I have always loved books, but over the years fell out of love with reading until a couple of years ago. Since then, I have made time to reignite my passion for a good book and I have decided to share my latest reads here on my blog. I’m not the fastest reader but I’m averaging about one a month. I love crime and horror fiction as well as anything nature, self help and obviously....art.
First up, a memoir of sorts by Maggie O’Farrell - ‘I am, I am, I am, Seventeen Brushes with Death’
I have read other titles, years ago, by O’Farrell such as the brilliant ‘After You’ve Gone’ which was heartbreakingly good, so I knew her writing was great. I picked this up as a travelling companion with another couple of books for my trip to Chicago but I didn’t get a chance to start this one. I’m not the best flyer and combined with a dose of Valium, I tend to zonk out in front of a kids movie instead. I’m kinda glad I read this memoir with my two feet firmly on the ground, as an early chapter entitled ‘Full Body’ would have set off my anxiety at 30,000 feet.
As soon as I read the subtitle of this book I knew I had to read it. Having brushes with death myself I am always curious at other people’s experiences. Seventeen chapters, beautifully descriptive, intoxicatingly dark mixed with heartbreak but always a silver lining of hope and joy. O’Farrell really lays everything bare from dangers at sea, strangers, birth and miscarriage. I think every reader will connect with the chapters, and by the end, the book leaves you with an understanding that life is precious and fragile but also really f**king hard for every one of us in one way or another - which should make us embrace the ones we love and the good times just a little bit more tighter.
A few years ago a good friend of mine over a glass of wine (or two!) joked that I was like a cat with nine lives. As well as my accident (which I am always banging on about) I have been hospitalised more times than I care to remember. As well as my RTA, which changed my life, I have been hit by a car, multiple asthma attacks, glandular fever (which caused my air way to swell closed), a breast cancer scare and complications during miscarriage. We all have moments similar to these in our lives, similar to O’Farrell, we also have those everyday smaller moments when we reflect on our mortality. The change in the air pressure, that moment a speeding lorry passes by a little too close to the pavement. Or that bit of food, that goes down the wrong way or wedges for that split second in your throat. ‘That was a close one’ we think and then get on with our day.
I highly recommend this read, it’s live affirming, death defying and a celebration of life. It has left me with a feeling that we all need to be more compassionate for one another as you never know exactly what another person could be dealing with in their life. We are living in a toxic society of judgement, where people seem to have no filter when it comes to opinions about others. It can be hard to empathise when you feel like your at sea but know this, we are all in that same boat in one way or another, especially when it comes to death. It’s our only certainty in life.
In paperback this book retails for £8.99 but I have seen it for as little as £2.00 on kindle. Give it ago and tell me what you think or give me recommendations of great books you’ve read too.