Keri Haw

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 Good Reads 

The Language of Kindness

Christie Watson

A memoir come manual for treating the human condition with humanity, compassion and simple kindness. Christie worked for many years as a nurse and uses compelling and insightful anecdotes to guide us through her experiences of the caring for her patients. I loved how she drew on nursing history to compliment her commentary. I laughed and cried as she held me in safe hands as a reluctant but enthralled observer to such intimate and often desperate moments. 

The Shock Of The Fall

Nathan Filer

In this novel, the reader becomes a fly on the wall with slightly more participation, emotionally speaking, observing the life of Matthew. Matthew's mental illness strikes in the form of hallucinations of his dead brother. This provides an enthralling back story but the real beauty in this book is the way in which mental illness is captured. The reader is not just invited to observe but also to engage. It's challenging and uncomfortable at times but that's mental illness. The insights into sectioned life are to be trusted as the author, Nathan Filer, has worked as a mental health nurse himself. Read it not only for the story but also for the insights. 

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled

Ruby Wax

We all know Ruby Wax is wry and hilarious. And despite the serious subject matter, her book is no exception.What I hadn't realised is that not only has Ruby practiced mindfulness but she actually studied it at Oxford University no less. Although still not convinced mindfulness is for me, she makes the most compelling argument for it I've come accross yet. As it's not really my bag I could have done without the chapters of mindfulness practices. There are also chapters specific to young people and children which is handy. I saw Ruby speak at Hay Festival in 2016 about her book. She's a truly impressive woman. If you're looking for a down to earth, no frills, easy access introdcution to mindfulness which will give you a giggle along the way then look no further.

Cheer Up Love: Adevntures in depression with Crab of Hate

Susan Calman

Susan writes a pretty personal memoir about her depression. It may or may not contain things which are familiar to other depression sufferers and it may or may not contain things which would help someone suffering with depression. But that's not the point. The point is that this is a record of Susan's experience of her own depression. It contains a hilarious anecdote involving an otter and Twitter though which is almost worth the read alone. Also, did you know that Susan is a qualified lawyer? She's a very sweet, totally endearing clever and funny lady. Are those things in the right order? Anyway you get the point; adorable, smart, funny, otters. For what it's worth I also saw Susan speak about this book at Hay Festival. There's no pretention, no claim to have answers, just her own brave story which I think is arguably more valuable than an expert written self-help book. 

A Man Called Ove

Fredrik Backman

A total delight. At first read, it's not obvious where the plot is going. A rambling slightly caricature type, Ove, bumbles through the first few pages and just as you think you've got him figured out as a one-dimensional interfering grumpy old man, it transpires he is planning to commit suicide. Cue a tenderly amusing set of circumstances which foil his plans and bring Ove, who you will come to love, back to life. Uplifting, heartwarming, chuckle producing goodness.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k

Sarah Knight

OK so it's not hard to make me laugh but this book did and then some. I'm not talking smiling on the inside or even a little snigger behind the pages. I'm talking involuntary snort as you semi spray your coffee out of your nose laugh out loud. Now I do most of my reading in public; cafes, trains etc so you may be thinking this could be a problem. But you would be wrong. The joy of it is rule #1 of this book is not to give a fuck about what other people think of you. Sarah Knight's practical process of identifying what you should and shouldn't give a fuck about, assigning those fucks from your fuck budget and applying the not sorry method to all else is as enlightening as it is entertaining. Has it changed my life? Maybe just a little. Has it changed my thinking? A fair bit, yes. As an over conscientious control freak, much of this book is a massive challenge and yet it has helped me identify a few things I really don't need to be giving a fuck about. At most it will change your life to one degree or another, at the least it will make you laugh your socks off. Win, win by my estimations. 

High Challenge, Low Threat

Mary Myatt

Easy to digest leadership advice specifically tailored to education. Lots of helpful nuggets of wisdom taken not only from schools but also drawing on good practice in big corporations like John Lewis. Much is common sense but it's really useful to have it all in one place for ease of focus. Chapters are short so it's easy to pick up and put down. The only downside is it feels like it was written in a rush. Quite a few spelling mistakes and a bit of repetition gives this away. 'Creators Not Consumers' was a brilliant chapter. This isn't just for heads of senior leaders, there is insight to be applied to all levels of leadership. 

The Self Esteem Team's Guide to Sex Drugs & WTFs

Grace Barrett, Natasha Devon & Nadia Mendoza

The Self Esteem Team have been described as the Charlie's Angels of mental health. As well as having busy personal lives and successful careers these awesome gals visit schools across the country to talk to teenagers about all things mental health and wellbeing. This book encapsulates some of those issues. Conversational style, snappy chapters and big print (yes, I like big print and I cannot lie) all make for an easy read. It's great for pointing teens to certain relevant chapters such as 'I don't feel 'right'', Everyone's Doing It' and 'How do I get more confidence?'. A little bit sweary at times but certainly written in the teen vernacular.

Girl Up

Laura Bates

Girl up is about being a present day feminist. Laura makes some great observations about body image, language and porn among other topics. My favourite chapter, 'Circle of Shame' covers the role media plays in shamelessly endorsing sexism. Cue Laura's 'Sexist Bullshit Klaxon'. Whilst I'm on board with most of what she's saying, I personally have some issues with feminism which I will write about in a blog to explain. 'Are you a feminist or an arsehole?' - Laura, I am neither. That aside this book made me lol on several occasions. With colour by numbers genitalia and dancing vagayjays, this isn't for the faint hearted but if you've got the balls, it's as entertaining as it is challenging.

Mad Girl

Bryony Gordon

This book is as entertaining as it is informative. I learned a great deal about the nature of OCD in ways which aren't explained on courses or in the text books but rather brought to life by an actual person who lives with it. The whole book nails the balance between good humour and keeping it real which makes the tough subject matter all the more accessible. I was going to recommend it to a girl I know who suffers with OCD and an eating disorder (both undiagnosed and not quite ready to face them) but there are parts which I thought could be triggering, particularly when Bryony describes her bulimia. As someone in the public eye, Bryony should be commended for writing openly about her mental health and takes her place among the best who are striving to challenge the stigma which surrounds it. 

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