Book club guru Heather Suttie talks about the books and podcasts that will make you laugh and cry

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Life is too short for **** books, that’s the premise of the reading group I set up on Facebook during lockdown and that’s the whole theme of this column.

Each week, I’ll share a great recommendation for a book and podcast of any genre; as long as it is entertaining, informative or educational. It could be a jaw-dropping crime thriller, an original cookbook, a magical memoir, a self-help title, or an animated listen.

Every recommendation shared should feed your soul and your brain – all of these suggestions are ones our reading group, myself and my friends adore.

If you want to join Bookface 2020 you are welcome. It is a private group there are more than 2100 members from all over the world. We only trade on good recommendations, so it’s a positive and uplifting online space.

I run monthly Sustainable Book Swap Brunches, and these take place on the first Saturday of each month at Glaschu Restaurant and Bar in Glasgow. Join us for tea, coffee, prosecco, gin and brunch as well as a q+a guest author. Full details are in the book group.

I would like to know which of the books you would recommend and which one has a special place in your shelves. You can find me on Twitter @onetakewoop or Instagram @onetakewoop. Or email me: [email protected]

Read – The Invisible Furies of the Heart, by John Boyne

It is without a shadow of a doubt in my top 10 novels of all time. It’s up there with The Goldfinch, All The Light We Cannot
See and where the Crawdads Sing.

I envy anyone who has yet to read this epic novel. This is one I will return to again and again.

It’s an absolute favorite in my group of online books and a title that I’ve purchased many times as a gift. In fact, some of my new friendships grew out of a shared love for this book, and it’s the one I’ll defend to the end, if someone isn’t hooked.

Cyril Avery isn’t a real Avery – or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. But who is he?

Through good luck, bad luck and serendipity, Cyril will spend his life getting to know himself and where he comes from. At over 70, he will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.



The Heart’s Invisible Furies has it all – love, tenderness and more as the characters go through ups and downs, heartbreak and happiness, penance and pain, right down to the last word.

We begin in 1945, when a womanizing priest banishes 16-year-old unmarried and pregnant Catherine Goggin from the church and the village. Catherine’s son, Cyril, the book’s first-person narrator is adopted by a wealthy and eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun. Stay with me…

The author shares his version of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of an ordinary man, even though his story is extraordinary. Boyne captures Cyril every seven years as he grows up. His final years seem to bring the promise of reconciliation on many fronts, but what will happen next?

Faced with a panorama of gay cultural history, it is ultimately a story of hope, moving from a homo-
from phobic Ireland dominated by the Catholic Church to liberalism from Amsterdam to New York in the 1980s, a city overwhelmed by the AIDS epidemic.

At times hilarious and deeply moving, Boyne’s storytelling style strikes the perfect balance. Prepare to get lost in The Heart’s Invisible Furies, spanning over 700 pages, it will take time and emotional energy.

I read it for five consecutive nights, ignoring everything around me, and was bereft when it ended. He had the power to make me laugh and cry in equal measure multiple times.

Listen – How to Fail, by Elizabeth Day



Journalist, host and author, Elizabeth Day has made her career a failure, but not quite literally! Day is a brilliant and engaging host who uses failure as a lens through which to view success, rather than dwelling on mishaps, mistakes, and misfortune. She highlights what we can learn from failure and embrace it, rather than being paralyzed by FOF (fear of failure).

She has an enviable contact book and her guests include Jarvis Cocker, Delia Smith, Stanley Tucci, Delia Smith, Dr. Ranjan Chatterjee, Alan Cumming, Brene Brown, Ed Milliband, Graham Norton, Matt Haig and many more, which makes it an informative experience. and entertaining listening.

You will begin to realize that we can all accept failure and make it a friend rather than an enemy.



Wildlife photographer Doug Allan with his book Freeze Frame

How would you best describe this book?

This beautiful hardcover book is 240 pages long and was first published in 2012. It’s a stunning, one-of-a-kind coffee table tome, but not just for display as it’s a storytelling from behind- plan how and what goes into creating award-winning work. for television, film and photography. Sometimes it’s an exciting read.

What is it about?

It is a celebration of the life-giving elements and depths of the Antarctic and Arctic oceans. Scottish Doug has been diving and brave since the 1970s. Every image in Doug’s book tells a story and he does it with such wit and warmth that you feel he’s sitting there with you as you learn what it takes to befriend polar bears and penguins and how he has the patience to capture the majestic wildlife.

Who is the author?

An eight-time Emmy and five-time Bafta filmmaker and photographer, Doug’s incredible career, which spans more than 50 years, includes his collaboration with TV legend Sir David Attenborough on groundbreaking BBC documentaries. Doug, 72, is also a volunteer
Ambassador of the Marine Conservation Society. He lives in Bristol and is very busy, appearing regularly on podcasts, giving presentations at schools and enjoying his free time in Ireland.

What else should I know?
The book was self-published and the foreword is by Sir David Attenborough. It’s the perfect gift for lovers of nature and photography, a hugely entertaining read that’s perfect for readers of all ages. Much more than a beauty book
and striking imagery, it is humorous, honest and hugely entertaining.

£25 plus p+p, dougallan.com

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