Unputdownables 2014 and a year-in-blogging review!

Friday, 19 December 2014

So this is my last post of 2014! Some blog related things that have happened:

I posted 70 (that's 7-0!) times.

I finally joined Instagram and got a bit more into Twitter.

I won the IATA/Britmums Flying 100 competition with this post, which you can see on the IATA website here (side note: I actually screamed a little bit and flapped my hands around when I found out).

I was featured on the Mumsnet Bloggers' Network main page, which I took a screenshot of because I am a bit sad (mine is the middle one):


(That post had at least double the amount of views of even the most popular blog posts I've written. Shows the sheer power of Mumsnet!)

Plus I started to connect with other bloggers, which is really cool.

So yay. Fun year for blogging.

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Anyway. It's time for my

UNPUTDOWNABLES 2014!!!



The bows on these are just for display. I'm not giving these books away. They are all mine (#greedyforbooks) I might lend them to you though. If you're lucky.

Sorry for the waffle that is about to follow, but I love reading other bloggers' book recommendations, so felt it was time to add my own to the mix :)

Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why it Shouldn't by Suzanne Barston

When I sat down to write this summary I accidentally went off on a epic rant. Which thankfully I have deleted. Let me say this: this book (and the blog that the author also writes) made me feel so, so much better about my breastfeeding journey with Jellybean. It made me realise that I am not alone; that societal pressure really sucks; that statistics can be twisted to show what you want them to show; and not just to blindly accept every study I read without checking its reliability first.

Also, it made me realise that the breast vs bottle debate is kind of a red herring. What we really should be focusing on - and fighting for - is body autonomy for women. In my mind, in terms of breastfeeding, that means a woman should be able to choose not to breastfeed, or to stop breastfeeding, without being made to feel like a) less of a woman, b) less of a mother, and c) that her children will grow up to be obese, lacking intelligence, and sickly. It also means that women should be able to breastfeed without people being so offended by the sight of breasts actually being used for their natural purpose that they want women to sit in toilets or corners out of the way, or cover them up with ridiculous napkins, or generally humiliate them.

Okay, I need to end this here before I go off on one again! The book is good. The writer is American and obviously the societal pressures are different there than here (read: more intense) but I still got wisdom and reassurance from it. And she isn't anti-breastfeeding at all. Coming from someone who is sickened by women bickering over breastmilk vs. formula, this is a welcome relief, and a level-headed view of quite an emotive topic.

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith

First of all what an awesome name: Myquillyn! Love it.

Second of all, this book. I love it. It's kind of part home-interior-ideas, part life lessons. Smith speaks of how she felt going from rented house to rented house: never fully at home, never settled. She wouldn't even put pictures up on the walls. She was constantly longing for her 'forever home'.

That is me in a nutshell, really.

Or was, anyway. I read this book just after we almost had to move house when our landlord sold up, and it helped me to feel positive and excited about the future. It also made me feel more confident to make my home more, well, homely, without worrying too much.

It's a beautiful book, full of lovely (and cheap!) ideas for making your home beautiful. It also includes lots of tips for renters, which is great.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Now.

I know this was one of the biggest most famous books of the year, but I'm going to get this out first: it wasn't my favourite. I don't know whether it's because I'm too old for it (although I do read a lot of YA) or something. But I didn't *love* it. I don't want to re-read it any time soon. I didn't love the characters.

However, the characters had depth and personality and flaws, full of the bravado of the young mixed with the wisdom of those who have had a brush with death. Their love story was beautiful, and I couldn't stop reading it, and I cried and cried and cried at the end. So I guess it got under my skin :)

Something Other than God by Jennifer Fulwiler

I (obviously) love Jennifer Fulwiler's blog, Conversion Diary. An ex-atheist, now Catholic, I love how she wrestles with serious (and sometimes very sensitive) issues with intelligence, wisdom and tact. Also, her posts about scorpions make me laugh out loud.

Her book chronicles her journey from atheism (pretty much from childhood) into a full-blown conversion to Catholicism. I loved seeing how God was calling her, despite the fact that she was stubborn and not at all ready to believe in God, never mind become a Catholic.

I loved this book and will definitely re-read it next year.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I read this on the Kindle and gave up on it around 10% in.

It sat there for weeks. I just couldn't push past that first 10%. The beginning of the book - following a young girl living in Germany in the midst of World War II - felt grim and bleak, cold and grey like the landscape the author describes.

And yet, struck down with a terrible stomach bug and unable to move very much, I read the whole of the rest of it in two days. It's like my heart just gave into it.

I'm so so glad I stuck with it.

It is a beautiful, funny, heart-wrenching book, with interesting characters that felt real, characters that stuck with me for a long time after reading. And again, when I finished it, I cried. Not just because of the story - but because I knew I would miss reading it, which is crazy considering I'd read almost the whole thing in a couple of days.

So good. Please read it if you haven't already. It's definitely my favourite fiction book of the year.

David: Seeking a Heart Like His by Beth Moore

This was my favourite Bible study of the year, hands down. I've done four this year, but this one stuck with me the most. I loved reading David's story, not being that familiar with it (my Old Testament Bible reading not being exactly great). I loved seeing his ups and downs and discovering how God worked through His people. I felt like I was learning a great and important chunk of my family history, in a way.

A few honourable mentions

I have read a few more books that I thought I would mention briefly without going into too much detail:

Dare Me by Megan Abbott (dark, twisted, shocking in places tale of cheerleaders and friendship, kind of unputdownable, but left me feeling a little bit sick. Not sure if that's a good thing or not)

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult (I loved this initially, but some of the scenes are stuck in my head because they were so horrific, and I felt massively let down by the ending which I felt was totally weird and out of place)

A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French (made me laugh out loud - a lot! - and I missed the characters when I finished reading it)

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver (interesting characters, slightly preachy tale about the damage we do to the environment, although admittedly it's a very important subject, but beautifully written)

The Husbands' Secret by Liane Moriarty (awesome, if you can get it at the library like I did you should - I couldn't stop reading it)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (!!! That's all I can say about this. You need to read it. I hated the ending but I know people who loved it)

The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan (got this on Kindle sale, it's a quirky, interesting tale)

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (made me laugh, made me think, made me stop and remember the awesome and interesting women in the Bible)

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I am looking for books to read next year: please give me your recommendations! Also if anyone knows of any books written by British bloggers, that would be good - I found some really interesting writers via blogs this year, but they are all American, and I'd like to support some UK bloggers too :)

***

So that's my last post of 2014! Thank you for reading my blog, I appreciate that people take the time to do it (and always feel surprised when someone mentions it in real life: I think I forget that my words exist in people's minds, aka, outside of the internet). I am now off to have a (hopefully) chilled family Christmas, eat lots of food, and be merry.

Merry Christmas from all of us and a Happy New Year! See you in 2015 :)

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