It has been a little while since I wrote some book reviews but on holiday I devour books (about one a day) so I have a couple of good ones to share today.
The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
This book was one I chose for my book club to read. I have to admit that I did feel the pressure to choose a decent title for us but this went down quite well and it was an interesting read. The book follows two characters who meet at university and we then follow three different versions of their future, both together and apart. I always wonder ‘what if’ and this book follows that idea of making decisions and the consequences they have. Each chapter was from one of the three versions and I have to admit that in places it was quite hard to follow and it was one of the only times I have ever wished that I had a Kindle title in hardback so I could flick back a little easier to remind myself who all the characters were. After a while, I stopped getting hung up on not remembering every little detail and just read it although I found the ending a little unfulfilling. An interesting yet quite tricky read.
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
I first heard about this book on Woman’s Hour (and here is the link if you are interested) and this fascinating story stuck with me. It was an incredible read and it even prompted me to tweet the author who actually replied! The book follows the tragic stories of dial painters in America during World War One who worked in factories painting luminous dials using a radium-based paint. Amazingly, at the time radium was seen as some sort of wonder product and was added to drinks, cosmetics and toothpaste, often called ‘liquid sunshine’. Many of these factory girls were earning more than their fathers so it was seen as an attractive and glamorous job and the girls would encourage their sisters, cousins and friends to join too. They were all encouraged to ‘lip point’ which meant putting the radium-covered paintbrushes in their mouths, inadvertently ingesting this element. There were no safety precautions and the women would literally glow in the dark as they walked home in the evening. Years later, the women gradually started to get ill. It would often begin with losing a tooth but soon would leave them in horrendous pain with appalling and crippling illnesses. The book follows two factories and the brave women who decided to take on these huge corporations and not stop until justice was served. This was brilliantly written, moving and one of the best books I have read in years.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I really wanted to love this book and while it was an easy read, I was just left a little underwhelmed. It was very funny in places but almost identical in style and content to the Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey books I have read. It did make me realise that Amy is really good at what she does and that she has slogged away and worked incredibly hard to get to where she is now. I haven’t seen Parks and Recs so the chapters on that were a little irrelevant to me. Some chapters were really interesting whereas others were really shallow, especially the really blasé one on drugs. I think my favourite thing that I will take away with me was her motto of ‘good for you, not for me’ which is applicable in so many situations!