Entries Tagged as 'Inspiration'

Summer reading list



What I should have done yesterday: left my flat and been cultured. What I ended up doing yesterday: binge-read Gone Girl.

I have a summer reading list I’m desperate to pile through before park-reading weather takes it leave. Here are a few I’ve already tackled and others still to come:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

For years I’ve walked past it in airport gift shops and yet for some reason, it never grabbed me. Then, as is sometimes funnily the case, I picked it up one day and was immediately hooked. Thought I didn’t always love the voice, I whizzed through the story and had to know what happened. It is hard to talk about it here in any detail (because its definitely one where spoilers will take away half the fun) but I am interested to hear what others thought of it. The jury seems out, with half those I know who read it loving it and the others rather put off. Opinions? And who’s excited for the movie?

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I LOVED this book.  When 18 yr old Nella marries into a wealthy family in 17th century Amsterdam, she hopes she is going to find love. Instead, she finds an up-tight, ornery sister-in-law, an absent husband and an odd but endearing pair of house servants. Her husband presents her with a doll’s house that mirrors their home and things start to get mysterious… the chill of the wintery Dutch canals almost leap off the pages at you sometimes. Its like nothing I’ve ever read before but a real craft of storytelling.

The Deaths by Mark Lawson

Picked this one up during my holiday with Mom in Bath because I loved the cover (yes, I am one of those people). Its the story of four privileged families in the English countryside whose precious little worlds are rocked when a murder hits them. I think it was this description on the back that got me: “The Deaths is a dark and brilliant social comedy about how the other half live – or how they pretend to…” It opens with a few pages on how the ordering of Nescafe capsules has taken up importance in their lives (and it is the Nescafe capsule delivery boy who discovers the murders). Love it.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Every once in a while, you just need an epic book. This one takes place in turn-of-the-century Shanghai. Violet has been raised in the city’s most renowned courtesan house by her American mother. When revolution comes to Shanghai, Violet is forced to become one of the courtesans herself. It sounds like a story full of heroes and villains and far-away lands. Sign me up.

Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

I have already been reading this for months and, once again, I’m years behind everyone else in discovering the magic that is Caitlin Moran’s writing. The problem with this book is that I just don’t want it to end. A collection of essays, I’m reading one at a time. More like one story a week. Whether it be her tale of making her husband come up with a nickname for her or how she first attempted to get a job in journalism (it involves baking a cake for editors at the Observer), reading Moran is nothing but wonderful. Hilariously funny but incredibly sweet. I’ll keep this book going as long as I can.

The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins

I don’t know what to make of this one, but its on the list anyway. Wiggins is an English professor at the University of Southern California who has lived in Brussels, Rome, Paris and London. That alone had me curious. This novel won all kinds of awards when it was published in 2007 and is described as an old-fashioned detective story. And yet it opens with an essay on a sketch by Leonardo that the narrator saw in the Queen’s Gallery in London years ago that continues on into beautiful thoughts on how writing works. It starts in modern day Hollywood and jumps back to an artist in the turn-of-the-century West. I’m not sure where this book is headed but I’m curious to find out.

Any other recommendations? What are you reading?

Serious things



I wasn’t going to write about the news of this week.

It has been one of those weeks where there has been more than I know how to interpret or understand…

But I wanted to share one of the most powerful posts I’ve read in a very long time (which I found thanks to one of my favorite UK-based bloggers – though I have never told her this (!) – Today, I’m Bobbi).

If you read one post this weekend, have it be this one by Karen Walrond – her eloquence on an infuriatingly unjust reality is stunning.

And then read some more of Karen’s posts. Her positivity is addicting.

(The below music video she posted finally brought a smile back to my face – all shot in one take.)

IRMA / Save me from SUPERBIEN on Vimeo.

Tower Poppies



On August 5th, I took a walk down to the Tower of London to mark a special event. Ceramic artist Paul Cummins has made 888, 246 poppies, which stage designer Tom Piper is setting all over the Tower’s moat to commemorate each Commonweath military death in WWI.

The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation is one of the most touching works of art I have ever seen.

Their tribute is stunning and the scale of it is humbling. 16 acres of flowers will eventually fill the Tower’s moat and it is heartbreaking to see the number of poppies already planted. The flowers seem to pour out of the Tower in one spot and a wave of them looks like it will crash over the main entrance.

Film crews were still walking around the site as Will, Kate and Harry had visited that morning. The crowds became quiet as they approached the edge of the Tower – and this during the height of summer at one of the city’s most popular tourist spots.

It was most moving to hear parents try to explain to their children what it all meant…

“Sometimes grownups have battles…”

“One hundred years ago, many men from many different countries fought each other…”

“…and many of them died… These flowers are here so we can remember them.”

If you are in London between now and November 11th, you simply must go and see it. To learn more about the making of the poppies, watch this video.

Photos by JessonThames

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