My Top Five Books of 2018 So Far

My Top Five Books of 2018 So Far

Somehow we are over halfway through 2018 which is never not going to be crazy to me. That means half the year of reading is done too. Whaaaat. So far, according to Goodreads, I've read 36/37 books (give or take) which isn't a bad effort for me. Obviously if I wasn't chronic for drifting in and out of books all the time, this number would undoubtedly be higher. Old habits die hard or something though. Anyway, top five reads of 2018 (for now)...Side note: This is not in any sort of order, I can't rank them-that'd just be too much of an overly complicated move for me.

how to be both x ali smith: I still think about this unique and brilliant novel, inspired by fresco painting. Ali Smith's writing really is an artform in itself. The way in which she writes topical yet timeless fiction is so cleverly done. I might end up stickering pages with post-its that only say #yasssali in admiration because eloquence escapes me but I underline and write out passages left, right and centre. Anyway, go read this book and soak up its amazingness. It is worth the patience. 

the cost of living x deborah levy: This was my first encounter with Levy's work and it did not disappoint in the slightest. Fantastic writings on life, loss, heartbreak, getting on with it, sheds for writing retreats and friendships that span generations. I'll definitely be revisiting this at some stage and feel like it's going to be one of those books that the older I get, the more relatable it will become. 

call me by your name x andre aciman: Another novel I often find myself thinking about because of Aciman's writing. Candid yet refined. An intimate insight into first loves, the cornucopia of experiences that make up adolescence and beauty in the simplicities like reading a book amidst summer fruits. Absolutely exquisite book. Give the film a watch as well and the soundtrack a listen. All three do not disappoint. 

secrets for the mad x dodie clark, not pictured: Y'know when books just seem to 'find' you at the right time? Dodie's book met that criteria and then some. Filled to the brim with Dodie's honesty, wisdom, art, poetry and words-it's a truly special book. I found parts really relatable and comforting. If that makes sense-regardless, need my own copy. 

ma'am darling x craig brown: The Princess Margaret obsession is real ladies and gentlemen. If the MVP Spare (as I kinda cringe-worthily dub her in my mind and now on this here blog) were the category in a quiz I would probably ace it. That is largely in part thanks to this book. Part memoir, part story told with humour and fun. It's a book that doesn't take itself too seriously in a dry, historical+factual kind of way. Naturally there are pockets of that but Brown presents it in a more interesting and readable way. I loved this book and will again be revisiting it at some point. 

-What books have you read and liked in 2018 so far?
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Five Things: July

Five Things: July

July-where DO the months go!? As I write this...birthday month is fast approaching which kinda scares me. I'm easily scared let's be honest. What I am not scared of though are these five things for July; a bit of eye product love, mini bookclubs, podcasts and books. All the good stuff...

In The Bathroom With Caitlin Moran: This totally made my Saturday evening-part one of a two part video with Caitlin and Sali. Bad language, banter and a smattering of skincare. I believe part two goes into the makeup side of things and I am eagerly anticipating it. They also discuss Caitlin's newest book, How To Be Famous which I am hoping to read very soon. It's a good time basically.

Mini Book Clubs: So I read a lot and that's great but sometimes you just want to share the bookish banter around a bit y'know? Anyway, towards the end of last month I persuaded one of my friends to read more books with me and thus, a two-person book club was formed. At the moment they are reading Sing Unburied Sing. I am reading Ponti and I also threw The Goldfinch at them. Not literally, that book is hefty. We both have similar tastes when it comes to books but like different writing styles so I'm sure we will have some interesting banter when it comes to things too. I'm really looking forward to the reading and chatting. 

Eye Revival: Dark circles are the bane of my existence. If I'm not wearing under-eye concealer, nine times out of ten I will be told I look tired. I grabbed these patches a few months back after having them used on me at a Mecca Beauty Loop makeover session and I love them. I use them sparingly and would only buy the mini pack with the sachets because I hear they dry out in the larger jar. These gels are soaked in caffeine and collagen so y'know, ingredients to brighten up those pesky under-eye areas. They're also a treat to use. 

Unpopped Podcast: My latest Podcast discovery c/o Dolly and Pandora over at The High Low. Pop culture discussions with a smattering of critique. I loved the episodes about Bridget Jones and The Spice Girls when they were interviewed by Kathy Acker. There's a heap in the archives though and I cannot wait to get listening to the rest. I highly recommend this one if you want something to listen and unwind with. 

Notes On A Nervous Planet x Matt Haig: I read Reasons To Stay Alive, also by Matt Haig a couple of years ago now and it's such an important book. Difficult to read at times, sure but so, so important. Anyway, his new book has recently been released and if the previews he's posted on Instagram are anything to go by, it's going to be a blimmin' good one. Packed with wisdom and insight. If you haven't yet read Reasons To Stay Alive I highly recommend acquiring a copy. 

-What's on your radar this July?

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Women & Their Books: Daisy Buchanan

Women & Their Books: Daisy Buchanan

Hello, Happy Friday and welcome back to another installment of Women+Their Books. I'm very excited to bring you today's post with Daisy Buchanan, brilliant wordstress, not morally-questionable Gatsby character. She's the writer of the brilliant How To Be A Grown Up, a book I read and promptly persuaded all the twenty-something ladies in my life to head out and buy immediately. Today it is released in paperback with a snazzy new cover so if you haven't grabbed it yet, you must step away from this blog post, come back(!) when you are done and get a copy. I'm a little biased because Daisy is now one of my Internet-pals but her words are such a comfort and she's a very, very awesome lady so go check out her work. Anyway, I have already made this introduction long enough so let's get on with it...

-What are you currently reading?  

I’ve just finished two books I adored – Social Creatures by Tara Isabelle Burton, a compulsive, compelling glamorous gasp of a novel, imagine Patricia Highsmith writing Gossip Girl – and Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling, by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen – an incredibly funny and tender story with so much heart and honesty. The authors are master satirists but they work with such love and affection, and they’re so good at telling very human stories.

-What is your most-read book?

Probably the Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford, I read it at least once a year, it always comforts me when I need soothing – again, Mitford is another waspish, wicked satirist who believes in love with her whole heart. There is nothing more glamorous than Mitford’s Paris, and nothing more oddly cosy than the Radlett family home, drafty old Alconleigh. I also reread Tender Is The Night by F Scott Fitzgerald every year, and it makes me catch my breath with its elegance spareness and sadness.

// Alexa Chung, photographed x Tom Craig for Porter Magazine.

-What is your favourite book by a British writer & why?

Oooooh, other than PoL – maybe Look At Me by Anita Brookner. It’s my very favourite sort of novel, where not an awful lot happens but there is a very strong but subtle sense of feeling. Brookner is a magnificent observer of humans, and she knows so much about selfishness and sadness. She wrote this about 30 years ago, but she elegantly describes and explains emotional issues that today’s 30 year old women – me included – struggle with. But can I also pick Bridget Jones’ Diary* by Helen Fielding, Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe and all of the Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend?!

-How To Be A Grown Up literally felt like a hug in book form and I am so glad I found it when I did, smack-bang in the middle of my twenties. Were there any books you read as a twenty-something that had a similar effect on you?

Thank you so much! This is exactly how I feel about Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. Unlike Rachel, I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, but like Rachel, I have used all of the wrong things because I’ve been frightened of feeling my feelings, I’ve sought attention from people who hurt me, I’ve been selfish and I’ve struggled to understand my family. They say all good books are self help books, really, and Rachel’s Holiday is the greatest self help book I ever read.

-Which women's words in Literature have had a lasting impression on you?

Everything Dorothy Parker has ever written – obviously the puns but the short stories are so perfect and so devastating. She makes one feel so seen, in a very uncomfortable way – I’m thinking especially of Big Blonde and The Price Of LivingAlso, Nora Ephron, not just for being a beautiful and brilliant writer, but for her journalism and her way of making women’s stories significant. I constantly think about a brilliant essay she wrote about the Palm Beach Ladies’ Journal, and the way she drew these fabulous, glamorous mature women and made them so vivid. Joan Didion, of course, and On Self Respectand the elegantly wasted Eve Babitz. 

-Finally, when you were writing How To Be A Grown Up, were you reading anything else at the time? Do you have books around you for inspiration when you write?**

I love to have books near me, always! And I try to read things that are very very different from what I’m writing – I am not always successful in this. I do remember having a day of being so blocked and panicked and anxious and thinking I couldn’t do it – then taking to bed and reading Nina Stibbe’s brilliant Paradise Lodge – Stibbe has never written anything I didn’t adore, and I think her books should be prescribed for better mental health. I think I also read an oral history of MTV, and I was probably in the middle of Tender Is The Night too.

Thank you so much to Daisy for answering my questions. How To Be A Grown up is available now in paperback. NZ friends-head to your local independent bookstore and ask them to order it in for you-shop local and all that jazz. 

*Daisy is part of a panel here discussing Bridget Jones on the BBC's Unpopped podcast. 

**This question was inspired because I remember reading an interview with a writer, cannot for the life of remember who and they said they like to have their favourite books around them when they write. 

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June Favourites

June Favourites

June has been quite a busy month; books, house sitting, listening to a lot of Florence & The Machine+The Beatles, going on rather lengthy wanders, among other things. Of course, amongst the gems there's been some 'ugh' moments. Just remember that we see a mere snippet of anyone's lives online. I'm not going to post pictures of the wad of tissues I went through for example. Just bear that in mind when you look at anyone's blogs or social channels, not just mine. Anyway, June Favourites-a smattering of makeup but mainly a bit of everything else in the mix. Keep reading if you are intrigued...

Hourglass Veil Retouching Fluid: Did I need a new concealer? No. Did I feel like my undereye concealers of choice were no longer cutting it? Yes. Bring in this good'un. Smoothing, brightening and it stays put. Oh and the best part? No creasing. Nada. Impressive stuff. I use the shade Vanilla which is the perfect match for me. 

Slouching Towards Bethlehem x Joan Didion: Confession time, I love Joan Didion. Her writing is magnetic and I always find myself wanting to stay lost in her words all day whenever I pick up one of her books. Slouching Towards Bethlehem is one of her classic volumes and one of those books I've seen creative women referencing a lot. I'm not quite finished this book yet but I am about to read the titular essay and am really looking forward to her essays on keeping a notebook and self respect. 

NARS Erdem Collection Blush, limited edition: This colour is appearing as sold out online but it might still be in stores. I feel like this collection is exclusive to Mecca Cosmetica, rather than Maxima so I suggest heading there if you are keen. I don't usually get drawn in to limited edition collections anymore but NARS+Erdem are two of my favourites so this time, I was won over. I have the shade Loves Me Not, a softer, blush pink. It contains slight shimmer particles but it's nothing crazy and definitely veers more on the matte side of things. I love colours like this for Winter. Also, look at that baby blue, clamshell packaging. Ugh, too good. 

The High Low Podcast: If my excited, almost weekly tweets when a new episode launches don't say it, I don't know what will. Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes are the icing on top of the cake that is my week. It's become a ritual for me to listen to their podcast episodes at work. Good luck to anyone who dares to interrupt me when I am listening to one. I jest, or do I... Many of you are probably familiar with this podcast but if you love a good banter, humour, talk about what these ladies are reading+watching and of course topical things, go have a listen. 

Agate Coaster x Anthropologie: My lovely international bestie Amy grabbed this for me on her travels to the States and my god I love it. Yes, I do actually use it for its intended purpose but c'mon. These agate coasters are too beautiful not to use, and admire. I want more. 

-What have you loved during June?

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8 Ways To Celebrate High As Hope

8 Ways To Celebrate High As Hope

It's an exciting time for Florence & The Machine fans. Their highly anticipated fourth album, High As Hope is being released eleven days from now. She's starting up a tour and releasing a book next month. In order to get into the mood, I thought I'd compile a list of ways to celebrate the new album in the days and weeks leading up to it. The best kind of celestial fangirling...

Revisit the Old: Start at the very beginning with Lungs, spend the evening dancing around a dimly lit room to Ceremonials and go on a road trip with How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful blasting through the speakers. 

Don some Florence-worthy jewels: One of the easiest ways to channel a bit of Florence Welch magic. These shell earrings give me Ceremonials vibes and also remind me of that time Florence sang in a half-shell on the Chanel runway. I also reckon she'd love a bit of Zoe and Morgan. Their starry earrings and moon pendants especially. 

Read some Between Two Books titles: For those not in the know, Florence has her own book club. Established by dedicated fans, Florence oversees the club and recommends her own books, alongside other women of note. My picks are; Fates & Furies, The Goldfinch, Too Much & Not The Mood and The Great Gatsby. Check out their Instagram for the other titles.

Listen to this cover: Tiny Dancer is already a brilliant song but this reinterpretation takes it to another level. No, I wasn't tearing up when I first heard it, that was just a bit of dust in my eye. *ahem*

Pre-Order Useless Magic: Florence's upcoming book of poetry, lyrics and art is being released at the beginning of July. July 5th I believe. Might I suggest you pre-order it? I think in the US if you do you can get some free postcards with your book. I've ordered my copy through Time Out here in Auckland. Cannot. Wait. 

Read Patti Smith's writing: There's a song on High As Hope entitled Patricia named for Smith. Another great musician and artist. To tide you over, why not give the slim volume of musings on childhood, Woolgathering a perusal? Just Kids her book about her time in New York and Robert Mapplethorpe was a past Between Two Books pick as well. 

Treat Yo'Self: These shirts though. I know Liv has one of these and it looks freakin' rad. I really need the 'Florence' one in my life. Even though it's not tshirt weather. That's what jackets and cardis are for, right? There's also her Liberty collaboration which I've just found.

Read some interviews: This one is a good 'un. The Sunday Times have a great one as well. There's also some gems on YouTube as well. Get hunting.

-How are you celebrating High As Hope?

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