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Moodboosting books 2018

Written by · Published Oct 9, 2018

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Tiny Beautiful Things

Three Things About Elsie, by Joanna Cannon

“There are three things you should know about Elsie. The first thing is that she’s my best friend. The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better. And the third thing - might take a little bit more explaining.

“84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died 60 years ago?”

Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris

David Sedaris moved from New York to Paris where he attempted to learn French. His teacher, a sadist, declared that every day spent with him was like giving birth the Caesarean way! These hilarious essays were inspired by that move.

Heaven on Earth: 101 happy poems, by Wendy Cope

“In this anthology, Wendy Cope sets out to prove that misery doesn’t have all the best lines. Included are works from John Dyer, Thomas Hardy, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Betjeman and Philip Larkin.”

Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh

“This is a collection of Allie Brosh’s wonderful and painful stories about how she learned to cope with life with ADHD, combining astute observational stories with naive illustrations.”

The Sun and Her Flowers, by Rupi Kaur

“From Rupi Kaur, the top 10 Sunday Times</cite? bestselling author of Milk and Honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry.

“Illustrated by Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. It is a celebration of love in all its forms.”

The Moon’s a Balloon, by David Niven

“Beginning with the tragic early loss of his aristocratic father, then regaling us with tales of school, army and wartime hi-jinx, Niven shows how, even as an unknown young man, he knew how to live the good life.

“But it is his astonishing stories of life in Hollywood and his accounts of working and partying with the legends of the silver screen – Lawrence Oliver, Vivien Leigh, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward and dozens of others, while making some of the most acclaimed films of the last century – which turn David Niven’s memoir into an outright masterpiece.

“An intimate, gossipy, heartfelt and above all charming account of life inside Hollywood’s dream factory, The Moon’s a Balloon is a classic to be read and enjoyed time and again.”

The Reader on the 6.27, by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

“Guylain Vignolles lives on the edge of existence. Working at a book pulping factory in a job he hates, he has but one pleasure in life. Sitting on the 6.27 train each day, Guylain recites aloud from pages he has saved from the jaws of his monstrous pulping machine. And it’s this release of words into the world that starts our hero on a journey that will finally bring meaning into his life. For one morning, Guylain discovers the diary of a lonely young woman: Julie. A woman who feels as lost in the world as he does. As he reads from these pages to a rapt audience, Guylain finds himself falling hopelessly in love with their enchanting author.”

Read Chantry Journeys reading group’s review of The Reader on the 6.27

The Women Who Walked in Sunshine, by Alexander McCall Smith

“Mma Ramotswe is not one to sit about. Her busy life gives her little time for relaxation (apart from the drinking of tea, of course, which is another matter altogether). Nonetheless, she is persuaded to take a holiday from the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

“But Mma Ramotswe finds it impossible to resist the temptation to follow the cases taken on by her business partner, Mma Makutsi, and to interfere in them - at one remove. This leads her to delve into the past of a man whose reputation has been called into question.

“Meanwhile, Violet Sephotho, Mma Makutsi’s arch enemy, has had the temerity to set up a new secretarial college - one that aims to rival that great institution, the Botswana Secretarial College. Will she get her comeuppance? It will be a close-run thing.”

Espedair Street, by Iain Banks

“Daniel Weir used to be a famous – not to say infamous – rock star. Maybe still is. At thirty-one he has been both a brilliant failure and a dull success. He’s made a lot of mistakes that have paid off and a lot of smart moves he’ll regret forever (however long that turns out to be). Daniel Weir has gone from rags to riches and back, and managed to hold onto them both, though not much else. His friends all seem to be dead, fed up with him or just disgusted – and who can blame them?

“And now Daniel Weir is all alone. As he contemplates his life, Daniel realises he only has two problems: the past and the future. He knows how bad the past has been. But the future – well, the future is something else.”

Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan

Dallas meets Pride and Prejudice in this hilarious romp through the crazy world of the uber-rich Chinese.

“When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars and that she is about to encounter the strangest, craziest group of people in existence.”

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

“Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

“One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted - while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.”

Six Foot Six, by Kit de Waal

“It’s an exciting day for Timothy Flowers. It’s the third of November, and it’s Friday, and it’s his 21st birthday.

“When Timothy walks to his usual street corner to see his favourite special bus, he meets Charlie. Charlie is a builder who is desperate for Timothy’s help because Timothy is very tall, six feet six inches. Timothy has never had a job before - or no work that he’s kept for more than a day.

“But when Timothy and Charlie have to collect money from a local thug, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Over the course of one day, Timothy’s life will change forever.”

The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan

“Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.

“But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters.”

I’m Still Here, by Clélie Avit & Lucy Foster (trans.)

“Elsa has been in a coma for five months. With all hope of reviving her gone, her family and doctors are having to face the devastating fact that it might be time to turn off her life support. They don’t realise that in the past few weeks Elsa has regained partial consciousness; she knows where she is and can hear everyone talking around her bed, but she has no way of telling them she’s there.

“Thibault is in the same hospital visiting his brother, a drunk driver responsible for the deaths of two teenage girls. Thibault’s emotions are in turmoil and, needing a retreat, he finds his way into Elsa’s room. Seeing her lying there so peacefully, he finds it hard to believe she is not just sleeping. Thibault begins to visit Elsa regularly. As he learns more about her through her family and friends, he begins to realise that he is developing feelings for her.”

The World of Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse

“It is Bertie Wooster’s habit to land in the soup from time to time - and where would the chump be without Jeeves, the source of all solace and intellect?

“This collection includes Right Ho, Jeeves, The Inimitable Jeeves and Very Good, Jeeves.”

Carrying Albert Home: the somewhat true story of a man, his wife and her alligator, by Homer Hickam

“Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam (the father of the author) were high school classmates in the West Virginia coalfields, graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen. But when Buddy headed for New York, Elsie’s dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the coalfields, married to Homer.

“Unfulfilled as a miner’s wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in the only bathroom in the house. When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: ‘Me or that alligator!’ After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do: Carry Albert home.”

The Guest Cat, by Takashi Hiraide & Eric Selland (trans.)

“A couple in their 30s live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another.

“One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby garden.

“But then something happens that will change everything again.”

Sour Heart, by Jenny Zhang

“Centred on a community of immigrants precariously balanced on the edge of poverty in 1990s New York City, the stories that make up Sour Heart examine the ways that family and history can weigh us down, but also lift us up. From the young woman coming to terms with her grandmother’s role in the Cultural Revolution, to the daughter struggling to understand where her family ends and she begins, these vibrant, raw and powerful stories introduce a bold and singular new voice.”

Dear Mrs Bird, by A. J. Pearce

“London, 1940. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance - but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of ‘Woman’s Friend’ magazine.

“Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. Emmy finds herself dismissing problems from lovelorn, grief-stricken and morally conflicted readers in favour of those who fear their ankles are unsightly or have trouble untangling lengths of wool. But soon the thought of desperate women going unanswered becomes too much to bear and Emmy decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back.”

Why Mummy Drinks, by Gill Sims

“It is Mummy’s 39th birthday. She is staring down the barrel of a future of people asking if she wants to come to their advanced yoga classes, and polite book clubs where everyone claims to be tiddly after a glass of Pinot Grigio and says things like ‘Oooh gosh, are you having another glass?’

“But Mummy does not want to go quietly into that good night of women with sensible haircuts who ‘live for their children’ and stand in the playground trying to trump each other with their offspring’s extracurricular activities and achievements, and boasting about their latest holidays. Instead, she clutches a large glass of wine, muttering ‘FML’ over and over again. Until she remembers the gem of an idea she’s had.”

Tiny Beautiful Things: advice on love and life from someone who’s been there, by Cheryl Strayed

“Rich with humour, insight, compassion - and absolute honesty - this book is a balm for everything life throws our way, administered by the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Wild.”

Notes on a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig

“Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index. How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? How do we stay human in a technological world? How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

“After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.”

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple

“Bernadette Fox is notorious. To Elgie Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she’s his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife. To fellow mothers at the school gate, she’s a menace. To design experts, she’s a revolutionary architect. And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, quite simply, mum.

“Then Bernadette disappears, and Bee’s search for her mother reveals an extraordinary woman trying to find her place in an absurd world.”

The Stranger on the Bridge: my journey from despair to hope, by Jonny Benjamin & Britt Pflüger

“In 2008, 20 year-old Jonny Benjamin stood on Waterloo Bridge, about to jump. A stranger saw his distress and stopped to talk with him - a decision that saved Jonny’s life.

“Fast forward to 2014 and Jonny, together with Rethink Mental Illness, launches a campaign with a short video clip so that Jonny could finally thank that stranger who put him on the path to recovery. More than 319 million people around the world followed the search. ITV’s breakfast shows picked up the story until the stranger, whose name is Neil Laybourn, was found and - in an emotional and touching moment - the pair reunited and have remained firm friends ever since.

The Stranger on the Bridge is a memoir of the journey Jonny made both personally, and publicly to not only find the person who saved his life, but also to explore how he got to the bridge in the first place and how he continues to manage his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.”

The Lido, by Libby Page

“Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life. But now everything she knows is changing - the library where she used to work has closed, the family fruit and veg shop has become a trendy bar, and her beloved husband George is gone.

“Kate has just moved and feels alone in a city that is too big for her. She’s at the bottom rung of her career as a journalist on a local paper, and is determined to make something of it.

“So when the local lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. And Rosemary knows it is the end of everything for her. Together they are determined to make a stand, to show that the pool is more than just a place to swim - it is the heart of the community. Together they will show the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.”

Alice Violett

Alice Violett

I write and edit content for the Suffolk Libraries website.