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Octopus Recommends Summer Series: Books to keep you entertained

23 August 2019


Welcome to the final chapter of the Octopus Recommends Summer Series: books. We love a good book at Octopus, so it’s not surprising that many of our colleagues suggested their top summer reads too. Read on to discover some of our favourite books.

Circe – Madeline Miller

Holly from our Compliance team recommends Circe, saying, “this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Reclaiming a story that had been relegated to the sidelines in the original telling, Circe, the witch in Homer’s Odyssey, is given the opportunity to shine as a compelling and COMPLETELY relatable character.

“The gods are capricious and callous, completely self-centred, and cruel to those who challenge the status quo. This makes Circe’s rebellion against them both brave and foolhardy. I liked Circe as a person, and empathised with her, even when she (frequently) made the wrong decision – it just made her more human.”

The Way Home – Mark Boyle

Our Brand and Marketing Director Jen raves about The Way Home, a non-fiction book “written by an Irish chap who challenges himself to go a whole year without technology (including electricity).” Jen continues, “it’s easy to read and leaves you in total admiration of the lifestyle choice that the author made.

“It’s romantic (not in a lovey dovey way, but in a romanticist kind of way) and full of energy, passion and tenacity. It’s very sensual – again, not in the romantic/sexual sense, but in a way that it really livens all the senses…you can almost smell the dew, feel the fresh air and hear the cracking of the wood on the fire as you read it. It really gets you thinking about mankind’s place in the world, and the relationship we have with the land and environment around us.”

Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five is centred around the fire-bombing of Dresden in World War Two. It doesn’t fit with any particular genre and features a heavy dose of time travel. Parts of the book are biographical, reflecting the author’s own experience of life and war.

Junior Product Manager Sam says Slaughterhouse Five is his “favourite book of all time because it manages to touch on some of the most dark and intense parts of human history whilst being incredibly funny and touching.” He added, “every time I read it, I learn something new.”

Lost Connections – Johann Hari

“This thought-provoking book looks at the various causes of anxiety and depression,” explains Anna, our Head of Strategic Partnerships. Anna loves Lost Connections because “it really makes you think about the way you live your life and connect with the world around you”. The author explores not only the biological causes of anxiety/depression, but those we often don’t think about, from the way we live to how we’ve become disconnected from things like community, nature and our own values.

“This book is for anyone who wants to improve their mental health and happiness. It challenges you to think about the way you live your life and connect with the world around you. And it really makes you reflect on your own lifestyle and the changes you could make, small or big, to improve your overall mental health and wellbeing. It’s a really insightful read, whether you choose to take a little or a lot of the proposed solutions.”

Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

Anvar, a Test Automation Engineer, recommends Everything I Know About Love. Anvar says, “it’s a wonderful read! Very entertaining and funny. In a relatively short format of 350 pages, Dolly Alderton retells her most memorable personal stories. The best thing about them is how real and relatable they all are.

“There are stories about falling in love, finding a job, losing old friends and making new ones, moving houses, drinking too much, not drinking enough, growing up, and so on. I couldn’t put it down.”

Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant: Modern Life as Interpreted By Someone Who Is Reasonably Bad at Living It – Joel Golby

“Don’t let the title put you off.” implores Kevin, our Head of Content. “Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant is a sharply written, at times deeply touching book that doesn’t fit into any category. Golby is at his best when he’s overthinking pop culture, explaining why Rocky IV is the greatest ever film, or imagining the grisly deaths of every landlord he’s ever known. But in between, he offers painfully affecting descriptions of dealing with the death of his parents and the challenges of growing up. If you’ve ever given serious consideration to fighting the red and yellow M&M characters (“I could defeat them, with my superior reach”), this book is for you.”

Brief Answers to the Big Questions – Stephen Hawking

Dominik from our Development team says, “I like my head hurting from trying to understand knowledge that I cannot yet comprehend.” Because of this, he recommends Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Dominik tells us “this is the last book written by Stephen Hawking, put together and published after his death, and it’s a brilliant send-off. There are some cool stories about Hawking, some from his children’s point of view, which show how amazing the guy was. And it presents the reader with many harsh realities of life (in a good way), all backed up by scientific fact.”

The Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Content Writer Charlotte reads a lot of fantasy and says The Assassin’s Apprentice is “one of the best books I’ve ever read. The story follows the main character, Fitz, bastard son of the heir to the throne, as he grows up,” Charlotte explains. “There’s politics, intrigue, magic, animals and loads more. The characters are amazingly well written and will have you bought into their stories in no time. And if you fall in love with this book, there are several more in the series to keep you entertained (there are three trilogies following Fitz, plus two additional trilogies set in the same world).

“Some fantasy books can be hard to relate to because the setting is so far removed from our usual lives. This is absolutely not true of The Assassin’s Apprentice, meaning you would probably enjoy it even if you don’t usually read fantasy.”

Have you tried out any of our Summer Series recommendations? Let us know on Twitter at @OisforOctopus. And if you missed any of the series, you can go back and read our website, gadgets and podcast recommendations.