BOOKS THAT SAVED MY LIFE #SHELFHELP

Though I’ve always enjoyed reading and being wrapped up in a new universe, there are few books which I could realistically credit with changing my life. The other day, someone asked me what my favourite book was and, at first, I couldn't choose. Then I went back through my memory and thought of the books I have a tendency to go back to the most, often in my darkest times. These books, which are individual and yet have a similar intrinsic message are my crutch and I very much recommend reading them. They are filled with beautiful prose and brilliant life advice - these authors, all female, have seen me through the most difficult times in my life and whenever I read and re-read these books, I never feel alone. Here is the first of those books…

How to be a Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan

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It is an incredibly rare and beautiful thing when you find a book which you relate to on a deep and personal level. Daisy Buchanan has managed to write that book which I think just about every woman can relate to.

As a young woman in her twenties, I often feel like a failure- whether I just feel like i’m not doing enough or i’m actually failing at a job or just life in general. It is often the case that everyone around you feels like they too are failing but simply pretend that everything is going splendidly because they assume that you are doing better.

Daisy’s book has acted as an emotional crutch during a time when I thought I would just break into a million little pieces at any second, this book held me together. I have it on Audible and I have (proudly) listened to it at least 10 times and perhaps more.

I remember when I listened to it the first time, it made me laugh and cry and consistently nod my head in perceived recognition of my feelings. Finally, someone understood me and I wasn’t alone. I went back to this book whenever my life was coming apart at the seams which was, unfortunately, quite often.

I lived in the UK for a year and I think I must have spent at least a solid three months crying (not consecutively thank god). I got fired from my job and cried and walked through Brighton feeling worse for wear and completely morose - I genuinely felt low and like I completely lacked value. I was sure that nobody would ever hire me again and that it was inevitable that i’d be forced to be a disappointment not just to myself but also to my parents who would, undoubtedly, have to look after me for the rest of my miserable life. My flat in Brighton was large, cold and lonely - I couldn’t get the heating or the water heating to work for the entire duration of my stay there - it was, I felt both a failure and a disaster. The flat was too expensive and did my low emotional state no good. What I didn’t know while I was in the UK was that I actually had bipolar disorder but that’s a story for another day….

Through all of my tears and headache, one thing kept me going and that was listening to Daisy Buchanans book. When I woke up with a panic attack a few nights ago, I knew where to go and that was directly to Audble and the comfort of ‘How to be a Grown Up’ For me listening to or reading this book is like falling into the arms of loved one after a particularly long and difficult day. It’s easy to find refuge in the pages of this book and know that you are not alone.

GIFTMAS: BOOKS TO READ

If you have a bookworm on your Christmas gifting list, this is the gift guide for you. I am an avid reader myself and all of these are books that I have read and that I love deeply. Each book on here has made it to this list because I think it has a very special message to give and is a must-read. Please note that these books are in no particular order 😉 Also this post is not sponsored by anyone although I wish it was…Exclusive books - hit me up 🤙

Happy shopping…🎄🎁

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HOW TO BE A GROWN UP BY DAISY BUCHANNAN

R 195.00 -R 231.00

I have this in audio book format on Audible and I have listened to it over and over and over again. Daisy is an absolutely brilliant writer and this book is a testament to how great she is. It is such an honest recollection of the trials and tribulations she has gone through and those which we go through on our journey to adulthood.

I have listened to this book often when my life seems to be going downhill at an impossible speed and I simply don’t know what to do - I reach for this book. I have cried on the streets of Brighton and put on my earphones and listen to this book and it has stopped my tears.

If you feel like you’re failing at being in your 20’s, you aren’t - you aren’t failing and you’re not alone. I have laughed and cried my way through this book. I know I will keep reading it because it resonates so strongly. This is to date one of the most important books I have ever read and I strongly recommend it as a gift…what’s better than a book which tells you that you’re doing fine and you aren’t alone.

Buy here:

https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/product/9781472238832

https://www.readerswarehouse.co.za/products/9781472238832


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ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE BY GAIL HONEYMAN

R 185.00-R 236.00

What an absolutely brilliant and engrossing book. I absolutely loved this book and so much of it rang true for me. When we first meet Eleanor, she is most definitely not fine and is 100% stuck in a rut. She scorns other peoples need for human connection and distances herself from everyone.

This is the quintessential 'don't judge a book by its cover' lesson. In the beginning, Eleanor seems very odd and difficult to relate to (even if we've all shared her thoughts on humanity once or twice) but once you get to know her and learn about her story and how well she has actually coped with everything she's been through, you develop a new respect for her as a character. 

The book follows Eleanor’s journey from her thoroughly traumatic past to a future where she might have a life rather than just a mere existence. This book is a brilliant commentary of how connected each and every person is. How any act of kindness, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem to you at the time is vital. Eleanor learns about love and friendship and how people improve each others lives just by being there. Alongside Eleanor and her snide world view, we learn how vital it is to look upon each other with kindness. 

Whilst Eleanor Oliphant is most definitely not completely fine, she is one fantastically different, vibrant and brilliant heroine. In short, this book will make you want to invite every single person you know round for a cup of tea and a hug...even the weird ones. 

Buy it here:

https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/product/9780008172145

https://www.readerswarehouse.co.za/products/9780008172145


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THE GUILTY FEMINIST BY DEBORAH FRANCES-WHITE

R 323.00

Probably the most important book of our time written by one of the most brilliant women of our time. Deborah Frances-White is the writer and comedian behind ‘The Guilty Feminist’ podcast which has had more than 50 million downloads.

Deb is most definitely a thought leader of our time and her opinions are so beautifully thought out and balanced. Feminism gets a very bad wrap but since the #MeToo movement more and more women are coming out of the woodwork to join the feminist movement.

In the Guilty Feminist podcast, Deborah created a safe space for women to include themselves and feel heard. Since I started listening to the Guilty Feminist, my opinions and world views have changed substantially for the better. I have started to understand that I am not alone in what I go through day to day. It is amazing to hear incredible women who ordinarily, you wouldnt get to hear. Women who have incredible and thoughtful opinions that the world needs to hear and without people like Deb and her podcast and book, they wouldn’t have a platform.

My favourite episodes of the Guilty Feminist (although I love very single episode that has been made) if you want a flavour of Debs comedy:

https://www.acast.com/theguiltyfeminist/3.-apologising-with-jo-caulfield

https://www.acast.com/theguiltyfeminist/60.-male-privilege-with-kate-odonnell

https://www.acast.com/theguiltyfeminist/65-feminism-and-faith-with-reubs-j-walsh-leyla-hussein-and-rev-kate-harford

Buy it here:

https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/product/9780349010137


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THREE THINGS ABOUT ELSIE BY JOANNA CANNON

R 245.00 - R 267.00

“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 lives in a flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. She has had a fall and while she lies there on the floor of her flat and wonders whether anyone will come to help, she tells us her story.

Florence has lived a long life and she has a best friend, but not the kind of friend where you’re only friends for a few years. Florence and Elsie have been best friends ever since she can remember.

But there’s a secret that Florence has been keeping her whole life, something terrible that she did when she was young. She wonders whether that secret might die with her.

As we go on the jouney of long forgotten memories with Florence, we find that things aren’t always what they seem, friendship is vital and that we are more than our biggest mistake. Life affirming and beautifully written, this is a must read for fans of long journeys and battenburg cake.

Buy it here:

https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/product/9780008196929

https://www.readerswarehouse.co.za/products/9780008196929


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PURPLE HIBISCUS BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE

R 155.00 - R 308.00

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie must be one of the most powerful writers of our time. She is also one of the best speakers of our time (just pop her name and Ted Talk into Google and you’ll see what I mean).

Purple Hibiscus is so beautifully written and is so immensely powerful. I read this book in all of one day and I physically could not put it down.

In the book, we follow Kambili, a fifteen year old girl who lives in Nigeria. She has, it is obvious, an abusive and strict father who makes and dictates all the rules. Her days are structured around schedules created by her fanatically religious father and she has never known laughter or happiness.

During a military coup in Nigeria in which her Father seems to be suspiciously deeply involved, Kambili and her brother are sent off to stay with her Aunt who’s house and life are the complete antithesis of the life they have come to know. Their Aunt lives a free life which is filled with love and laughter and family fun. In her Aunt’s fun filled house, Kambili discovers that the life she and her brother have been leading is not normal at all and that her faithful family isn’t exactly what it seems to be.

Read it because its a really heart bracingly beautiful book and I could not put it down. Read it all in a day.

Buy it here:

https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/product/9780007189885

https://www.readerswarehouse.co.za/products/9780007189885


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HOW TO STOP TIME BY MATT HAIG

R 280.00 - R 304.00

How To Stop Time is honestly one of the most incredible books I have had the privilege of reading. Matt Haig must be one of the best authors of our time. The attention he pays to not just a single character but multiple different characters, each with their own story, their own history. Every single character in how to stop time is unique and 3 dimensional. They are those characters that you come to love and by the end of the book, you don't want to let go of. 

This is one of those books that makes you think, the type of book which keeps the brain ticking over and thinking. It is such a difficult book to describe, how could I possibly describe something which fits into pages so beautifully and yet, as you read, brings about new realisations not just about humans in general but about yourself and who you are. 

The book is split into sections which all correspond and correlate perfectly. We always come back to present day London and thus the comparisons between history and what is happening in our world right now are that much stronger. Here, we follow Tom Hazard who, whilst he may look like an average 41 year old, has a dangerous secret. He has a rare condition which means he lives much longer than other humans.

Tom constantly has to change his identity in order to survive in secrecy and won’t allow himself to get attached to any humans because he is afraid of loosing them. We follow Tom on the road to finding his child who has the same condition and who he hasn’t seen in years. How To Stop Time is a beautiful story about finding the truth and finding yourself.

Buy it here:

https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/product/9781782118626

https://www.readerswarehouse.co.za/products/9781782118626


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HOW TO BE HAPPY BY EVA WOODS

R 213.00

'How To Be Happy' is an absolutely brilliant book which explores the fact that it is often the smallest things which make the biggest difference. The difference between actually living, feeling and being alive and simply existing. The book explores the way so many people just trudge through life, always settling and never really happy. It explores the difference between living your life waiting for the storm to pass and dancing in the rain. 

When we meet Annie, she is the prime example of someone who is trudging through a miserable and unhappy life. She is so deeply unhappy and has been hurt so many times that she has literally forgotten what it's like to be happy.  She lives her life out as if it were just a movie playing before her eyes, stuck in a rut, going to work everyday to do a job which brings her no joy whatsoever with people she doesn't particularly like. She lives in a uniform of black and is in general, just miserable and lonely. Her mum has just been diagnosed with early onset dementia and is stuck in hospital. Annie visits everyday even though, most of the time, her mother cannot remember who she is. 

The day we meet her is the day on which her life is set to be changed forever is, for all intents and purposes, a 'normal' day. Annie is at the office in the hospital trying to change her mothers address so that her post will go to Annie instead which, though it sounds easy is proving difficult if not impossible. Then she meets Polly who is the epitome of happiness, a rainbow on legs and the complete opposite of Annie. 

Polly, Annie learns quite quickly is dying...terminal cancer. She has been given 100 days to live and is trying in earnest perhaps for the first time in her life to actually start living. To use up the small amount of life she has left in her to do all the things she really wants to do. Polly is trying to fit 35 years of living into 100 days. She is wearing all the clothes which she has but has never worn because they just weren't quite right for the occasion. Polly is like a living rainbow, throwing joy around everywhere she goes, inspiring others and being bright and cheerful. Somehow, Polly manages to drag Annie into her '100 Days Of Happiness' and through those days spent together, they learn from each other. 

They form a beautiful friendship in the short space of time and together, they do everything from going up the shard to dancing in a fountain. Polly gives Annie her friendship and in doing that essentially,  teaches Annie how to live again while she herself is dying. She shows Annie how to move on from the past, shows her that everyone is dealing with something and battling their own demons. They help each other to move past what has happened to them and along their way, they re-kindle old friendships and spark new ones. 

They teach each other lessons about life like that you're never completely alone in your suffering, that other people suffer silently alongside you. When you only have 100 days left to live, you make every moment count. Make sure that every single thing you do adds something to your life, adds value. Through Polly, Annie learns how to live again, how to forgive and how to love and let people in. Annie takes from Polly hope...

This book is unforgettable and a brilliant life lesson wrapped up in an absolutely beautiful and heart-warming story. It's the sort of book that every single person should read. To remember how lucky you are to have this day, to have no cap on your life. To have the freedom to dance in the rain (or a fountain) to sing out loud and to stop being afraid, maybe just eat what you want. Nobody lives forever...The most brilliant and life-affirming book I have read in a while and really well worth the read or listen:


Buy it here:

https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/product/9780751568530