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‘Good people are not racist, only bad people are. This neat binary is a way of avoiding any real discussion at all.’

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‘I am not a dandelion, I am a mighty tree. And I am firmly rooted deep in who I’m meant to be.’

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‘Love is diving headfirst into someone else’s confusion and finding it all makes sense.’

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‘To love yourself should be no quiet affair, but a loud uprising.’

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‘You outlive the bad times. Happiness comes again, eventually … Just by staying alive. That’s all you have to do.’

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‘Why can’ heads have overflow pipes like toilets? If they did I could pull my ear and flush it all out.’ (Lemn Sissay)

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‘Happily together, the friends go to the sea, to bob with boats and fishes, their spirits wild and free.’

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‘I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?’

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‘Whereas dogs can learn to suppress their instincts, for humans there is no hope.’

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‘Try tuning out for a while and see how it feels.’

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‘Back then, it had never crossed my mind that it might one day be necessary to unpick the tapestry of our life.’

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‘It won’t be forever. You’ll be in the dark for as long as it takes and then you’ll come out.’

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‘If you hold the screen right up to your face you can maintain the fiction that you have something really important and personal to attend to.’

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‘I’m not the only person on this earth who has no idea what life is for, nor what is to be done with all this time aside from filling it.’

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‘Speaking truth to power. Acting according to our capability and opportunity, whatever that may be, is our collective responsibility.’

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‘I hate how the male gaze is still more powerful than a woman’s self-worth.’

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‘The morning is the seed that blossoms into what becomes your day.’

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‘You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.’

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‘That’s the way with old friends. You understand each other, even when there’s not enough words out there for everything that should be said.’

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‘There’s no single way to be a badass.’

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‘But fear stole my choices one at a time until I didn’t have any left.’

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“I think everyone is just trying to get home,” said the mole.’

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‘Worrysaurus liked it when he knew what lay ahead.’

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‘I try to figure out what I really want to do every day, I say to myself, If this is one of the last days of my life, am I doing exactly what I want to be doing?’

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‘Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Aim to be the truest version of you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. Work hard at it.’

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‘When it comes to house building, most of the money gets spent on stuff that will end up being invisible.’

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‘Effective community strategy… is preventative medicine.’

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‘If you just let life come at you every now and again, you might be pleasantly surprised-and you might find you enjoy yourself a lot more.’

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‘Consider your wants. Answer to nobody. Love yourself.’

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‘An essential part of being able to tap into your sisu, the inner reserve you have but may not be aware of, is silencing all the superfluous noise.’

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‘We are effective through our communities, and we are held in the arms of our communities.’

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‘My self-delusion at this point is so rock-solid you could climb up it and plant a flag.’

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‘Some relationships are just meant for a moment, others are meant to be for forever.’

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‘One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence.’

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‘They give everyone else their best, only to give themselves their worst.’

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‘Am still me, so impulsiveness ran out at potentially crucial moment, to be replaced by familiar, panicked indecision.’

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‘Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.’

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‘Effective thinking isn’t about ‘working hard’ in any brute or rote sense; it is about learning to spot, defend, nurture and grow our fleeting, tentative periods of insight.’

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‘It’s amazing how friends can slip through your fingers, how your social network can vanish like it never existed.’

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‘There’s no such thing as ruining your life. Life’s a pretty resilient thing, it turns out.’

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‘It was surprising that you could spend hours in the middle of the night pretending things were okay, and know in thirty seconds of daylight that simply wasn’t so.’

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‘The poor were judged to be lazy and immoral paupers who refused to do honest work and bred bastards and enormous families while ‘living off handouts.’

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‘Letting go of the fear of being less than perfect is easier than you think. It all comes down to exercising your bravest muscles, one little bit at a time.’

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‘We felt guilty if we weren’t feeling guilty enough, so much so that we began to take pride in this ability to function under moral conflict.’

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‘We have years to converse with someone, to blurt and rant, to explain our desires and anger and regrets – and oh how we squander those moments.’

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‘This dull fear and hatred of her body. It had bloomed inside her all her life, purged but regrowing, unstoppable, every month.’

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‘Is it called The Bookshop because it’s full of books?’

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‘The voice within you that says, “This is not okay” is a direct call from the basic goodness of your spirit. Pick it up. Every time.’

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“Being brave isn’t the same as being okay,” my mum said quietly.’

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‘Problems tend to appear in a different light after a walk.’

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‘In that moment of unalloyed hope and happiness, it seemed to me that those rays were pouring into the darkest dimensions of the land itself.’

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‘We all get the opportunity to feel wonder every day, but we’ve been lulled into numbness.’

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‘Your entire life changes the day that you decide you will no longer accept mediocrity for yourself.’

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‘We dilute our effectiveness by “doing more efficiently those things that shouldn’t be done in the first place.”

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‘I think you have to have faith in people before they earn it. Otherwise it’s not faith, right?’

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‘In Syria there is a saying: inside the person you know, there is a person you do not know.’

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‘Have regular hours for work and play, make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the wort of time by employing it well.’

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‘Dare to see when others don’t. Dare to speak when others won’t.’

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‘To have a hungry heart and mind determines what we create.’

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‘If it is true for you, it is true for someone else, and you are no longer alone.’

What was I reading in 2019? (71)

What was I reading in 2018? (56)

Fabulous Fiction

  • A History of Bees – Maja Lunde (how human actions write the future of the planet. Bees. They’re really important)
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (I’m not sure I’d ever read this in full and it didn’t disappoint – a utopia is never really a utopia)
  • Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan (a secret society and a code to be cracked in a 24 hour bookstore)
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham (a tale with messages about how we live and treat those different to ourselves)
  • The Midnight Palace – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (one of my favourite writers. I won’t have a bad word said about him. Shadow of the Wind is hard to beat but but I thoroughly enjoyed this one)
  • The Reader on the 6.27 – Jean-Paul Didierlaurent (a heart-warming tale about a man who saves writing from destruction)
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy (A colleague recommended this years ago and I resisted but really shouldn’t have. It made me realise how much I love post-apocalyptic and fiction and the scenes depicted will stay with me forever)
  • Vox – Christina Dalcher (a dystopian fiction where women are limited to 100 words a day… the kind of terrifying fiction that feels completely possible if certain present conditions escalated. Ending disappointing but then I was unfairly comparing it to the likes of the Handmaid’s Tale)

Work – related reads

  • Community Building on the Web – Amy Jo Kim (I’m creating an online community at work so this made for essential reading that’s helped to form the strategy)
  • Design for How People Learn – Julie Dirksen (combining cognitive science and online learning – a great combination for my role!)
  • Educational Research: Taking the Plunge – Phil Wood and Joan Smith (writing online courses on educational research meant this read was entirely helpful)
  • Understanding How We Learn – Yana Weinstein, Megan Sumeracki and Oliver Caviglioli (writing an online course on the effective use of technology incorporates cognitive science approaches and this was accessible, practised what it preached by using the principles to explain difficult concepts, and has left me with further areas to learn about)

Notable Non-Fiction

  • Dear Ijeawele – Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie (the first non-fiction I’d read from this author. Advice for feminists everywhere, whether you have a daughter or not)
  • Do Breathe – Michael Townsend Williams (advice about a life with space to breathe that I’ll return to again and again)
  • Forgotten Women: The Leaders – Zing Tsjeng (inspirational stories of women from history you’ve never, unbelievably, heard of before)
  • Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterley (an inspiring hidden true story… there’s a theme emerging with incredible women from history)
  • Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life – Cheryl Strayed (writing for your soul)
  • The Diary of a Bookseller – Shaun Bythell (especially memorable because I red it whilst running a bookshop in the town where it was written so I met Shaun and many of the characters he mentions)
  • Thrive – Arianna Huffington (shaped my year; full of advice for life and work)
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge (this affected my perspective on race greatly, led to me swapping books with colleagues at work and hearing from her in person made her words even more important)

Perfectly Good fiction

  • Black Eyed Susans – Julia Haeberlin
  • Bridget and Joan’s Diary – Bridget Golightly and Joan Hardcastle
  • Force of Nature – Jane Harper
  • Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
  • How to Stop Time – Matt Haig
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward
  • The Book of Hidden Things – Francesco Dimitri
  • The Boston Girl – Anita Diamant
  • The Cows – Dawn O’Porter
  • The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan
  • The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
  • The Summer of Impossible Things – Rowan Coleman
  • The Taliban Cricket Club – Timeri N Murari
  • The Watcher in the Shadows – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Non-Fiction with a little something

  • Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind – Jennifer Shannon
  • Help – Simon Amstell
  • The Little Big Things – Henry Fraser
  • The Little Book of Ikigai – Ken Mogi
  • The Descent of Man – Grayson Perry
  • The One Thing – Gary Keller

Enjoyable at the time with a busy brain

  • Can you Keep a Secret? – Karen Perry
  • Daisy in Chains – Sharon Botton
  • Good Me, Bad Me – Ali Land
  • Her Every Fear – Peter Swanson
  • Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
  • Moonlight over Manhattan – Sarah Morgan
  • Paper Aeroplanes – Dawn O’Porter
  • Since We Fell – Dennis Lehaine
  • Thanks for the Memories – Cecilia Ahern
  • The Alice Network, Kate Quinn
  • The Girl Before – J P Delaney
  • The Girl you Left Behind – JoJo Moyes
  • The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert – David Barnett
  • The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
  • The Man I think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen