Romy Reads : 10 Non Fiction Winners

A small joy of more time at home is more time to read. More time to read things you otherwise might not have, to plough through that 316 strong (in my case) ‘want to read’ list on Goodreads or perhaps to join a book club ( Romy Reads Book Club *small plug*).

I recently shared 15 Books to Take You Places and I thought that although I adore fiction, I also equally adore non-fiction and wanted to share some absolute gems with you. All pretty different, some obvious choices, some a bit more unusual… but all great. These non-fiction winners might also take you somewhere else, to explore another culture, religion or era, might expand your horizons or mind and also might give you a few different things to think about too. I tried to do a real mix of non-fiction that made me laugh, think, do and feel. I hope you find one for you amongst this bunch.

Educated by Tara Westover

Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

Good & Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Do: Pause – You Are Not a To-Do List by Robert Poynton

E-Squared by Pam Grout

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcom Gladwell

Calypso by David Sedaris 

Thanks for reading xx

Romy Reads : 15 Books to Take You Places

Reading is my tonic. I know I’m not the only one. There’s very few other things in life which completely transport you somewhere else; another life, another time, another place…without actually going anywhere. Not only offering an escape, but forcing you to be completely ‘in’ the pages of the book, leaving little brain space for outside chatter. Calming, restful, uplifting, all-consuming, enriching. There really is nothing like reading. At times like these, I am beyond grateful for my life-long love affair with books.

I’m going to keep writing down recommendations in the coming weeks and also posting on my @romy_reads Instagram and (NEW!) book club. Firstly I thought I would give you 15 reads to take you places….while we can’t go anywhere. Vivid landscapes, faraway countries, unknown cultures, different times…. (I also asked my equally book wormy Mum, who gave me some juicy recs too) 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Beartown by Fredrik Backman 

The Dry by Jane Harper

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

The Wedding Officer by Anthony Capella 

The Island by Victoria Hislop

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

The Help by Kathryn Stockett 

Dominicana by Angie Cruz (currently reading & I’m loving it so far) 

I hope you find a few you like amongst that list and I also hope you manage to find some calm and joy by letting your mind go to another place for a little while. Thanks for reading, stay safe & sane x

Romy’s Reads to Remember: 2019

I have read some amazing books this year. My book worminess has most definitely not faltered in 2019 and I plan to read even more in 2020… maybe the target should be 50 for next year? I love a challenge. This year I have managed 42 books (mini brag). Reading is just my thing…I think it always will be, from sitting crossed legged inside a ladybird tent in the garden with a pile of Winnie the Pooh books before I could even read, scrutinising every page, ‘reading’ aloud to now (I still love reading aloud when I can- fun fact), books are my tonic.

I thought I would share my 5 most memorable books of this year and a little bit about what made them so marvellous. (Head over to @romy_reads on Instagram to see their full reviews)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Wonderful wonderful wonderful. Delia Owens is a magnificent writer, crafting the most spectacular settings, sensitively layered characters and a completely consuming plot. Mainly set between the 1950s and 1970 on the coast of North Carolina and centred around a social outcast named Kya after a violent crime is committed in her town- but it is NOT a thriller. I can’t even put into words how much I loved this book. It has stayed with me since I read it in the summer and I wish I could unread and re-read it all over again. Pure magic.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Another absolute gem. I must have told at least 25 people to buy this book. I absolutely adored this story, the characters and the beautifully atmospheric setting. Set in a snowy, remote town in Sweden, the star player of the local hockey team is accused of a horrific crime and the whole town falls apart. Again, not a thriller at all, despite what the subject might suggest. I truly loved this and Backman writes with such empathy, thought and power. Yes from me.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This really does live up to the hype and I gobbled it up in one day while I was on holiday in May. Some of my very favourite books actually don’t have a fast changing, quick paced plot, but are a real deep dive into humans, relationships, life, love, pain and connection. Something I struggle with when I write is not rambling (obviously), but Rooney manages to write SO much with such few words. Really a great, great memorable read.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

One of my first reads of 2019 and I finished it when we were driving up the West Coast of Australia in January. I remember because we were in the car and I shut my kindle and just burst into tears. Never did I think a true crime novel could make me cry like that. It follows the case of the Golden State Killer, who terrorised California for a decade from the mid 1970s, with over 50 victims. It wasn’t even just the brutality of the subject matter that made me cry, but it was the devotion the author had to solving the case and the last section of the book, in which her husband wrote about her, as she passed away before finishing the book. True crime can seem anonymous and distant at times, but the compassion, true fascination and care that is the foundation of this book makes it a real standout.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I reread this in November after first reading it at school quite a few years ago. I loved it. Harrowing but packing a serious punch. Atwood is a genius. No sentence is wasted, the characters are messy and bold, gentle and fragile but gritty and fearless. Such an original novel which has and will continue to stand the test of time.

There were also a few other books that I really did love….

Calypso by David Sedaris

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taft Brodesser-Amber

Do Pause: You are not a To Do List by Robert Poynton

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister

Villa America by Liza Klaussman

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Who am I kidding…. I actually so enjoyed most of the books I read this year and could pretty much recommend them all for different reasons. I am TERRIBLE at narrowing down and picking favourites (clearly) but I get so much joy from reading and just want to spread the loooove for all of them. Happy New Year and happy reading!

Romy Reads 7/12/18


This year more than ever, as I mentioned in my previous Romy Reads post, reading has been a big priority. I have read some absolutely brilliant books this year and I wanted to share some of my recent reads and also my top recommendations from the whole year.

The MUST read: Educated by Tara Westover

I don’t even know where to start with this book. Without a doubt in my top two books I have read this year, potentially my number one. An incredible, eye-opening memoir from a truly inspiring woman. Although I know I shouldn’t write the blurb when it is easily Google-able, I just want to give you a bit of a flavour for it.

Tara grew up in rural Idaho to survivalist, extreme Mormons and didn’t even legally exist until the age of 9, due to her having no birth certificate. Her family did not believe in schooling or hospitals and she spent her isolated childhood working in her father’s junkyard. She lived a life of violence, ignorance, seclusion and at times, danger before deciding to educate herself. Tara ended up studying at Cambridge and Harvard, forming who she wanted to be, while still dealing with the fierce family loyalty she had instilled in her. At some points, I almost forgot the story was real life.

I feel like I’m not even scratching the surface how good this book is. She is just the most brilliant writer, brings perspective and truth to her upbringing yet still writes with such respect for her family, even though they are now estranged. If I haven’t sold it to you, just Google the book and you will see how much coverage it has had in the media. Barack Obama put it on his Summer Reading List and Bill Gates added it to his must reads of 2018, so you’d be in great company… along with little old me!

The SELF HELP read: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Haig’s incredible memoir explores his personal journey with mental health, from his darkest moments to learning to live and appreciate life again. It is a powerful, sensitive and hopeful exploration of depression and anxiety. I would recommend this to anyone, not just those who directly struggle with their mental health. It touched and affected me, while making me feel inspired at the same time. His brilliant way of writing, in easily digestible chapters, with 4 progressive sections made the (at times tough to read) words, all the more powerful. It is definitely the sort of book you could dip in and out of and also refer back to if you needed a burst of strength. This subject can be difficult to read about, but he has such a raw, insightful and important message that I think we could all really benefit from.

The SNAPSHOT IN TIME read: Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton

This was beautiful. I’m not usually drawn to romance novels… or I didn’t used to be, but I’m finding them creeping into my kindle library more and more recently. However, I do love historical fiction, which this is. Flipping between Havana during the 1950s at the time of the

Cuban Revolution and 21st Century Miami and Havana, it is a story of family roots, political unrest, love, loss and secrets. Cleeton’s writing is so cinematic, beautifully descriptive and moving. Although the story is fiction, the lives of the characters were probably the reality of many Cubans, giving me a greater understanding of a time in history I knew nothing about. Yes it’s sad in some parts, but it is also uplifting and powerful too. I really would recommend it.

I could go on and on, as currently I’m on my 31st book this year (might be bragging), but here’s the list of my top 3 fiction and top 3 non-fiction from 2018:


1. Educated by Tara Westover

2. This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

3. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig


1. Little Fires Everywhere AND Everything I Never Told You – both by Celeste Ng ( sorry I’m cheating, I couldn’t choose)

2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

3. One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus

I’m currently reading: Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life by Katherine Ormerod

Ps. I do do other things other than read.

Pps. If you want to be my friend on Goodreads, it’s Romy Dakin.

Image from Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’

Romy Reads – 20/9/18


Anyone that knows me knows I am a complete and utter book worm. If I can steer a weeny 5 minutes of a conversation to the topic of reading and books, then I will try harder than a Brit clinging onto summer. I am obsessed. I write reviews (just for myself..), have a Goodreads account that I meticulously update and I LOVE a bookshop browse, even though I have a kindle. I find it so relaxing, getting lost in a story, learning about something I know nothing about, or being kept up at night needing to read JUST….ONE…MORE…CHAPTER. I have always read, reading anything and everything, but I made it a goal of mine this year to get through even more books, trying all sorts of different genres. I’m currently on my 24th book of the year and I thought I would share a few of my recent favourites.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This was completely wonderful, gripping, heart-breaking and fascinating. I actually read this in April when I was on holiday in Italy and read the final 40% late at night during a pasta fuelled food coma. It reduced me to tears by the end, with her beautiful way of story-telling, developing character and relationships. I won’t write the blurb, because you can search for a much more concise and appealing description than the one I’ll write, but trust me when I say, it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. With themes of rebellion, family tension, relationships, culture clashes, perfectionism, class, secrets and consuming love, it is something special. I can’t even express how much I enjoyed it, but if you love Liane Moriarty… then you most definitely will love Celeste Ng- I loved her writing even more. One more thing.. her other book, Everything I Never Told You is just as incredible.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

I loved this. As someone who is completely fascinated by crime documentaries, this non- fiction book jumped out at me. It explores the growth and beginnings of the FBI and the crimes that were the birth of it, the Osage murders. The exploration of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma, from the discovery of valuable oil supply on their land leading them to wealth, to the targeted murders and corruption of the community, this book was brilliant. Grann manages to paint the complex and weaving picture of the families and detectives, along with the conspiracies, injustice and roots of the Osage culture in a captivating yet smooth way of writing. It exposed a crime that had long been buried in history and I think it is the perfect book for a crime doc lover.

Everything I know about Love by Dolly Alderton

This was so amazing. I originally wanted to read her memoir because I think Dolly is fab and love her podcast with Pandora Sykes, The High Low. I find her so interesting and articulate and love everything she stands for. When I first started reading the book, I didn’t think I was going to like it as much as I wanted. At the beginning, she told tales of her wild youth and countless escapades with loads of different guys. I enjoyed it, but I thought the whole book was going to be her trying to convince everyone how crazy, cool and wild she is. How wrong I was. It truly told her life story, with all of its ups, downs, twists and flips… her heartbreak, experience with grief and love of her female friendships, along with a real sense of what she believes in. It is completely brilliant and it was so natural, I could almost hear her voice as I read it. It is not just your average memoir, but a thoughtful, honest, raw insight into her life, her experience with love in all its different forms and her life as a currently single but hopeless romantic. I really loved it and now I love her even more.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Wow. That’s the first word I would use to describe this book. A difficult read in terms of the topic and at times harrowing story it tells, but a complete necessity. It gave me a whole new perspective on life for a different culture and the harsh reality for some. It traces three hundred years in Ghana, through the lives and family tree of two different girls, who happen to be half sisters. Again, read the blurb, as I can’t possibly put into words the breath-taking, heart-breaking power of this story. Each chapter surrounds a different character, but they follow on from the last and all becomes interwoven as the book progresses. Gyasi’s ability to transport the reader through time, history and place is absolutely mind blowing, the sort of book that will leave you with goose bumps and a lump in your throat. At times uplifting, romantic, sorrowful and hopeful, the journey of the two inextricably linked, yet completely contrasting experiences of life through slavery in Ghana, to the jazz clubs of America is unmissable. I would say read it when you really have time to, if that makes sense. When you can really commit to the story and be absorbed by it, because it is not an easy one, but definitely worth it.

I’m currently reading: This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

If you want to follow me or be my friend on Goodreads, it’s just Romy Dakin. There you can see what I’m reading, what I think and if you really couldn’t care less… thanks for making it to the end of this post, I’ll talk about my mac & cheese recipe next… maybe.