The Book Club: #WhatKirstieReads Part 1

#whatkirstiereads bookstagram book books blogger review eleanor oliphant is completely fine gail honeyman lullaby leila slimani inside vogue alexandra shulman flatlay blog kirstie pickering

I bloody love reading – always have, always will. Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve pored over books on a daily basis, getting sucked into the stories as if they are my own life, forgetting everything else around me. Reading is the perfect escapism from everyday woes, particularly the screen culture that we’re now so accustomed to. I dread to think how many times a day I look at a screen – for eight hours at work, my phone, iPad, TV – it’s pretty grim.

The first ‘proper’ book I remember reading – like many children born in the early nineties I’m sure – was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I received the book, along with its sequel Chamber of Secrets, as a Christmas gift from my lovely grandad. I remember thinking the cover looked a bit weird and old fashioned, but was excited to crack on as soon as I heard it was about witches and wizards. Little did I know that that Christmas gift would begin a lifelong love for that speccy wizard and, indeed, reading.

The best thing about blogging is that I could write whatever I want here. Once a space for purely beauty content, then expanding to a bit of fashion (thank god that was brief) and baking, I would now categorise my website as a lifestyle site. As reading is a big part of my day to day life, I’m going to start regular book club posts, reviewing the latest novels I’ve been digging into. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you will have seen I’ve posted a few photos of books using the #WhatKirstieReads hashtag, and I want to expand on that here!

Here are the three books I’ve devoured most recently.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I saw this book doing the rounds online and decided to pick it up on a whim in the supermarket while doing a food shop. I knew nothing about it and, with hindsight, I think that made me enjoy it all the more. Sometimes if you have a preconceived idea of a book, it can spoil your perception as you get stuck in!

This book is just sensational, and easily the best book I’ve read in years. The story follows Eleanor, who lives alone and is very strict with her daily routine. She doesn’t let anyone ruin her routine, and doesn’t see why she should. The tale evolves into a story of loneliness, friendship, and mental health.

At first I found Eleanor – as a narrator – frustrating and unlikeable, but I soon adored her. Meticulous though she may be, you’ll soon warm to her much like Sheldon in Big Bang Theory. I won’t say anymore because I want you to read it knowing as little as possible, but let’s just say I read this in four days, picking it up at every spare minute I had, and I was gutted when I finished. Such a triumph for a debut novel!

Lullaby by Leila Slimani
This is not a light read. The first line – ‘The baby is dead’ – was a bit of a giveaway. The book begins at the aftermath of the murder of two young children by their nanny, with the following chapters flashing back to when the parents first decided to hire childcare and the story that followed.

This is another page turner and as a fairly thin book, a quick one to finish if you’re a fast reader like me. I liked the structure of this book – knowing that the nanny would commit the crime from the offset make me second guess every action she made throughout the book. I wish there was a bit more of a ‘punch’ to the ending, though. By that, I mean that we never really find out why she did it, leaving the reader to make their own assumptions. Some people like this kind of novel, but I prefer to be presented with a lists of facts to wrap things up! Despite this, I would still recommend Lullaby.

Inside Vogue: My Diary of Vogue’s 100th Year by Alexandra Shulman

I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything other than a journalist and writer (not including playing the role of Hermione Granger, of course, which I still resent Emma Watson for). I used to constantly pore over magazines, spending an obscene amount of money on monthly glossies from a young age. Watching The Devil Wears Prada filled me excitement rather than the dread that so many others did, and I couldn’t wait to one day be Andy Sachs.

While my dreams of reaching dizzying magazine heights never came to fruition, I’m still intrigued by what goes on behind closed doors at some on the biggest publications. This diary by British Vogue’s then-editor offers a glimpse into the madness, the opulence and the intricacy that goes into pulling the magazine together.

I’m enjoying reading about how Shulman coerced Kate Middleton into being a cover star, and learning more about how tight the purse strings are at Vogue – she even notes how it makes her wince to see how little the most junior members of staff earned, while dropping tens of thousands of pounds on a photoshoot (doh). There are some toe curling comments that are very Daily Mail-esque, but these are also contrasted by her more nurturing side throughout the book.

I haven’t finished this book yet (it’s not a beefy book, but the font is smaller than average so it takes a while to get through), but I’m far enough in to make a judgement – I think this would mainly appeal to those who work or aspire to work in the media or publishing industry. Expect some very frank opinions (even about well known celebrities) and a proper insight into how a magazine operates.

What are you reading at the moment? Do you have any recommendations?


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