I could never make a living from doing what I love’. Through no-nonsense ideas, fascinating facts and motivating calls to action, John brings us from pessimism to inspiration, so that our trail of thought becomes powered by ‘F**k it, I can’t waste any more of my life’, ‘F**k it, I will find a way to make this work’, ‘F**k it, I will do what I love’.
F**k It: Do What You Love is not just a book: it’s a call to action to get every single person to spend their precious time on this planet doing what they love.’
Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton
Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon
Bryony Gordon has OCD.
It’s the snake in her brain that has told her ever since she was a teenager that her world is about to come crashing down: that her family might die if she doesn’t repeat a phrase 5 times, or that she might have murdered someone and forgotten about it. It’s caused alopecia, bulimia, and drug dependency. And Bryony is sick of it. Keeping silent about her illness has given it a cachet it simply does not deserve, so here she shares her story with trademark wit and dazzling honesty.
Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.
Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s diaries provide a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.
Spinning Around: History of the Soul LP Vol 2 – John Lias
This is my Dad’s book and I must say, it’s incredible! It’s the second and final volume of two books that have taken an unflinching look at just over 6,000 soul LPs. Some are great, some are awful, but all are discussed. Such an exercise has never been attempted before anywhere in the world. In the same way that Volume 1 mixed up the well-known with the deeply obscure, Volume 2 covers the like of The Temptations, The Supremes, Luther Vandross, Wilson Pickett and Bobby Womack. But it also looks at Baby Washington, D.J. Rogers, The Masqueraders and The New Birth. Not to mention Joy Dan Prince, Dwight Ross, Superior Movement and The Montgomery Express. This hardcover book of 430 pages includes 12 pages of coloured photographs.Even if you don’t necessarily buy LPs, buy the book: one of the key works on soul music. Well done Daddy, I’m very proud of you!
Eleanor Olipant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live. Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life. Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than…fine?
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
So this month’s book is a little different from usual. I (Louis) have read this and often refer back to it whether it’s for my own personal gain our if I’ve found myself in one of those deep conversations about life that you can quite easily find yourself in whilst travelling. The Power of Now is a book that helps to enlighten people, with a focus on life and issues such as anxiety, insomnia – something I can relate to a lot. For me, this book helps to rationalise those daily struggles that you might have in your own mind about various things to do with life. Don’t get me wrong, it can go very deep at times but you don’t have to sit and read the bits you can’t identify with, I merely move on and find the bits where I can. I genuinely do think about some of the things mentioned in the book a lot and I’ve found it to be very helpful. So, if like me, you’re an ‘over thinker’ or someone that finds it hard to switch off from a very active imagination (bed time is where my mind races) then this book might be the one for you. In a nutshell it highlights that the only moment you have control over is ‘right now’, something that I think we can forget quite easily.
Give it a go. See what you think and let me know 😉
Us – David Nicholls
Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.
He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.
So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.
The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.
What could possibly go wrong?
Every Day – David Levithan
Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
The Girlfriend – Michelle Frances
If you liked B. A. Paris’s Behind Closed Doors or Jenny Blackhurst’s Before I Let You In, you’ll love this compelling and chilling psychological thriller. We all know that family relationships are never straightforward, and we can’t choose our children’s partners. We just have to hope we like them . . .
A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she’ll wish she’d never told.
Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a 23-year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life. Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems. When tragedy strikes, one of them tells an unforgiveable lie – probably the worst lie anyone could tell. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.
#Forfeit – Caroline Batten
Pay the Stake, Roll the Dice, Do the Dare… Getting divorced at twenty-five sucks. Teaching over-confident rich kids when you’re all but homeless sucks. In fact, every single aspect of Daisy Fitzgerald’s life is one big fail. Enter hot young chef, Xander. He’s a Knight-in-Shining-Cricket-Pads who knocks Daisy off her wedge heels and into his privileged world of It-girls, players and Michelin stars. High on cocktails & escapism, Daisy agrees to play Forfeit, the ultimate game of dares. A simple kiss dare ignites her feelings for Xander, but the game is called Forfeit for good reason. Blackmail, betrayal, revenge… Can their relationship go the full three rounds?
Daughter – Jane Shemilt
Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.
But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.
As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios–kidnapping, murder–seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet, for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers–and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.
Jenny knows she’ll never be able to find Naomi unless she uncovers the whole truth about her daughter–a twisting, painful journey into the past that will lead to an almost unthinkable revelation. . .
Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult
When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father. What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.
Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.
It is about opening your eyes.
Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight
Stressed single mother and law partner Kate is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call to say that her teenaged daughter Amelia has been suspended from her exclusive Brooklyn prep school for cheating on an exam. Torn between her head and her heart, she eventually arrives at St Grace’s over an hour late, to be greeted by sirens wailing and ambulance lights blazing. Her daughter has jumped off the roof of the school, apparently in shame of being caught.
A grieving Kate can’t accept that her daughter would kill herself: it was just the two of them and Amelia would never leave her alone like this. And so begins an investigation which takes her deep into Amelia’s private world, into her journals, her email account and into the mind of a troubled young girl.
Then Kate receives an anonymous text saying simply: AMELIA DIDN’T JUMP. Is someone playing with her, or has she been right all along?
Beneath The Surface – Heidi Perks
When the teenage son of Holly Gold’s school friend brutally murders his parents before killing himself, her sleepy home town is rocked by the sudden tragedy.
Appalled, Holly investigates. What could have caused the happy-go-lucky boy she remembers to commit such a heinous crime? When another teen commits suicide, she uncovers a horrifying link between the recent deaths and a dark conspiracy to hide the truth.
But someone doesn’t want Holly asking questions and, as she hunts for evidence to prove her theory, she’s dragged into a nightmare that threatens her life and her sanity. Then tragedy strikes again—and this time it’s closer to home…
Beneath the Surface is a gripping psychological suspense-thriller from the bestselling author of Duplicity, Look Behind You and Where the Memories Lie.
Book of the Month is slightly different this month, but is in keeping with our recent soul trip to Bilbao . My extremely clever dad wrote this book across three years and lists every Soul LP made, referencing music artists from A-K (he is currently writing the rest of the alphabet for the second edition). This book has been a huge success so far and at one point was the number one best selling music book on Amazon. So here’s to John Lias and his great book!
Spinning Around: A History of the Soul LP
This is the first definitive attempt in book form to list and discuss thousands of soul LPs that were issued in the vinyl era. Volume 1 addresses album releases by hundreds of artists from the famous – James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Bland, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Impressions and Aretha Franklin – to the more obscure – John Byrd, Paul Kelly, Bill Coday, Harmon Bethea and Geater Davis – to the completely unknown – Jimmy Dee & The Mighty Dee-Jays, Crack Steppin’ and Charles Hilton Brown. Beautifully produced in hardback, with over 400 pages and 435,000 words, including 108 colour photographs of LP covers, Spinning Around : The History Of The Soul LP, Volume 1 : A – K, is the first truly comprehensive study of this topic ever undertaken anywhere in the world. Even if you don’t necessarily buy LPs, buy the book: one of the key works on soul music. (Volume 2 will follow in spring of 2018).
The Sea Sisters – Lucy Clarke
There are some currents in the relationship between sisters that run so dark and so deep, it’s better for the people swimming on the surface never to know what’s beneath . .
Katie’s carefully structured world is shattered by the news that her headstrong younger sister, Mia, has been found dead in Bali – and the police claim it was suicide.
With only the entries of Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life, and – page by page, country by country – begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.What she discovers changes everything. But will her search for the truth push their sisterly bond – and Katie – to breaking point?
The Sea Sisters is a compelling story of the enduring connection between sisters.
Single mum Jane has just moved to town. She’s got her little boy in tow – plus a secret she’s been carrying for five years.
On the first day of the school run she meets Madeline – a force to be reckoned with, who remembers everything and forgives no one – and Celeste, the kind beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare, but is inexplicably ill at ease. They both take Jane under their wing – while careful to keep their own secrets under wraps.
But a minor incident involving the children of all three women rapidly escalates: playground whispers become spiteful rumours until no one can tell the truth from the lies.
It was always going to end in tears, but how did it end in murder?
2. The Atlas of Us – Tracy Buchanan
A DARK SECRET SHE’LL GO TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH TO UNCOVER …
Louise’s mother is missing in the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand.
The only trace Louise can find is her mother’s distinctive bag. Inside it is a beautiful atlas belonging to a writer named Claire. But what is the connection between Claire and Louise’s missing mum, and can the atlas help Louise find her?
Louise explores the mementoes slipped between the pages of the atlas and uncovers a life-changing revelation, a passionate love affair and a tragedy.
And she learns a secret that nearly destroyed Claire and the man she loved – the same secret her mother has been guarding all these years …
3. Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent
‘Gone Girl fans will love Liz Nugent’s Lying in Wait … it twists, it turns, its characters are utterly despicable and it is a compulsive triumph’ Stylist
From the award-winning author of the No 1 bestseller, Unravelling Oliver …
‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’
Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …
4. The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty
Speak up and hurt the ones you love most or stay silent and hide a crime?
Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband’s hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.
Curious, she opens it – and time stops.
John-Paul’s letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.
Cecilia wants to do the right thing, but right for who?
If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband’s secret, she will hurt those she loves most . . .
If you have any recommendations of what to read on holiday please get in touch and let us know your favourite books. We’d love to hear from you 😉