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On Our Bedside Table: Two Novels, Two Business Books and a Book on Sleep

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On Our Bedside Table: Two Novels, Two Business Books and a Book on Sleep

Nutreats

Our May Book Recommendations are finally here.

 

House of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild

[Reviewed by zissy]

House Of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild

In a Nutshell

House of Trelawney tells the story of the Trelawney family through its women – smarter, grittier and more able than the men of the family. An old British aristocratic family, The Trelawney’s trace their nobility back 800 years and still reside in Trewlaney Castle. Except it’s been left to ruin by generations of Earls who spent the family’s wealth without thought of future generations. The current generation lives an isolated cash strapped life, unable to communicate with each other and running out of options. Three events coincide to hasten the family’s demise – the sudden appearance of a new relation, an illegitimate beautiful and headstrong girl; an American hedge fund manager determined to exact revenge and the financial crash of 2008. It’s a satirical love story set in the parallel worlds of both British Aristocracy and high finance that explores not just romantic love, but friendship and self-love.

 

Book Club Notes

Words that have been used to describe this book are wickedly funny, beguiling, mischievous, percipient and laugh out loud. They all ring true and I would add to that list brilliant, witty, intelligent and twisty. I was torn between wanting to race through the novel and wanting to slow down to enjoy it for a little while longer. Hannah Rothchild has created multi-dimensional characters you get to explore more of with each page turn. The humour sprinkled throughout is brilliantly witty and the story deliciously wicked. It’s unpredictable and had twists and turns throughout which made it all the more fun to read.  Every time I thought I knew what would happen, another twist came along.

Simply put, this book was a literary feast I adored.

 

After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe

[Reviewed by zissy]

After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe

In a Nutshell

Ormberg, Sweden is a tiny town that once was a manufacturing hub. Now it’s a sleepy, deserted town with few inhabitants left. Nothing happens there, until it does. The body of a 5-year-old girl is discovered in a cairn near town. Ten Years later, psychological profiler Hanne joins a team of investigators and police to close the case. While investigating, the body of a woman is found in the cairn. Next to her is Hanne’s shoes covered in the victim’s blood. But Hanne is suffering from dementia and cannot remember what happened. Nor can she locate the diary she recorded everything in to help her remember. Hanne and the rest of the law enforcement team now need to uncover if the two deaths are related and who is at the centre of them; unravelling an already fragile community.

 

Book Club Notes

I don’t often read thrillers; but out of the ones I have read this stands apart. I was pulled in from the first chapter and sat gripped not wanting to put it down until the last page. The story is told by Malin, a cop on the team originally from Ormberg and Jake, the teen who found Hanne’s diary. Those two different perspectives – one who is trying to solve a murder, the other who may hold the key, provided for gripping reading and moments I wanted to scream for them to connect the dots. It’s a powerful and twisty thriller that explores the topics of bullying, prejudice and xenophobia. At the end of the book, Camilla Grebe touches on that – topics she purposefully wanted to include at a time where the world is hurting, many are being displaced from their homes and prejudice is rife. Her message is simple but powerful – “it could have been you”. As to how she shares that – you’ll have to read the book; but don’t try guess the ending. You’re not going to see it coming, it’s a real page-turner.

 

The Unfair Advantage by Ash Ali and Hassan Kubba

[Reviewed by zissy]

The Unfair Advantage by Ash Ali & Hasan Kubba

In a Nutshell

Ash Ali and Hassan Kubba are start-up entrepreneurs who have advised and mentored hundreds of start-ups and are passionate about spreading the opportunities of entrepreneurship. In their book, The Unfair Advantage they set out to bust myths surrounding success and how to harness your own circumstance to your advantage. They do this by exploring the concept of Unfair Advantage – which is anything that gives you the edge over someone else. Everyone, they say, has one. It could be money, intelligence, insight, location, luck, education, expertise or status. If you can identify yours, they say you’re able to leverage it and use it to succeed.

 

Book Club Notes

The use of real-life stories (some of which may be familiar) to illustrate theory makes for a business book that is both interesting and insightful. In the first chapter they state that “success in the start-up world is not simply awarded to the hardest workers. Its awarded to those who develop and use their unfair advantage”. When we think about unfair advantage, obvious privilege may come to mind but they show how everyone has an advantage – no matter what your circumstances are. At the same time, they’re not selling a miracle. They explicitly state that it’s necessary to have a mindset of accepting the life circumstances you cannot control, while understanding that you do have an element of control in your future and you need to take responsibility for your actions. They explain what an unfair advantage looks like, how to identify yours and leverage it to work smarter not harder. By discovering your unfair advantage, it is easier to get ahead by using it.  At the end of the book they include advice on getting mentors, financing, and coming up with a minimum viable product. It’s a worthwhile read for any who has or is thinking about starting their own thing – no matter how big or small.

 

Leadership Strategy and Tactics Field Manual by Jocko Wilcock

[Reviewed by zissy]

Leadership Strategy and Tactics by Jocko Willink

In a Nutshell

Jocko Wilcok is a former US Navy Seal. He used his experience in the Navy to create a leadership methodology that he’s taught to hundreds of companies through his consultancy firm – Echolo Front. In his book, Leadership Strategy and Tactics Field Manual he shares skills and tactics needed to be a good leader. He teaches you how to deal with egos, earn and build trust, instil team pride and discipline, overcome challenges in the work place and operating at maximum efficiency. He’s set out the book to be a manual that you can easily refer to and read by sections applicable to you instead of from start to finish

 

Book Club Notes

I can’t chat about the book before mentioning his writing style. He writes as I imagine he talks, in a way no doubt influenced by his time as a Navy Seal. Words like troops, deployment and mission pepper his sentences making everything seem very serious and army like. That being said, what I liked about the book was how practical his suggestions were, some almost so simple you wonder why you’ve never thought of it. Everyone can be a leader in certain aspects of their lives and jobs, it doesn’t take being in a typical leadership position. He teaches you how to lead both up and down, how to lead as an employee and progress your career, how to communicate better and how to handle the more typical leadership roles. It’s not the most gripping read but has some great advice (although I enjoyed the behind the scenes titbits he shared about the Navy). Worthwhile for anyone who struggles to assert themselves, manages people or wants to take on a bigger leadership role.

 

Fast Asleep by Dr Michael Mosley

[Reviewed by Feige]

Fast Asleep by Dr Michael Mosley

In a Nutshell

Fast Asleep by Dr Michael Mosley is all about how to get a really good night’s rest. He explains what happens when we sleep, what triggers common sleep problems and why standard advice rarely work. Using his own experience with insomnia and testing out every remedy out there, he has developed a four-week programme based on the latest science. The aim? To help you re-establish a healthy sleep pattern in record time,

 

Book Club Notes

Right From the beginning, Dr Miachael Mosley’s easy writing style combined with the small pages drew me in. Despite the content falling more on the drier reading side, I didn’t feel overwhelmed and was able to understand all the processes he laid out. I loved how he ended each chapter with a point form summary, allowing you to really take in the information.

 

This book is very comprehensive in all aspects of sleep starting from the history of how sleep began to be studied before going into the more practical aspects of sleep. Throughout the book he sprinkles so many interesting sleep facts. A few points that stood out to me were:

 

  • The blue light levels that comes from your screen or phone are too low to do much damage. He describes the thinking that it switches off the production of the hormone melatonin as a widespread myth. That doesn’t mean they don’t disrupt your sleep. He says it is because it gets your brain excited when it should be relaxed.

 

  • Another myth he uncovers is that you can catch up sleep on the weekend if you’ve had poor sleep during the week. He explains the importance of sleep windows and says that a long weekend lie-in will mess up your circadian rhythm.

 

  • Need to be more alert? Studies show that having a black coffee followed by a 20-minute snooze will help you feel more alert than doing either on its own.

 

If you want to know more about how beneficial sleep is or you struggle to sleep well, this book is definitely worth a read. He doesn’t just teach you about sleep but also lays out a plan to increase your sleep efficiency, eradicate insomnia and he also gives tips for shift workers. Lastly, the book closes with a sleep-promoting recipe section designed by his wife Dr clare Bailey and nutritionist Justine Pattison.

 

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