Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

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What do you do when it’s all going down? In times when it seems as if nothing’s ever gonna get better. When it appears that whatever you do is taking you deeper into the dungeon of despair? 

I’ve been there. Trust me. I tried and used different methods to get myself out of the darkness, and many of them helped me tremendously in getting back to normal, functional daily life. From simple everyday walks in early mornings through therapy and intensive physical training with a personal trainer to expanding my knowledge with new hobbies, then a new career and yoga. There was one constant that was part of all the methods that I used and the one that I enjoyed the most, reading. 

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

Reading for me is a go-to activity through thick and thin. If I’m down, I will look for an escape in books, either by exploring a new subject to give my mind a different focus or just by diving into a new world opposite of mine. If I’m happy, I’ll expand my TBR list with new purchases and pick a new read in excitement. 

I used to read fiction exclusively in my spare time, but in the past few years, I discovered a whole new world of non-fiction and developed a tremendous love for memoirs and autobiographies in particular. Many of them picked me rather than the other way around, I dare to say. Somehow, the timing appeared to be just right to come across a book that described what I was going through but also showed me that there is that famous light at the end of a tunnel. A book that soothes the scars and lifts up in times of blues. 

I picked out my favourite 10 that inspired me, carried me into the next day and pushed me to take another step. Here they are in no particular order. 

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. A mind-blowing account of facing death and becoming a father at the same time. It’s a beautifully written memoir that combines science, language and literature. Inspirational and heartbreaking.

I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell. The subtitle of the memoir is Seventeen Brushes with Death, and it’s a collection of seventeen near-death experiences in an extraordinary life of the author. 

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Before he had a stroke, Bauby was editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine and a father of two children. After the stoke, he ended up in a 20-day long coma and woke up with a lock-in syndrome able to blink his left eye only. That is how he dictated this book.  

Living With the Dead Language by Ann Patty. If you are like me, a lover of Latin language and literature and memoirs then this is a perfect book for you. The story of self-discovering and redefining life purpose combined with good humour, honesty and beautiful writing will teach and entertain you. 

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. A memoir in books of a teacher and her seven dedicated students that tells a story of the power of literature and resilience in the times of revolution, censorship and denying freedom in Iran. 

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Together with Reading Lolita in Tehran, this memoir is on my list not only because I am fascinated with that part of the world but because, although different, both are testimonies to resilience, wisdom and strength in difficult times. Persepolis is a graphic memoir with a tremendous amount of humour and heartbreak. 

Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill. Published in 1954, this story of Douglas Bader is an inspirational account about an RAF pilot who had it all in 1931. Then, one December morning after an air crash, Bader lost both of his legs but and had to learn to walk again. He served as a fighter pilot in the Second World War.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. A memoir that is trying to make sense of a time when one faces an unexplained illness of a child and a sudden death of partner after 40 years of life together, all at the same time. Honest and powerful. 

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. A multilayered and innovative memoir about taming Mabel, a goshawk and liberating self in the times of grief after the author lost her father. 

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Insightful and hilarious, this is a collection of essays about moving to France, learning the language, eating in restaurants and many more. 

So, there! I gave you some ideas and added more to your to-be-read list. If you’re anything like me, it’s probably a neverending one.

Have you read any of the books on my list? If not, what one would you pick?

What do you do in the times of blues? What is the one thing that makes you feel better instantly? 

Let me know in the comments box or get in touch with me.

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment
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And Then I Met Margaret by Rob White Book Review

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Rob White’s book was the first book I reviewed in it’s-going-public way, and I was soooo excited to post it. It’s not perfect, you’ll see, but I will be kind to myself and say that all I wanted to do is get it out there. It was a way for me to pass the threshold between talking about doing something and doing it.

And Then I Met Margaret Book Review Biljana Hutchinson #personaldevelopment #nonfiction #bookreview #personaltransformation #mindset

And Then I Met Margaret is a quick and entertaining read that will make you reflect on the lessons we learn on our path of life and people that teach us those lessons. It got me thinking about unexpected gurus in my life and in what light I see people around me.

You can check out my full review at Online Book Club website.

If you like quick, motivational read with a self-help tone, where you can relate to myths Rob believed in and lessons he learnt, you can check it out here.

If you already read it, please share your thoughts with me.



My 5 Favourite Reads of 2016. So far…


My Favourite Reads in 2016. So far... a mixture of 5 fiction & nonfiction reads to enjoy. Biljana Hutchinson #books #FavouriteBooks #Reading

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I wrote recently, for those who have been following me,  that one of my New Year resolutions was to read more books, in numbers that’s 50 and so far it’s going well. Up until now, I have read 30 books, and my Goodreads Reading Challenge list says that I am right on track, which makes me happy but also proud. If I complete the challenge, it will be a great achievement for this year for me.

There is no system of how I chose what to read; yes, I have a ‘to-be-read’ list but I see it more as a list of suggestions that fluctuates, and it happens a lot. My TBR grows all the time, and I add books to the list based on a wide range of scientific criteria such as friend recommendations, articles or reviews of bloggers/readers/websites that I like. Or book covers that I love, a glance at the bookstore window and seeing something that I want. Or a photo of a book on a social media, a pick of my two toddlers decided on by their colour preference at that particular moment, etc.

All these criteria helped me chose the 30 books that I read so far, and out of those 30, I made a list of five favourites that I liked and enjoyed the most. Books that provoked me to think more about a particular subject or to think and see something in a different or new way.

  1. The Incarnations by Susan Barker. This book was recommended to me by a woman whom I was never introduced to officially, but we have known of each other for years, and we developed a certain relationship through a mutual dear and esteemed friend of ours. Only in July, we became friends on Facebook by our love for books and book recommendations. The Incarnations is as surreal, and as original, like my friendship with gorgeous Alison. It is multilayered, imaginative and gripping with beautiful language and storytelling. It expands the mind of the open-minded. Amazing.
  2. The Vegetarian by Han Kang. This is one of these WTF books. I liked it because it is provocative, dark and tells a story about freedom and obsession and how we can quickly turn against ourselves in obsessively trying to free ourselves.
  3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Black-and-white comic strip memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and devastating war with Iraq. It is heartbreaking but funny in showing daily contradictions between the private and public life of individuals and families. Magnificent.
  4. On Writing by Stephen King. A beautiful and friendly memoir, practical with essential tools for mastering writing and because of it all, it is so inspiring and empowering. Entertaining and fun read. Masterful as expected.
  5. What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger by Stephen Joseph. This is one of quite a few books I read in the past five years about trauma and healing because of my personal circumstances, and it is not related only to 2016, but I keep this one on my nightstand and use it as a manual. The psychologist Stephen Joseph combines twenty years of experience of working with trauma survivors, with ancient philosophy, evolutionary biologists and positive psychologist to show us step-by-step how trauma does not have to ruin one’s life. Instead, it can improve it by going through change and finding new meaning, purpose and direction in life. It has been a practical guide for me, and I recommend it with all my heart.

The order of books is random, and it was not easy to limit myself to only five, but there will be more reads and more list to come. I was quite lucky with the selection so far as there was only one bailout this year, I guess I should thank my toddlers for their colour scheme selection system.

What are your favourite reads this year?

Bad Book or Wrong Time

Bad Book or Wrong Time, do you quit on books when you don't get hooked, Biljana Hutchinson #books #reading #BooksILike #BooksIDontLike

Is not finishing a book that you’re reading the same as not wanting to hear a story about a person that you just met? And if it is, does this make you feel bad?


When I was younger, I read books to the end, even if I didn’t like them for whatever reason, they were boring, I didn’t really understand them, I found them illogical, it doesn’t matter – I finished them.


Then I grew older, my priorities changed, and so did my understanding of those priorities, my attitude about my time changed and so did my time management skills, for better, or so I like to think – and it started happening – I started to leave books unfinished!


I didn’t know what to think about it first and I felt really bad, but then I realized that not finishing the books I read fits into my new take on priorities and time management  – so I set up a new Don’t rule: don’t read books that you don’t feel like reading. Simple. Except that it was not – I felt terrible about not finishing a book, unless it was a horrible one, according to my classification, which is very subjective, apparently.


It doesn’t happen very often to come across a book so bad that you want to push it away. Just like with people. Rarely we come across a person that leaves such a wrong impression on us that we don’t want to have further contact with them. Once it does, we don’t feel sorry for it, do we?


So, why do I feel bad when a particular book makes me feel like I don’t want to hear its story? When it doesn’t make me feel comfortable. Why do I want to return to it?


Sometimes I would give it a second chance by leaving it for a while, thinking that maybe it was not the right time for our encounter. Like a love story between two right people who met at the wrong time – then, when it would appear to me that the time is right, I’d return to it and see how it goes. At times, it would go well. Other times, I’d put the book back on the shelf and leave it until… later. Maybe when I retire and have more time for returns…


Do books deserve a second chance?

Language We Use For Love & Hate Is Closest To Our Heart


There was an interesting post in The Economist’s Prospero Blog about why writers abandon their native language. The article gave examples of Samuel Becket who wrote in French, Nabokov who in English and Lahiri who recently started writing in Italian and, it got me reflecting on why do I write in a language that is not my mother tongue…


My native language is Serbian yet I write in English and for me the simplest although not the most accurate division would be public and private. English has been my public or professional language for nearly two decades, and it appears that it will remain as such. Seven years ago, English has also become partly my private language as I speak it at home too, with my husband.


But Serbian is my deeply private, inner language, the language of my core. I use Serbian-only for terms of endearment with my children or when I tell them that I love them or miss them and I use Serbian-only when I swear (well, mostly) and when I’m arguing. This does not mean that I cannot have an argument in English very well too, it’s just that in Serbian, I get rid of the emotions better, faster and in a much more expressive way.


Language Closest to our Hart is the Language We Use for Love & Hate, How do we use languages when we are bilingual or multilingual, Biljana Hutchinson #family #language #bilingual #children #communication
My husband knows me best.


I speak Serbian with my children, I read to them in Serbian, and it is the language that I want to teach them because it is part of their identity. It gives them a whole new set of ideas, beliefs, traditions and customs, as it broadens their sense of humour and extends their emotional pallet. Not that they will feel differently in different languages, but they will be able to finely differentiate, understand and express their emotions, concepts and ideas.


They are only toddlers now, but I can already see that the associations they have are of a broader spectrum than say mine.  They explore the world in two languages, they develop in two languages, and they learn in two languages as opposed to me or anyone else who learnt another language at a later stage. And no matter how fluent I am or I become, they will always have the advantage of feeling both languages to the same extent.


Why do I write in English? A friend of mine recently asked me if I was writing my book in Serbian and I was surprised by the question. Yes, I understand where she was coming from, but ever since I started thinking about writing, it never occurred to me to write in my native language. The written material that I have produced in the past twenty years or so was in English; reports, analyses, essays, my exams, everything, except a few birthday cards and some Facebook statuses. My writing is in English, and as much as I feel my emotions in Serbian, I am more open and comfortable in exposing them in English.


If there was a pie chart to depict my usage of Serbian and English, no doubt that the English section would cover way above 50 percent of it. The only two people that I speak Serbian to every single day are my children. Others that I speak exclusive Serbian to are my family and my Serbian friends, but that is not on a daily basis. Thus, the rest of the time, I speak, read and write in English.


Both, Samuel Becket and Jhumpa Lahiri said that for them, writing in French and Italian respectively was easier because in these languages they can write without a style. I find it humorous, but maybe that is what I do – not that I want to or deserve to be compared in any way with any of the two writing masters of their time. Maybe I write in English without a style to protect myself from failure in a way. Hypocrisy? Perhaps not, remember? English is not my native language, and I may get the meaning of the word hypocrisy incorrectly…