Just a quick little update on some of the things I’m reading and loving at the moment, and some things I’m about to start on.
The end of your life book club – Will Schwalbe
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve recently joined the CWA (SA website here).One of the many rad things about my particular branch is that they have a door prize (or three) at each meeting. My (not so) inner competitive spirit came out as soon as this was mentioned at my first meeting and I was more than a little intrigued as to what the prizes could be. As it turned out, I won – first go and everything! I scored myself a lovely bottle of sauvignon blanc and this here book. I’d heard of it before but hadn’t been particularly motivated to go out and purchase a copy. I think you should though. I think everyone should. ‘The end of your life book club‘ tells the true story of the author, Will, and his mother, Mary Anne (/Mary/Mary Ann… you’ll see), as they form a two person book club when Mary is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Filled with pearls of life wisdom, charming anecdotes and plenty of literary serendipity, this tale really affected me. Schwalbe’s writing is inspirational without being preachy or melodramatic and manages to delicately balance rich imagery (especially in relation to his mother’s work) and simplicity (especially when discussing her battle with cancer). I loved this little gem.
Peppermint‘s tagline of “Style, Sustainability, Substance” could not ring more true than in the current issue. It’s full of inspirational tales of ethical and sustainable businesses and the innovative entrepreneurs behind them, as well as plenty of prettiness (the shoot that the cover image comes from is particularly divine). Unlike a lot of other environmentally-minded publications (online or print) that I’ve read, I didn’t feel guilty or ‘told-off’ after reading Peppermint. I felt well-informed, inspired and positively positive, which I think is a much better way to make people feel if you’re trying to engage them with a particular message or point of view. Peppermint is only published quarterly, but I kinda like that about it. I feel like the content is all the more thoughtfully produced that way; it makes it a bit special. Also, if I only have to fork out four times a year for it, I don’t mind a slightly exxier price-tag than something more commercially-minded like Shop til you Drop or Cosmo.
God’s big instruction book – compiled by Juliet Mabey
I’m not part of any particular religion, but I find religion endlessly fascinating. I also sometimes need a bit more guidance than my favourite A.A. Milne quote (although it does suffice in most circumstances). This book is one of the few things that can give me that comfort. A compilation of quotes and teachings from religions and schools of philosophical thought from around the world, it was gifted to me from my Aunty for my 16th birthday. From Judaism to Taoism to Christianity to the Baha’i Faith, it covers a whole lot of the world’s major religions and a whole lot of the minor ones, too. The thing that struck me the most when I first read it was that regardless of the religion, they all teach pretty similar things when it comes to basic (but often complicated) concepts like love, grief, family, etc. Whether you’re religious or just religiously curious, this is a great little book to keep by your bedside to remind you of the commonalities of the human experience and for those times you need a little guidance.
The Fry Chronicles – Stephen Fry
You may have noticed how I like reading about people’s lives. Maybe it’s the influence of my Mum’s oral history Ph.D that she’s currently tapping away on, but I think real lives provide just as much (if not more) drama and intrigue and funny coincidences as any work of fiction. I’m looking forward to borrowing The Fry Chronicles (my first audiobook) from my Dad and hearing some of the stories Fry has to tell about himself and his life. I’m especially looking forward to hearing him talk about his time at Cambridge, especially his theatrical collaborations and friendships with Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson (1979-1980 President and Vice-President of the Cambridge Footlights, respectively).