28 July 2016

Book club (the brilliant women edition)


Whether I'm spending a sunny afternoon lazing in the garden or snuggled up in bed listening to the blissful patter of rain on the windows, a book is never far from me.

As something of a literary nerd, I've wanted to do this book club-style post for absolutely ages. But I had to read an awful lot of books before I could shortlist the ones great enough to share with you. You guys deserve the very best. 

Since I know of lot of my readers are young ladies (hey, y'all), I thought I'd talk about five books that have made me feel inspired, creative and happy. So, here it is - my book club for brilliant women (and men, if you're reading), featuring a few fantastic female authors.

1. Why Not Me? - Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is my hero. At 24 years old, she barrelled into an all-male writing room and wrote, acted in and sometimes directed the brilliant, award-winning show The Office. And then she produced/wrote/starred in her own sit-com. Goals.

Somehow, she also found the time to write a couple of books. I'm assuming she has access to Hermione's Time Turner. Following the success of her first (and equally brilliant) book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other concerns), Mindy talks about success, fame, unrealistic beauty standards and - intentionally contrastingly - her eternal struggle to lose weight without making any lifestyle changes. She's unapologetic in the way she swings from body-confidence guru to being completely honest about her insecurities. That's why I love her. 

It’s not dissimilar to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, but reading Mindy’s prose feels like a conversation with your beloved, crazy, best friend. There’s laugh-out-loud and then there’s photographing-the-page-to-send-to-your-mate-while-doubled-over-in-hysterics. This is the latter. 

2. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 

I know - this is an obvious one. But I’m including it just in case you haven’t read it yet.

Far from being stuffy and difficult to read - as you might imagine a book written in 1813 to be - Pride and Prejudice is genuinely, properly funny. It’s clever. And you’ll realise just how many sit-coms and rom-coms have nicked their storylines from this (hint: pretty much all of them). 

I feel a little bit silly trying to justify why you should read this book because it’s an amazing classic and nothing I can say will do it justice. It's a bit like getting Kim K to describe the enigmatic beauty of the Mona Lisa. Basically, do read it. It's £1.99 on Amazon, you've nothing to lose.

3. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is super-famous for writing Eat, Pray, Love - although, cards on the table, I’ve never actually read it. But after seeing a few exciting reviews of her newest book Big Magic, I had to get involved.

As a real-life writer-type person, I love the idea of books about creativity. But hearing such a mystical and mysterious process analysed and turned into a set of rules or instructions completely takes the magic and fun out of it for me. Enter Big Magic. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s inspiring. It kept me interested, seriously interested - no easy feat with my 5 second attention span.

In a series of essays, Elizabeth walks us through her theories behind creativity, her processes, her experiences - and talks us through how to tackle the things we most fear. It's instructive and helpful without ever losing that spark of magic and mystery. 

4. I Heart New York - Lindsay Kelk

Yes, its chick-lit, but so is Pride and Prejudice. And Lindsay Kelk is a phenomenonal writer and huge inspiration to me.

We meet Angela, a 20-something who finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, breaks his hand (cue me shouting 'yaaaas') and hops on a plane to New York. She starts blogging for a magazine, gets a haircut (I still love plots that involve a makeover, so strangely satisfying), makes new friends and explores the world’s most exciting city. 

Can you tell why I like it yet? It's the ultimate tale of 'bloody hell, just go for it'. Any story that genuinely makes me want to hop on a plane and have my own adventures automatically gets 5 stars. 

5. #GIRLBOSS - Sophia Amoruso

This book was all over Instagram last year, but I’ve only recently picked it up (a birthday present from my gorgeous friend). 

In #GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso (founder of NastyGal) is incredibly and endearingly candid about her story - her path from an unruly teenager to bad-ass Executive Chairman of a major fashion brand. 

I love this, because it’s nice to see a powerful lady who talks about her life without glossing, writes just like someone I'd be friends with (see chapter: ’shitty jobs made my life’) and gives genuinely useful advice - on everything from cover letters to getting fired. Her message isn't the vague, whimsical sort I'm used to hearing from successful young women either. TL;DR: work your ass off because you love what you do.

If you've read any of these books already, let me know what you thought! And if I've managed to sway you on any of these titles, give it a go and send me a review on Twitter. 

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