Books I Got For My Birthday

You have no idea how happy (and grateful) I was to see a Kindle gift card surface in my emails the morning of my birthday.

I am lover of all books, including physical copies, but over the past year or so I made the decision to download the majority of my reading material. Physical copies of books – as beautiful as they are – were slowly taking over my household so it made sense to go down the ebook route.

Now I can download the books that have I been wanting to add to my TBR until my heart’s content, and some of those books I got for my birthday so let’s get into it!

High Hopes by Steve Garrigan

“A stunningly told and deeply personal memoir from the lead singer of Irish rockband Kodaline. High Hopes is a deeply personal memoir about how everyone carries a story. In his down-to-earth and often humorous style, Steve takes us from his childhood growing up in Dublin and the shyness that only dissolved in front of a microphone, to the highs of rock star success touring and playing stadiums, and the lows of anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
Ultimately, his story describes how it is only by learning to share our deepest vulnerability – embracing all aspects of our true selves – that we can work through darkness and ultimately find freedom.”

I am a fan of Kodaline, Steve Garrigan has been a great spokesperson for mental health since opening up about his own journey and this book was released on the day of my birthday, so need I say more?!

Olive by Emma Gannon

“Olive is many things. Independent. Adrift. Anxious. Loyal. Kind. She knows her own mind. And it’s ok that she’s still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations, there are choices to be made and – sometimes – stereotypes to fulfil. So when her best friends’ lives branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, she starts to question her choices – because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.”

I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, so I’m excited that I have finally picked it up. Emma Gannon is such a brilliant broadcaster & writer, and this debut novel has received critical acclaim, and I don’t have any doubt in the good comments and reviews I have read about it.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

“What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.”

I don’t know much about the author but this novel kept turning up on my feed through various Bookstagram accounts, all singing it’s praises! To me, it sounds like a good escapism novel so I’m looking forward to giving it a go.

Open by Frankie Bridge

“In OPEN, Frankie Bridge opens up about her ongoing journey from breakdown to breakthroughs and through self-loathing, hospitalization and self-acceptance. Part narrative exploration, part guide, this book will help you to understand the importance of talking and helping each other. It combines guidance and advice from the psychologist and psychiatrist who pulled her back from the brink along with their notes on her and conversations with her. This book will help people open up about their mental health and encourage us all to speak out.”

This is another one of those books I have been meaning to pick up for a while now. Frankie, of course, was one fifth of the popular girl group The Saturdays and has since become a broadcaster and author in her own right. She is someone who has also spoken openly about her mental health journey and is quite inspiring. I believe the ebook even has an updated chapter on Covid-19 and mental health so I think it’s worth reading.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

“Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young – but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart.”

This is the most recent novel from Sally Rooney and I have seen a lot of mixed reviews on it, but I do wonder has that something to do with the fact it was such an anticipated release. Perhaps readers were looking for the next ‘Normal People’, which is understandable to a point, but it is hard to strike gold twice. Either way, I have decided to read it just to see what I will think of it.

Iva: The True Story of Tokyo Rose by Mike Weedall

“It is 1941, the start of Word War II. Wishing only to pursue her dreams of attending medical school at UCLA, Iva Toguri reluctantly visits her sick aunt in Japan. The start of the war traps her there. When she refuses to renounce her American citizenship, the Japanese government denies her a food ration card. Soon her mother’s family evicts her, and she struggles to survive. Forced to accept a job with Radio Tokyo, she refuses to participate in propaganda broadcasts despite unending pressure by Army management.”

I first became aware of Iva Toguri’s story through an Edinburgh Fringe show review I read during the Summer. To my shame, I didn’t know this story in full until I read that article, and it makes me sad to think about all the historic female figures that have most likely been over looked throughout decades, with nothing but a token mention here and there. I searched online for further material on this fascinating story and it led me to this 2020 publication. While isn’t exactly a memoir, author Mike Weedal takes inspiration from the true story, and with it, tries to write from Iva Toguri’s point of view. My guess would be that it makes it one of the best books to introduce you to this story.

So, there are the books I got for my birthday. Hopefully I will be back soon enough with updates and reviews on them all, and in the mean time, let me know which book on this list you would love to read most, in the comments below!


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