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Books I read 2018 part three

30th December 2018

Screenshot of bookcovers I read in 2018

It’s a day to myself today. So far I have:

:: laid out a new baby blanket to dry (pictures to follow in another post)

:: been out on a run (nearly passed out after 2.5 miles)

:: had a smoothie with ALL the supplements and drank hot cacao

:: had a bath and read my magazine

:: cleaned the shower screen with citric acid (suprisingly effective, but OMG the water here is hard and I have not cleaned that thing properly in ages)

:: done some washing

:: mopped the kitchen floor

:: listened to “Becoming” by Michelle Obama on Audible while I have been doing all the house things.

:: BULLET JOURNALLING. I’ve only been doing it a week but it’s changed everything.

I’ve even meditated – determined to re-establish all my good habits that make me calm.

Anyway, books: last part. I don’t reckon I’ll read half as much next year as I’m focusing on getting fit and healthy again.

:: “Declutter your life” by Gill Hasson. Gill is my auntie so I got a copy of this. Good advice on starting small. I was far too tired when I read this but it’s about time I followed through on lightening our home. I have made progress since though.

:: “Ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now” by Jaron Lanier. The amazing Zadie Smith is quoted as saying “A blisteringly good, urgent, essential read”, I’ve read this and Katherine Ormerod’s “Social media is ruining your life”  and it kept nagging on and on at me. I just don’t want to be on there anymore – there are pros but a huge amount of bloody cons. I can’t remember the exact quote by Kate Tempest but we’re all self creating false digital identities. I read a Cal Newport email this morning that valued analogue social over social. I’m yet to exactly unpack why I’m not on there at the moment, but put it this way. I have way more time and feel much more in control of my attention. I didn’t like that I was sometimes mindlessly consuming content I hadn’t set out to.

:: “The strangest secret” by Earl Nightingale said to be one of the greatest motivational texts ever written, it’s extremely short and digestible and still relevant.

:: “The bricks that built the houses” by Kate Tempest. All the best people I know gave me books to read when my life fell apart and I borrowed this from a friend, I really enjoyed the way it was written and how it captures the essence of going out through language.

:: “Earth is hiring” by Peta Kelly in an effort to turn my life around Lianne bought me a ticket to this girls workshop in London on her worldwide tour. It took me bloody AGES to read the book the whole way through I just found it grating. A giant rehash of a million voices that have gone before BUT as Kelly said, it’s all about finding your tribe and finding who you resonate with and whilst I was fucking DYING for a glass of white wine the whole time we sat listening to what I conceived as fairly pretentious and ill thought out delivery all I will say is she simply didn’t resonate with me. I was bored.

:: “The little book of contentment” by Leo Babuta – ” he who is contented is rich” – I’m struggling with contentment at the moment. This was a lovely read and I love the zen habits blog. Recommend.

:: “The art of not falling apart” by Christina Patterson. I got this from waterstones with a gift voucher from work. I loved it. It ended up leading me to one of the loveliest days I’ve had in 2018 and 2018 has been HARD so for this I am very grateful.

:: “My thoughts exactly” by Lily Allen. I loved this. I loved the look of the book, I loved how honestly she described a clusterfuck of different experiences that left her so troubled and so vulnerable. I like her. I also want her jumper from the front cover.

:: “Small great things” by Jodi Piccoult. I listened to this on the way to work via audible, I thought I’d choose something a bit different for me. I am in total awe of Piccoult, her work ethic, her research, this was good, just not my cup of tea.

:: “Let go my hand” by Edward Docx. Not sure where to start with this. Anyone who’s heard me talk about this book or the author would probably caution against asking too many questions because I don’t stop talking. It made me laugh and cry and there were some brilliant scenes that have stayed with me. I thoroughly recommend it. I liked it so much I got a copy for the shelf at work and bought it as a birthday gift and got my mum to read it. So there you go.

:: “Solitude” by Michael Harris. Genuinely the best non fiction work I read all year, reminiscent of Susan Cain’s quiet. I love solitude. I need it to function and I have not respected that in the best way over the years. This book will stay with me.

:: “Little Black book” by Otegha Uwagra this book had a bit of an instagram fame moment earlier in the year and by virtue of being easily influenced on social media I read it. Possibly good for younger generations, it didn’t speak to me, I found it boring.

:: “First we make the beast beautiful” by Sarah Wilson great book. I wrote about it here.

:: “Thinking out loud” by Rio Ferdinand I thought this would be a helpful book but for a variety of reasons that I’ve got no real business commenting on it and won’t explore here it really agitated me. I will say I’m incredibly sad for his family and for their loss but I have to say this book sat uncomfortably with me. However if it opens up the conversation for men to be more forthcoming with their emotions I welcome it, it just wasn’t the book for me.

I realise that’s a really quick round up but it’s the best I can do right now. Done is better than perfect.

Books

2018 in books Part 1

21st December 2018

Covers of books read in 2018

I set myself a goodreads reading challenge this year to read 40 books. I honestly don’t know how I’ve managed it. I have been next level tired and exhausted – but I think reading has been a way to distract myself from thinking, to engage and immerse myself in something other than real life. Maybe it’s delayed processing or maybe it’s helped over the last year and a half. Who knows? I love to read. It’s been a weird reading journey, I’ve often skipped from one recommendation on amazon to the next, or pulled out something totally at random from the library. I won’t say a great deal on any. Just sort of mark that I got there.

“It’s called a breakup because it’s broken” by Greg Behrent. I’ve read a fair few of these breakup books. I actually remember opening this at the office and marvelling at it’s ridiculously late arrival and inwardly dying inside at the state of the cover and the fact it was relevant to my life. I think these guys wrote ‘He’s just not that into you’. I didn’t like the writing style, I know it was supposed to be funny but I just found it all a bit patronising and slightly unhelpful which sort of contradicts every review. Definitely a book to judge by it’s awful cover in my humble opinion.

The Script” by Vicky Mainzer” A friend told me about this book. I thought it was glib and badly written, however the content holds up.

“Everything Everything” by Nicola Yoon Stupid easy read, which was exactly what I needed. I fancied reading a novel aimed at young adults and my inner teenage self finished it in a couple of hours. It was ok.

“The unexpected joy of being sober” by Catherine Gray Sober curious is a bloody awful phrase, but I suppose I have been ever since I started running and loved running more than I loved feeling at all hungover. Brilliantly written, fascinating. I rate this book. I get SO MUCH MORE DONE without drinking. However I’ve done little running and things have reversed so I’m thinking this year again to do the no-thing. Pip talks about this cool thing, in this post.

“Reasons to Stay Alive” by Matt Haig a wonderful book, engaging and well written for anyone going through a crisis. I saw Matt Haig across the road the other day and nearly threw myself at him and blurted out something grateful but I always sound stupid and fawning if I attempt anything like that, so I resisted.

“The Subtle Art of Not giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson I wrote about this book here – it was definitely worth a read. There are only so many fucks to give.

“The Sober Diaries” by Clare Pooley more sober lit. Was worth a read but I preferred the work of Catherine Gray if I had to recommend one of the two.

“The betrayals” by Fiona Neill this is a Sunday Times Bestseller. I think I got it on the 99p kindle deal. Not entirely sure of the logic to that, it just riled me if I’m completely honest.

“Keep Going” by Joseph M. Marshall This was an amazon recommends. I loved EVERYTHING about the lakota wisdom in this book. This is the perfect book for anyone going through a hard time. I read this around the time I had a physical and mental burnout this year. My favourite quote is “That one more step will take us beyond where we were, somewhere, anywhere, ahead whether by a hairs-breadth or an arm’s length does not matter. ‘It isn’t always necessary to overwhelm a problem or overcome an obstacle in one fell swoop. A series of small victories, small steps, will serve the same purpose. We do not have to gain the top of the hill in one swift leap, or a prescribed number of steps for that matter. All we need to do is reach the top one way or another. Hope is always one more step.'” So applicable to learning, living, running, making as well as crisis. Great book.

“A moveable feast” by Ernest Hemingway I read this after seeing the quote ‘we would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright’ and thought it all sounded hopelessly romantic and idyllic. Then I read it. Then I read this article on the Daily Fail website and wished his book had ended with Hadley running across the road away from him. Yet, still, I loved this read and to read about his writing and his life and France. I’d love to read more Hemingway this year.

To be continued….

 

Books Life

Sarah Wilson’s ‘First, we make the beast beautiful’

11th December 2018

I reached out for this beautiful book yesterday. I have been reading it in heavy gulps over the last few months as and when. It’s this years 39th book. Quite the reading ride. One more to go until I hit my target for 2018. I was anxious as a child, the atmosphere at home was unpredictable at times. I slept with a bag at the foot of my bed in case of fire and I think it’s fair to say I’ve always carried some weight of worry about where I belong, where my space is.

I love Sarah’s work, her writing and her take on life I found reading her explorations on meaning, unhappiness, discontent and anxiety reassuring. I’m not here to write my own meditation – but if you like to explore the way you think and feel this little book is a thought provoking companion.

“Since childhood I have cried out to know where I fit, for life to make sense, to learn how to sit comfortably with myself on that bench in the sun. After thirty-odd years of doing the damn journey, have I arrived somewhere? Anywhere? Is that the question you now ask me? 

David Brooks write that those who embark on the road to character as he puts it, or the path to meaning and sense as I’m putting it, don’t come out healed. They come out different.”

I re-watched this video as a consequence and I’ve downloaded the anti-anxiety diet on kindle. Back to morning routines, meditation, gratitude and exercise. If I’m being totally honest, right now, my “inside people” are a bit weary.

Books Life

tsundoku

7th October 2018

Books by my bed

As much as I like to borrow books I love to have them also. Everything about the stacks of reading material beside my bed is making me happy.

In no particular order:

The lost flowers of Alice  Hart: Holly Ringland, passed to me by my sister Hannah.

Everything I know about love: Dolly Alderton, a birthday present from my friend Caroline because we both love listening to the High Low podcast.

The Way of the happy woman: Sara Avant Stover, because this book is a nourishing companion to my life and I’m not looking after myself properly at the moment

Let go my hand: Edward Docx, an author I hadn’t heard of but I signed myself up for a writing workshop with him in November last Friday evening. Happy Birthday to me.

A question of trust: Penny Vincenzi, because I love her doorstop books. I hadn’t realised she had died and so sadly read her obituary today also, she’s a bit of an inspiration to me.

Willpower: Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, because I need to exercise a bit more discipline, ritual and routine in my life to get what I want to get done, done. I can be determined and focused, but currently outside of work and feeding the children I’ve lost the thread a bit with my creating, my fitness and my money. That in turn makes me not feel on top of life.

The Compassionate Mind: Paul Gilbert, because I pulled an angel card the other day I hadn’t before that said I should exercise compassion, then I saw this book on the shelf that day in Waterstones. I think probably I need to exercise a bit more self compassion, I’ve had to tilt a little out of some parts of my life while I get to grips with my new role as a junior creative developer and I’m constantly berating myself for not being more organised. It’s not always home cooked meals from scratch like it used to be and sometimes I don’t have time to make packed lunches. I need to do things like change the energy provider, file the paperwork and sort the garden out. Keeping on top of the house is a daily struggle. Most often I am in bed at the same time as the children during the week because I’m so exhausted and it feels like nothing else gets done. There are so many imperfections and things I would like to be better at but I have to remember I am holding down a job, the kids and the dog are happy, there’s always deliveroo, the world is still turning and everyday I start afresh.

Magazines: Flow/Frankie both purchased at Magazine.

I cannot imagine life without reading. I’m so looking forward to curling up with these in the evenings.

Books

Mark Manson

16th January 2018

Now, Mark Manson had dropped off my radar. A couple of years ago I applied to be his virtual assistant, but I never heard back, almost certainly because I don’t feel I ever got to grips with marketing my stay at home mum self at the time. In any case he came back on the radar when I was linked to this article back in the summer and for whatever reason, this book came up as a suggested read when I was using my new overdrive app on the kindle a few days ago.

Having just battled with a few anxiety ridden days (yes, yes, I am also tired of everyone writing about and presumably having anxiety, but there’s evidently something to that – as in everyone is dealing with it in various forms and we’re only just talking about it…endlessly apparently if instagram and the rest of the net is anything to go by) anyway this was a prescient title for me.

My favourite quote thus far:

“Decision-making based on emotional intuition, without the aid of reason to keep it in line, pretty much always sucks. You know who bases their entire lives on their emotions? Three year old kids. And dogs. You know what else three year olds and dogs do? Shit on the carpet”

a.men

I’m holding tight for the last chapter which I am assured by someone I trust is killer.

It’s my 6th book of 2018. I’m pulling disparate books from all over. Young adult, fiction, non fiction, biography – everything will go in the mix this year.

 

 

Books

Books

9th January 2018

Picture of me reading

 

Way back in the summer when everything was a big mess I had a booking at the house for two students to stay. The whole few weeks they were here were intense due to a combination of both personal circumstances and their presence in the house. I felt that need, as I often do when under pressure, for a treat, something significant, something to reward me for putting up with what was going on. Something to dissuade me from putting my head in the oven, something to distract me. I don’t find clothes or shoes are enough, I want something to add value to my life so if it’s not going to be something to ‘do’ something pretty useful or something that makes something is high up on the list.

When prime day came round 3 kindle fires were ordered and subsequently delivered. One for each of us.

I’d resisted kindles for so long, valuing the feel of books and the excitement of opening a new one. I couldn’t imagine getting pleasure from an ebook. I love to read and life a few years ago had seemed like an endless cycle of amazon deliveries and sorting titles during clear outs to the point that I think it was 2016 I pulled back on the purchases and determined only to order books from the library. I don’t want to bring anything into the house that doesn’t have a use, something that can remain dormant, like a read book.

Anyway, all the titles I can’t get hold of at the library, I can download in that pleasing instant way now and it’s enabled me to read more than ever. For a time I was impulsively downloading offers of the week to my library but all that’s come to a head now I have built up my own digital stack.

This weekend, curled up in bed yesterday morning, Ruby and I downloaded the overdrive app and linked our library accounts to our kindles. I downloaded the library’s ebook copy of ‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon (which I finished this morning) and also walked the dog to the audiobook version of ‘The Wind up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami. Ruby opted for an audio version of Harry Potter. I will read more this year than I ever have this way. The app is also on my phone now and I will be spending my lunchtime walk with the dog devouring new titles. I’ve clocked in three titles so far this year in the first week. Each, in its own way helping me sift my situation or thoroughly distracting me. I’ve set my reading challenge on goodreads to 40 books this year and I am looking forward to properly restoring reading to my days.

Books

Jarett Kobek :: I hate the Internet

25th January 2017

Picture of Jarrett Kobek's book 'I Hate the Internet'

I finished reading my first book of 2017: Jarett Kobek’s “I hate the internet”. It’s difficult to know where to begin, for reasons which, if you pick this book up, you will understand. It reads as a work of fiction, referred to within as a ‘good bad novel’ and I will say, that definitely holds up, it isn’t a book to read for the writing quality, though obviously quite deliberately. However it’s also set within our internet age and references the current players in this age, it has so many scurrilous observations of the present day digital elite, the UK publisher has redacted many paragraphs. We’re talking thick black lines throughout the book masking I don’t know what about people, mostly it seems, Peter Thiel. After each of these heavily censored clips is the note “Jim’ll fix it” in reference to the defamation suits in which Jimmy Saville managed “to stop any third party reporting on his status as a living depravity.” I’ve never read a book like this.

I thought I’d be reading this and coming to more depressing conclusions about the negative side to our immediate connectivity thanks to the internet. I’ve been thinking about distraction and attention deficit for quite some time now. Instead it mostly was a book that compares how comic book companies (corporations) made MILLIONS from comics, completely taking advantage of artists intellectual property whilst paying their artists almost nothing. This is a critique on the current system where the corporations cashing out on the internet aren’t really the creatives making the content. It’s also an important commentary of the still evident racial and social injustices that we are still living through in this internet age.

There were parts of this book I was just utterly perplexed by. Baby, one of the characters in the book is an author and one of the storylines in one of his novels is about an organisation called the World Time Travel Authority and how it infests all its time travellers with a mutated strain of gonorrhoea that pools in the back of the throat. The gonorrhoea is ‘hyperintelligent’, it can talk! It keeps the time travellers company. I know. WTF. But just when you think there can’t be any weirder elements to a novel Kobek uses the word ‘polyamoyrous’ in relation to the marital set up of two of his characters. He then discusses the etymology of the word ‘polyamorous’. We have, apparently ‘Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart’ to thank and this, then is where I learnt that Morning Glory and her husband actually surgically altered the horn buds of goats to grow just a single horn in the middle of the skull. Yes, they were trying to make unicorns and then 4 of these goats end up at the Ringling Brothers Circus. This, this bit of the book is TRUE – I KNOW, not a work of fiction. See here. I haven’t felt so confused in the act of reading for some time. What IS the world coming to?

It’s worth a read, if you want a scathing indictment of the internet as it currently stands with it’s endless advertising. The internet allows hate and trolling on a mass scale and this activity hides behind free speech. We curate our digital presence in a way that makes many of us feel uneasy and some of us feel inferior, privacy can be violated, bad people can do bad things on the net. With all that, I LOVE the internet, used with intention it’s connecting and informing and a tool I wouldn’t want to live without, but reading this has made me think and that, I’m sure was the end goal.

 

 

 

 

Books

Deep Work by Cal Newport

29th November 2016

Photo of the book Deep Work by Cal Newport

 

People often refer to ‘game-changers’ and this book, has definitely been that for me. I heard about this title on the James Altucher podcast and after listening to the pod I watched Cal Newport’s TED talk ‘How to quit social media’.

Having long suspected that the constant attention switching in my day to day was messing with the way my brain actually functioned it was refreshing, albeit frightening to learn that Clifford Nass, Stanford professor had concluded that those of us that ‘multi-task’ in this way, online and using social media are “chronically distracted” and unable to “filter out irrelevancy”. My own ability to resist distracting stimuli with platforms like instagram and Facebook was dire, my need to check them reflexive as opposed to intentional. I obviously post on my instagram a fair amount sharing work, moments and books. I’ve been swept up along with the digital generation that stakes out our little section of the internet and I suppose aims to show our originality and relevancy via little square photos. I have to tell you, I enjoy it too! The feedback and the connection to other people with children, dogs and family and the ability to connect with other people who love to make with yarn or read is FUN, but it was also draining me. I was more than aware I was spending too much time there and not getting as much as I wanted done.

So, I left Facebook, with no fanfare, no ridiculous virtuous status update. I just left. I’ve been gone a few months now. I’ve had one phone call from a good friend I used to live with hoping that I am ok and then the other two people who have mentioned it to me in a text are both my neighbours who I see pretty much everyday anyway. Was I a little worried about FOMO (fear of missing out)? A little bit, but on balance I knew that there was little going on there and I was reclaiming my time from updates and an interface I genuinely sometimes felt irritated by. I was fed up of clickbait and bored rigid with my feed. All I’ve noticed as a consequence is that I’ve made more phone calls and made more of an effort to meet people. Texting/whatsapp-ing has inevitably increased but that’s understandable and I’m ok with it. At the moment, not being on Facebook is working.

The other thing I’ve done is switch off my notifications for whatsapp – this way I’m not getting constantly disturbed by interruptions throughout the day or getting involved in long and time consuming exchanges. This feels like more time back to me, a drawback is missing out on impulsive ‘are you free to Skype?’ chats with my sister and my friend abroad, but again, I’ve not missed out on anything that I absolutely needed to be aware of immediately.

The crux of “Deep work” is that to be relevant in the new economy we need to be able to focus undistracted on cognitively demanding tasks. This will make us better at what we do, more attractive as an employee, let us achieve more in less time and provide the sense of true fulfilment that comes from the mastery of a skill.

So what else has changed since I read this book?

I generally get up earlier, at 5.45, to be up before the rest of the family and have some uninterrupted time to start my day. I have found this so much easier since the clocks changed and I love sitting in the kitchen with my cup of coffee getting things done quietly.

I’ve been learning a new cognitively demanding skill, computer coding. The last few months have seen me switch up my routine to code directly after walking the dog. Before, I was running as a non negotiable in my day, primarily so I couldn’t wriggle out of it, however running comes under a “more automatic” task, as does crochet which I don’t need to concentrate on as much anymore, so coding and writing fills up the morning as much as possible. I don’t enjoy running in the afternoon, it means I have to be more self disciplined which is more tiring but it’s possible. There are no podcasts playing, no music, the phone is in airplane mode and I just get on with the task at hand. It will be a slow burn but I’ve mastered some basic html, css and bootstrap, I can navigate github and pull code, all things that were unknown to me before. I get a real kick out of it. The only thing I’ve struggled with is how much time I can spend doing this but I will blog on that another time.

Every other week I try to stay off instagram entirely. I don’t want to be consuming images, I don’t want any inputs and I don’t want to organise what to post or spend time replying to comments. I just stay off. That week inevitably makes me realise how much time and how often I go to check. One thing that has helped is putting the app on the 5th screen I tab to on my phone so I am more aware when I’m going to check. I’ll be writing more on how to be more of a master with your phone because I’ve learnt a few things over the last few months, some of which really aren’t pretty!

I thoroughly recommend this book, all my reads are here on my goodreads profile.

Books

What I talk about when I talk about running

29th June 2016

Murakami book on running

 

At the beginning of this year I was feeling head-achingly overwhelmed. Details aren’t the point but I could give you some potentials just so you get the vibe. It might have been S.A.D, it may have been mid life insecurity (just being honest, I seem to be working mine up quite adeptly and my father passed away at 60, so labelling it midlife, for me, is a plausible reality), it could have just been post Christmas fatigue. Really, in order to get to that point of ‘not feeling on my game’, I just need to have a list longer than I can cope with, to have lost track of dates and forgotten things, have that perpetual feeling of constantly chasing my tail or pitiful lacklustre energy levels to feel overwhelmed – if I drop the ball with my physical and mental health by eating/drinking badly or overbooking myself and not spending enough time alone, I just unravel a bit, it’s an inevitability. If I then add any personal pressure into that mix, or stresses by proxy – problems that friends or family are having, issues with the children, BOOM… I’m having an internal implosion.

But, on the flip side, I’ve always got running.

I got into running after signing up for the London Marathon when I was 21 as an antidote for heartbreak – the type of heartbreak that reacts boldly (and naively) with ‘I’ll show him’ when actually, quite frankly ‘he’ probably doesn’t even have any clue I ran a marathon and neither would he care, nor does anyone else really. It might have turned out to be a completely redundant and painful endeavour except that I now knew I had this practice, which, while I didn’t especially enjoy it and wasn’t entirely great at it, seemed to sort my head out and had the added benefit of keeping me fit, making me more productive and less, how can I put it? the word ‘crazed’ probably covers it. In any case, though I knew all that, I think I found the 26 miles a little traumatic for someone whose lack of innate athletic prowess had resulted in never being picked for sports at school. It took a while (years) before I went for my next event, The Great North Run. That race I prepared for properly, but again, I ran that and dropped running once again. However things came back into their own when my dad died and running came sharply back into focus as a healer. An organised run felt like a productive, unifying thing to do and my sisters and I ran the Brighton Half for charity. Since then I’ve intermittently run other halves and last October I ran in Bright 10 but I’ve never run as consistently as I have in 2016.

When the New Year came around I hadn’t run properly since October, but I signed myself up for a 1000km in 2016 challenge on the map my run running app and a few days into January embarked on my first 6 miler with my friend Matt. I was pretty hungover as I recall, it was freezing, it rained and I cursed almost every step. My starting point was that all encompassing term: slumpy. I’m now 56 runs down and have 494km racked up. I feel stronger, I feel fitter and more importantly a whole lot happier. I’ve run one half marathon and one 10k so far this year and I’ve got 2 more 10k’s, a half, a 10 miler and a tough mudder to go. I went to see an intuitive last September and he said I had a tendency for obsession once I get into something. I think there is probably something in that. You can see all my running bits on @abrilliantme

Anyway a book on running seems to be a good idea at this point in time, something inspirational to keep me interested. So many people had mentioned this title to me. The only other book I’ve read on the topic of running was Born to Run and if you want to read any book about running I would also recommend that in a heartbeat.

Murakami’s book is much more of a informal discussion about running and how it fits into his life. It’s a quick read, but one that left me wanting to run another marathon, sign up for a triathlon, run more often (so I upped my training from 3 times a week to 5 or 6) and also to re-read the Great Gatsby. It also hit on something I had been thinking about when I thought about running, what possible point is there in me signing up for events when I’ve no real hope ever of breaking the tape and when I have a very philosophical approach to personal bests (you can’t run the same race twice)? – I’d sort of been turning it over in my mind that for example investing money in entrance fees etc… was perhaps wasteful. I enjoy experiencing the events with people I know and the anticipation and intrinsic pressure that comes in participating in them but I really think it’s the effort involved in the training which remains with me. Over the last 6 months I’ve absorbed the great outdoors outside my home and taken in the normal everyday goings on in town and at the seafront. Aside from walking the dog and the school run, I could easily get very disconnected from other life day to day. I’ve been out in rain, mist, wind, cold, sleet and intense heat this year. I’ve watched the seasons change at the beach, seen it morning, afternoon and evening. I’ve connected to that temporary void that running attains and kicked so many endorphins around my body I’m thoroughly addicted. I’ve been calmer. I’ve slept better. I did then, agree with Murakami that even activities which appear fruitless don’t necessarily end up so.

I appreciated his book for many reasons, but I particularly liked his description of his daily routine and how he manages to do his work around a reasonably uniform timetable that doesn’t please everyone that knows him. Daily routines have intrigued me since reading Mason Currey’s “Daily Rituals” last year – another great read. I think his description of how long distance running figures into his lifestyle as a necessity in order to do the real work spoke to me. Running isn’t for everyone, but when it is for you, you know it.

 

Books

:: Book Review :: ‘All the Days and Nights’ by Niven Govinden

20th June 2016

Niven Govinden - All the Days and Nights

 

For the past couple of years on New Years Eve we have been sitting down with a sheet of paper to list 50 of the years “Humble brags” – It’s not really a list for sharing but it’s a great tool for private self congratulation, noting items down that vary with degrees of impressiveness and triviality. Last year I couldn’t come up with 50, but out of the 47 I did manage, I noted the amount of books I’d read in 2015. Since last year, I’ve been tracking my reading through the goodreads app on my phone – if I get a book recommendation from a friend, a magazine or a podcast I add it to my ‘want to read’ shelf and then as I read any book I update my progress daily to see how much progress I’ve made. It’s the kind of person I am, I get a real kick out of seeing how far I’ve made it through the book and keeping track of what I’m reading or going to read. As it stands at the moment I have 515 titles in my ‘to read‘ list.

 

So the humble brag was that I’d read 27 books, when I wrote that down I was pretty pleased with myself. I had aimed for 20 and I’d done it comfortably. Fitting in reading is a choice, but not one without its many challenges when you are an adult, it means you’ve got to focus and not be interrupted which can be very very difficult. When my children were babies I was so frustrated I wasn’t reading, something I love to immerse myself in, because there was so much to do in the evening, which was my only time to myself. In the end, I came up with a strategy where I’d read just 10 minutes after they’d fallen asleep. I could always find ten minutes and then get to doing the laundry and tidying up. I had to make sure I did it everyday. I didn’t get through that many books, and I had many people say “I don’t know how you do that, how can you get into the story? When I read, I have to sit down for a while and really get into it.” The way I saw it was this was the only way that was making me read consistently, so I took it.

 

Now, I get to read quite a bit more and it is SUCH a pleasure. I like fiction and non fiction and try to alternate as best I can. When goodreads asked its users to set themselves a challenge for 2016 I thought I’d aim high and typed in 50. Maybe that’s too much, but I’m hoping I can discover a number I can aim for every year. We’re coming up to halfway and I am not going to reach that 50 unless I make reading non negotiable from now on and up my daily reading. Even now I am only setting myself a 20 minute minimum amount of reading time a day, I figure it will whet my appetite to fit more in. As it stands I’ve completed 10 books so far this year.

 

I’ve reviewed only one read so far this year : ‘A Little Life’ – a book that I feel may eclipse everything else I read in terms of how it became an immersive experience, I lived and breathed that story. I had to recover for quite some time afterward, I found it difficult to pick up another. This post though, is on a book I picked up randomly at the library a few weeks ago. It’s great to have targeted titles to plough through based on their high goodreads rating or recommendation but I feel compelled to throw in a few wildcards this year. This one had promising one liners from the major broadsheets on the back and an interesting premise for a plot. Anna Brown, a dying artist works on her final portrait whilst her husband and life long muse for her work walks out to seek and see for himself the paintings he has sat for over the years.

It was an enjoyable read and an interesting story. You the reader learn to understand the relationship between the artist Anna, rejected by the town in which she lives for the work that she produces and her husband who has an ease, grace and amiability that makes him accepted by everyone. I felt that as I read the book I discovered more about her conviction to do the creative work that she was compelled to do and also why her husband was trying to understand if his life had been one of substance if his one and only role was to sit for her. His journey and his encounters at each of the destinations explain his own motivations and his importance as the subject of her work. The language is gently paced and rich. It is a lovely and subtle read, but I only gave it 3 stars out of 5 in the end. I can’t quite see how the Mail wrote that it was as ‘gripping as any thriller’ – sure you could turn the pages quickly, it was a short novel, but it never got un-put downabble. I’m all about the paperbacks at the moment having spent weeks working my way through a bit of a tome, “The Mountain Shadow” I need to start stacking my completed reads on top of each other so I can hit my target. I’m already on the next title, a Murakami, you can follow all my reads on instagram, the link to my feed is at the bottom of this page.