On My Bedside Table #1

sneak peak: mini reviews of some books: The Red House, Why We Sleep, The Help, Life After Life, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

book review: On My Bedside Table #1, imogen molly blog, www.imogenmolly.co.uk

There's not much prefacing needed for this post - it's pretty self-explanatory. I have read these books recently; they have been on my bedside table. Now I am going to construct my thoughts into sentences and publish them online. Let's crack on.

The Red House - Mark Haddon
I enjoyed this a lot, but not quite as much as I enjoyed the reason I bought it: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. I read that one years and years and YEARS ago, and loved it, so decided pretty much the moment I saw Mark Haddon's name on the cover of The Red House that I would read it. It's brilliantly written, getting into the heads of each character in turn and being entirely believable for all of them. There's not so much a plot (although it's not an incomprehensible jumble of events by any means), but rather it focuses on the nuances and intricacies and at time delicate politics of family life, particularly in the setting of a joint family holiday. I thought it was great.
Buy it from Waterstones (and support a traditional, lovely bookshop) or Amazon* (and support me, ish).

Why We Sleep - Matthew Walker
Read this now. It will change your perspective completely and utterly and totally irreversibly. I have always enjoyed sleeping, as have most people, but also like most people, I enjoy late nights too. Since uni, I have also enjoyed early mornings, and even went through a phase of not shutting my curtains and instead rising when the sun woke me up (I'm talking like 5.30am), and getting going with my day then, before heading to bed at a leisurely 9pm or so. Now, though, I am thoroughly educated on the importance of a regular sleep pattern (yes, that means getting up at the same time on weekends), the effects that irregular sleep has on us both mentally and physically, and the frankly terrifying consequences of an unhealthy sleep life. This book is important, and I recommend you read it.
Buy it from Waterstones (and support a traditional, lovely bookshop) or Amazon* (and support me, ish).

The Help - Kathryn Stockett
This one might be my favourite of the books I have read recently. Set in 1960s Mississippi, it is another one told from several different perspectives, and again, it is done excellently. It tells the stories of several maids and the households they work in, and according to other reviews I've read it is very true to life. The copy I have is decidedly bashed and tattered and pretty yellowing, so I subconsciously assumed it was an ancient book - it's not. It was written in 2009 and definitely feels like a recent, modern book when you're reading it, in that it is totally accessible and very much a page-turner. I cracked up laughing at some bits, but this one truly is a rollercoaster so be ready for some heartstring tugging too. 10/10, I think it took me about three days to read - it was that good.
Buy it from Waterstones (and support a traditional, lovely bookshop) or Amazon* (and support me, ish).

Life After Life - Kate Atkinson
This one took a bit longer to get into, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. I can't say I fully understood it, which only became apparent to me when Mum also read it and then asked me what was going on, and I couldn't really explain. I really enjoyed the concept of different branches or offshoots at each decision point turning into another possible storyline, as it's something I do wonder about a bit (probably thanks to the influence of Doctor Who in my childhood with all its timeline confusions), but I struggled to get my brain on the right (figurative) page sometimes. It would have benefitted from a diagram at the end showing all the little tributaries, like a map or a family tree, but as it doesn't have that, it's definitely one where you have to concentrate. It's a good read and very different to the vast majority of books, and more than anything it gets you thinking about all the 'what if's.
Buy it from Waterstones (and support a traditional, lovely bookshop) or Amazon* (and support me, ish).

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
This book seems to be just about everywhere. I read this on holiday - it wasn't my copy, and I started it the day before we were due to go home, so was reading at just about the speed of light to make sure I would reach the end in time. As luck (HA, luck) would have it, I spent about 90% of said holiday vomiting and generally unable to move or be upright (or horizontal... diagonal was the only option), which gave me plenty of time to read. Take it from someone who knows - if you're feeling unbelievably gross, this is a solid choice of reading material to cheer you up. Eleanor Oliphant is a heartstring tugger, without really meaning to be - you grow to have a definite affinity with her without particularly realising, and if you're anything like my weepy family, you may well find yourself shedding a tear or several. Fortunately, I have a heart of stone (not really) and an inexplicable aversion to crying in front of people, so I was dry-eyed and safe. You will absolutely be thrusting this book into the hands of your loved ones, compelling them to read it - both sides of my family did this independently, and boy am I glad they did.
Buy it from Waterstones (and support a traditional, lovely bookshop) or Amazon* (and support me, ish).

Now that you've had a read of the reviews, why not have a read of the books themselves? I have helpfully linked them to Amazon so that all you need to do now is click 'buy'. How kind.

- post #5 of 21 in the 21-day blog challenge -

*Affiliate links - that means if you buy by clicking that link, it will cost you exactly the same and will also give a portion to me. If you do, thank you! And if you don't, fair enough, not much I can do except wonder why.


  1. Why We Sleep is truly brilliant and I also heartily agree with you that Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, is indeed completely fine! What good choices you have made.

    My one gripe is why, oh why did you link to the odious Amazon? Going into a book shop for a specific book and finding yourself diverted by the plethora of other tempting good reads is surely one of life's great joys. Let's keep physical shops alive and thriving and buy from your local book shop.

    1. Thank you, glad you agree!

      As for the Amazon links - I agree that there is nothing nicer than wandering around a bookshop and seeing what takes your fancy, and enjoying the wonderful smell of newly printed books (it's the little things).

      However, Amazon can often be cheaper, albeit only by a pound or two - the majority of people who read my blog are students or young professionals, who tend (like me) not to have a huge disposable income. Therefore, if you can buy a book more cheaply, generally you will. I have included links to Waterstones online as well, so that people have the choice to support them instead, as well as to compare prices if they want.

      Also, as I mention in the blog post, they are affiliate links. That means if people click on the link then buy something from Amazon having navigated there via my link, it supports me (albeit in a very miniscule way).

      If people want to buy their books from Waterstones (my fave) or Barnes & Noble or wherever, online or in person, then they are more than welcome to do so. The links are just me trying to be helpful!


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