Loughborough PhD Social & Support Network

#BLOG – Book reviews

By Tymele Deydier

And we’re back with more amazing books to read!

*Disclaimer: I’m not a professional book critic, nor a writer. I’m just a book lover who likes to share her favourite reads and if we can get a discussion going on one of them, I’m up for it*

Non-fictions:

How to Build a Health Brain: Reduce stress, anxiety and depression and future-proof your brain by Kimberley Wilson. This is the kind of book I love, where you learn so much with little effort and without having to look up for difficult words that you don’t understand. Wilson not only brilliantly explains how our brain works and some of the chemical reactions going on but actually gives us the tools to make direct lifestyle changes that are going to benefit our life in so many areas from understanding anxiety and preventing dementia to improving our memory and our sleep.

All In Startup: Launching a New Idea When Everything Is on the Line by Diana Kander. This definitely isn’t your basic starting-a-business type of book. I mean, it does tell you everything you need to know about what to do and what no to do if you want to successfully launch your own business, but what is special about Kander’s book is that she does so using a fictional character, Owen, a wanna-be and so far failed entrepreneur. But that’s all going to change when he meets Sam, a very successful and savvy businesswoman at a poker tournament in Las Vegas…

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcom Gladwell. In this book, Gladwell uses real-life examples and anecdotes from crime rates in New York City, to children’s TV shows and advertisement companies to illustrate how ideas spread and how a little something can make a big difference and transform promising ideas into successful projects. Then, I guess, it is in Gladwell’s style not to go into too much scientific details but use entertaining stories to get the point across. It’s either you like it or you don’t.

Period. It’s About Bloody Time by Emma Barnett. As the title suggests, it’s a book about that bloody time of the month called period, and especially about all the shame that surrounds it. How did we come to be so embarrassed about such a natural thing, to be point where we would rather tell people around us that we’ve got diarrhoea rather than admitting we’re sick because of painful period cramps? Why are menstruating women shamed for their periods in many religions? How is it that in the UK in 2017, 1 in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products and thus risk missing school for the whole duration of their period? In her book, Barnett invites us to think about and answer all of these questions and much more to finally break the taboo around periods.

Fictions:

Small Great Things by Jodie Picoult. Can you tell I love Picoult? This one is actually one of the first books I read from her. Small Great Things is about a Black labour and delivery nurse who is brought to justice and held responsible for the death of a new-born baby by his white supremacist father who initially banned the nurse from looking after his baby because of her skin colour. It’s heart-wrenching, eye-opening and deeply moving.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celest Ng. Little Fires Everywhere is about the intertwined stories of 3 families: the middle-class family of Mr and Ms Richardson and their four children, the single mum Mia and her daughter Pearl renting a house from the Richardson’s and the Richardson’s old family friends who are on a battle for the custody of their newly adopted Chinese-American baby. The novel explores privileges, motherhood and the weight of secrets.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In Half of a Yellow Sun, the reader is invited to follow five characters, all Igbo people, as they live through the Nigeria-Biafra war in the 1960s: Odenigbo a university professor, his wife Olanna, her twin sister Kainene, Richard, an Englishman studying Igbo arts and Kainene’s partner and finally Odenigbo’s thirteen-year-old house boy, Ugwu. In her novel, Adichie gives a powerful description of the political complexity of Nigeria at the time, the influence of British colonialism on its instability and the impact the 30-month war had on its population.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This was the SSN Book Club November’s book. In 1922, a Russian aristocrat is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in a single building: the Hotel Metropol. But despite not being able to leave the hotel, Count Alexander Rostov becomes a privileged witness of the turmoil that Russia is going through as the years pass. I found A Gentleman in Moscow clever, fun and difficult to put down. The characters are very attaching, with each of them giving a glimpse of Russia’s history.

Biographies/memoirs

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay. Incredibly touching, sad, infuriating and personal account of England’s broken institutional care system in the 60s-70s. In his memoir, Sissay uses reports from his own official government files to relate his childhood at the hands of the Authority going from a foster family to several children’s homes, with poetry as the only constant in his early life.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land. In her memoir, Land’s explores what poverty looks like in America, as an overworked single mum struggling to make ends meet and working long and tiring hours as a maid. Her daughter and this big dream of hers that one day she will be a writer is what kept her going as she scrubbed wealthy people’s toilets and was given side eyes and “you’re welcome” as she was using her government coupons without which she wouldn’t have been able to feed her child at the cash register.

If you end up reading, or have already read, any of these books, please let me know in the comments below or drop me an email at T.M.P.Deydier@lboro.ac.uk! Would love to know what you thought about them! 😊

We’re also running a monthly book club, so if you like reading and would like to have a chat and a little bit of a debate, let me know.

As always, it’s worth mentioning the different options available to you when looking for books (not only good for your wallet but for the planet too):

  • Libraries
  • Independent bookshops
  • Charity shops
  • Online second-hand shops
  • Audio books
  • eBooks/Kindle

Tymele Deydier

Doctoral Researcher in Chemical Engineering
PhD SSN Chair 2020-21
Tymele Deydier

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