December Reflections: Best Book of 2017

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I'm going to come straight out and say it. I can't pick just one 'best' book from 2017. It's impossible. There have been so many that I have enjoyed reading. I nearly ended up picking three, but as I wrote about the princess saves herself in this one back in January, I decided I'd keep it to just two books, one fiction and one non-fiction. But that's great, right? You're getting two for the price of one. Bargain!

I'd had the book Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley for quite a while, but hadn't got around to reading in. In the end I actually downloaded the audio version using one of my Audible credits so that I could listen to it on my daily commute and I'm so glad I did. I think it can be so powerful to hear an author tell the story that they have written, especially when that story is real and not fiction.

Listening to Alexandra tell the story of how she became a runner made me realise that I could actually do it myself despite the fact I've believed since primary school that I'm 'not a runner'. I've always associated running with coming last in every single race I've ever been in, whether it was the egg and spoon race at Sports Day or the 800m in PE at secondary school.  

As an adult I now see it as an opportunity. While I am not yet a runner, I love nothing more than sticking my earphones in, blasting some music, an audio book or podcast and setting off on a long walk. When I'm walking I forget about all my worries and, despite the ache in my legs, it stands me in good stead for the rest of the day. I can only imagine that running gives you a similar, maybe even more intense, feeling. When you are on your own and it is no longer a race; exercise can be a tool to improve your mentality instead of destroy your confidence.

Alexandra's story goes through all of her ups and downs in her journey to become a fully-fledged runner. Her initial belief that she would never be able to do, her growing confidence, self-doubt in the middle of a marathon, injury and even things you wouldn't initially think of like the trauma of shopping for trainers.

Whether you are a runner or not, I think everyone can gain something from Alexandra's enthusiasm and  determination and I would recommend picking up a copy or even downloading the audio like I did. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a fan of Giovanna Fletcher (I've now met her five times in case you're keeping count) and I have to say I think this is my favourite of her novels so far. 

Some Kind of Wonderful tells the story of Lizzy who embarks on a mission to find herself after her boyfriend of ten years ditches her in the very same moment that he proposes to her. Harsh, right? It's a thought-provoking tale about how much of ourselves we sacrifice in our relationships (not just the romantic ones) and how the people that come into our lives change us.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried buckets for the first few chapters as it brought back memories that I had intended to keep well and truly buried, but as the story moved on I found myself cheering Lizzy on and realised that I have been on a similar journey myself the past two years. 

Without giving too much away, I love the way that Giovanna brings characters from her other novels in so seamlessly. You know those moments when you find out that you and someone you've just met have a mutual friend and you realise that the phrase 'It's a small world' is actually very accurate at times. It feels very much like that.

Having said what I have about characters from her other novels, this story is a stand alone one and can be read without have read any of her other ones. I hope Giovanna decides to continue Lizzy's story in the future, but regardless of who the characters are in her next story, I can't wait!
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