Image of the book Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

As mental health is quite rightly getting the air time it deserves, Bryony Gordon a journalist with The Telegraph and mental health campaigner tells us her story with Mad Girl with candid honesty about mental illness from when she was thirteen the day after going to a Smash Hits Polls Winner Party to the present day and how she has deals with alopecia, bulimia and drug dependency.

I feel that so many people will be able to relate to Bryony’s experiences from dropping out of university to not understanding why she is feeling the way she is when nothing has happened at home. I remember clearly when Bryony talked about the first time she went to the Doctor to get help and the Doctor telling her to book another appointment when it gets worse, her Mum and Bryony get into the car talk about it and go back in that day and book an appointment. Her astonishing accounts of OCD, (I remember reading that she brought her iron into work as she couldn’t convince herself that it was switched off), are really interesting. Bryony goes into great depth about her OCD and recalls some experiences that I could imagine other suffers wouldn’t want people (especially in a book that anyone could read!) to know.

Mad Girl isn’t preachy and Bryony doesn’t write in a way which she wants sympathy from the reader, it is just true honesty. From the back of this Bryony hosts a podcast called Mad World with The Telegraph and also created Mental Health Mates which a regular meet-up in parks for those with mental health issues.

According to Mind every year 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem. This means where ever you are in the workplace or classroom it is very likely that there will be someone you know has a mental health problem. If you want to understand more about mental health issues Mad Girl is a great starter.

 

 

 

Image of the book One by One by Chris Carter

*contains spoilers*

I love reading but I am not a massive fan of thriller books, until I read One by One by the Sunday Times number one bestseller Chris Carter.

One by One tells the story of Robert Hunter who is a detective with the LAPD. One day he receives a phone call at his office from a mysterious man who makes Robert choose how an innocent man is murdered. The killings continue and with the murderer seemingly always one step ahead, how many more people are going to die before Robert catches him. 

I read this book whilst I was on holiday, I had ran out of books so borrowed my partner’s. The blurb looked good so I gave it a go. I had to admit I was hooked from the first chapter it was very well interlinked with the murder, use of the internet to advertise the killings and psychology. The book also contains two very strong female characters- one is Robert’s boss and the other Michelle White is a talented female hacker in the FBI. What was really good was that there was no romance in the book, as soon as Michelle was introduced as a character I was thinking ‘oh no I bet Robert and her will end up becoming an item’ and take the book down a different route, but it didn’t. This was because I didn’t want the female to be the love interest.

At no point did I think that the story had gone on for too long, the chapters were short (the book is 500 pages long) and the writing focuses less on description but more on explaining the scene and moving on. The crimes (there is more than one) are explained in quite specific detail and demonstrates very well the ugly side of human nature. Overall I really would recommend the book if you want to have a story that keeps you guessing with lots of action. 

Image of the book Everyday Sexism, Girl Up, The Equality Illusion and Strong Woman

I have accumulated a lot of really inspiring and interesting books by feminists in the past three years and today’s post I share my favourites.

Feminist Fight Club – Jessica Bennett

I heard about this book in Cosmo magazine. Feminist Fight details situations in which women find themselves struggling in, in their working lives and how to work though them. Feminist Fight Club details situations such as the good old mansplaining, saying yes to everything and feeling overburdened and the wage gap. The book came about because the author was part of a club where women in professional roles would meet up and speak about what they would struggle with in the workplace. The book doesn’t come across as preachy, it is an easy read, the advice is useful and realistic. The only thing I disliked about the book was that it try’s too hard at times to be ‘cool’ by using words such as ‘femulate’ having rules and a starter kit for the fight club. It really isn’t needed and doesn’t make sense.

What I told my daughter – Nina Tassler

This book contains mini life stories from successful women and what they would pass to their daughters. It covers topics as diverse as the glass ceiling, resilience and courage. This book is easy to read and you can dip in and out of it at any point.

Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates

Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism project. In her first books writes about the everyday sexism that exists in everyday situations, including education, media, motherhood, politics and more. A very informative book full of facts and real life experiences from the Everyday Sexism site.

Girl Up – Laura Bates

What I would describe as the the younger sister to Everyday Sexism. Girl Up is meant to be a guide aimed at teenager women. This no bullsh**t book tackles issues head on that the majority of teen women unfortunately may encounter such as dealing with social media, cat calling and mental health.

Although a good read – I am out of the target audience this book is aimed at so I didn’t get anything out of it myself but I would recommend any teenage girl to read.

The Equality Illusion – Kat Banyard

The Equality Illusion is where Kat Banyard explodes the myths that women have never been in a more equal society. Like Everyday Sexism and Girl Up each chapter is covers a topic from education to reproduction to the sex industry. To be honest I found this book to be very similar to Everyday Sexism and Everyday Sexism was more thorougher.

Strong Woman – Karren Brady

I had to include this book because this autobiography covers the career of Karren Brady from starting out at Saatchi and Saatchi at 18, being managing director at Birmingham City football club at 23 and her opinions on working hard and how she balances being a working mother. Karren comes across as a really lovely person that isn’t afraid of hard work and gives some really good advice.

We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Last but certainly not least! We should all be feminists is based on the famous Tedx talk of the same name. Chimamanda explores what it is like to be a woman today from her own experience. The book is far, far too short and powerfully explores the importance of equality without it becoming preachy. I recieved this book at an NUS Woman in Leadership conference

What are your favourite feminist books? Have you read on the list and if so what did you think?

Image of the book

Recently I brought a load of books to keep me occupied over the Christmas period. One of them was this beauty of a book by Adelle Stripe. Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile tells the story of Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. Andrea Dunbar grew up in extreme poverty on the Buttershaw Estate an estate in Bradford, Yorkshire. The book is interesting because it is a fictional story based on Andrea’s life events. I had to admit after reading the book I googled to find out more information as it wasn’t clear to me if Andrea had been a real writer or not. Looking back at the book for writing this review it does say that it is a work of fiction and ‘an alternative version of historic events’.

The story is gritty, Andrea had gone through some real hardship, falling pregnant young and then miscarrying, living with an abusive partner and then moving to a safe house, her unhealthy relationship with alcohol and poverty. her playwriting comes in when her teacher at school picks up the fact that she has a talent for writing. This leads to her writing The Arbor which was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1980. Rita, Sue and Bob too is the play which is she is well known for, debuted in 1982 tells the story of two women who have an affair with a married man. Her final play Shirley is about Shirley and her family and friends in an working class estate in Bradford in the 1980’s.

The book keeps you gripped throughout, at times the book makes you want to throttle Andrea as it seems that she is passing over opportunities at almost an act of self-sabotage.

I hadn’t heard of Andrea Dunbar before the book and I hadn’t heard of her screenplays before (it was in the 1980’s so before my time!) but I certainly want to read them. An extraordinary story about an extraordinary woman who managed to achieve her dream against every worse scenario possible.

 

Woman posing in front of a blossom tree

Veganuary has become really popular at the moment, so many people want to try it either for a healthy diet or for environmental or ethical reasons. My sister, Miranda, has been a vegetarian for years and has been a vegan for a year. Today my post focuses on why Miranda became a vegan and her experience being a vegan.

How long have you been a vegan and what made you make the change

I have been a vegan for coming up to a year now and it was the best decision I have ever made! Not only for my body but for the environment too. Together, we can reduce the amount of animal and animal based produce that is being consumed, in turn reducing the amount of land we use to produce e.g. corn for the cattle to eat and the emissions that are being pumped into the environment.

Documentaries on Netflix opened my eyes to what we are all eating. For example, I did not know that there was a percentage of puss that is allowed to be consumed in our dairy products, I did not know that puss filled cysts were being popped on meat and still being placed on our shelves and tests on meat found that pharmaceutical medications that are being used to prolong animals lives and keep them ‘healthy’ are also found amongst the meats on our shelves, including faecal matter may I add! Who wants to eat that? No wonder why we all feel unwell, sluggish and lethargic!

Not only that, I do not support animal cruelty and the conditions that these animals aren’t kept in to then become our rashers of bacon and beef burgers is disgraceful. Therefore I again, do not and will not eat meat or any product from an animal again.
Eating vegetarian includes products such as egg and milk and as I’ve said above, it’s not good for us and it’s cruel to the animals and therefore I do not eat it.

How hard is it being vegan?

It’s not hard to keep yourself healthy when eating vegan. You can buy good, wholesome products and vegetables from your supermarket that does not break the bank!
Recipes can be as simple or as complicated as you fancy and it’s not as difficult you think to use alternative products in cooking or baking. For example you can use egg replacer for your pancakes and cakes that taste just as good! Granted sometimes you end up spending more on items such as chocolate or toothpaste that’s vegan and cruelty free but it’s so worth it and so empowering that you’re not supporting the unethical production of products.

I can’t lie that at first, I had no idea what I was doing when cooking as I had it in my head that it was a lot tougher to eat vegan than not. However, it’s just as easy and the stereotype that we don’t eat enough or are not healthy as vegans is just daft as we probably have the healthiest diet around and can eat just as much as everyone else!

Have you always been environmentally conscious?

I don’t really know when I became environmentally conscious. I have always enjoyed being outdoors and for example, have always put litter into bins etc. but wouldn’t really say anything significant spurred me into being as how I am today.
Watching documentaries on climate change and where our food comes from certainly changed my thoughts on the world and how fragile, special and unique it is, how everything can be linked (e.g. mass breeding of cattle to produce meat – adds to the issues with global warming and the reduction of natural land that is available), how unhealthy it all can be (poor methods of producing and keeping food and the effects of co2 emissions to our bodies) and finally, just how cruel we are as people to the world and to natural habitats, the wildlife, animals, each other and beyond! Knowing what I know now from that and from what I’ve seen further caused me to be more conscious and protect the earth and ourselves too.

I got involved with the fracking demonstration in Nottingham as just as other happenings in the environment such as the plastic in the oceans, it is a really important issue! Not only from increase in traffic causing more congestion to the roads, to the contamination of water, small tremors, the lighting used during the night confuses nocturnal animals and more!
I do not support this and therefore I play a part when I can in the peaceful protests against this.

Woman and a group of people protesting against fracking

At the moment I’m not a part of any other protests or groups that campaign various issues but I am constantly reading about what’s happening in the world that campaigns against fracking, treatment animals, anti whaling in Japan etc. and to me, that’s just as important as actually participating in demonstrations as it keeps you in the know and it allows you to spread the word to others which in the long run, can educate others of the issues that are occurring in the world and can promote/induce alternative attitudes towards them and thus stand against them for the better.

What would I say to someone who wishes to become vegan or vegetarian?  Go for it! You may find it difficult but gradual change is change for the better and sticking with it until meat and dairy is a thing of the past is so satisfying and empowering! You feel more at one with nature and the earth and it opens your tastebuds to all these flavours and meals you might never have tried or have wanted to try before! Some products (at the moment) do not compare to non vegan products but by trying alternative products you become accustomed to it and what’s to say that these vegan products that are the alternative to meat or dairy products, are how they really should taste!

My final ‘take home’ message is be the change that you want to see. Just because you are one person does not mean that you cannot change anything. Together, we can turn things for the better, not only to the environment, to the treatment of animals, to ourselves but also to the world. It all can link and there is only one earth. We do not live on a stable planet, it is dying, we are all dying and we are destroying our true place called home.