My Favourite Books

My Favourite Books

Reading is something that has been long encouraged in my life from my parents, favourite school teachers, friends and colleagues.  I enjoy reading for so many reasons - sometimes it's just to switch off, other times it's for inspiration and often it's a combination of both of these things.  Over the years I had amassed quite a collection but I took the opportunity last Spring to really edit my collection to true favourites and give some that I've loved but finished to charity and to friends.  The ones featured in this blog are genuine loves.  Whilst there is a little occurring theme of my love of style and fashion, there is quite a mix in terms of the types of books.   I hope you enjoy my reviews and find something to indulge in for yourself this Spring.  I've linked all the images to Foyles Bookstore online as it's my favourite places to browse and enjoy buying books.  If you're in London then visit their Charing Cross Road branch, which is one of their flagships and probably my most favourite book store.  Set across four miles of retail space it houses over 200,000 titles so you're sure to find anything you're looking for.  The staff are all amazing and genuine book lovers so ask their advice and you might find something you hadn't thought of...

 L-R: Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington, Bloom by Estee Lalonde, Inside Vogue by Alexandra Schulman, Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange, How to be Parisian by Caroline de Maigret and Anne Berest, Home for Now by Joanna Thornhill, Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson, Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land, Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood by Julian Marsh.

L-R: Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington, Bloom by Estee Lalonde, Inside Vogue by Alexandra Schulman, Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange, How to be Parisian by Caroline de Maigret and Anne Berest, Home for Now by Joanna Thornhill, Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson, Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land, Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood by Julian Marsh.


Fashion and Style Biographies


Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington

Grace Coddington is the former Creative Director of US Vogue and one of the most imaginative and captivating stylists I've ever observed.  Originating from Wales, she loved fashion from a very early age, entering the industry first of all as a model and then (following a car crash) went behind the camera styling photoshoots for British Vogue.  She joined Anna Wintour's team at US Vogue in 1998 and left last year after 28 years.  Her book is a memoir taking the reader behind the scenes of her fascinating career as well as an insight into her humorous, creative and whimsical mind.  As well as being captivated by her sharp wit and ingenious way of story-telling, I love the images - photographs from her work and her life and some great sketches of her own, which perfectly illustrate her creativity and ability to humanise fashion, when can be a very one dimensional industry. 

Bloom by Estee Lalonde

Estee Laonde is a beauty and fashion blogger hailing from Canada and now living in London with her boyfriend.  I've followed her for years and love her positive spin on life as well as her curation of great beauty finds, fashion picks and things to do in London.  Her book is as charming as she comes across on her You Tube channel, written with an almost naked honesty about who she is and where she's blossomed from.  I'm a very visual person so I really enjoy books that are filled with beautiful photography and this one really is.  She talks about her life, the people that she's close to, her work as a blogger and then writes chapters on her areas of expertise; beauty, fashion, home, travel and food.  I read this book whilst in Mexico on holiday last year and zipped through it in two days....I couldn't put it down.  If  you're after style inspiration and an easy read then pick up Bloom and enjoy!

At Liberty: From Rehab to the Front Row by Ed Burstell

Those regular readers of my blog will know that the London department store, Liberty is one of my most favourite stores in the world.  It was therefore essential for me to get my hands on the (former) Managing Director's autobiography: At Liberty.  This is an incredibly inspirational read, full of candid stories following the ups and downs of an industry icon from 'spritzer' at Macy's to MD of one of the world's most iconic department stores.  Ed is a true visionary and his fashion CV reads of one of dreams from GM at Hendri Bendel to Senior Vice President of Bergdorf Goodman but along the way he encounters the personal demons of drug addiction, loss of a friend to AIDS and has an incredibly honest account of the trials and tribulations of the fashion industry.  It's a real cinderella story however, ending in his triumphant redesign of Liberty which has paved the way for his new role with Hudson Bay.  I've read this twice now and I'm sure it'll be picked up again soon - inspirational, honest and captivating.

Inside Vogue: My Diary of My 100th Years by Alexandra Schulman

Alexandra Schulman is the current Editor in Chief of British Vogue, a role she has held for 25 years and will be (sadly) stepped down from in June, handing the reigns over to former W Editor, Edward Enniful.  I truly believe that the diversity, creativity and quintessentially-British take on fashion that the UK edition of Vogue expresses, is down to this talented editor and enchanting writer.  She is a true cornerstone of the British fashion industry and one I have admired for years.  Her writing really sings from the pages of this book, making it engaging from page one. The book is her story on the creation of the magazines's 100 year anniversary edition and gives great and fascinating insight into all the makings of a monthly magazine.  Above all, it's her feelings and emotions through the meetings, the photoshoots and pulling together the anniversary issue that make it feel so beguiling.  I got it for Christmas for Mum (I bought it for her too) and neither of us could put it down.


Style, Beauty and health guides


Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de a Fressange with Sophie Gachet

I have long been a lover of Parisian style since my first trip there with work in February 2005.  After a few long days at Premiere Vision, the textiles trade fair, I had a day to myself to wander the streets and take in the sights.  I found myself truly mesmerised by how these woman dress - never too trend-led, amazing use of accessories and an a chic ability to mix navy and black.  My Auntie Fiona bought me this book a few years ago and it's been a real go-to when I feel I'm needing some inspiration with my wardrobe.  Its's written in a nice humorous fashion which I really enjoy, and the rules are easy to get your head around - no coordination, take away the 'bling', cool hunt new labels....things I was already incorporating but the book helps you organise your ideas and better structure outfits.  There's also some beauty and interiors tips and a great insiders's guide to Paris.  

You'll be seeing a bit of a theme here....yes, another Parisian style book!  I bought this in August last year from Colette when I was in Paris for my birthday.  Knowing how much I love my Parisian Chic book, I had been suggested this edition by so many different friends so thought it was time to give it a go.  These girls (Caroline de Maigret and Anne Berest) really know their topic.  Slightly different to the former book, this one looks at style from fashion to beauty to habits, love, leisure time and food.  A real insight into the Parisian lifestyle.  It's quite funny and very tongue in cheek but there's some great ideas and I really enjoy reading this one.

Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson is a complete girl crush of mine - I just love her.  She's so upbeat and positive and incredibly beautiful.  So you can imagine my intrigue when I was browsing around JFK tired and uninspired and found this on a promo stand in one of the stores. It's a really nice book as it talks through how to make the most of your body and your health in a really easy-to-grasp and adaptable way.  I get terribly upset by girls not being content with their body image - there's always something not quite perfect.  This book helps you appreciate what you have and talks through how to make the most of it.  There's great nutrition tips, exercise ideas, mindfulness inspirations and beauty tips.  It's not a read through book but a great one to pick up when you need some inspiration and a kick start.




Home For Now by Joanna Thornhill

Home for now has been on my book shelf for 3 years through 3 different homes and I've brought it out each time on moving in.  It's a great guide to making the most of a rented space or your first home without breaking the bank or turning your home into a Pinterest studio.  For rented properties, it's fantastic for giving you ideas on how to personalise your home without upsetting your landlord and losing your deposit.  Great ideas for storage (essential in small city homes) include using cubed boxes for side tables, using vintage suitcases to store seasonal clothes whilst making a style statement and using old bookcases to display favourite shoes, jewellery and trinkets.  There also lots of great DIY and crafting ideas like using old book covers for wall hangings and creating floating shelves from larger books.  I've used it for styling ideas for awkward spaces like kitchens and home offices as well as how to combine two peoples's tastes - handy for when I moved in with my boyfriend.

Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood

When I moved back to London again after almost two years back home in Scotland, I was determined to get my own flat in my favourite neighbourhood, Notting Hill.  I found the most fabulous yet tiny place on Westbourne Park Villas and adored my 18 months there.  The area is so diverse with the old bohemian characters that made it interesting in the first place, mixed with the high fashion, high priced stores, bars, restaurants and properties.  Julian Marsh worked in the famous Travel Bookshop (made famous as it inspired the film, Notting Hill) then became an author, working in my local book store on Westbourne Park Road (which is sadly gone now).  I went in to the store with my Mum about a month after moving to the area and found Julian and his book.  The book itself is written as a bit of a love story about this amazing London suburb, focussing on the iconic Portobello Road and it's many characters.  It includes interviews and anedocates from residents, shopkeepers, local artists and market traders and really does unearth the truth behind the Hollywood facade painted by the film.  A must read for Londoners and visitors alike.

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

This is the only novel included in my selection but it's a seriously good one.  The author graduated with a degree in Mental Health then spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Heath Nurse both in the UK and Australia.  Her experiences and knowledge come alive in this book following the story of the central character.  Annie, or Milly as she later becomes known is a teenage girl who's mother is a serial killer.  It's a psychological thriller and would certainly appeal to those fans of Girl on a Train or Gone Girl.  Throughout reading it, my sympathies and anger towards the characters changed very dramatically and I couldn't wait to experience the story unravel.  It's full of suspense, drama and controversy, all packed in a beautifully written novel.  I went to school with the author and am very proud to experience her accomplishment but I can honestly say, without pause or bias that this book is a must read for those in search of a great Summer read.