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On Our Bedside Table: Racism, Stress and a side of Romance

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On Our Bedside Table: Racism, Stress and a side of Romance

Our Book Recommendations March 2021

Our Book Recommendations March 2021 are here

 

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

Reviewed by Zissy

 

Love Your LifeIn a Nutshell

Ava is a hopeless romantic who believes in instant spark over the complicated algorithm of online dating. After a string of bad dates, she signs up for a semi-silent, anonymous writing retreat in Italy. The goal is to start one of her many side projects – writing a romance novel. As luck would have it, Ava meets a handsome stranger on the retreat and promptly pursues a holiday fling. Without knowing anything about each other, not even first names and where they live, Ava and her handsome stranger decide to pledge their eternal love to each other.

 

When they return back to the reality of their lives, they discover that they are opposites in everyway and their own unique quirks start driving each other mad. Their relationship is marred by one disaster after the other leading them to question if love can really conquer all.

 

Book Club Notes

This is a wonderfully hilarious and sweet romantic comedy. It has got all the makings of perfect rom com from the zany girl, opposite personalities, eccentric family, gaggle of girlfriends and a string of hilariously unfortunate situations. I picked it up, wanting a light joyous read and it gave me just that. The perfect novel for anyone who likes a good romantic comedy and wants to spend a few hours lost in a world that’s just the right amount of funny, unrealistic and romantic.

 

A Line That Stuck with Me

You learn by scaredness

 

I’m Still Here – Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Reviewed by Zissy

 

Im Still HereIn a Nutshell

In her memoir, Austin Channing Brown shares her story growing up as a Black Christian Woman in America. She shares her childhood, the difficulty of having a name associated with a white man and the racism she faced in school, university and in her career. She also challenges the notion of diversity and shows how actions fall short of words and her hope for a future free of systems of racial oppression.

 

Book Club Notes

This is a bold and unapologetic memoir and reads as Channing’s journey to fully embrace herself and her history. In the second chapter she writes of her struggles as a child who didn’t feel she fit in ‘I was too white for Black people and too black for White people. I had a boy’s name and bad acne. It was terrible’. Through the book, you are privy to how she found her place in the world and learnt to celebrate and love her body and Blackness. It’s a book that allows the reader to walk a mile in her shoes.

 

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emanuel Echo

Reviewed by Zissy

 

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black ManIn a Nutshell

Emanuel Acho is a Nigerian American who is a former NFL player and sports analyst. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man is based on his popular video series in which he answers questions and embarks on conversations around race. Each chapter of the book starts with the question that chapter discusses. These questions are real questions sent to Acho as a result of his video series. The questions range from cultural appropriation, white privilege to interracial relationships. Acho says that he believes the only bad question is the one not asked and that he hopes that readers walk away from the book with a better understanding of race, more empathy and less judgement.

 

Book Club Notes

This book is an educational book and Acho’s intentions of wanting to educate shine throughout the book. Although his lessons on race, racism and bias are universal, it is a book that is written specifically for Americans and tackles American history and the history of Black people in America and American Black Culture. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the danger of ‘colour blindness’ of insisting that we do not see color – for when we do that, we deny people their history and culture. By saying we are alike is denying that people are different, that there are different races, religions, and cultures each with their own uniqueness. By choosing to see colour, we can truly embrace our differences and celebrate them instead of insisting we are all the same. With the rise of racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Asian hate; it’s more important than ever to ask uncomfortable questions and see people in colour with all their uniqueness and choose to embrace difference instead of hating what you don’t understand.

 

A Line That Stuck with Me

We must see colour to see racism. Plus, colour and ethnicity are part of what makes people human, and to deny any of us our particularity is to deny our humanity.

 

Stressproof by Richard Sutton

Reviewed by Zissy

 

In a Nutshell

Written by Richard Sutton, an expert in Stressproofthe field of genetics and its role in resilience, Stressproof speaks to the current crisis facing the professional landscape. Particularly the increased levels of stress that are negatively impacting employees. Using case studies, Sutton aptly outlines how stress can be both a performance advantage and destructive; and navigates the challenges facing decision makers. He ends the book with a game plan which provides practical and actionable guidance to managers and leaders for creating stressproof businesses.

 

Book Club Notes

Richard Sutton’s previous book ‘The Stress Code’ is one of my favourites and I gained a lot from it. Where that book tackles stress from an individual lifestyle level, Stressproof tackles stress from a business perspective and is very much aimed at business managers and leaders. His use of case studies helps bring the facts to life and he has an engaging way of writing that makes the topic interesting and useful. His insight has always left me feeling like I’ve walked away from his books with greater understanding and some tools I can apply to my own life. While he wrote Stressproof with management in mind, it’s a book anyone in the working world can learn from. From the pitfalls of perfectionism and operating in a state of hyperconnectivity, how stress impacts mental and physical health, to how uncertainty is linked to depression and physical pain, there’s a topic anyone can relate to, especially today. A lot of his advice to management in trying to lessen uncertainty with employees reminded me of the Netflix No Rules Rules Approach which deems honest uncomfortable conversations critical to having a workforce that is certain of their position and thus more productive. I would recommend that Stressproof and No Rules Rules are two books that pair well together.

 

A Line That Stuck with Me

In an ideal world, we learn from other people’s mistakes, but in my experience, the only lessons that tend to promote growth and necessary change, are the ones we live and experience ourselves.

 

One August Night by Victoria Hislop

Reviewed by Feige

 

One August NightIn a Nutshell

Set in the Greek Island of Crete, this novel centres around the beautiful Anna and the 25th of August, 1957 – the date that the island of Spinalonga closed its leper colony. Anna’s sister Maria is one of the returnees and a day that should be a celebration turns to a day of tragedy that will have devastating consequences for years to come.

 

Book Club Notes

If you have read Victoria Hislop’s previous books, this one is a continuation from her award-winning multi-million copy bestseller, The Island. If you haven’t (like me), you won’t feel like you’re missing a chunk of the story.

This is an easy and enjoyable read, with a captivating storyline that makes you want to see it through. I found the writing to be quite simplistic, meaning it isn’t going to knock you off your literary seat, but it makes it more accessible to a larger pool of readers who may not want to get stuck into a complex book.

What I found most interesting was the afterward. In it, Victoria describes how the idea for the Island came about and how it led to her involvement in becoming an ambassador for Lepra, a charity working to beat leprosy and the prejudices surrounding it. It is quite beautiful how Victoria Hisplop has taken a real historical event, location and illness and weaved it into a story that brings awareness to it.

 

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