Best Books I Read In 2018

I read a lot of good books in 2018 and it was tough choosing my favourites reads, but here they are in order in which I read them. I hope they might inspire you to read them or to choose not to.

 

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

A literary fiction book that sets in the 1950s, the ’60s and ’70s mostly in Belgian Congo during a time of upheaval. It follows an Evangelical Baptist family who moves to Belgian Congo to a tiny village to turn them all into Christianity. The story is told from the first-person perspective by the women of the family, who describe the events, other people and their thoughts in the own unique ways.

I really enjoyed the plot, the way the author handled the history and the situation of the country, and how she explored the colonialism and white man’s way of doing things their own way which to them is the only way of doing it right. It is interesting to see the cultural differences and how they bump into each other and the patience of human’s in difficult situations.

The book has quite a dark and melancholy feel to it but is dripped with funny events that feel natural to the storyline.

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

The book is a beautiful reflection of clashing cultural differences between east and west. It discusses it from the point of view of lovers, although other relationships do come along occasionally as well. It discusses the English language and the meaning of words and how they can be interpreted in different ways by a different culture. Or how different the expectations are of the relationship by people from different cultures and the different needs of people from different cultures.

The book is about a young Chinese girl Z who comes to the UK to study English. She falls in love with a man and she discovers her sexuality and self-identity through travels in Europe and the rocky relationship.

It is fairly easy to read and it has great insight into the western culture from an easterners perspective. It is fresh and beautiful!

 

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ruby tells a story about a black girl who suffers her whole life from the hands of one man who takes advantage of her innocence and fright. The story is mainly concentrated in a small town in East Texas in a black community where everybody knows each other as they do in small towns. Ephram is a reverends son who is in love with Ruby who is considered to be a crazy person and a whore. The story is haunting, aggravating, depressing and beautiful. It tells perfectly how other people can influence your own perception of yourself in bad as well as good, and how difficult it is to get rid of that bad. It tells how love sees into the soul through all the fences and it shows how the minds of a group of people can be manipulated by a strong voice and how any bad action, in a person’s mind, can be turned into a good deed.

Ruby is definitely not for the light-hearted, but it discusses many problems we face in feminism, racism and religion very well. I was so surprised by the story, with its hint of fantasy, and it stayed with me for a long time.

 

Pirate Women by Laura Sook Duncombe

Pirate Women was a very fascinating book which told the fictional and nonfictional stories of the most famous female pirates of the world from ancient Greece to the modern day cinema heroes. It portrays and discusses the female characters who are moved by not only love, but by revenge and joy as well, and is supported by historical and cultural events. It tells stories of strong women who I wouldn’t have probably heard of from anywhere else.

The book is well researched, very sophisticated and critical, but still easy to read and really interesting. It has a strong feminist voice without having to put men down, but with criticism and speculation for culture and women’s position in that culture. If you want to read about several strong women who took their lives into their own hands, this is an excellent read!

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

Bear and Nightingale, and Girl In the Tower by Katherine Arden

I was so surprised by how much I liked the two books from the Winternight trilogy and can’t wait to read the next and last part of the trilogy. The fairytale trilogy follows a young woman Vasilisa or Vasya in Russia at a time when a woman had her place in the house making children. When Russian wasn’t yet one big country, but rather where Tatars were controlling all the groups of people around Russian territory including Muscovites.

The books discuss the old faiths and how they along with old cultures are wiped to give room for Christianity. It discusses a woman’s place and how Vasya is trying to challenge what it should be. And it is all wrapped in a historic Rus during the winter. The books are fast paced, filled with mystery and intrigue, and will make you want to keep turning pages. It is easy to read and one of my new favourite fantasy series! I read them as ebooks, but now I really want to get the actual books maybe even hardcovers as I liked them so much!

 

An Almond For A Parrot by Wray Delaney

A book that I couldn’t put down! This is a story about Tully who decides to be a whore to keep her independence and who is a seer. Her husband is adamant on kidnapping her even though she doesn’t know why and she has to rely on the kindness of her gallants and her friends. The book is erotic with a touch of supernatural, of great friendships, love, mischief and mystery. It’s excellently written and not too obvious.

 

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge

This is definitely one of the most important books to read in one’s life. Not only is it very informative, but it raises important questions about racism in our society and about class and equality in our society. It delves into the truths that you might not have heard of because they are purposefully hidden to drive you to think in a certain way. This book is eye-opening to the problems people of different colours and cultures face and to the white privilege. It makes me want to know more and investigate what else is hidden from us by those with power or what is fed to make the class distinction stronger. Read this book before you talk about it!

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

This is a book that still makes me go aww, it was so beautiful! It is a very unusual story of how life can take its hope from stories or books, in this instance Great Expectations. It tells how sinking into the imaginary world can keep people sane or hopeful when the situation is far from it. I read from the back of the book that the story is beautiful, surprising, charming, heart-breaking and has some horror. While that is all true it made me surprised when the tone of the book, throughout, was melancholy and starts with childish innocence.

It tells how different cultures have to live together and how they accept each other, however, I hoped to read more on that. It is surprising in many ways. And it will make you cry and be horrified by people’s cruelty, but still being very honest at the same time.

 

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

A lovely collection of thoughtful, strong and feminist poems. Very thought provoking and often relevant to each woman’s life. I will be coming back to it over and over again!

 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

A really interesting biography of the life of a mixed raced boy in South Africa at the end of apartheid and time after it. Trevor writes in an entertaining but also informative way with his young naive thoughts and his adult views on the events. It tells about the different cultures in South Africa that he experienced and about his bond and relationship with his mother, which is really special and wonderful to read about. This book made me laugh out loud and cry. It gives you glimpse into another culture and how people survive in it. It also provides you with a different view on crime and what is right or wrong.

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

I did finish 36 books, most of which I like, but these were my favourites. Reflecting on this list I realise I didn’t read any books on ethics or sustainability, which I need to change for this year. Also, it looks like I’m reading mainly female authors, but actually the list is more balanced there were just more books by male authors, that I read in 2018, which I didn’t like. We’ll see what the list is going to look like in 2019. Some of the books that I am excited to read this year are Villette, The Bees, Running with Scissors, The Winter of the witch, Spinning silver, Nevermoor, the Immortal life of Henrietta Jacks and a few books on fashion and ethics which I still need to choose.

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

What were your favourite books you read in 2018? And what you looking forward to reading in 2019?

With love,

Lii

 

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The 3rd 12 Books of 2017

UprootedNaomi Novik

A modern fantasy story with kings, queens, dragons and wizards. The story is a fascinating tale where good and bad is not so black and white. It is a bit predictable at times, but interesting none the less. I found the protagonist a bit annoying at times and the characters are not as well developed, so the story is driven by the plotline. 4/5

The Colour PurpleAlice Walker

This book is based on a time after the slavery. It follows a woman who is passed from her fathers home to her husbands home as she is passed on. It discusses her depressive life, women’s position in the world at that time and the family life. It sounds depressive, but the plotline gets more positive the more you read it and I absolutely loved the characters in the book. 5/5

The 3rd 12 Books of 2017 - byLiiL

The Versions of UsLaura Barnett

This book tells a story about two people with three different scenarios of how their lives might have happened and how they will end up in some way together no matter what. It discusses love, infidelity, regular family life and unsupportive relatives. This book reminded me of One Day in a way, but not as romantic. Still, it made me shed a few tears. 3/5

ParadisoDante Alighieri

The second book of the Divine Comedy tells how the protagonist is climbing into heaven through the different levels of purgatory where souls are repenting for their misgivings before they can get to heaven themselves. The third book is a bit harder to read than the first one, especially as the characters can be unknown which makes the relevance hard to understand. There is an appendix where it explains most lines, but it is even harder to go back and forth while reading. 3/5

The Secret HistoryDonna Tartt

A book that surprised me a lot! A different type of murder mystery, where the murder itself is not the mystery but the reason behind it. It is a very sophisticated book with interesting characters and setting where they study classics. Made me also interested in studying classics, or at least reading more about it. The book is long but reads well and I found every chapter interesting. 4/5

Cradle to CradleWilliam McDonough

I’ve written a whole post about this book before and you can read about it here. It introduces a design philosophy where nothing is wasted and all the ingredients are collected and reused again. 5/5

The 3rd 12 Books of 2017 - byLiiL

The PowerNaomi Alderman

The power is a dystopian story. It entertains the idea that women get a new part in their bodies which gives them electric powers and therefore power over men. The book follows several interesting characters both female and male through this time when men are afraid and take rash decisions to protect themselves and women get aggressive. The book provides an interesting idea of how people might react in such a situation. This was a fascinating book and I would definitely recommend reading it. 4/5

FatedBenedict Jacka

This is definitely a young adult fantasy book which follows the protagonist while he fights bad mages. Some beings in the story are interesting, but the plot is very predictable, names unimaginative and it is very cheesy most of the time and made me cringe hundreds of times. I didn’t enjoy how he wrote about women, which wasn’t rude but not considerate as well. 2/5

PurgatoryDante Alighieri

The third book of the Divine Comedy was even harder to read than the second. In it the protagonist is trying to get used to heaven, understand it and love everything, especially God unconditionally. It is hard to understand and very slow to read although it is not long. 3/5

Nicholas and AlexandraRobert K. Massie

A history book telling the story of the last tsar and tsarina of Russia. It is a sad, although, highly fascinating explanation on how they lived, what were they like and why the people of Russia misunderstood them, and how all of it resulted in a revolution. You really get a sense of what their lives were like and what it was like being an aristocrat in Russia in the beginning of the 20th century. 5/5

The 3rd 12 Books of 2017 - byLiiL

The Paper MagicianCharlie M. Holmberg

The story is about a young woman who has just graduated from a mage school and is now set as an apprentice to a paper mage where she is to become a paper mage herself, although she is not looking forward to that as she would rather do any other magic than paper. The story takes her on a horrific adventure to save her master and fall in love with paper magic. The storyline moves well but is naive and a bit childish. 3/5

FashionChristopher Breward

This is a book on the fashion history, however quite superficial at that. It was lead by the emergence of the designer and their fame. The book did introduce quite many interesting points on why history moved with fashion in a certain way, but it missed many other factors. The language was dry to read and therefore the book was not very enjoyable. 2/5

The 3rd 12 Books of 2017 - byLiiL

What books have you read recently?

With love,

Lii

Inspiration of the Month – Have the courage to change things

A couple of days ago I went to the New Lanark to check out the historic mills that made famous by Robert Owen and his revolutionary way to conduct his business. I thought I was excited to just see the textile mills and especially the ones that are currently working. However, I was quite surprised to learn about how Robert Owen lead the way to revolutionise the industrial working and living environment of his workforse.

Inspiration of the Month - Have the courage to change things - byLiiL

At a time when business men and company owners wanted to be profitable rather than have healthy and happy employees, Robert Owen saw the benefits the happy community of worker would provide to the profits of his business. Since buying New Lanark mills from his father-in-law, Owen starts his “Great Experiment” in 1800. He reduced the daily working hours for all his employees, banished work from children under 10 years of age, introduced healthcare for all his employees, and a sickness fund alongside it, he build co-operative store so his employees could buy quality goods for fair prices, he build a school for children, introduced childcare and evening classes for working people. He and his philosophy were ahead of its time by over a century. He was world renown for his content and healthy employees with healthy and well-mannered village children and a profitable business model. He was a philantrophist, early day social entrepreneur and although currently his model of small communities of workforse might be connencted to colonies, the basic prinsiple of how to treat employees is still something every company should strive for. Listening and reading about his business model made me think how the world would be a different place if all the other textile factories worked in a similar way!

In addition to the exemplar way to treat the workforse, New Lanark was a great example of how to be nearly self-sufficient. It was built on a riverbank on a side of Fall’s of Clyde, where they produced their own hydro electricity that powered the whole mill. Robert Owen’s philosophy and work was the model for current working conditions, health care, co-operative movement and education that we currently have.

Inspiration of the Month - Have the courage to change things - byLiiL

I am extremely inspired by Robert Owen’s thinking and if you were inspired as well go check more about New Lanark and Robert Owen’s work here.

 

With love,

Lii

Can You Fake Body Confidence?

One of the things that I want to write in this blog about is body confidence and empowering women. I find joy in being able to help people to achieve their best, to feel better and really take charge of their life. I study the subject and I converse it with others, but then I feel a pinch of guilt. Can I really be talking and promoting body positivity and self-empowerment if I don’t feel like it myself? Is it lying if I don’t feel confident myself? Is it misrepresenting the message that I am trying to present? Is it being an imposter?

Can You Fake Body Confidence? - byLiiL

Throughout my childhood, I was doing a lot of sports. All of my evenings were filled with some sports or musical hobbies and you can imagine that I was skinny. This image of myself got so ingrained in my self-image, that when I stopped the competitive sports and exercising every single day and my body started to change I got very self-conscious. I had always been known as the skinny girl and now suddenly I had curves and I had gained weight. Not only did I not feel like myself, but I didn’t want anybody to see me because it was like failing their image of me. I am lucky to have friends who don’t care what I look like and a boyfriend who adores me, it helps a lot with the body image that I have of myself. However, I still can’t help looking into the mirror occasionally and not seeing what I feel like.

The one thing that I have noticed has a big influence on why the change in body image is so slow is the lack of examples out there. I used to love browsing through fashion magazines and watching 90s and early 00s tv shows, which are filled with super skinny models and actresses and that is the body type that we think as “normal”. I didn’t see a person who had been skinny and then gained weight, without the following judging comment of how that person had gained weight. It is seen as a failure to be a woman in the society.

Can You Fake Body Confidence? - byLiiL

I know today there are a lot more positive body image examples and I am trying to focus on them. Partly the reason why I want to write about it is to help myself as well. I find it so inspiring to see women of all sizes and different histories who are making something out of themselves, who are being brave, who are being gracious and who are confident! Why wouldn’t I share that with others? I know what the staples for a positive body-image are. My mother used to make me go in front of a mirror and tell the mirror how beautiful I was, that helped the teenager who apparently had some problem with the body image when her body was changing. I still talk to myself in front of the mirror, but I do cringe. I try to tell myself what I find beautiful about myself and I still cringe. At yoga when we are told that we should cherish our beautiful bodies, I have to force myself to think of all the things my body does. And you know, it really does. I can tell with confidence that I love my body, but still I find it stopping me from so many things, such as wanting to buy clothes or even trying on clothes, going to public spaces to do any kind of sports, I try to hide when I am at a public gathering and make myself as small as I can. And I know I shouldn’t do any of it. It is like my body-image has affected my self-image and it is hard to build back, but I am doing it, although most days it feels like I am faking it till I make it.

I am no longer trying to get back to my teenage weight and body style, there is no point it that, I am a woman now and I want to look like a woman. Now I just want to keep myself healthy and feel good in my body. Most days I do!

 

Do you feel body confident?

With love,

Lii

Favourite Instagram Pics From May

May was full of amazing and exciting Instagram pictures and it was quite difficult to only choose these few here from all the amazing ones. It was also quite funny to see which pictures I was more drawn towards, such as office pics, home decor, illustrations, the beauty of female body and beautifully colourful pics.

 

Share some of your favourite Instagram accounts and pics in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

8 videos for Feminists

Why we have too few women leaders – While Sheryl Sandberg explains why she also empowers women to go for the leader positions and to fight for their rights.

The person you really need to marry – Witty and insightful explanation of self-love and how it can help you in life and in love life.

8 videos for Feminists - byLiiL

“Locker room talk” Says who? – Alexis Jones talks about why the locker room talk, where men objectify women, is not okay. She talks about how the whole society needs to provide men with the right example of how to treat women and think for themselves, rather than learn this from very disturbing media and porn.

Everyday Sexism – Explains how women and men are really equal now, but how deep the sexism still exists. This talk inspires and empowers you to act towards the equality and fight against people who keep being sexists.

8 videos for Feminists - byLiiL

We should all be feminists – Discussed from a point of view from Nigeria by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is a well-rounded and at times funny discussion about the problems women and girls face in Nigeria, how we educate our children and what the word feminist means.

Sexism in Gaming – Just as the topic says this video is about sexism happening in gaming. Now you might not be into gaming, but there is a big misrepresentation of how many women and girls are. This talk is about why games should not be sexists as well as why they should be promoted and created equally for all genders.

8 videos for Feminists - byLiiL

The slut, the spinster and the perfect woman – Martha Mosse discusses how these words and depictions of women bound us and restrict us, as well as demean us.

Violence against women – it’s a men’s issue – Jackson Katz talks about the problem in leadership and how that affects the rest of us. He explains that when violence against women happens, how it is often concentrated on the victim rather than asking about the person who violated and why he did it.

 

With love,

Lii

First 12 books of 2017

How To Be A WomanCaitlin Moran

This is a kind of CaiMoran’sorans autobiography of how she sees she is a woman. It is funny and witty and has many forward thinking ideas, but I would not agree with her on all her points. She goes through many important stages in a woman’s life; getting the period, getting married, boy crushes, boobs etc. And the thing I was thinking throughout the book is “I wish I had this as a teenager”. It would have made me feel that what I am going through is normal, although she didn’t make these things sound normal.  3/5

Shadows of the WorkhouseJennifer Worth

Small glimpses of life in the middle 20th century London. It is a portrayal of lives of people who were struggling during that time. The workhouse, the living conditions in that time in London and how people treated each other. I laughed reading this book, I cried, I smiled and I wanted to hear more. It is excellently written and I would recommend this to everybody! 4/5

First 12 books of 2017 - byLiiL

The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas

I can’t believe it took me this long to read this classic. It followed the story of D’Artagnan and his musketeer friends. Their blind trust and courageousness. It is an adventure, chivalry and comradery. Quite unexpected. It is not the fastest book to read, but very intriguing and I really wanted to finish the story. I was so excited to learn, as well, that the book is based on real-life events and people, among them D’Artagnans memoir. 3/5

PersepolisMarjane Satrapi

This is actually a two piece graphic novel, which I finished so quickly! Based partly in Iran where the main character Marjane is growing up during the recent Islamic revolution and partly in Europe where she moves as a teenager. It explains what is is like living in this type of a country and what people do to keep their sanity. And later on, it explores Marjane’s feelings of superficial and ignorant Europeans. I recommend everybody to read this one as it opens your eyes to a new culture and the world. The story is so current and I think everybody should read it! 5/5

Me before YouJojo Moyes

If somebody doesn’t know what this book is about I am surprised. It is about a girl who is kind of lost in her life and finds excitement and drive to her life while working as a career to a quadriplegic man. It is a sweet, but also a very sad story. It does keep you reading to find out what happens in the end, although it is quite expected. 3/5

UtopiaSir Thomas More

A story about a world that some might find a dream, other too constrictive. It is a world of the perfect piece, community and one goal. It is an interesting read and it certainly woke my imagination and I instantly wanted to comment on what I was reading. It was a slow book to read, because of it’s monotonous tone. A philosophical read that will make you think. 2/5

The Buried GiantKazuo Ishiguro

One of my favourite books of all time. This book was mystical fantasy. The whole story was a dreamlike tale of a couple’s adventure. The elderly couple struggle upon many challenges, which are directly related to the problems in the real world. Would you like to remember everything or something better to leave unsaid? This story will make you think and it will make you cry, but it is so beautifully written it made me instantly want to read all of the author’s books! Absolutely beautiful book! 5/5

First 12 books of 2017 - byLiiL

My Life On The RoadGloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem’s biography of her travels and experiences when she was travelling to India or around the USA. It is at a time when the women’s movement was firing up and the USA elected their first African American president. This book is a wonderful group of tales about people, how empowering they can be and how when they unite they can make things happen. It was inspiring and at parts very depressing. This book was very concentrated on political and women’s movements, but it provided me with a good insight into the late 90’s of the USA. So Interesting! 4/5

Career of EvilRobert Galbraith

The third book in the Cormoran Strike series and still keeping it strong. I love a good detective book and J.K. Rowlings rich and surprising writing. In this book, Cormoran and his assistant Robin are faced with a serial killer who is threatening them. It is written from both of the heroes view as well as the villains. There are unexpected turns in the love life, there is the deepening relationship in the workplace and the disgusting mind of a serial killer. If you like a detective novel, read this book! 4/5

Animal FarmGeorge Orwell

This book tells a story about farm animals that fight off the human’s of the farm and revolutionise how the farm is kept. At the core, it is about freeing the animals from the human bondage and seeing how new power makes the animals behave. It is interesting to see how these animals start to seem more human the more you read it and how easy it is to manipulate people’s minds through slow propaganda. Interesting but quite depressing! 4/5

1984George Orwell

Very much like the Animal Farm, 1984 follows what seems like a ubiquitous place. A very communist world where people are not allowed to think for themselves, where even though it is supposed to be communist there is a small group of people who are in command and everybody is perfectly manipulated into the same mould. Where love is forbidden, children are coached to spy on their parents and nobody is your friend. Everything is for the good of the republic. It tells about an older man who wakes up to different views and hopes that there is resistance among the people in this country, that it wouldn’t always be like this. This story made me think of North Korea. I don’t know if North Korea is like this, but this is the closest to what I can imagine and it is very horrifying! This book will make you thankful of being in the world that you are in and in the wrong hands good give ideas of how to make it worse. 3/5

The Underground RailroadColson Whitehead

A recent Pulitzer prize winner, this book tells a story about a girl who escapes slavery with the help of the underground railroad. It tells a story of the time when slavery was ending, but people didn’t know what to do with the African Americans. In the south they were a property, in some states they were banned, in the north some became free. In each case, there were difficulties with the people around them. White people were afraid of them and thought of ways of how to minimise their threat, how to elevate themselves. It was an interesting and a quick read, which thought me a lot about the horrible way people were treated at that time. Although, I am not sure if I like that the underground railroad was portrayed in such a literal way, as it made me very confused. 3/5

 

What books have you read in 2017?

With love,

Lii