What to read – February 2018

Towards the end of January I started thinking about this post and what I was planning to read next. Admittedly I was still only halfway through Stephen King On Writing and Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, so I had a bit of catching up to do. I think I was being a little ambitious by setting myself a target of 4 books to get through in one month, especially given my full-time job, time spent travelling in and out of London (although this is prime reading time) and my hobbies. That’s perhaps the reason why this post is a little late, nevertheless it’s here and I have a very exciting book in store for you this month!

February’s choice
My book shelf has quite the mix of fiction and non fiction books to choose from and I feel like this month I wanted to pick something fiction. I bought a book called Camino Island by John Grisham as part of an O2 priorities deal at WHSmith a few weeks ago. A week later when I was learning about the works of Stephen King he spoke of Grisham’s writing and I knew this had to be next on the list for book club.

Camino Island is a story about a daring heist which sees the five manuscripts of F Scott Fitzgerald’s only novels, valued at $25 million, vanish from Princeton University. Having made a few arrests the FBI come to a dead-end with the novels nowhere to be found. Who is hiding the manuscripts and will they ever be recovered?

I started reading this book on Saturday evening and I’m already a third of the way through. The developments in the storyline will keep you turning pages and the interesting choice of characters makes you wonder how everything will all come together at the end. Will the mystery be solved? It’s certainly a change in pace from the non fiction books I was reading in January and is definitely one of those that you don’t want to put down. If you haven’t already I’d urge you to go to your nearest book store and pick this one up, or download the e-book version if that’s your preference. Personally I like to have a  physical copy of a book to read!

January reflections 

As with all book clubs, an important part is reflecting on what you’ve read and discussing this with others. I created this section of my blog purely to make suggestions of books that I’ve read or that I plan to read that I think are worth sharing. However, I will offer my reflections and if you’ve read any of the books listed then please do leave a comment below! It would be great to hear what you have to say and as always if you have any suggestions of books that are worth a read then please let me know.

Growth Hacker Marketing – Ryan Holiday 

I have to say I was surprised and enlightened by this book. There are so many good ideas and examples in here that explore how the world of marketing is changing and how the traditional skill set a marketer has needs to change in light of the time. If you work in the world of marketing, you’re thinking about launching your own business or you just have an interest in how to build a savvy company then you should read this book. Look out for my upcoming post that delves into this a lot deeper.

Start With Why – Simon Sinek 

First of all I want to say Simon is fantastic. The way he thinks about leadership, business and self-development seems obvious yet there are only a handful in the world that succeed at being great leaders which is fascinating. His theories and examples have really helped me with things as basic as asking the right questions during meetings at work to thinking about how I develop and position new projects and what that means for my team. It’s also got me thinking about what my purpose is in the world. Finding purpose in all that we do is so important and I feel that if I can find mine and use that to power something that I love and inspire others to do the same, then that would be a great outcome. As you can probably tell, I was left feeling pretty inspired after reading this.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King

To me this was a special book and I’ve come away with so many tips and advice on writing a novel. If you’re going to learn from anyone learn from the best hey? The first half of the book is a biography of Stephen’s life growing up and his journey to becoming a writer, one that did not come easy by any means. It does show that belief in yourself  and great persistence is key. I learned a lot about King’s past that I hadn’t really expected to find out in this book, it really is fascinating. Did you know he gets through around 100 books a year? That’s at least two a week and he claims to be a slow reader. Here’s me setting myself a goal of one a month. I better pick up the pace!

The second half of the book gets into the detail for aspiring writers. What makes a good story? What clichés should you avoid? Grammar. Research. Character building. Description. Dialogue. Working through drafts. Thinking about your ideal reader. How to work with publishers and agents. These are all important and really useful chapters in the book that get you thinking holistically about the profession more broadly and about your novel more specifically. Anyone looking to write a book for the first time should definitely give this a read first as there are some really useful insights in here.

There is one thing that Stephen King says in the book that will stay forever in my mind.

“If you want to be a good writer you need to read a lot, and write a lot.” Stephen King

I don’t think I’ll ever get close to reading 100 books a year but a girl can try! Another really useful thing he has done with this book is include a book list of some of his favourite books that he’s read over the last few years. Expect to see some of these creeping into my book club over the coming months.