Review: How To Be Happy by Eva Woods

36113868What I Thought:

Reading this book over the new year period felt kind of poignant as this is the time of year when a lot of people make resolutions to try to better themselves. Fortunately, this wasn’t some eat clean, train dirty, find-your-inner-zen-in-order-to-better-yourself claptrap. In fact, much to my joy, eating cake for the hell of it features often among the pages. No, it’s more about trying to find even the smallest bit of happiness in the most mundane of things: eating breakfast off a nice plate, lighting an expensive candle rather than saving it for some undefined moment, getting away from your desk at lunchtime, getting off the bus a stop early to notice what’s around you or to go to a nicer coffee shop. Things that take minimum effort but that may just make your own (or someone else’s) day.

How To Be Happy is inspired by the Facebook challenge that did the rounds a year or so ago – #100HappyDays. The book begins with Annie, alone and desperately unhappy, visiting her mother in hospital when she is knocked off her feet by a kaleidoscopic whirlwind by the name of Polly, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour and has 3 months left to live, and who also insists on infiltrating Annie’s miserable life in the most irritating manner. After several unsuccessful attempts to avoid Polly, is Annie finally ready to let a little colour back in to her life?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Each chapter is one of the 100 days and during those days, secrets are shared and obstacles overcome, there is joy and there is sorrow and much heartache but despite that this is such a heartwarming book. The developing friendship between Polly and Annie is touching and real (nothing is sugar-coated) and I love the fact that the challenge was about doing and celebrating the little things and not about bucket lists or trying to make yourself into something that you’re not.

Verdict:

Funny, sad and very real. A tonic without being schmaltzy. I loved it.

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Day 11 – A book that made me cry

  It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…

I have a confession to make: I cry at adverts (I’m talking about ones that are about animal rescue or child abuse, not shake ‘n vac or oven chips!). It’s harder to make me cry at a book, however, but when one does make me cry it’s because the author has made me care. There are a few books that have made me wipe a tear from the corner of my eye, but only the odd one that has made me openly weep. One that almost made this post was My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I remember reading this on a sunlounger at a villa we stayed at in Gozo (an island belonging to Malta); this was the first Picoult I had read so I wasn’t familiar with her style of throwing a twist in at the end of the book at that time. What happened in the epilogue took me by such surprise that it completely threw me – I had come to care about the characters so much and I hadn’t seen the ending coming at all 😦

However, the book I have chosen is one that broke my heart when I read it. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is narrated by Death and follows a young girl in Germany in WW2 as she is sent to live with strangers: the characters in this book are genuinely endearing and when the ending hits you, it will hit you with the force of a freight train. I sobbed my heart out! We read this book for my book group years ago and every single person (bar one) loved it and most admitted to shedding a tear. I remember walking around in a daze for days afterwards as I tried to come to terms with the impact it had had on me. If you don’t so much as get a lump in your throat upon finishing this book, I’m afraid to say you just may have a heart of stone. Fact.

 

 

  Which books have had you weeping like a newborn?