What I've Read In Spring

What I've Read In Spring

New season, new books, new ideas. You get the gist. Spring is here and as the end of the year fast approaches, a flurry of new releases make their way onto the shelves. You'll notice there's a few memoirs in the mix because I am nothing if not a creature of habit. There's also some poetry, fiction and a book making headlines for all the right reasons...

The Private Life Of Elizabeth II x Michael Paterson: So I'm clearly filling the void whilst waiting for The Crown Season 3 but also I've been wanting to read a book about the Queen for ages. They're just for the most part very lengthy and incredibly dense so when I saw this in the library, alongside the words 'brief history' my interest was piqued. I'm not sure if it's because of the length, or the way it's broken down by time period but this book is so engaging and interesting. 

Where Am I Now? x Mara Wilson: A reread of one of my all time favourite books. Yes, I'm still a little bitter I didn't get to any of Mara's sessions at the Melbourne Writers Fest. Moving swiftly along. I've already written on this book a number of times so I won't go on about it now. Instead, I'll direct you here and here. Mara is such a gifted storyteller and I recommend this book to people all the time. Yes she's 'the girl from Matilda' but she's so much more than that.

She Must Be Mad x Charly Cox: My long-distance blogging pal, Sandrine loves this book so I had high hopes for it. It does not disappoint. Poetry's so subjective but this is easily one of my favourite volumes of poetry I've read in 2018. Relatable, real, wise. One for the ladies in your life.

Outline x Rachel Cusk: Cusk's trilogy has been on my radar for a little while, admittedly I gravitated towards the surrealist vibes that the cover designs give off. Outline is a story told through ten conversations. Actually it feels wrong to call it a story because it's the dialogue that keeps it moving. If you're a fan of linear, conventional writing, this may not be for you. The lack of plot made it a little frustrating to follow at times though to be fair, I was reading a few different books alongside this so that may partially be my fault. I did enjoy this book and its lack of conventionality but I didn't love it. I'll definitely be devoting more focused reading time to Transit, book two though. 

Normal People* x Sally Rooney: This. Novel. Though. I feel like everybody is talking about this book, more so now it's been released but it did receive a fair bit of advanced praise. Normal People was also longlisted for the Man Booker prize this year so that's amazing. Sally Rooney doesn't need much of an introduction around these parts because you all already know I love her work. Her previous novel was one of my favourite reads of 2017. This book centres on two characters, Connell and Marianne. We meet them as they reach the end of their high school years and follow them through to university and the early twenty-something times. I love how Sally really shines a microscopic lens on the nuances and finer details that make up the relationships that shape our lives. She does it so vividly and so brilliantly. The latter part of the novel really moved me and yes, in true Sophie fashion one particular passage did make me tear up. This is easily one of the best novels I've read in 2018 and I will be returning to it at some point because I loved it that much.

Feminists Don't Wear Pink and Other Lies*, curated x Scarlett Curtis: The newsmaker of this bunch, you may have seen how Topshop's problematic behaviour surrounding this title generated a wave of conversation. Even before then this book was going to make an impact. Scarlett, alongside 52 women share their thoughts on the 'f' word. The word, idea and very notion that still makes some people uncomfortable. Even in 2018. Admittedly I've been skimming this due to time constraints but what I have been reading is so inspiring. Stand-outs for me so far include Evanna Lynch and Jameela Jamil's essay but the entire book is laden with gems. Again, another for all the ladies in your life. It's also supporting a worthy cause as all royalties from each copy sold go towards Girl Up

My Thoughts Exactly x Lily Allen: This book surprised me. I knew it was going to be good, I mean I'm a Lily Allen fan since way back. I wasn't expecting it to be so real and refreshing. Actually, given the confessional nature of Lily's songwriting that probably shouldn't be surprising. Anyway Lily in particular paints a very interesting picture of fame and the music industry from the other side. She also writes about feminism, friendship, her family, fame, motherhood and her own struggles with depression and addiction. I tried to stagger my reading of this but it was just too dang good and I wanted to read more of it. Again, another of the best books I've read in 2018 and one I will return to. I kinda want to listen to the audiobook next though. 

-What have you read recently?

*Review Copy

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Women & Their Books: Emma Gordon

Women & Their Books: Emma Gordon

I don't want to blow my own trumpet, I do, I so do but there are some fabulous ladies lined up for Women and their Books up to the end of this year. First up we have my self-declared blogging bestie, Emma. She's the woman behind emma etc.. I am undeniably biased but Emma is such a wonderful person and she has the best taste in music, books, fashion, all the things. Go have a nosy at her blog and her Instagram when you are finished here. Now though, Emma and her books...

-What are you currently reading?

Am I Ugly? a non-fiction book written by Michelle Elman who is a body-positive activist. In her childhood she experienced some serious life-threatening health issues where she had to have fifteen surgeries, which left her physically and mentally scarred. Later in the book I presume she’ll talk about how damaging striving for a perfect body can be, and how social media is very focused on how we look – so far, it’s a really compelling story and I’m enjoying it.

-What is your most read book?

I return to Girl Out Of Water by Nat Luurtsema every year. It’s a light and funny read about a girl who trains three boys in synchronised swimming, and they end up in a talent show. I feel like this would translate so well on screen and gives me Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging vibes. Totally innocent, hilarious and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling.

-Favourite book written by a woman+why?

Nearly all the books I read are by women so that’s a pretty hard one to answer. I’m going to say Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney – which Sophie actually gave me. Something about that book gave me such a different experience than I’ve ever felt before when reading. It has complex and interesting characters who make mistakes and are sometimes quite awful, so in that way it actually feels like a real story and not fiction. I’m excited to read Sally Rooney’s next book which I’ve just bought, Normal People.

-What is a book you wish you’d written+why?

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. Her books are so important for young people to read and very in tune with what teens actually do and sound like. If I wrote a book I’d love for it to be as relatable as this one and for my characters to be as diverse and interesting.

-What are some of your favourite YA reads and why?

One of the best authors for YA is Holly Bourne. Her book, What’s A Girl Gotta Do? was really inspiring and something all young people should read to learn about feminism. Sara Barnard’s book A Quiet Kind Of Thunder is so bloody adorable but portrays realistic teen love too. P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry-Jones blew me out of the water – a very unexpected, understated, emotional and lovely story about mental health and family.

-What books are on your wishlist?

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig as I always pick up his new books, and This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay as I’ve heard it’s hilarious.

*Thanks to Emma for sharing her bookish insights. Be sure to go give her blog and Instagram a follow. All images are c/o Emma's blog. *
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musings on mental health

musings on mental health

As a chronic over-analyst, right now my mind is like “what if people think I am publishing this because it’s trendy?”. Trendy, seriously? Honestly, the fact we dismiss something so important that fast to me says we still have so far to go. For the record, if trends interested me, mental health concerns would not be a bandwagon I’d voluntarily sign up for. At the same time, I want to talk about mental health. More so when New Zealand, my birthplace has such damning statistics. I’m still trying to work out how to write about my personal experiences without inflicting a seismic array of nerves and anxiety upon myself. For now, I just want to share some thoughts. Yes it is mental health awareness week here in New Zealand but these are all things I’ve considered over the past year. So here goes. Also, if you do need to seek support or want to help someone in your life who does need it, please see the list of resources at the end of this post.

-Why do we see so much of people’s ‘success’ stories in the aftermath of depression, anxiety etc? Why do we see less of the ‘during’ stage. I am guilty of this too as I can barely write this out for my own private consumption sometimes, let alone on a public forum. I do often ask myself, why does nobody share that side of things? Would it make us all more understanding and less dismissive? Who can say.

-Mental health is not a competition. Please don’t feel that way. Your anxiety and depression is no less valid than my anxiety and depression. Imagine if, for example, we competed over who has the worst eyesight or allergies. It sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous. Please don’t think that competing over whose mind is the most troubled is the answer. It’s such a vicious cycle.

-Has social media exacerbated my generation’s status anxiety? Sometimes I wonder what it’s like for the generations who don’t document their personal biographies online. When you used to hear news face-to-face or in a phone call. When people posting ‘candid’ photos of their milestones for public consumption would have been quite frankly, bizarre.

-The following statements are not helpful and both have been said to me: “Sophie, there are people that are dying.” And “Sophie, don’t overdramatise.” The following statements are helpful. “Is there anything I can do for you?” and “you can get through this.” Even if the latter sometimes feels trite, I promise hearing it from someone else does help.

-Therapy is hideously expensive but if you can access it, please do. It has helped me see how the past impacts the present. It has taught me how to recognise my own toxic thought patterns and in turn how to reshape them in a more positive way. It’s also really amazing being able to talk through things with someone removed from your day-to-day life. If you're a uni student, utilise their counselling services. I know they're spread thinly but they do make a difference.

-I also rate diary writing, and it’s free. Yes it is hard. Yes it can be really revealing. Admittedly, lately I have become lazy with this but even if it’s just writing out a list of bullet points, it all helps.

-If people are making you feel like trash or exacerbating any mental health concerns, distance yourself. Life is too short to put up with people like that. Stephen Chbosky wrote “we accept the love we think we deserve” and quite frankly we all deserve an abundance of love and respect. Always.

-Finally, be kind to yourself . Easier said than done sometimes, let’s be honest. It makes such a difference though. Be kind to those around you as well. We edit and curate our self-projection. You never really know someone’s history unless they share it or you ask. Listen. You learn so much more about the people in your life and you may be surprised to find stories similar to your own.

No one is alone.


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Five Things: October

Five Things: October

Somehow it is October. The evenings are longer-yay for more sunlight and blooms and shadowy light. As I write this I am in an off-the-shoulder, bardot style dress and have my hair pulled back in a bun, feeling chic-er than usual for a Thursday. Oh and I have Cher's ABBA album playing so things are wild. Ahem. Ok before this post veers off in another direction entirely, today we have five things for October. Some beauty, a bit of a love letter to one of my favourite literary heroines and more...

Feelin' Fresh: Oh I am so punny, you really have no idea. When I was in Melbourne last month I paid a fleeting visit to Sephora. Fleeting because that store was more crowded than the aisles of a New Zealand supermarket when liquid gold* is the commodity of choice. I mainly went in search of Fresh because their lip scrub is a gift from the actual gods. I also grabbed their lip balm too because my lips have been insanely dry and neglected so this duo was much needed. If you want to jump on the Fresh train, you can online here

Matilda at 30: My favourite childhood literary heroine turns thirty this year. I may not remember much of reading this book as a young'in but I do know it was the first book I read on my own and it remains my favourite Roald Dahl novel-aside from some extracts from Boy: Tales of Childhood. To celebrate her 30th: Penguin got original illustrator Quentin Blake to imagine what she'd be up to now. My favourite theory is this one but they're all plausible. I really enjoyed Mara Wilson's article about her Matilda experience as well as reading what Daisy had to say.

Flowers for 2019: I feel like it's kinda old school now to have a physical calendar hanging on the wall. They're arguably an aesthetic thing but I couldn't not include this gem from Hydrangea Ranger. It features an array of pressed flowers collaged and then printed on 100% recycled card stock. A calendar that's good to look at and good for the environment. Yes please. I need this in my life.

Tit-Tees: October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. We all know someone whose life has been changed by cancer, whether that's through a direct diagnosis or the friends and family of those whose lives are impacted. It sucks and it's a shitty part of life but what's not lame are these awesome tees. They're part of the GirlvsCANCER initiative and feature designs by Poppy Chancellor of Poppy's Papercuts. 25% of the sales from each tee sold are split between three charities (all featured). I am adding this one to my wishlist for Summer.

And finally...this interview with Florence Welch and Yrsa Daley-Ward. Go read it. Go soak up the Gucci finery in the photographs and enjoy.

*Shout out to the Whittakers+Lewis Road Creamery chocolate milk extravaganza that took NZ by storm a few years ago. 

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The Melbourne Stationery Buys

The Melbourne Stationery Buys

To know me is to know I am a stationery fiend. I was that kid who always had way too many pens in various colours at school and who decorated all their things. I still love stationery so when I went to Melbourne, home of all things creative and a bit of a shopping heaven, well I found some gems. If you're not into stationery and paper-y bits, you're probably going to find this post a bit nerdy. If however paper and pens and cards excite you, you are safe here. Keep reading...

Kikki K diaries have been my go-to for years so 2019 was hardly going to be an exception. This year I've opted for the weekly patterned diary. I used to be a daily diary kinda lady but I prefer the weekly layouts so I can have my entire weeks laid out. So design was a key factor here and I really love the simplicity and easy to navigate interface of this diary too. Also pictured here are some bits from Milligram. I have Tara to thank for introducing me to this heaven.Tucked away in Melbourne Central, and also online for those of us who want to peruse the stationery, it is a dream. Annoyingly I cannot remember where that blue pen is from but I know the notepad is this one. As a bit of a list lover, this is going to come in majorly handy. I am always scribbling notes down.

To know me is to know that I love me a good card. My gosh I had to roll out some major willpower when I was away. There were too many gorgeous cards in Melbourne. Not a bad thing by any means but I had to really stop myself. I should've written down brand names before I went away housesitting but I know the two cards closest to the left were by Australian makers. How noice is that Kath and Kim themed one I picked up here along with that floral rainbow. The Katie Leamon beauty was another Milligram find. Side note; her cards and gift wrap are beautiful

Last but by no means least, it wouldn't be a trip to Melbourne without a mandatory Muji excursion. I mean, come on. It'd be rude not to. I mainly grabbed all the 0.38 pens, in black of course. Some navy ones may have come home too. The mini notebooks I got for my desk at work, I have a grey one-not pictured which lives in my bag+on my desk most days. The larger black one in the background is going to be my next journal, when I eventually finish off my current one. I hope Auckland gets Muji someday. 

-So that's all the stationery bits I nabbed in Melbourne. I also grabbed some pieces for friends and family but they're in their new respective homes. Mainly Muji pens, cards and the rest. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and as always I apologise for the spontaneous blogging. I am determined to reinstate some semblance of a schedule this month-wish me luck! 
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