December reads …

Christmas is nearly here ((yay!)), and fittingly it appears I’ve gone for a white Christmas theme when it came to my book choices this month. I’m not sure whether it’s because I know it’s the Christmas season and therefore time to focus  more on yourself, or whether its because I’ve had a lot of assignments to avoid, but I’ve managed to read quite a bit this month! So here are my December reads … enjoy!

 

Fifteen dogs

4 out of 5 stars

Fantasy // fiction

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Synopsis: ‘I wonder’, said Hermes, ‘what it would be like if animals had human intelligence’. ‘I’ll wager a year’s servitude’, answered Apollo, ‘that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence’. And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Andre Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.

 

Thoughts: this quirky little book was nothing like i’ve ever read before! With philosophical themes it really does make you question what it means to be human, and whether these are good qualities that contribute to happiness or inhibit it. I found even when I put this book down I was still left with the internal debate in my head of what it means to be alive – to love and to be loved. It also left me with a newfound respect for my dogs, and I now understand why they always appear to be happy – because they are not weighed down with conscious moral choices.

 

A million pieces

4 out of 5 stars

Memoir

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Synopsis: James Frey wakes up on a plane, with no memory of the preceding two weeks. His face is cut and his body is covered with bruises. He has no wallet and no idea of his destination. He has abused alcohol and every drug he can lay his hands on for a decade – and he is aged only twenty-three. What happens next is one of the most powerful and extreme stories ever told. His family takes him to a rehabilitation centre. And James Frey starts his perilous journey back to the world of the drug and alcohol-free living. His lack of self-pity is unflinching and searing. What happens next is one of the most powerful and extreme stories ever told. His family takes him to a rehabilitation centre. And James Frey starts his perilous journey back to the world of the drug and alcohol-free living. His lack of self-pity is unflinching and searing.

 

Thoughts: Although this book has been shrouded with controversy over the authenticity of the events, this book was a game changer for me – I didn’t care whether it was 100% true or only partially, the story resonated. In an interview with Oprah in 2006 Frey said ‘my mistake, and it is one i deeply regret, is writing about the person i created in my mind to help me cope, and not the person who went through the experience’, and this I completely get, a lot of us alter the way people perceive us in order to cope with the way we’re feeling, and this is something I am definitely a culprit of – i often put up walls. And what book is 100% factual anyway? Memoirs rely on memory and thinking retrospectively, and I, being the budding psychology student I am, am aware of the shapeable nature of memory. Even though these experiences may not have all been real, I still felt the author’s raw emotion emanating from the page. It left me with the realisation that recovery requires strength, and in order to recover from addiction you have to want it for yourself, not for anyone else. This is definitely a perspective that is not often taught in psychology and as such something I have not considered at university. I love how much it got me thinking, and at the end of the book there is a page with a little snapshot of what happened to each of the characters once they left rehab – a factor I found endearing.

 

The stranger in my home

4 out of 5 stars

Fiction // psychological thriller

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Synopsis: Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine – the absolute centre of Alison’s world. Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it. Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison’s baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable. The daughter she brought home doesn’t belong to her.

 

Thoughts: This book was pretty good. It was completely different to the other books I read this month, however I found this to be a good thing, sometimes it’s good to switch things up a little. I love that the perspective was from the mother’s point of view and not the daughter’s, as it allowed extra themes to be explored such as marital issues, childhood abuse and the troubles of raising a teenage daughter. However, the twist in the middle was slightly predictable. All in all, I considered this to be a good filler book and charity shop find, but not a book that i would pay the full price for.

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