Connecting through stories: literature that helps us escape, evolve … and eat.

Before we had books, we had stories. 

We had verbal narratives, images etched onto cave walls, pictographs on scrolls of papyrus. 

The first stories to be written were done so with the aim of recording history. Events that had previously been passed down through generations in the form of verbal storytelling were now encapsulated in the written word: Tacitus documented the Annals of Rome, Homer chronicled the exploits of Jason and the Argonauts and the fate of Odysseus at Troy, the ancient Mesopotamians detailed the Epic of Gilgamesh

Those stories, viewed under a modern lens, are entwined historical fact and myth. Now we may categorise our stories into ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’, but the purpose of literature hasn’t really changed. No matter a book’s designation, they have they still are vessels that transport us, help us examine the within and the without, help us to connect with authors and fellow readers alike.

With that in mind, and the inkling that your bookshelves may have been experiencing a bit of a workout this year (!), here are a few particularly special books that should be considered for your next re-stock:

Escapism - stories that immerse you into another world.

The Night Tiger, by Yangze Choo

“The story of an orphan boy and a dancehall girl on a quest to give peace to a dying man, The Night Tiger explores colonialism and independence, ancient superstition and modern ambition, sibling rivalry and first love.” 

City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert

“A unique love story set in the New York City theatre world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores the idiosyncrasies of true love.”

The Light Between Oceans, by M.L Stedman

“1926. Tom Sherbourne is a young lighthouse keeper on a remote island off Western Australia. The only inhabitants of Janus Rock, he and his wife Isabel live a quiet life, cocooned from the rest of the world.” 

“They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.”

Expansion - expand your empathy, grow your awareness of the world, feel deeply. 

Girl, Woman, Other. - Bernadine Evaristo

“Twelve very different people, more than a hundred years of change, and one sweeping, vibrant, glorious portrait of contemporary Britain. Bernardine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this old country: ever-dynamic, ever-expanding and utterly irresistible.”

Talking to my Country - Stan Grant

“Talking to My Country is that rare and special book that talks to every Australian about their country - what it is, and what it could be. It is not just about race, or about indigenous people but all of us, our shared identity. Direct, honest and forthright, Stan is talking to us all. He might not have all the answers but he wants us to keep on asking the question: how can we be better?”

All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

“Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of multiple characters, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.”

Evolution - Evolve your mindset, build new rituals and grow. 

Untamed - Glennon Doyle

“Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live.”

Better than Before - Gretchen Rubin  

“With her signature mix of rigorous research, easy humor, and personal experimentation, Gretchen Rubin investigates how we can change our habits—really. In a book that’s bursting with big, provocative ideas, Rubin shows readers how to create the habits that will transform their lives, even if they’ve failed before.”

Do Less - Kate Northrup

From the author: “Over the summer a girlfriend texted me and asked me if I could teach her how to do less. I chuckled to myself as I read her message because I too am the product of a culture that’s taught me that my worth is associated with how much I do.”

Eat - cookbooks that take our tastebuds on adventures!

Fire Islands  - Eleanor Ford 

“A personal, intimate portrait of a country and its cooking, the recipes exotic yet achievable, and the food brought to life by stunning photography.”

Salads & Pickles - by Sabine Spindler and Alex Elliott-Howery

Make vegetables the hero of your plate and learn to cut down your food waste! 

Ferment for Good, by Sharon Flynn

Ancient Foods for the Modern Gut: The Slowest Kind of Fast Food!

“Sharon Flynn shares her knowledge of and passion for fermentation in her accessible, chatty style, combining personal anecdotes of her fermenting adventures with hands-on instructions on how to set up your own benchtop fermentary at home. She completes the package by sharing her favourite recipes and ideas for incorporating ferments into your everyday life and meals.”

I could go on for days, but …

Let’s leave it here for today’s book list. Hopefully, there is something new in there for you, that you can explore (and hopefully treasure). That said, I would dearly love to hear about what you’re reading, because my book list is never finished, either.

What books have you been leaning on this year?

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