Isn’t it great 2016 is FINALLY over? January Goals | 2017

Happy New Year Darlings!

Goals or, resolutions are synonymous with the start of a New Year, so I thought I’d share mine for 2017.

I hope your hangovers weren’t too bad on New Years day and that you are feeling as joyous and excited as I am for the start of a fresh year. There are some huge goals that I’m about to disclose…  These aren’t only for January but for the next twelve months. Long term commitments aren’t often shared (on my part) so publishing them for public consumption will be a good way of holding oneself accountable

Volunteering at a museum  — There’s a beautiful literary and historic museum near where I live. I’ve been meaning to submit an application to volunteer there for a while now. I want to commit a couple of days a week, offering my skills and experience from previously working in the Museum and Heritage sector. This is a reminder to fill out those forms and give some support!

Slimming World Online — Oh Gosh. A diet plan, weight loss goal for 2017. I will do a “proper” post explaining but briefly, I REALLY need to lose weight. My health, well being, and body need a serious shake up from some of the poorer lifestyle choices I make. Starting this plan will be the first steps I take toward being a healthier human in 2017 and I will be sharing the results and efforts with you

Keep Reading 3 Books a Month — I couldn’t keep up with a-book-a-week attempts in 2016. I have slightly adjusted this to something more reasonable, that way if I want to take on a huge 600 page, historic biography, there’s still breathing space for some easy reading

Paraben free and Cruelty free — I’ve gone Paraben free, cruelty free and am now using products with high percentages of organic, natural materials and ingredients. This applies to not only beauty, make up and skin care but all other products in my life. Whether they’re used in the kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom, I ultimately want to move forward utilising healthier alternatives

Have you made any NY goals or resolutions this year? Please share them with me, I’d love to know!

Love always,
Charlotte x

Monthly Reads |February and March 2016

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Whenever someone saw me reading this, I was asked “Have you seen the film? It’s so good!”. I haven’t yet seen the film but this book had been sitting on my “to read” pile for a long time. There were parts of Wild that were so evocative and emotionally raw, I had to put it down and take a few deep breaths to stop myself from crying. Cheryl Strayed vividly describes bereavement and loss but also her growth, strength, and victory as she hikes over 1000 miles of the PCT on a personal mission to help heal and guide herself. This is a moving read that that is suspenseful and bildungsroman, documenting a demanding physical and emotional journey. I really adored this

 

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

I loved the Sapphic Dickensian novel Fingersmith, so post-reading I immediately added all of Sarah Waters works to my Amazon basket as I had fallen head over heels with this author. However, The Night Watch is an appalling work  in comparison which was depressing, flat, dull, two dimensional and left me wondering if this was written by the same person.

This book is also responsible for why I didn’t have a chance to read much else through February as I felt unmotivated to keep reading this lifeless, soporific novel. I committed to the 500 pages hoping something would happen but it didn’t, I felt fucking deflated and annoyed when I finished. The personalities of the different women in the multi-stranded narrative were boring, the plot was nowhere near compelling enough to encourage you to continue reading as the story was told in reverse and ultimately there was a blandness to the limp ending.

 

Bassoon King, The : My Life in Art, Faith and Idiocy by Rainn Wilson

I am massive fan of The Office which is probably what I have in common with 99% of readers that bought The Bassoon King. I personally think of Rainn Wilson as having quite a singular identity, as an actor and my hero for playing my comedy favourite Dwight Schrute. However Wilson is far more multi-dimensional and his biography explored his revelatory relationship with faith, family, education, charity work and acting career (MORE EXCITING BEHIND THE SCENES STUFF ABOUT THE OFFICE!) which resulted in some thoroughly philosophical musings and extended critical observations explored in the footnotes throughout.  I was surprised how well written it was and how open Rainn Wilson was about his life…, a consistently amusing and richly revealing memoir of the man behind Dwight Schrute.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Some of the tone and content of this book is unbearably hysterical and hyperbolic. However, I found when Lawson writes of her experience with long term depression (in between chapters on drugs, taxidermy and her work) they are gems of lucid, mesmeric and painfully relatable essays. For this reason I adored this book because her description of mental health is refreshing and her refusal to be a victim of it, prescribes an unusual and amusing set of coping mechanisms… in which she started the Furiously Happy movement.

 

Monthly Reads | January 2016

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The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

On reflection, I am feeling equivocal about this novel. It has a promising and in some places evocative plot; historically atmospheric in way that reminded me of the richly narrated Girl With a Pearl EarringThe critical difference being we don’t have a passionate, artistic, hyper sensitive narrator like Griet, we have Nella who fizzles in filmy comparison. Whilst the events unfurling in this Dutch household are combustive in subject matter, the personalities are dull – I was longing for an honest dialogue between the protagonists instead of an insufferable amount of repressive behaviour

A few neat little twists helped the pace of the novel lending a near hysterical urgency after certain salacious secrets are revealed and being an easy digestble little novel meant I devoured it over 2 busy days. I really wanted to like this book but found the small range of characters all SO unlikeable, unrealistic and two dimensional. Would I recommend it? I’m not sure.

In Between the Sheets – Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is one of my favourite authors and I had wanted to read some of his earlier work, out of curiosity. McEwan has an incredible way of quickly submersing the reader in complicated narrative microcosms so beautifully detailed you will feel bereft when they end, this collection of short stories was no different.

In Between the Sheets is far less macabre, shocking or perverse than First Love, Last Rites
collection, however stories like “Dead As They Come” [my favourite] powerfully and exigently coax you into sympathising with the anguish of a mentally ill man, tortuously infatuated with a female mannequin.  This left me reeling from the violently destructive behaviour and most of the protagonists in this collection have pretty fucked up problems, but their flaws give the small stories grit, rawness and intrigue.

Plot lines are difficult for me to discuss without revealing spoilers, so I would encourage you to instead read this collection!

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Why Not Me? – Mind Kaling

I LOVED THIS SO MUCH! This second collection of micro essays from Kaling are even funnier and more revealing. And yes, she does indulge us in more behind the scenes gossip of life whilst filming/working on The Office — Hooray!  A couple of the essays were indulgent, comical, frivolous and fun but many surprised me with the overarching motivational message of “you gotta work hard, make your own opportunities and really believe in you”. Trying to break it down like that sounds a little cheesey, but the message of this book is potentially very empowering.

The autobiographical account that Kaling gave regarding her newest work “The Mindy Project”, shows what an admirable, inspiring and dedicated work ethic she has. I was impressed even more so with her positivity, attitude and “Go Get It Girl” spirit… the main thing I learnt was was how driven Mind Kaling is and her most passionate and insightful chapters were when explaining her roles job, as a director, writer and actor.

It’s such a fucking feel good, girlie, joyful book that just writing about it now makes me want to re-read it.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Nazi Germany – 1939 on the verge of war and narrated by Death might sound a like a depressing combination of ingredients but there are moment of pure love and joy amongst the prevalence of death in this novel.

At first I struggled, no, wrestled with the narrative style. I didn’t enjoy Death’s voice or style in which he sliced into the story with quizzical interferences.  I didn’t enjoy the dictionary use of definitions of words that broke up the story or hinted at the tone of the chapter to come. But aside from that… I gradually grew very close to the characters and terribly angry at Zukas for certain deaths that occured.

Liesel is a wonderful character, robust and refreshingly unfeminine. She is persistent with her reading and education despite lacking natural ability and plagued by many horrors and traumas in her early life. We follow her development and relationships with her new adoptive family and the people of Himmel Street. Finally, I was blown away by the humanity that was given to the German people involved in the Nazi politics. It made me very reflective for the families and children of the Nazi regime, a view point I had not personally considered before.

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Let me know what you thought in the comment as I’d love to hear from you

Next month I will be reading The Night Watch
and The Bassoon King

Monthly Reads – April/May

Oh my Gosh. Such reads.

 Marie Antoinette I loved, loved, loved this. All 550 pages. Riveting from beginning to end. An astoundingly extensive and comprehensive work on French history, The French Revolution, Versailles and Courtly life, and  of course…Marie Antoinette. If you love 18th C history or are mildly obsessed with Marie Antoinette, this is an incredible read. A huge volume of information digested easily, beautifully well written, never dry or dull… such an impressive work!

 

Sex, Lies, and the Ballot Box I was trawling the political literature section on Amazon in light of the upcoming/recent British election and this was flagged up: a collection of political essays that scrutinised the electoral process, psychology of voting and our current understanding of parliament. I found it moderately interesting, short pieces that you can dip in and out of, especially if you aren’t very interested in current affairs or politics.  It’s accessible and will hopefully get you more interested, but gives a very accessible insight into British politics.

 

Mini Shopaholic This was pure, guilty, chick lit, feel good, holiday, easy reading. My little sister recommended this because she is a big fan of all of Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. This was a great addition to the series, cute, funny and upbeat… which also helped distracted me from my fear of imminent death whilst flying en route to my holiday to Rome. Ha!

 

Eat Nourish Glow I was really inspired by Freer’s instagram account,  I thought this would be predominantly a recipe book but it’s so much more. Refreshingly honest both in tone and information, it’s a down to earth, full on lifestyle guide which has really helped sculpt my understanding of the value of nutrition and healthy eating. Freer writes in a no-nonsense tone, you can change the fact you feel tired all the time, you can change small aspects of your food habits and resultantly change your life. I love the simple yet revolutionary philosophy of this and would encourage you to buy it 🙂