SWFT Wellbeing Reading Group’s Summer Reads

Summer has sadly come to an end and so we thought we would take the opportunity to find out what our members have been reading over the last couple of months. Whether it was the latest bestseller, a weighty tome that needed time to absorb, or a beach or poolside read, we asked what people had loved, liked, or hated.

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. This best selling thriller from 2013 was described as a thoroughly gripping by one of our readers. Pilgrim was once an intelligence officer who wrote a forensic pathology book. When someone starts using his book to commit murders, Pilgrim gets embroiled in the case.

The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths. In the last of the Ruth Galloway novels, a body in a wall turns out to be an archaeology student who disappeared decades ago. The tangled plot, vivid descriptions, and the stormy relationship of Ruth and DI Nelson provided a fantastic and nail biting end to the series, but did leave our reader sad that there would be no more storylines involving them.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi. If you like classic crime novels, then this is for you. All detective stories follow a set of rules, and Grant McAllister, a professor of Mathematics, published them before disappearing. Now his solitude has been disturbed by an editor wanting to republish his stories, and find out why he vanished. Our reader thought it was fantastic and enjoyed the plot twists, reading it in one sitting.

The Lost Storyteller by Amanda Block. This moving story was about Rebecca, whose father was a TV star on a storytelling show (reminding our reader of Jackanory). He vanished when she was a child, and Rebecca spends the novel trying to find him, armed with a book of fairytales he wrote for her, and the journalist writing a ‘where are they now’ article.

Murder Before Evensong by Richard Coles. As a fan of murder mysteries, one of our readers read the first in what looks like a new detective series by Reverend Richard Coles, and thoroughly enjoyed it. They thought his previous biographical book ‘The Madness of Grief’ was excellent. They classed Murder Before Evensong as a good, old-fashioned, whodunnit – very much in the Agatha Christie style – a limited number of suspects, each with a valid motive- all brilliantly written. The sign of a good whodunnit? They didn’t work out the culprit before the reveal! Highly recommended.

Behind the Seams by Esme Young. Esme Young, for those who don’t know, is the presenter/judge on The Great British Sewing Bee. This biography of someone who appears to be a little, quite demure elderly lady was amazing and amusing. Esme has lived through and been involved with fantastic fashion periods especially during the 60s, 70s and 80s. What a life!

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. This is the second in Kristoff’s Nevernight Chronicles fantasy series about Mia, an orphan who trains to be a ruthless assassin. She is on a new mission to avenge her family, and with the assistance of the shadows, she finds conspiracies and secrets that could change everything. Highly recommended

The Prime Ministers: Reflections on Leadership from Wilson to May by Steve Richards. This non fiction book tells the stories of how our last 9 Prime Ministers came to power, and what was significant about them. It outlines the successes and failures of each and includes anecdotes and interviews. It was described by our reader as fascinating and definitely recommended. The follow up book The Prime Ministers We Never Had: Success and Failure from Butler to Corbyn was also recommended.

A Furious Devotion: the Authorised Biography of Shane MacGowan. The Pogues were one of the favourite bands of this reader, and Shane MacGowan is an exceptionally talented songwriter, so this biography has been a ‘to be read’ pile for some time. Although they haven’t finished reading it yet, the book starts off really well, and is very interesting and factual.

Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss. This well written novel is the sequel to Bodies of Light which told the story of Ally’s struggles to become one of the first female doctors. In this new story, we read about Ally trying to create her own identity while being pushed from all sides, and with an absent husband. An interesting read.

Lessons in Classical Drawing (and) Lessons in Classical painting by Juliette Aristides. These books teach the process of drawing, providing good training and background on the atelier style. They include the wider history behind it, and how the painting should feel as well as look.

Wainwright Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells by Alfred Wainwright. This collection of guides, published between 1955 and 1966, describe the walks for all the major fells in the Lake District. The books contain maps and drawings from Wainwright’s original manuscripts, and his commentary is witty and self deprecating:

“this book has been written, carefully and with infinite patience, for my own pleasure and because it has seemed to bring the hills to my own fireside. If it has merit, it is because the hills have merit.” (A Wainwright)

Our member thought the guides were fabulously entertaining and lovely to read, and wished that they had been able to meet Alfred Wainwright (but sadly he died in 1991)

The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith. This book, the 6th in the Cormorant Strike series, was thoroughly enjoyed by our reader. The victim is being trolled by a mysterious person and visits Robin’s detective agency for help. She is later found dead, and the detective agency find themselves looking into a shadowy online world in order to solve the murder. Describing it as seriously really good, this murder mystery was a firm favourite.

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki. This novel was described as a bit of a slow burner, and not an easy read. Since his father died, Benny can hear things talking to him – a shoe, a vegetable – and he knows their emotions. Added to this his mother has started hoarding. Benny escapes to the relative quiet of the local library where the books talk in whispers.

The Man Who Climbed Trees by James Aldred. This non fiction book opens with a description of an event in the author’s childhood where there was a pony stampede. This resulted in his climbing a tree to avoid being trampled, and became the inspiration for his career. James Aldred has climbed some of the tallest trees in the world, in some frightening storms, encountering gorillas, bees, and elephants while filming for the BBC. The book was a little gory in places but had some incredible stories.

Wanted Man by Lee Child. This book in the Jack Reacher series was not what our reader would normally choose, but they enjoyed the very matter of fact descriptive writing style.

Zentangle Sourcebook by Jane Mabaix. One of our group recommended this way of ‘doodling with intent’ as a good mindfulness resource, saying that it was very zen.

Save the Date!

In October we’ll be having a joint meeting with George Eliot Hospital’s Wellbeing Reading Group, where both groups will be discussing Lioness.

Described by The Times as ‘a coolly ironic look at modern womanhood.’, this is the story of a woman’s hunt for meaning in her life.

“A terrific novel about self-doubt and changing life.” (Good Reading Magazine)

“Brilliant and boundary smashing.” (New Statesman)

“The novel is perfection.” (Glamour)

We’ll meet on Teams at 1pm on Thursday 26th October to see what you thought of it!