September reading challenge: a self-help book

I swished through my August reading challenge very quickly (a book whose cover title reminded me of summer) having selected a fairly slim volume (On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan) that was absolutely compelling. I couldn’t put it down and since I was away visiting family at the time I decided to read it, I had plenty of opportunities to not put it down.  It’s a fabulous book, so look out for my review next week.

This month, the challenge is also related very much to the time of year. I have written on here before about how I find Autumn very energising. It is probably related to the fact that I have had children at school for twelve years now (by the way, allow me a proud parent moment – we are celebrating the eldest one’s excellent GCSE results!) My year is very much determined by and planned around the ebb and flow of school term times and holidays. After a period of repose stepping off the treadmill of the daily school routine, usually a family holiday and bit of sun, the change of pace again when school returns, and the sense of new beginnings seems to give me a sense of optimism and vitality.

There is also something about the climate and the light in England in the Autumn that makes my mood reflective: the days are getting shorter so I am reminded that time is precious. The weather is usually cooler but because I don’t have kids to entertain or days out planned, my expectations are lower, so I appreciate the rain (it waters the garden), I don’t mind the wind (it dries the laundry) and I am thankful when the sun appears, not cross when it doesn’t. It’s as if my mental goalposts have moved.

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For me, September is a great time to make plans, think about where I am and where I’m going. I also know that I will have more energy and fewer commitments in the next two to three months than at any other time of the year, so it’s an oppportunity to take some big steps forward. This month’s challenge is to read a self-help book.

I went browsing in my local bookshop as I did not have a very clear idea about what I wanted to read this month. The self-help section seemed to have a different sort of feel to it compared to the last time I was buying there. After years of exhortation to do better, be better, have more, look better (ideals that few of us can sustain in real life, leading to inevitable anti-climax, disappointment and feelings of failure) the general tone of most of the titles seemed to be more about acceptance, gratitude, and enjoying the smaller things in life. That has to be a good thing.

I spotted three irresistible books, and can’t decide which one to read this month. My biggest goal this season is to complete the first draft of the book I’m working on. I made some strides with NaNoWriMo in July, but I’m still only about a quarter of the way in and and I’m finding it incredibly challenging. So Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear seems appropriate, a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I also like the look of Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain, and Women Who Run with the Wolves: contacting the power of the wild woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I am an introvert, and I’m also a feminist who believes all of us women have special inner resources that benefit the world, so both of these appeal.

 

Hmm. Decisions, decisions. What would you pick?

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3 thoughts on “September reading challenge: a self-help book”

  1. I have read two Ian McEwan’s novels and both had a HUGE emotional impact on me. I hated On Chesil Beach and felt so frustrated and saddened by the story – I am really looking forward to your review as it was a few years ago now since I read it. The other novel was Atonement and I felt so cheated at the ending I can remember throwing the book down. A brilliant story though and I also enjoyed the film too. Interestingly, our book club have chosen an Ina McEwan book for this month’s book – Nutshell. So I wonder if this will have a strong impact too? Your choice of books for September is great. I enjoyed Introvert immensely and found it was incredibly useful for me ( an extrovert) working with people who m ay be introverts but still had to stand up and speak. I refer to it frequently and have recommended it to many others. Women who run with Wolves is an interesting one. I love reading it but can only read it in short bursts – which is possible because there are discreet chapters. I find the stories compelling and their interpretation fascinating and challenging. Not yet got to the end but it is one I keep picking up. I haven’t read your third choice but it sounds just up my street. I look forward to hearing what you read and what you thought of what you read! Good luck

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    1. How interesting, I can see what you mean about On Chesil Beach, but I found those things compelling rather than frustating – so weird how we all react so differently to things. Glad you liked the September choices. I still haven’t decided which one to go for so your comments are useful.

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