I’ve been reading Laura Jane Williams for a few years now, having stumbled across her blog through the wonderful Meg Fee. I read Laura’s eBook, The Book of Brave, on a sleeper train in India this summer, lying flat on my back in a busy carriage in forty degree heat. Safe to say it was a source of comfort, and a fantastic read despite the fact that I had to squint at parts of it with the light from my small pay-as-you go Indian mobile phone, while wearing clothes I hadn’t washed for several days. No matter, it was worth it.
The Book of Brave is a collection of short essays that document Laura’s mission to really like herself. She writes as though she’s sitting across the table from you, holding a glass of wine – she’s chatty, funny and very honest. She doesn’t shy away from her feelings, she embraces them, and it’s hard not to love her feisty attitude. She owns up to making mistakes but forgives herself and moves on from them, she tells us her shortcomings and her strengths (“I talk about myself too much and fall off the face of your planet for months at a time because I travel a lot and I secretly think my deadline is more important than your birthday party…I won’t get mad when you call me on my bullshit. I’m not precious about the bits of me that could benefit from a fine-tuning,”) – and she is certainly not afraid to say what she thinks.
She talks about courage, her own moments of weakness (“In 2014 I had a breakdown that saw me hyperventilating on my bedroom floor…my whole body shut down,”) and her moments of success. She also tries to motivate the reader, and I often think the best form of motivation is through example – if she can do it, so can I. Giving advice on everything from career – she was let go from her office PR job a few years ago and decided to pack up her things and head to Bali, the beginning of the rest of her life – to love – the man she thought she would marry married her best friend instead, which let’s face it, has got to hurt – Laura keeps the reader at her side as she explains how she got to where she is and the ways she manages to keep herself sane. The book is peppered with quotations from everyone from Buddha to the American yoga teacher Judith Lasater, and comes across as an overwhelmingly kind piece; Laura is kind to herself, and she’s being kind to her readers. You can tell how hard she works, and she’s a good advocate for confused twenty-somethings who aren’t sure whether the 9-5 is for them, who wonder if they’ll always be alone, and who just want to hear someone else tell them that actually, no matter how glossy someone’s Instagram feed is, they have their struggles too. With chapters such as ‘On Pausing for a Minute,’ and ‘How to go Balls-Deep on Your Own Life (this one is full of tips to enrich your day to day, from the mundane to the dramatic), The Book of Brave is inspiring, it’s warm-hearted and it’s a great collection of stories from a writer who is figuring out who she is and keeping us updated on the process.
Laura signed a book deal with Hodder earlier this year and her memoir, Becoming, is out in 2016 – something to look out for!