Book nook update!

Goodness me, it’s been well over a year since I told you what I’ve been reading! Sorry for leaving it so long. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a bit busy and feeling a bit hot and cold about blogging this year. But I’ve decided to give you a little update on what I’ve loved reading in 2015 (apart from the many, many journal articles I’ve read for Uni).

 

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

BIG MAGIC

Now, I know Eat, Pray, Love has become a bit of a divisive one in many a book club and friendship group, but hear me out here. I’m a bit of an artsy fartsy, creative type but I’m also a bit of a realist. I love to delve into big ideas and the expanses of my imagination, but I also need structure and routine and a good ol’ kick up the ass when I’m getting carried away. This book manages to strike a great balance between all of these things. Liz’s voice is so clear and so kind as well, so it was like having a sassy big sister sharing her worldly wisdom with me. For anyone who’s a combo of analytical/rational and creative/imaginative like I am, this one’s a winner.

Craft for the Soul – Pip Lincolne

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Craft for the Soul is the perfect companion for Big Magic. There are some overlaps, but in a good way – just enough to solidify those ‘aha!’ moments but not too many that they’re regurgitating each other. Pip Lincolne is one of my favourite bloggers (Gilmore Girls!!) so to have an actual physical piece of her work and compilation of her craft projects, recipes and advice makes me so happy. Suss out Meet Me At Mike’s first for a taste of Pip’s awesomeness.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

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I picked this up at Dymocks on one of their 3 for 2 deal days because it had won or been shortlisted for a lot of awards and it had a cute cover and the blurb sounded good and I was feeling impulsive. About 50 pages in and I was regretting this decision. This was a bit of a problem book for me for quite a while; it frustrated me. But theeeeeen I got over the fact that I wasn’t necessarily going to love the characters because maybe I wasn’t meant to, and I started to engage with the ideas that the book was raising and the way that the narrative was being constructed and I got totally hooked. It’s not a light-hearted, fun ride, but it’s worth it. Good for people interested in psychology/sociology/philosophy/biology/nature vs nurture debates.

Funny Girl, A Long Way Down & How to be Good – Nick Hornby

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This year I traded a little part of my Australian winter for a British summer and flitted off to London to study Shakespeare (tough life, I know). While I was there, I went to an author talk by Nick Hornby at Kingston University and I bought a whole stack of his books to get signed beforehand. Apart from seeing About a Boy, I wasn’t very familiar with Nick’s work, or even Nick himself until this point, but I’d heard good things and my hopes were high. Like many authors, Nick was quirky and a teeny weeny bit belligerent but totally honest and completely fascinating. I loved it. The three books of his that I read (listed above) were all very simple on the surface but raised lots of tough questions and were full of wry observations and wit. Would definitely recommend if you’re after a speedy read but don’t want to feel patronised by the author or dumbed-down by the banality of the story.

The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd

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When I was in high school we read Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, and I found it enthralling but really difficult to ‘get’. The Secret Life of Bees had all the beauty and wonder and mystery and brutality that I loved in Allende’s writing but I ‘got’ it a lot quicker. It’s such a classic, and one I’ll recommend to everyone, forever. There isn’t much more I can say about it really. Just read it, if you haven’t already. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to it!

So they’re all my faves that I can think of for now! I’ll try and update you again soon, as I’ve got another big stack of novels to get through over the summer holidays. Speak soon, lovelies!

Lxx

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When Lauren Met Clare

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This post, like many I write, has been a long time coming. Over a year ago I attended an afternoon tea/discussion arvo/performance hosted by the blissful Clare Bowditch and her Big Hearted Business (no really, that’s what it’s called). A big group of ladies and a smattering of gents (that’s the correct collective noun, is it not?) gathered at the Nexus Arts Centre. I had donned my favourite big blue coat, the one that makes me feel the snuggliest and sassiest and snazziest of all the coats. I was feeling the kind of uncomfortable apprehension that usually follows closely behind me when I attend events of an even vaguely networky nature. I had been ‘lost’ for about a year and was only just starting to find my feet. I was frustrated: intellectually, emotionally, creatively, socially. I was expecting a nice afternoon out with the best of all of my friends, my Mother, some pretty songs and a good cuppa. That’s exactly what I got, and then some.

Clare spoke eloquently and dreamily all at once. It was clear she was a woman with a soaring heart and a sharp mind to back it up. As she spoke about the need for creatives to hone their business brain and business folk to think more creatively, I furiously scrawled notes in my crisp new notebook. Some of my notes were quotes from Clare, but most were ideas that sparked off in my own mind from what she said. They weren’t all great ideas – in fact most of them were pretty terrible – but there were more than there had been in over a year and they were flowing freely. The creative floodgates were open; there was no going back.

Towards the end of Clare’s speech, she opened the discussion up to questions from the audience. I had so many, and they were swirling around so quickly that I could barely catch one. But I did, and I raised my hand tentatively. Eventually it was my turn, and I asked Clare the one question that had been underlying so many of my anxieties for so long: “Where do I start?” I’m a very expressive, creative type, but also a thinker. My head and my heart are often at odds and it was holding me back. I wanted to do it all, try it all, but couldn’t pin myself down to starting one particular thing. Clare beamed back at me and laughed a knowing laugh. She told me she could relate, and that she would answer me in song. This is that song.

You want an amazing life
But you can’t decide
You think you have to be fully formed already
Don’t you?
You want an amazing life
But you can’t decide
You do not have to be just one thing
But you have to start with something

I had to start with something. I knew that already, I think, but this was confirmation. This was me seeing through my fog and choosing to start. Rather than waiting for ‘inspiration’, I had to make conscious decisions to make little efforts in one direction. And so I did. I started jotting down phrases in notebooks with no real end goal, purely for the satisfaction of writing – creating something directly from the clash of heart and brain that was already going on. I started writing about my travels, and then when I came home I started this blog. The little words of encouragement from friends and strangers alike spurred me on, and soon I started submitted my writing elsewhere. I’ve had lots of love from the ladies who edited this year’s volume of On Dit in particular. They’ve published everything from an open letter to asylum seekers to cabaret reviews to a celebration of single lady-ness constructed entirely from Beyonce and Destiny’s Child lyrics. Because even as a writer, I know that I don’t have to be just one thing, but I had to start with something. And I started on that blustery winter’s day last year, with tears in the corners of my eyes and Clare’s words echoing in my mind. So really, I have Clare to thank, but also myself. Because those words were already there, they just needed to be spoken (or sung, in this case). I think that’s all we really need sometimes, don’t you?