For as long as I can remember I’ve been a huge book worm. I’ve always enjoyed spending my time getting sucked into a good book. The older I got and the more I read, I eventually started writing my own little stories and plays. The books that I had read had inspired me to want to tell stories of my own. Honestly, if books and the written word hadn’t played such an important role in my life I don’t think there would be a Curious Claire blog for you to read.
Why I Stopped Reading
While books have been an important part of my past, this year it was brought to my attention that in the last couple of years I really haven’t been reading at all. Somewhere along the way blogging took over my life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a complaint about blogging. I love this blog so much that I want to devout all my free time to it. The problem is I really needed to find a better work/life balance. Especially since I am already juggling ‘actual work’ and ‘blog work’ at the same time!
For those of you who don’t know much about my former blogger life, I previously had a blog with my now ex which meant that at the start of 2019 I relaunched a new Curious Claire blog. Unless you’ve started your own blog or business I don’t think you can truly appreciate the hard work that actually goes into it. I poured every bit of blood, sweat and tears into relaunching Curious Claire.
Setting Myself a Reading Goal for 2019
By the time March came around I was mentally drained and in desperate need of a break. I had previously bought a cheap Black Friday return flight to Bangkok and decided to spent the time relaxing. With several blogger friends in Bali I decided to head there to relax and unwind with friends.
While I was in Canggu a friend gave me a book about Bali’s drug history and I finally started to let go of that feeling that I had to be constantly blogging. For the first time in a long time I just sat back, relaxed and took some time to enjoy life. Suddenly it dawned on me how important it was for me to give myself this ‘me time’.
I decided the best way I could get myself off the laptop was by reading more. I knew books would be the one thing guaranteed to get me off my laptop. But I needed to set myself a goal for this to work. I decided 12 books in 12 months had a nice ring to it and wouldn’t be that difficult. Even though I was technically starting in March so it was actually 12 books in 10 months but that doesn’t have the same ring!
The Books I Read in 2019
Non Fiction Books
My favourite type of books to read are crime and thrillers but that doesn’t mean they are the only type of books I read. I also love to read many non fictional books. I’m addicted to learning about true crimes, it’s been a weird fascination of mine for years. Not in a scary psycho way though! Plus the older I get, the more interest I have in history. It’s probably traveling and visiting museums and historical sites around the world that’s made me appreciate this more than I did as a kid.
Up: My Life’s Journey to the Top of Everest by Ben Fogle
I love reading books about the accomplishment of others. Hearing the true stories, the good and the bad, can be a real inspiration about how you shouldn’t give up when you’ve got a dream.
Up is an incredible book about how seasoned adventurer Ben Fogle and Olympic Cyclist Victoria Pendleton set out to take on their most exhausting challenge; climbing Mount Everest. I knew this challenge would be something I’d never be able to achieve but it wasn’t until reading Ben’s incredible story that I started to appreciate just how much hard work and preparation goes into tackling something like climbing Mount Everest.
Snowing in Bali by Kathryn Bonella
Not a book I would have chosen to read normally but it came so highly recommended that I couldn’t resist giving it a try. After all, I was in Bali at the time!
Call me naïve but I had no idea about Bali’s history of cocaine so I found this book fascinating. Kathryn Bonella has been given extraordinary access to the lives of some of the biggest players in Bali’s hidden drug world. ‘Snowing in Bali’ gives a real unique insight into the highs and lows of the men running these drug empires.
Lion: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Lion, the incredible film that was nominated for 6 oscars, was based on this true story by Saroo Brierley. As soon as a friend had told me about the story I had rushed to the cinema to see it and I’m so glad I did. Saroo’s story is an incredible one so of course I wanted to read the book too.
Saroo, a boy from a poor village in India, got lost when he was five years old when he accidentally boarded a train. Being only five years old he wasn’t sure where is village was or what it was even called. He didn’t even know how long he was on the train for since he had fallen asleep. With no idea how to get home or contact his family, he eventually found himself taken into care where he was later adopted by a middle class Australian couple. When he was thirty, with the help of Google Earth, Saroo was able to find his way back home. Lion tells his remarkable story of survival against all odds.
Fiction Books – Thriller / Crime
While I do try and read different books, my heart brings me back to my favourite genre. Once I find an author I like I tend to stick to them. I’m always amazed how many incredible thriller authors there are. My favourite ones are able to get me emotionally invested in the characters, who are so well written I feel like I know them.
Origin by Dan Brown
The Dan Brown books are incredibly popular and in Origin Professor Robert Langdon returns for the fifth book. Having loved all the other books I couldn’t wait to see what crazy situation Robert Langdon had got himself into this time.
The Harvard professor was attending a special night at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao for the mysterious scientific break through of billionaire Edmond Kirch who had promised to disprove religion once and for all. Obviously a controversial discovery like this would upset the world’s religious leaders and before they knew it the event was blown apart. With Kirch’s life under threat, it was up to Robert Langdon and museum director Amber Vidal to unlock Kirch’s secret.
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
The phrase “you can’t judge a book by its cover” has always made me laugh because that is literally how I judge books! When I’m at a book shop I look at all the book covers and when I see what that looks like ‘my kind of book’ I pick it up and read the description. If the story then sounds appealing I’ll start reading it.
While at the airport I needed a new book so I went into the shop to judge all the books by their covers and see what I might like to read. I was drawn to the cover to ‘Pieces of Her’ and ended up buying it. I’m glad I did as the story had me on suspense the whole time! I hadn’t come across Karin Slaughter before but I was instantly a huge fan of her books.
Andrea Oliver thought she knew everything about her mothers life and then one day a trip to the mall turns violent and Andy suddenly realises there’s a completely different side to her mother. Later that day when someone tries to break into her mothers home, Andy has no choice but to flee in a desperate race to uncover the secrets her mother had kept hidden all these years, otherwise there would be no future for either of them.
Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter
I’m grateful that one of the companies I freelance for has a book swapping shelf. I looked through the options to see what they had and lucky for me there were a couple of Karen Slaughter books! I snatched them up right away! Don’t worry they have since been returned for others to enjoy.
Twenty years ago Claire Scott’s older sister had mysteriously gone missing and her family had never found out why or how. After reading about another girl going missing in the news, Claire is convinced this case is linked with her sisters disappearance. She slowly starts to learn the truth about her sister and is confronted with a shocking discovery that turns her world upside down.
Fallen by Karen Slaughter
The second Karen Slaughter book I had got from the booking swap shelf introduced me to my favourite Karen Slaughter detective; Will Trent and his partner Faith Mitchell.
While Faith Mitchell is at police training, she leaves her infant child at home with her mother. When she returns home to the door open, the handle bloodstained and her child locked in the shed, all of Faith’s training goes out the window as she charges into the house gun first. What she finds is a dead body on the floor downstairs and a hostage in the bedroom. When the hostage situation turns deadly, Faith, with the help of her partner Will, must go against the people she respects in order to find her mother.
Criminal by Karin Slaughter
Luck was on my side as the next book in the Will Trent was also added to the book swap. I’m so lucky my work has this! After reading a previous Will Trent book, this one was perfect for finding out about Will’s uncomfortable up brining.
A woman’s body is found brutally murdered in a sordid apartment in Atlanta. Her blood soaked body is remarkably similar to a woman found dead almost 40 years earlier. Before Will Trent knew it, he had found himself returning to his troublesome past and the home he grew up. As much as he didn’t like it, his past could hold the clue to the killings.
Unseen by Karin Slaughter
Still hooked on the Will Trent series and getting emotionally invested in the Will/Sara love story, I was desperate to continue their adventures. I had finally gone through all the Karin Slaughter books from work so I was on my Kindle buying the next two books in the series.
Will Trent and Sara Linton’s relationship had been off to a difficult start thanks to Will’s ex-wife. While Will is away working undercover, a young patrolman is shot and left for dead. Sara is forced to confront the woman she had hoped never to see again. Without knowing it, Sara is involved in the same case that Will is working on and that’s when their lives are both in danger.
The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter
The Kept Woman was the last Karin Slaughter book I read in 2019. As much as I absolutely loved the books, I was doing this reading challenge to encourage me to expand the type of books I read. I decided 6 books was probably enough for one year. After all I wanted to save some for next year too!
The body of an ex-cop is discovered in an abandoned warehouse and the bloody footprints reveal that a female victim has left the scene and vanished into thin air. The case then gets worse for Will and Sara when an unexpected discovery reveals a personal link to Will’s troubled past that will cause havoc on his life and those he loves.
Fiction Books – Romantic Comedy
If I’m completely honest, romance books are usually the books I run a million miles away from. Same with romance films. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing that ‘girl gene’ but I’d much rather read about gruesome murders and brave detectives than soppy love stories. However, I do enjoy watching romantic comedy films so I decided it was time to try a romantic comedy book.
10 Dates by Emily James
As a single girl this book peeked my curiosity. There’s something intriguing about learning about other people’s dating lives when you are single. While this story wasn’t what I had originally expected, I did enjoy reading it and actually finished it in a day!
When Joanie’s dream proposal turns into a nightmare, her friend’s are quick to stage an intervention, especially as they never liked her ex! Joanie reluctantly agrees to go on 10 dates in 10 days. She embarks on a hilarious rollercoaster of blind dates when her sexy neighbour throws spanners into the works. Joanie may have bitten off more than she can chew!
Fiction Books – Travel Fiction
Of course being a lover of travel means I can’t resist picking up a few travel fiction books to fuel my wanderlust. Reading stories set in places I have been brings back wonderful memories. And reading about places I haven’t been inspires me to go and visit them.
The Little Vineyard in Provence by Ruth Kelly
At the end of the year I was working on a French reality tv show so I went looking for a good book based in France. As a lover of wine this book caught my attention. It was so good I actually ended up reading it all in one day! I had a day where I went to Manchester to London and back so plenty of time for reading. By the time I got back home I was so close to the end and addicted that I just had to finish it.
After her husband Mark left her with a mountain of debt and no idea when he’ll be back, Ava was in desperate need of an escape. When Ava receives a letter with the news that her estranged grandfather has passed away, she is shocked to discover he has left his entire vineyard to her. She travels to Chateau Saint Clair with the intention of selling the place. But after getting used to freshly baked croissants in the morning, red wine in the evening and a certain handsome waiter, Ava starts to wonder if she’d be mad to walk away from her marriage for the vineyard she fell in love with as a child.
You Had Me At Bonjour by Jennifer Bohnet
Still feeling inspired by France my final book of the year was set in Southern France. It’s funny how you pick books based on what’s currently going on with your life. I was definitely more drawn to books about women leaving terrible relationships and going on adventures that would change their lives. Sounds familiar right?
When her perfect life falls apart after a very messy divorce, Jessica decides to set off to Southern France for an overdue gap year. She figures why not! Maybe a change of scenery and a glass of chilled rosé will help her put her past behind her. While meeting a new man wasn’t part of the plan, she can’t avoid her neighbours sexy nephew.
Reaching My 2019 Goal
At the start of the year 12 books in 12 months seemed like a really easy to accomplish goal. During my 3 weeks in Asia I quickly devoured 3 books. Then once I was back home I kept reading regularly during my commutes to work. The problem with being freelance is that you can work anywhere across the city of London. Some days my commute can be up to 3 hours long! Although once I have my nose in a good book the time just flies by.
However, this all change in August. I took a 5 month job in Manchester and my routine changed. Instead of commuting to work on the tube I was suddenly being put up in an apartment that was only 10/15 minutes away from where I was working and the company was paying for my daily Uber rides. Suddenly I had lost my reading time and the job was much busier than I expected and I completely forgot about my reading challenge.
By the end of November I worked out that I was just 3 books away from finishing. I decided to put in the time as I was determined to reach my goal. Plus the whole point of setting this goal was to force myself to enjoy more ‘me time’ so it was beneficial for my wellbeing to take some time to read.
Why am I telling you all this? Well for one, I told myself that I would tell more personal stories on the blog so you can get to know me better. The other reason is to show that even if you it looks like you won’t achieve your goals, with a little work and persistence, you can achieve them. No matter how big or small a goal is, with hard work and the right attitude you can achieve your goals.
For 2020 I want to set myself a bigger challenge! 20 books in 2020 has a nice ring to it so that’s the goal. Wish me luck!
Why I Love my Kindle Fire
As I mentioned before, I’ve loved reading from the moment I could read. Growing up before we had all the gadgets we have now, (how I old do I sound!), meant that my love of reading came from actual books. I remember when my dad gave me my first E-Reader. At first I was so excited and then I realised that this meant I wouldn’t be reading actual books. I know I’m not the only one who appreciates the feel and smell of real books.
The E-Reader my dad got me was one of the first so it could only hold a few books at a time. Eventually I went back to reading actual books. But then I started traveling more and while a lot of hostels have book exchanges, carrying books sure does take up space in your backpack! It was at this point that I decided it was time to return to electronic books.
At this time Kindle’s had taken over the market place so it was a case of choosing between the Kindle Paperwhite or the Kindle Fire. The Paperwhite was the cheaper option as it is literally just an electronic reader. The Kindle Fire costs a little more because it is more like a tablet. Now I had no desire for a tablet but I liked that the Fire came with more storage. I essentially wanted a device I could keep my whole library on. And the Fire turned out to be the perfect traveling companion since not only could it store over 4,000 books, I could also put my Netflix on it. Very handy for traveling!
There you have it, the books I read in 2019. Do you have any recommendations for good books to read in 2020? Let me know in the comments below!
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