Books, glorious books

I am a reader, a big reader. I used to believe that if you started a book you had to finish it no matter what. I don’t stand by that edict anymore. If a book doesn’t ‘speak’ to you after you have given it a decent chance, then it is ok to set it aside. Life is too short to sit through movies you don’t like and read books you don’t enjoy. So be kind to yourself and let reading be a joy and not a chore.

Travel is out, seeing family is nixed, for many the dark days of winter are here so I have decided to let books be my comfort. When I am struggling to find something to look forward to there are always books, glorious books. Little worlds to roll into and sigh.

Currently reading:

The End of Where we Begin by Rosalind Russell

(It is incredible and a must read. It’s a non-fiction story about resilience, hope and humanity told with grace and heart. What a fantastic read to start 2021.)

These are the books I am excited to read in 2021:

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. This has had rave reviews from multiple sources I trust. I hear it is the kind of book that you absolutely need to talk about once it is done. Sounds perfect for the heart of February.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel. From what I hear this one is captivating.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Am I the last one to read this book? I feel everyone I know has read it and loved it so maybe it is time.

Lustre a novel. By Raven Leilani. It  has been on a lot of ‘best of 2020’ lists and Kate Baer ( the poet and brilliant reader) said that it made her gasp.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. I hear so many good things about this book. It also has Obama’s stamp of approval. So there is that.

Jonathon Franzen, Elizabeth Strout and Sebastian Faulks all have new books coming out in 2021. Something to look forward to for sure.

Books I have recently read and loved:

(I read so much in 2020, especially when we were housebound during lock down. This is just a short list of books that are hard to put down. Just what we need.)

What Kind of Woman by the aforementioned Kate Baer. She writes poetry about the mundane and sublime, making profound the little moments of marriage and motherhood.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evasisto. It won the booker in 2019, deservedly so. Written in the different voices of complex women and girls, it time travels, takes risks, celebrates womanhood and life and is brilliant page after page.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. This is fresh, clever and much deeper than it appears. While it is an easy read it tackles the subject of bias, racism and identity through the relationship between a white family and their black babysitter. Excellent.

Writers and Lovers by Lily King. Digested this in a matter of days. A coming-of-age story about a writer, a lover, a grieving young woman.

Find Me by Andre Aciman. I absolutely loved Call me by your name and also really enjoyed returning to this world in this sequel.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Lived up to the hype. Utterly engrossing story that takes place in the wild marshes of North Carolina. It has love, beauty, nature and a touch of mystery.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Rock and Roll! Great rollicking fun. I hear there is a 13-episode mini-series coming and I am here for it.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. People have been telling me for 5 years to read this and I was always put off by the length. Well. I digested in big gulps over 10 days. Just read it. Wow.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I taught this for the 2nd time and decided to re-read it. Loved it even more than I had before. It is a graphic novel about a childhood spent during the Iranian Revolution. Warm., funny, human and heartbreaking. Just fantastic.

Howards End by E. M. Forster. The only classic on this list and also probably the best book of all. Adored it.

Nonfiction books I have recently enjoyed:

These books have fed both my soul and brain. I read them all with a pencil in hand, underlining sentences and then writing about them. I have learnt so much and feel enormous gratitude to these authors for their brilliance and their ability to put that brilliance on paper.

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathon Haight

Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine

This too shall pass by Julia Samuel

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Maybe you should talk to someone by Lori Gottlieb

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty

The Choice by Dr, Edith Eger

Happy reading, everyone!

Love,

Sam x

Let’s cancel resolutions. Just dive in.

New year new /being me.

I am not a huge fan of resolutions. They are too much pressure and most of the time you fail and then just feel worse. There is something profoundly wrong about the concept of a ‘new you’. Instead, let us reframe that and consider what you like about the you that exists right here and now. Change is good, it is the only certainty there is, but let the change be built on the foundation of what already is.

How about this year, instead of resolving to change, we resolve to do a little dusting, a clean out and a shuffle through the closets of our lives to see where we are, what we like and what we want to keep.

This year has been overwhelming. We do not need to listen to the loud noise telling us to be better, thinner, shinier, richer, fitter. We can choose to listen to our own inner voices telling us to be who we are: just fine, works in progress, picking up gifts as we travel through time.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What was a gift that you want to take forward into 2021?

What did you learn this year? Did something shift or turn this year, did you drop a bad habit or pick up a new one, did you learn something about yourself?

2. What will you say yes to this year?

Find 3 things that you want to commit to. These should not be massive tricky things that involve unreasonable time commitments, or a lot of money and they should not be things that won’t fit easily into your life. Most importantly they must involve no ‘shoulds’ but instead they should be ‘wants’. So instead of ‘I should start running,’ make it something you actually want to do. And it could be as simple as wanting to call an old friend more frequently. If there is one thing this crazy year has taught us, it is that connecting with people you like is an easy, available, and free pleasure.

What do you want to take forward this year?

3. What will you say no to this year?

Again, no ‘shouldn’ts’ here. Think about something a little less concrete. Instead of ‘no sugar’ consider ‘no treating my body badly.’  

What do you want to let go of this year?

Language is important and the way we write our intentions can change the way we move forward.

Keep it simple and celebrate the little things.

Be kind to yourself. This is not a race, this a journey.