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5 GREAT BOOKS TO READ DURING LOCKDOWN AND BEYOND…

With Christmas now well and truly behind us but an awful lot of us still in lockdown I thought you might enjoy a post on some good books, I have read recently.

The Girls by Lori Lansens

The story is about conjoined twins, Rose and Ruby, and it’s told from each of their very different perspectives. This unusual tale of sisterhood is a wonderful read and makes you appreciate what we take for granted. In twenty-nine years, Rose Darlen has never spent a moment apart from her twin sister, Ruby. She has never gone for a solitary walk or had a private conversation. Yet, in all that time, she has never once looked into Ruby’s eyes. Joined at the head, ‘The Girls’ (as they are known in their small town) attempt to lead a normal life, but can’t help being extraordinary. Now almost thirty, Rose and Ruby are on the verge of becoming the oldest living craniopagus twins in history, but they are remarkable for a lot more than their unusual sisterly bond. I promise: you will never forget this extraordinary story. Love, connection, loyalty, raw humanity and much more are the ingredients of this most unusual novel. Lori Lansens’ blend of tragedy and comedy will touch you deeply’ Isabel Allende

Letters of Note : Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher

It’s a book to pick up and put down and lovely to have on your lounge table with letters from everyone from Churchill to Virginia Woolf. An intriguing read. A collection of over one hundred of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the popular website of the same name – an online museum of correspondence visited by over 70 million people. From Virginia Woolf’s heart-breaking suicide letter to Queen Elizabeth II’s recipe for drop scones sent to President Eisenhower; from the first recorded use of the expression ‘OMG’ in a letter to Winston Churchill to Gandhi’s appeal for calm to Hitler; and from Iggy Pop’s beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan to Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable job application letter, Letters of Note is a celebration of the power of written correspondence which captures the humour, seriousness, sadness and brilliance that make up all of our lives.

Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

A lively and deeply inspiring novel which shows a view into the working-class life of Mike Muñoz, a 22-year-old who mows lawns for a living and has a talent for creating topiary structures. He lives in an overcrowded, dilapidated home with his hardworking mother and handicapped brother, Nate, and only wants his chance at achieving the American dream but everything seems to be stacked against him. The author gives readers a relatable everyman who is struggling to make ends meet but knows his self-worth and is determined to overcome the difficulties in his life to succeed. It’s a roller coaster of emotions. I went from sad to happy then back to sad again but it has a great ending. A good feel book.

Create Your Own Calm : A Journal for Quieting Anxiety by Meera Lee Patel

Feeling anxious, uncertain, or overwhelmedYou’re not alone. In this empowering new tool for self-care, a popular artist and author Meera Lee Patel present a fresh approach to feeling better. Designed to help us better understand and dial down the everyday worries getting in our way, these thoughtful and beautifully illustrated journal pages are a safe space for reflection, insight, and the freedom to move forward with more clarity and joy. Bringing together inspiring quotes from great thinkers and writers throughout history with engaging journal prompts and plenty of room to capture your thoughts, the book is a calming breath of fresh air and a quiet space to reflect and recharge in a hectic and uncertain world. I popped this book in as I felt it quite appropriate at the moment and ideal for someone who may be feeling anxious. Although I do not have this actual copy a friend bought me something very similar to jot my blog posts in it. However, I am going to use it to jot down how the next year unfolds. Something I wish I had done from the very first lockdown. I always feel good after I have written things down.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

My final book which I have found hard to put down over Christmas is another fiction book but one that will keep you hooked from the beginning to the end. Power couple Jules and Will have whisked their friends and family away to a remote Irish island for their wedding. But all is not going according to plan when someone is murdered. The tension gets almost unbearable and the creepy setting really adds to the atmosphere. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. Need I say more.

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THREE GREAT BOOKS TO HELP YOU BRING THE ART OF MINDFULNESS HOME…

A Mindful Day – 365 Ways To Live Life by David Dillard-Wright £10.99

From the author of A Mindful Morning and A Mindful Evening comes a guide with 365 positive affirmations and short meditation exercises you can do to relax and unwind at a moment’s notice, A mindful Day.

With all the struggles of modern life, it’s easy to get lost in a whirlwind of stress, worry, and indifference. Between work, family, and day-to-day tasks, it can be hard to find a moment of peace. By taking just a few minutes a day to meditate, you can improve your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

A Mindful Day is an easy way to quiet your body and mind. With 365 affirmations as well as soothing mindfulness meditations, you can learn how to take a break from your day and find peace whenever you need it the most. Simple exercises like focusing on your breathing or listening to the sounds in nature can calm your nerves and melt away the demands of modern life.

Spending time to get in touch with your soul can help you achieve true balance and tranquility. Let A Mindful Day help release your stress and find the peace you deserve. Or, treat someone you know could really benefit from this book for Christmas.

I Am Peace – A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde for children, £9.01

When the world feels chaotic, find peace within through an accessible mindfulness practice from the bestselling picture-book dream team that brought us I Am Yoga. Express emotions through direct speech. Find empathy through imagination. Connect with the earth. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Breathe, taste, smell, touch, and be present.

Perfect for the classroom or for bedtime, Susan Verde’s gentle, concrete narration and Peter H. Reynolds’s expressive watercolor illustrations bring the tenets of mindfulness to a kid-friendly level. Featuring an author’s note about the importance of mindfulness and a guided meditation for children, I Am Peace

With our world in a difficult place at the moment this book would be perfect for any child who seems to be struggling with everything to do with the pandemic.

For the skeptic – The Mindful Geek – Secular Meditation for Smart Skeptics by Michael W Taft £9.99

The Mindful Geek details how to derive the benefits of mindfulness meditation without having to join a religion or drink metaphysical Kool-Aid. In the book, Michael Taft gives you step-by-step instructions in the powerful and reliable techniques of mindfulness meditation, and outlines the psychological and neuroscientific research underpinning these practices.

An excellent book for beginners who are atheists, agnostics, and skeptics of all stripes who want help with anxiety, depression, and to enjoy life more.