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

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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

Book Nook: The Wishlist

With the proliferation of digital content and e-readers and immersive media, there’s something special about holding a hard-copy book in your hands; the feel, the smell, the specialness of it all. My shelves are currently overflowing with all sorts of titles – some for study, some for leisure, some for inspiration, some I’m not even sure why I bought them. I’m hanging out for Madre to finish her Ph.D. at the end of the year so she can clean collection out a bit and maybe I’ll be able to find some spots for my ever-expanding collection on the many, many bookshelves that fill our home. I thought I’d make a little list of some of the titles that I’m currently longing for, firstly to remind myself to actually buy them, and also to (hopefully) provide a bit of inspiration for you to expand your own collection*. Here goes…

Frankie Spaces, Volume 2

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Unfortunately I missed out on getting my mitts on a copy of the first volume of Frankie’s Spaces book, so I’m desperate to get stuck into this one. I just love getting a peek into people’s homes, especially those of creative types. Those of you who know me will know how homewares-obsessed I am, which is just plain silly for someone who is unlikely to be able to move out of home for at least another five or so years. But then again, at least I know that when I move out I will know exactly how I want to decorate my own little space, with the help of this here compendium and my mother’s many, many homey mags.

My Heart Wanders – Pia Jane Bijkerk

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“What would happen if one day you decided to follow your heart? Where would it take you?” That’s the question Pia poses in her divine travel memoir/photo diary, My Heart Wanders. Now, I am not in the slightest bit a spontaneous person. I hate feelings of insecurity – in my surroundings, in my future, in myself, in those around me. Yet I often find myself drawn to all things whimsical and risk-taking and ‘follow your dreams’-y. Perhaps I do have a less sensible, logic-loving side to myself, and perhaps I should be paying more attention to it… If that’s so, this book will be my perfect source of inspiration. Click here for further glimpses inside this gorgeous little number.

What Katie Ate – Katie Quinn Davies

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I have a penchant for buying recipe books for their perceived usefulness, and then never actually using them. Katie Quinn Davies’ food photography is all kinds of lovely, so I’m hoping this book’s aesthetic appeal might actually convince me to cook up a storm more often (although I’m sure my family would be happier, and safer, if I didn’t). If a book can get the thumbs-up from both Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website and Martha Stewart, it’s gotta be pretty decent, right?

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris

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I first stumbled across this curiously-titled collection of essays at a local gem of a book store/cafe/book club hub, The Mockingbird Lounge. I wasn’t game to snap it up then, but I sure am now. I’ve never read any of Sedaris’ work, but if there ever was a sign that I’ll like a particularly quirky book it’s this: The Sydney Morning Herald wasn’t a big fan. It’s had good responses on Goodreads though, and I think the look of the cover will complement the other picks in this list (yes I am that shallow).

The Fictional Woman – Tara Moss

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Tara Moss‘ appearance on Q&A a couple of weeks ago proved to me once and for all that the woman is nothing if not well-informed. She knows her stuff, and makes a point of doing so. She showed up most of the other panel members on this front, which impressed me mightily. I’m interested to see whether she conveys her messages as eloquently in print and to see if I have as many “YESSS, ME TOOO!” moments reading this memoir/social commentary as I did listening to her on the tele.

Anything John Green

With the new movie, The Fault in Our Stars, proving uber popular amongst my fellow not quite teen/not quite adults, I figure I’d do well to give some of John Green’s stuff a go. I usually find adolescent fiction characters a bit too self-indulgent and melancholy, but perhaps that’s what adolescence is like… I’m undecided, but maybe Green will help me make up my mind.

*This has nothing to do with the fact that my 20th birthday is fast approaching. Nothing, whatsoever.

Home is where the heart is

I love my little city, I really truly do. Being away for it for two months last year while I was travelling through Europe helped me realise that. Leaving Copenhagen airport, I realised that while I’d loved my time away, sometimes the best part of a holiday is coming home. And yeah, Adelaide is home.

What I hadn’t bargained for, however, was feeling so at home anywhere else on my travels. I thought that I would just be a tourist, an outsider, on the edge of all of these wonderful places, peering in. For the most part this held true. Most places I was just as content to leave as I was excited to arrive. Most places except one.

The land of Strindberg, ABBA, vikings, IKEA, the best seafood I’ve ever tasted, Bergmans (Ingrid and Ingmar, and I’m presuming many more), H&M, meatballs and lingonberry jam stole a little piece of my heart and I’m yet to get it back. You’d be justified in thinking that it felt so familiar because I have family there (seriously awesome family, might I add) who made me feel at home. I guess that is part of it, but there are plenty of places in the UK and even in Oz that equally as awesome members of my family live in and whilst I might feel at home with them, I don’t feel at home actually in their towns. Trudging through the cobblestoned streets of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan, sneaking into the back of a fisherman’s shop on the island of Orust to hold a ginormous lobster, strolling along the canal on a blustery afternoon in Gothenburg; these experiences were some of the many highlights of my time away and these places felt like home.

I’m so glad I got to spend some time in this most stunning part of the world with one of my best friends. I felt so grounded, so alive, so myself. Sweden, you’ve stolen a little bit of my heart. It’s okay, you can keep it, just as long as that means I can come back and see you again.

Lxx

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A Letter to My City

As you may have noticed, writing is an activity I find quite therapeutic. The focus it requires helps me clear my head of all the ‘stuff’ that I have going on in there and see things in a new light, or at least help me affirm how I feel about them. Sometimes when I’m struggling with something especially big and scary, or if I’m having problems connecting with a particular person in my life, I’ll get my thoughts out onto paper in the form of a letter. Recently, on returning home from my travels around Europe, I found myself with a bit of a case of post-travel-blues. I was happy to be home, sure, but the comforting cosiness of my little town felt claustrophobic and limiting and I was finding it difficult to feel settled again after my time away. So what did I do? I wrote a letter to my city. I thought it might be nice to share some of it here.

Dear Adelaide,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I hope you’ve been enjoying yourself while I’ve been gone. It certainly seems like you have! Cruising through your familiar framework of streets, I noticed you’ve gone and fancied yourself up a bit. New cafes (they seem to be all organic or burger places; what’s up with that?) and bars seem to have popped up all over the place. I see you’ve finally listened to at least one thing I was raving on about before I left and started to include some cool little arts spaces in your mini makeover too. Props for that one (pun intended)!

I don’t think your changes are entirely superficial though, are they? Something bigger’s going on here, I can feel it. Well, whatever happens, however you think you need to change, remember you don’t have to try and compete with the sleek, sprawling metropolis of Sydney or the quirky cool of Melbourne. You don’t have to copy the ‘big kids’; you can go your own way, babe. And you don’t have to figure out what your ‘thing’ is straight away. It could be your sumptuous food and wine, your unspoiled landscapes, your country town charm, your hidden laneway treasures, your festivals, your business start-ups, your sporting events, anything. It could be all or none of those things. Don’t rush to find it, it’ll happen. Try new things, make mistakes (you know how I feel about the debacle that is Rundle Mall) and figure it out as you go. You have time.

You’ve had a lot of people leave you over the years (myself included) for brighter lights in bigger cities. A lot of us come back, though. And even those who never do end up realising what a brilliant foundation you’ve laid in our lives so that we’re prepared for the glare of those brighter lights. Adelaide, you’re like a microcosm of the big scary world out there. You’ve taught me so much, not least of all that humble ambitions are no less valid than grand plans and that sometimes the safe path isn’t a cop-out, it’s looking after yourself. Now that I’m back, I’m committed to making the most of the rest of the time I have with you, however long that may be. I might come and go, like so many of the others before me. But you’ll always be ‘home’ to me and I know I’ll always be welcome.

My dear Adelaide, you’ve got a lot going on these days and a lot to be proud of, so don’t let those cocky Victorians tell you otherwise. Keep changing, keep growing, but don’t lose what makes you, you.

With love,
Lauren xx

Hey, Hi, Hello

So, you’ve somehow stumbled across this here little blog I call Big Shoes to Fill. Awesome! Rad! Ace! All of those positive adjectives and countless more to you; you’re ahead of the pack. You see, I have might have modest expectations for the reach of my ‘little nook of loveliness’, but I have big hopes for it and even bigger ideas for its content. So consider yourself a trendsetter, a trailblazer and please spread the word about me, if you’d be so kind!

A little about myself, and aforementioned exciting content, before we get started good and proper… I’m a student, retail gal, keen traveller and reacher for the stars from the (underrated, in my opinion) little city of Adelaide, Australia. I love all things fashion, language and literature, theatre, artsy craftsy, foodie, home interiorsy; the list goes on! I’ve just come back from a life-changing 2 month trip traversing parts of Europe (which you can catch up on over at The World Is Her Book) and decided it was time I turned my never-ending notebooks, Pinterest boards and computer files of ideas, lists and loves into something more substantial.

I’ve been inspired by some of the lovely feedback I’ve had about my travel blog as well as the success of some dear friends and acquaintances’ blogs (remind me to tell you about them soon..) to keep writing, so here goes.

I have big shoes to fill and big dreams to chase from my little nook in this little town. I hope you’ll follow me along the way.

Lauren xx

P.S. follow me on Instagram at @bigshoestofill for more!