MSB Book Club

The MSB book club continues with more fantastic reads and has recommendations to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022. 

February’s book 

The book was chosen by Sarah Sharples. She chose Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which was the winner of Costa First Novel Award, a No.1 Sunday Times bestseller and the Book of the Year 2018. 

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live 

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. 

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. 

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life. 

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than…. fine? 

Sarah said “During the first lockdown in 2020, I was looking for several good books to pass the time and for a bit of escapism. My friend recommended Eleanor Oliphant, she praised the book and rated it five stars. My expectations were, therefore, quite high. After reading an overview of the book, I was drawn to it and thought I must give it a go. Without giving too much away, it is a book which has stuck with me for the past two years, for its wit, sadness and much more. When I was asked to choose the next book for MSB’s Book Club, I thought this book would appeal to people. Overall, it wasn’t a difficult decision and I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I did!” 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Team Reviews

“I loved Eleanor Oliphant! At the start I wasn’t keen, but her character grew on me. She was resilient and brave. An unlikely heroine but one nonetheless. I give it 4 stars.”
Louise Murphy, Head of Social Housing and Regeneration ****

“I would give it 3 stars. I initially found it hard going as I didn’t really like Eleanor. I find it strange to read a book where I don’t like the main character. However, as I’ve progressed I’ve come to realise there is a lot in her past which may explain the way she is and as the saying goes you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!!”
Joyce Pink, Senior Associate Costs Lawyer ***

“I fell in love with all the characters, especially the main character, and I felt like we went on a journey with her. It was laugh out loud funny in places and heart-breaking in others. I would give it 5 stars.”
Amy Tagoe, Associate Solicitor *****

 “I was hooked instantly with Eleanor’s story. It was a perfect mixture of tragic and hilarious. She narrates the story in such a quirky manner and whilst we as outsiders can understand how others are reacting to her it makes you realise how unjust it is. Many would think of her as ‘weird’ but her reasoning and the way she views the world really does make its own sense. I’d give it 5 stars.”
Rachael Payne, Solicitor *****

“I was really looking forward to reading this as I had heard so many good things about it.  However, maybe because it had been so over-hyped to me, I really struggled with this book.    I know the reasons are complex and deep – and I may be being a tad superficial – but I found the main character thoroughly unlikeable and found it difficult to relate to her in any way – perhaps that’s the aim? Overall, I would give the book 3 out of 5 – it was certainly thought provoking but maybe I was expecting too much?”
Amanda Ralph, Legal Assistant ***

The Happiest man on Earth

March Book

Our next book has chosen by Louise Murphy, who decided to go with our first non-fiction read.

Eddie Jaku “The Happiest Man on Earth the beautiful life of an Auschwitz survivor.”

Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku made a vow to smile every day and believed he was the ‘happiest man on earth’. In his inspirational memoir, he paid tribute to those who were lost by telling his story and sharing his wisdom.

Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you.

Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed in November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp.

Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on a Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country.

The Happiest Man on Earth is a powerful, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful memoir of how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.

This book deals directly with the holocaust and whilst Eddie’s tale may have a ‘happy’ ending so to speak, the book deals with a tough subject matter.

If you feel this would be too tough to read, we thoroughly recommend you watch Eddie’s TED talk.

International Women’s Day 2022

As we approach International Women’s Day, we take a look at some of the fantastic feminist reads available for everyone to read:

  1. Invisible Women: Exposing Gender Data Bias in a World Designed for Men – Caroline Criado Perez

Very appropriate for this year’s IWD theme #BreakTheBias.

From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, and the media. Invisible Women reveals how in a world built for and by men we are systematically ignoring half of the population, often with disastrous consequences. Caroline Criado Perez brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the profound impact this has on us all.

Discover the shocking gender bias that affects our everyday lives.

  1. She Speaks: Women’s Speeches That Changed the World – Yvette Cooper

Looking at lists of the greatest speeches of all time, you might think that powerful oratory is the preserve of men. But the truth is very different – countless brave and bold women have used their voices to inspire change, transform lives and radically alter history. This is an inspirational call for women to be heard across the globe.

  1. It’s Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race – Mariam Khan

What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it’s all about the burqa. This book brings together the voices of Muslim women from different backgrounds, this anthology of eye-opening essays reflects on what it’s really like to be a female Muslim in the West today.

  1. Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies): Amazing women on what the F-word means to them – Scarlett Curtis

52 women write about what Feminism means to them curated by Scarlett Curtis including words from actors, activists, politicians, writers and many more. A must read for anyone who believes that feminism can only have one face.

  1. Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates

Everyday sexism is a protest against inequality that provides a unique window into the vibrant movement sparked by a juggernaut of stories – often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant. This book is a manifesto for change; a ground-breaking, anecdotal examination of sexism in modern day society. Welcome to the fourth wave of feminism.

  1. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty – Florence Given

This is the ultimate book for anyone who wants to challenge the out-dated narratives supplied to us by the patriarchy. Through Florence’s story you will learn how to protect your energy, discover that you are the love of your own life, and realise that today is a wonderful day to dump them.

  1. The Guilty Feminist – Deborah Frances-White

The Guilty Feminist will challenge you, reassure you and empower you to see the world differently.

From inclusion to intersectionality, #MeToo to men’s rights, rom-coms to pornography, Deborah Frances-White tackles urgent questions for the modern woman. Featuring interviews with activists, businesswomen and all-round inspirations, The Guilty Feminist examines how women can abandon their guilt, say No (when they mean it), say Yes (when they want to), and to change the world – and ourselves – for the better.

  1. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

  1. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

In this first volume of her seven books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination, violence and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration.

  1. Roar – Cecelia Ahern

The only fiction book in our list is from Cecelia Ahern. Thirty short stories. A story for every woman. A story for every moment. Stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, all of the stories are touching, often hilarious, stories. Each discovers her strength; each realises she holds the power to make a change.

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