Books! Want to talk about them?

December 14, 2012 by  
Filed under current, Reading Space

It is my great pleasure to introduce a new writer to our midst – writing about books and reading – two subjects very close to my heart. Please make Carolyn Leslie so welcome! More about Carolyn below.

Hello! It’s lovely to be with you here in the Reading Space. My name is Carolyn and I am really looking forward to discussing books and reading (and all sorts of related topics) with you.

I’m a passionate bookworm, and have been since I was a tiny little thing. Now that I’m all grown up, I am a book professional – I’m an IPEd-accredited editor, and I create books alongside authors, book designers and other publishing. (I’m even ghostwriting a book at the moment…oooh, spooky!) Books fuel my passions and my intellect. There are some books that I come back to again and again. There are other books that I read through extremely quickly and never revisit. I’m also fascinated by what other people read…

Seeing that it is late in the year, I thought I might start by recommending two books that had a significant impact on me during 2012. They aren’t necessarily the ‘best books’ of the year, or the most ‘awarding-winning’ books. They are simply two books that stayed with me for a long time, and they are books that I find I am recommending to my friends over and over again.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is by Jennifer Reese. Those of you who know me are probably agog at the fact that I’m recommending a cookbook! (I’m not known for being one of the world’s greatest cooks…) Yet this book changed the way I both thought about and worked with food.

Jennifer and her family experienced a dramatic change in their economic circumstances when she was suddenly made redundant. Jennifer is a keen cook and a blogger (she blogs over at and she decided to run a bit of a lifestyle experiment. She wanted to see if could make food cheaper (and healthier) than what could be purchased at the shops. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is a collection of over 120 of these ‘experiments’. It includes the recipes for items such as artisanal-style breads, yogurt, sweets, liquors, and (if you are feeling particularly experimental) cheeses and curing your own meats.

What I loved about this book was Jennifer’s honesty and her sense of humour. Not everything, it turns out, is worth the time or effort. Jennifer ‘rates’ the recipes – some things, like granola and hummus, are easy and cheap to make at home. Other things, like butter, are simply not worth the effort. She is particularly hilarious when she does a cost-analysis of keeping chickens. They turn out to be very expensive eggs, indeed!

The other book that has stayed with me for a long time is Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. If mystery/thrillers are your thing and you haven’t read this book – run, run now to get a copy. It’s a thrilling ride, with lots of narrative twisty-turnies and genuinely shocking revelations.

Essentially, this is the story of Nick and Amy’s marriage. At the start of the novel, Amy is missing, and it looks like something very, very nasty has happened to her. (It also starts to look like Nick may have had something to do with it…) To say any more would be to spoil many, many surprises…

Gillian Flynn spent ten years as a reporter on Entertainment Weekly magazine. She developed a fine ear for the nuances of pop culture and the workings of the media. It was this sensibility, combined with the razor-sharp plot, which had me reading this novel until there were no more pages left to devour…

These two books are the ones that made the biggest impression on me in 2012. I’d love to know what books have made an impact on you! Feel free to share a comment below on what your most meaningful books of 2012 have been…

Image (top): Chiara Cremaschi

About our Reading Space Writer

Carolyn Leslie is an IPEd-accredited editor, a writer, an award-winning book reviewer and a business chick, as well as Mama to two little boys. Carolyn loves books, blogs, op shops, gardening, mucking around in the kitchen and dancing crazily with her kids (and sometimes even with her husband). She dreams of someday having a quiet and (totally) uninterrupted read…

You can follow her on twitter @carolynleslie. Or if email is your thing, drop her a line sometime at


6 Responses to “Books! Want to talk about them?”
  1. Chris Owen says:

    Haven’t even read the article and I’m responding!
    The title of this was going to get me here without even KNOWING who was writing!
    Welcome to the Calm Space! Fantastic to see you here. Didn’t know you were even a follower of our lovely community here!!
    Now I’m off to read closely your pearls of insight!!

    • Chris Owen says:

      Ok now I understand why our common friend has been making cheeses!!!
      AND I’m off to get me some crime fiction!

      • Carolyn Leslie says:

        Lovely Chris, thanks for the kind welcome! I think I found out about The Calm Space through you…

        As an aside, when I mentioned I was writing this post to Our Mutual Friend, she said ‘That book changed the way i did so many things!’

  2. Welcome to the Calm Space, Carolyn! I am so excited you’re going to be sharing on one of my favourite topics!

    You know, ever since I read this I’ve been thinking about the books I read this year and trying to remember one that stayed with me long after I closed the covers. Nothing is coming to mind.

    And that makes me sad. I’ve had books that echo in my life long after I’ve done with them, and to think that I haven’t read one of them this year feels like a tragedy. So, one of my goals for 2013 is to read more goodness, more life changing and less ‘fluff’. I’m definitely going to be looking to you to help me with my reading list!

    • Carolyn Leslie says:

      It’s lovely to be here, Karen! Let’s hope that some fantastic reads come your way in 2013. Hopefully, together, the readers of the Reading Space and myself can bring some great reads to your attention.

      Another great 2012 book you might like to seek out is Katherine Boo’s ‘Beyond the Beautiful Forevers’. It’s about the people, events and context of life in one particular Indian slum. While that sounds like a really sad read (and it is in parts), it is also a story of hope and courage – and the writing is truly beautiful.