Back in 2014 I heard about the “read a book a week” challenge and thought “ooh, that’s what I need to get me off social media and reading more” but then realised I couldn’t read a book a week.
However I was pretty certain that I COULD read 52 books in a year.
You see when I’m on holiday, or if I’m reading a good book, or if I’ve got some down time I can read a book in a day. So I thought I could probably average out at 52 books a year.
So I set myself THAT challenge, in January 2014, to read 52 books that year.
Because I was spending every spare moment on social media and I didn’t like the way it made me feel.
Because I used to be a HUGE bookworm and somewhere along the way (around the time I got my first iPhone) the reading habit faded away, and I wanted it back. I wanted the joy, empathy, excitement, fear, knowledge and more that only a great book can give you.
It was an incredibly hard challenge to pull off as my habits of an evening or weekend were to pick up my phone and scroll, or pick up the TV remote control.
I created a Google Doc with a list of the books I’d read that year, this motivated me to pick up my Kindle instead of my phone, as more often than not I was behind on my challenge!
I managed my 52 books that year and loved it so much that I decided to repeat it. And since then I read 54 books in 2015, 49 books in 2016, and my worst so far, 47 books last year.
In my defence we spent 2 months travelling in Europe, seeing friends and family, with very little reading time, and then moved house.
As for this year I’m on Book 28 (we’re on Week 26) so I’m doing pretty well so far!
What kind of books do I read?
A huge variety – from chick lit to business books, from historic novels to psychological thrillers, from personal development to young adult fiction, from Woo-woo to suspense. I love lots of different genres of books and I’m not snobbish or strict about what I read.
But I do love a good recommendation so please do share any books you’ve read and loved!!
What differences have I noticed since cutting back on social media and reading more?
I’m far more relaxed. I sleep better (in general I read for about half an hour before going to sleep every night). I’m happier in myself. I am learning so much. I have fun talking “books” with Ben, friends and family.
After a session on my Kindle I usually have a smile on my face, as against a frown when I’ve spent time on social media.
And now I wouldn’t change it for the world as I continue reading around 50 books a year.
So what were the 47 books I read in 2017?
Here is my list and a little bit about what I thought of them.
This year I’ve also added the date I finished reading each one, to give you an idea of how long each book took me – more or less.
All the links are to Amazon.com as my readers are spread across the world, they are not affiliate links, just there to help you find the books more easily if you want to check them out.
(If you’re wondering why this is only coming out in June it’s because it takes me soooooo long to write these blog posts that I tend to let it drag. Sorry!)
- The Magpies – Mark Edwards (finished 10th January)
This psychological thriller was a good one – with strange neighbours ready to send you loopy. It took me a long time to figure out who was the goodie and who was the baddie, which is always good to get you turning the pages. I would recommend this one if you like your psychological thrillers.
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Steven Pressfield (finished 17th January)
I have read a couple of Steven Pressfield books now and I LOVE his direct, easy-to-read, spot-on books that motivate you to get out there and do the work. Massive recommendation for this one but also for other books of his that I’ve read and loved: “Do the work” and “Nobody wants to read your sh*t”.
- The improbability of love – Hannah Rothschild (finished 31st January)
This novel covered history, mystery, love and more and I really enjoyed it. If any of the above appeal then I would recommend it as a nice light read.
- Lighthouse revolution – Karen Gunton (finished 9th February)
This book is pretty woo-woo that some may find motivational and inspirational. It was ok but not one that jumped out and made me want to remember and re-read it.
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (finished 19th February)
I read the book having watched the film and I loved both! Although the film might have annoyed me if I’d watched it after reading the book. I recommend both the book and the film, and in fact all the books in the series. A then 10 year old Léna read all the books too and LOVED them, so great for tweens, teens and young adults too 🙂 Although be warned – not for sensitive souls, it can be pretty gory and scary in parts (book and film). Such a cool and interesting idea – do give it a go!
- Lessons I’ve learned – Davina McCall (finished 22nd February)
Having lived outside of the UK from 1998 until 2010, and then not being massively into TV, I didn’t really know who Davina McCall was. But a friend recommended this book for its stories, and lessons (as the title suggest). I think possibly it was better reading it without knowing anything about her, as it meant I didn’t judge. A really interesting book and one that those in the UK might like.
- The notebook – Nicholas Sparks (finished 26th February)
Having watched the film ages ago I decided to give the book a go, and it was a lovely read. Not a must read but just nice and fairly easy.
- Lady of Hay – Barbara Erskine (finished 12th March)
I first read this about 18 years ago and it captivated me – it’s a novel and a work of fiction but it was so fascinating. It is about hypnosis and being taken back to previous lives and reliving them. It is set in the 80s (modern day when it was written) and the hero is taken back to the middle ages when she was a lady, so it’s great if you like historical fiction too. I LOVED it both times, and if hypnosis, past lives or the medieval times interest you, then go for it.
- Follow you home – Mark Edwards (finished 21st March)
Another one by Mark Edwards this psychological thriller was super spooky and stayed with me for a while afterwards. Based on a couple going backpacking and the awful things that happened while they were travelling, then what happened when they got back to their everyday life. If you like psychological thrillers this is a good one.
- You are a badass: How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life – Jen Sincero (finished 28th March)
What can I say? I LOVED this book. I love Jen’s way of writing and of sharing. What she says makes so much sense and this is such a go-get-em book. An absolute must-read for pretty much anyone, I recommend this one constantly!
- What Alice forgot – Liane Moriarty (finished 11th April)
This was the start of my Liane Moriarty obsession (which is ongoing!) and I loved this one (as well as most of her other books). Alice hit her head in a gym class when she was 29 years old and woke up 10 years later, such a clever idea and so perfectly written. You have to read it!
- Big little lies – Liane Moriarty (finished 15th April)
Then this one was even better than What Alice forgot (check out the series with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon – soooooooo good), the stories that Liane tells and messages she shares are so important, and told so perfectly. She also is brilliant at keeping you in suspense here. Read this and then watch the series!
- The last anniversary – Liane Moriarty (finished 18th April)
This one was not as gripping as the first two (and maybe I still had Big little lies going round in my head!) but still a lovely read, and one I would recommend. Good if you like mysteries…
- The girl with the lower back tattoo – Amy Schumer (finished 20th April)
One of the most honest and revealing autobiographies I’ve ever read. Amy Schumer certainly doesn’t hold back in sharing her life with us and it’s brilliant for it. The book is funny and sad. It will inspire you but also make you feel good about your own life. A total recommend.
- You can heal your life – Louise Hay (finished 21st April)
Ever since I discovered the world of woo-woo I’ve been hearing about Louise Hay and this book. So I sat down to read it for myself. Louise Hay had an exceptional life and her book is fascinating. I still struggle with the whole “you can cure cancer using the power of your mind”, but if you read it with an open mind, and discard what doesn’t sit well with you, then I think it’s a great book.
- The breakdown – B A Paris (finished 23rd April)
I read “Behind closed doors” by the same author last year and so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. A great psychological thriller that took me 2 days to read and kept me wondering right to the very end. Scary and unputdownable!! Read it!!
- Are we nearly there yet? – Ben Hatch (finished 28th April)
An honest guide to road trips and travelling with small children. Honest, funny and sad, this story might put you off ever going on a road trip with your kids, or make you want to do on one immediately. It will definitely make you want to visit the UK a bit more though.
- A fall of marigolds – Susan Meissner (finished 1st May)
This was a book club read and I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really enjoyed it. I loved the two stories being told in parallel 100 years apart, and found myself with tears running down my cheeks in parts. A great book club read.
- Three sisters, three queens by Philippa Gregory (finished 25th May)
I discovered Philippa Gregory with her “White Queen” book about 7 or 8 years ago and have been a big fan ever since, but I’m running out of books of hers to read now! This one is about Katherine of Aragon, and Henry VIII’s two sisters, Margaret and Mary. Not as interesting as some of the other Philippa Gregory books but still an enjoyable and interesting read.
- Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (finished 28th May)
I LOVED this book and it took me back to being a 17 year old, with mix tapes and young love. Such a good read – get it for your teen kids and read it yourself too.
- The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind – Richard Wiseman (finished 6th June)
I read this a few years ago and it blew my mind. I wanted to read it again to remind myself of the bits I’d forgotten. A must read for everyone whether you consider yourself to be lucky or unlucky, such an eye-opener!
- The power of intention: learning to Co create your world your way – Dr Wayne W. Dyer (finished 18th June)
Another person I’d heard a lot about in the world of woo-woo was Dr Wayne Dyer and this was the book most recommended to me. Like the Louise Hay book, if you like woo-woo or are open to it then it’s a good book to read, but you might need to discard some bits if it feels a bit too much.
- Year of yes : how to dance it out, stand in the sun and be your own person by Shonda Rhimes (finished 23rd June)
I have LOVED Grey’s Anatomy from the very first episode I watched, and whilst I now LOVE Scandal as much (maybe more?) I hadn’t discovered it at the time of reading their creator’s book. This is a must-read if you’re a fan of either show, and also if you want inspiration and motivation for getting out of your comfort zone. LOVED this!!
- Fire and rain – Diane Chamberlain (finished 6th July)
I have been a Diane Chamberlain fan for a good 7 or 8 years and love her books, and I enjoyed this one but not as much as others of hers. For diehard fans or if you haven’t read any others by Diane.
- Dear Thing – Julie Cohen (finished 12th July)
Ooh, this was a controversial subject – a friend offers to have a baby for friends who can’t but then starts to have feelings for the baby… a great read on a sticky subject.
- Keep your friends close – Paula Daly (finished 15th July)
This psychological thriller was a real page-turner (I finished it in 3 days). What do you do when your best friend isn’t who you think she is?? Great, gripping read.
- The poison tree – Erin Kelly (finished 20th July)
This was gripping and so interesting as you see how powerful some people can be, with a fantastic twist at the end.
- Never look back – Lesley Pearce (finished 31st July)
I’ve been reading Lesley Pearce books for a while, as I do love a bit of historical fiction, and this one takes you from Covent Garden to New York, then to the Wild West and the gold rush. You can’t help but fall in love with Matilda and be impressed by her strength. If you like historical fiction then give this one a go.
- The forgetting time – Sharon Guskin (finished 1st August)
A super interesting novel about a boy who has lived before and can remember his previous life. One for you if you like to explore the idea of life after death…
- City of women – David Gilham (finished 3rd August)
I LOVE all books about people during World War II (not the military ones, the everyday people ones) and this one didn’t let me down. Set in Berlin in 1943 this follows Sigrid who’s Nazi husband is off fighting and whose Jewish lover is lost somewhere. One for you if you like WW2 historical novels like me 🙂
- Maybe in another life – Taylor Jenkins Reid (finished 5th August)
I loved the idea of this novel – the whole idea of there being parallel versions of our life, which change based on the decisions we make / don’t make. But the writing was a let-down and at the end it felt like there was just a whole copy and paste section in the two similar stories, which was disappointing.
- Hollow City – Ransom Rigg (finished 18th August)
This is the second book in the Miss Peregrine series (see above). The second and third books weren’t as good as the first one, but still a good read.
- Library of souls – Ransom Rigg (finished 1st September)
See above (this is the third Miss Peregrine book)
- How to stop time – Matt Haig (finished 21st September)
What a book!!! Tom ages incredibly slowly, which means he looks like an average 40-something year old but he’s been alive for centuries. My favourite bit is when he’s teaching History in an impoverished area of London and is able to tell it so vividly as he lived it! Absolute absolute must-read!!
- Carry On, Warrior: The real truth about being a woman – Glennon Melton (finished 24th September)
Love, love, love this book. Love, love, love this woman (find her on social media under Glennon Doyle). Read it. Follow her. Laugh, cry, learn, live. That is all there is to say really.
- Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love and Live the Life of Your Dreams – Jeff Walker (finished 4th October)
I love Jeff Walker and Launch is a fantastic book for those in business, wanting to create buzz around a launch. Funnily enough, after reading this I decided NOT to do a Jeff Walker-style launch, as I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. But I still think there is so much to get and learn from his book, and I’m a big fan of Jeff Walker.
- You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth – Jen Sincero (finished 8th October)
More Jen Sincero gems. This will have you laugh, make copious notes and open your eyes to so much in your life. Do yourself a favour and read it!
- The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith – Gabrielle Bernstein (finished 21st October)
This is the first book of Gabby’s I’ve read, although I’ve been following her for a while. It’s great if you’re already into woo-woo or are open and willing to understand it and learn more about it. The hardest bit of this book for me was when Gabby tells you to “surrender to the Universe” as I’m a bit of a control freak. And also I was all “well how the hell do I do that Gabby?!?” but then I did, and it changed a lot for me. I made a big business decision which led to me launching my Life Reboot Camp in February of this year. So if you feel like you are in the right place then do read this and try and surrender…
- Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust – Viktor Frankl (finished 25th October)
Marie Forleo has referenced this book several times as a must-read so I decided to give it a go. Wow! You don’t get more interesting learnings than from a psychiatrist who lived through and survived the Holocaust. An incredibly eye-opening and uplifting book, and yes, a must-read.
- The science of getting rich – Wallace D. Wattles (finished 1st November)
An easy to read book which covers philosophy, spirituality, and self-help in the search of one definite goal: a life of prosperity. An interesting book that will interest anyone studying the law of attraction.
- Do the work – Steven Pressfield (finished 1st November)
See my earlier point about Steven Pressfield – this book teaches you the importance of doing the work and not giving in to resistance. A must-read for anyone with any task, project, business or project to work on.
- Small great things – Jodi Picoult (finished 14th November)
I’ve read a few books by Jodi Picoult and some I loved and some I was a bit meh. This was the former. Such an important subject about race in the US, brilliantly written and described from different points of view. An incredible must-read.
- Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action – Simon Sinek (finished 25th November)
I discovered Simon Sinek and his idea “start with why” through Marie Forleo. I started off by watching his Ted talk on the subject, but I wanted to know more and read the book. I love the idea and the clarity with which Simon explains it – we don’t buy “what” companies and businesses and sell we buy “why” they sell. This is a must-read for anyone in business and any consumer. Fascinating and eye-opening.
- Freedom Seeker: Live More. Worry Less. Do What You Love. – Beth Kempton (finished 22nd December)
This book is one after my own heart – it’s about searching out your own personal freedom, what will make you happy, what makes your heart sing, what brings you to life. A great read if you’re falling trapped, stuck or on that damned hamster wheel.
- After I’ve gone – Linda Green (finished 26th December)
Another psychological thriller – what happens when you log into Facebook and the date is 18 months in the future and your timeline is filled with friends and family expressing sympathy at your death? Read the book to find out…
- Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail Honeyman (finished 30th December)
This is such a beautiful read, it’s funny, it’s sad, it shines a light onto mental health issues and it keeps you going as you unveil more and more of the story, finishing with a twist. You can’t help but love Eleanor. Read it or regret it.
- Hurrah for Gin: The Daily Struggles of Archie Adams (Aged 2 ¼): The perfect gift for mums – Katie Kirby (finished 30th December)
I first discovered Katie’s blog back in the early days of my parenting blogging life and kept telling Katie how amazing it, and she, was and how she needed to do more with it. So I was delighted when Hurrah for Gin came out a couple of years ago, and I devoured it more or less in one sitting. When Katie’s second book came out, getting it was a no-brainer. Anyone who has ever spent any time with a toddler will love this one. The perfect present to give to any of your mum friends, and to read yourself.
Over to you now – do you read much? Has this got you more interested in reading? And more importantly, do you have any good book recommendations for me?!?
P.S.If you want more tips on how to live a happier and more fulfilled life make sure you grab my FREE 10 day to falling (back) in love with your life here.
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