Three book reviews

I’ve read several books this week – well, there’s not much to do these days and when a book grips me, I read and read and read until I finish it. And of everything I have read this week, The Kindness Project, The Diet Myth and Digger and Me have all really gripped me.

The Kindness Project by Sam Binnie tells the story of Alice, a reclusive academic from Cambridge who is summoned to a Cornish village after the death of her estranged mother. Once she’s there, she has the job of sorting out her mother’s house and her things, but her mother has also left her a series of tasks. As Alice tries to complete each task, she meets all the quirky characters of the village. In her efforts to change their lives, according to her late mother’s wishes, she inevitably begins to change her own.

Perhaps this plot sounds predictable. In a way, it is. You can spot the love interest a mile off for a start. But I’m not sure that matters. Because Alice is a real three-dimensional character who makes mistakes, says the wrong thing and misinterprets other people. There were surprises in the plot, things I hadn’t expected. Sure, it had the happy ending that I guessed it might, but I’d have been unhappy if it hadn’t.

I loved this book. It reminded me of Rosamund Pilcher’s novels, not just because it was set in Cornwall as many of her stories were, but also because it had a cosy feel to it: I loved the descriptions of delicious cakes and beautiful paintings. I loved the ensemble cast of characters, each with their faults and foibles. I loved the way Alice finds solace in the sea. I can’t recommend it enough.

I picked up The Diet Myth by Tim Spector after hearing him interviewed on Radio 4. The Diet Myth is the book for you if you’re wondering why you’ve been on loads of diets but not lost any weight or if you’re wondering why your husband eats exactly the same meals as you but he’s skinny and you’re not. In my case, I suspect that has something to do with the kilometres and kilometres that he cycles.

In this book, Tim Spector explains why it’s not as simple as consuming less calories or cutting out one particular food group. Spoiler alert: it’s all to do with your microbiome, those millions of little critters who live in your guts.

I’ve read all of Michael Mosley’s books about diets and Tim Spector comes to very similar conclusions: so it’s a thumbs up to eating 5:2, time-restricted eating, the Mediterranean diet and eating for good gut health. In that regard, I learnt nothing new. But all the scientific explanations in the book have inspired me to change our diet. We had being trying to eat 10 portions of fruit and veg a day. Now I realise that the variety of the fruit and veg we eating over the course of a week is also important. Tim cites studies that show that eating 30 different types of plants in a week has been proven to be highly beneficial. So that’s my goal. I’ve also been trying to make kefir, drinking kombucha and have ordered some raw sauerkraut. I love a book that inspires me to take action!

Finally, Digger and Me by Ros Roberts. This is actually a book for 8 – 12 year olds but having enjoyed many a YA novel, I’m now working my way down the age groups. And why not? There’s something beautiful about remembering what it’s like to be a child again, struggling with long divisions and writing poems for your homework.

Digger and Me is the story of James. His parents are divorced and he isn’t too keen on either of their new partners. His class has another new teacher – the third in less than a year. And his dog Digger is his best friend. But then James finds a lump on Digger’s leg.

As an aspiring writer, I’ve often heard that the best writers use the least amount of words to tell the story that they want to tell. I think good children’s authors often lead the way here. There’s no long-winded, boring descriptions of scenery or characters’ appearances. I never get bored and I’m never tempted to skim-read a paragraph to get to the interesting bits.

I love this book. I love James and his honest descriptions of everything and everyone. I love his eccentric new teacher Mr Froggatt and the little homework tasks he sets the children. And, of course, I love Digger and I actually shed a tear when he got sick.

I’d highly recommend all three of these books – click on each title for a link if you’d like to read them too.

The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>The Diet Myth

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