Women & Their Books: Rosalind Jana

Women & Their Books: Rosalind Jana

Two of my favourite things are inspiring women and books. I literally came up with the idea for this new series one morning on my train to work and was so excited, I hurriedly emailed Rosalind to ask if she'd be the first woman to talk all things literary. Much to my excitement she said yes and I can tell you, it's been tough for me to keep quiet about this series until now. I am hoping to include women from on and off the interwebs, regular ladies and perhaps even the odd gent or two if they want to get involved. 

Rosalind Jana, formerly known around the blogosphere as Clothes, Cameras & Coffee first came to my attention last year c/o Emma Gannon and her Ctrl Alt; Delete podcast but I'd actually been exposed to her work years earlier in Violet magazine without even realising. She is incredibly talented, having shared her voice in both poetry and nonfiction books as well as being Junior Editor at Violet magazine. She won the British Vogue Talent Contest when she was sixteen and is a regular contributor to SUITCASE magazine. She's a busy, busy lady so I feel very honoured she took the time to answer my questions and share what books and female writers have inspired her thus far. 

-What are you currently reading?

I’ve been picking up and putting down Extraordinary Women for ages now. It’s a little known romp of a read set in Europe during the early twentieth century - a fictionalised reimagining of various queer women (including Radclyffe Hall) and their exploits. Very silly. Very fun. Lots of ravishing descriptions of the main character Rosalba. I’m very promiscuous with my reading though, so I’m also in the midst of Grayson Perry’s The Descent of Man*, WG Sebald’s Rings of Saturn, Teju Cole’s Known and Strange Things, and my friend Rosie Findlay’s wonderful book Personal Style Blogs: Appearances That Fascinate. Oh, and I’ve been diving back into Eva Ibbotson recently too. I just read A Countess Below Stairs, which is among the most joyous books I’ve ever encountered.

-What is your most read book?

Great question! It’s possibly a tie between Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out one Midsummer Morning and Angela Carter’s Wise Children. I’ve returned to both of them so many times. I guess they’re almost like comfort reads in some respects (though the real equivalent of a cup of tea under a blanket on a bad day is The Moomins: Tove Jansson has seen me through some dark times. And some sunny ones too, admittedly!) Lee’s prose is so evocative. It’s the book that made me fall in love with travel writing. And Carter has long been a favourite. I love how this book fizzes with revelry and mischief and artifice, all the while paying homage to Shakespeare in a very rambunctious fashion.

-As a gifted writer yourself, is there any book in particular that inspires your writing and/or makes you want to write?

Thank you! I hope I glean things from everything I read: whether it encourages me to work ever harder on my own projects, or I find it frustrating and want to unpick what didn’t work. A few books that have recently made me want to pick up my pen (well, more accurately hunch over my laptop) would include Ali Smith’s Artful, Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City, and, forever and always, Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. Essays-wise, I always dip back into Woolf and Hilary Mantel when I need a real jolt of prose. Oh, and Alan Garner’s The Stone Book! That’s so dense and compact and mesmerising. There’s lots of poetry too, but I should stop already.

I think what all those works – and so many others – share is a real sense of exhilaration at what you can do with language, whether in the rhythm of a sentence, the twists of a satisfying story, or a particular precision of thought. Reading other people’s work and being both in awe and VERY envious of them really is a helpful spur.

-You’ve recently been travelling to Canada and Japan. What did you read while you were there? Did you pick up any local literature?

Very good question. I didn’t have much time for reading while actually in Japan – but I did gobble up lots on the plane trip there. I sped through Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer (Rundell is a delicious children’s writer whose books invariably make me want to weep/ laugh/ go climb rooftops in Paris, run with wolves in Russia, and battle my way through the Amazon), and Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal, which is full of deft observations on teenage girls, school, and sexuality.

On Fogo Island I read continuously, returning to Maggie Nelson’s Bluets (even better with the backdrop of the roaring North Atlantic behind), and deliving into Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing (had to have at least one Canadian author in there!), Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain (a superlatively good piece of nature writing), and various others. I also bought Diana Vreeland’s autobiography in a second hand bookshop in St John’s on my way back home. It’s ridiculous and over the top and I love it.

To my shame though, I didn’t manage to pick up any local literature in either!

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

Is it a cliché to say Wuthering Heights? Probably. I don’t care. (Also, this is an IMPOSSIBLE question. I have so many favourites, especially when it comes to British writers, from Hilary Mantel to Alan Garner to Ali Smith to Saki to Jeanette Winterson to Jenny Diski to John Berger and beyond).

-Which women writer’s words have left a lasting impression on you?

Virginia Woolf, forever and always. From her astutely observed essays to the incandescent thrill of books like Orlando, I feel like I’m forever trying to get to grips with the depths of her works, despite having read many of them several times (I did my undergraduate dissertation on her). She continually reminds me of the flexibilities and possibilities of words, as well as the challenges they can present.

-Finally, if there was one book you’d recommend every woman have on their bookshelf, which would it be?

Similarly difficult to answer, given that I don’t think there’s any one thing we should all absolutely have to read. It’s going to depend on your tastes, your priorities etc. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists is a pretty safe/ necessary bet though.

// Thank you so much to Rosalind for being the first radtastic lady to contribute to this series. I hope you all enjoyed it. Be sure to give Rosalind a follow, her Instagram is especially dreamy. Stay tuned next month for another installment of this new series. //

*Book Depository affiliate links may have been used but where possible I am linking to my two favourite local bookstores. Shout out to you Unity Books and Time Out. 
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6 Ways I Practice Self Care

6 Ways I Practice Self Care

The concept of self-care is probably 2017's equivalent of hygge. We're wary of the ways of the world, as Solange pointed out and now more than ever it feels more important to be kind to ourselves first and foremost. Personally I find taking time out for myself, regardless of what is happening around me, makes such a difference to my overall mental health. Today I thought I'd share six ways in which I practice self-care or ways I try to be kind to myself. I certainly need to practice what I preach sometimes but hey, nobody is perfect...

1) Keep a diary. As someone who thinks a lot it only makes sense that I'd find this soothing. I have a couple of different journals, more on that later in the month but for me this helps me to make sense of things. I also keep one where I write about positive moments from each day but yeah. I'm spoiling the basis of one of my blog posts so I'll move on to numero dos. 

2) Go for walks. I do not run, unless limited edition makeup is involved. In seriousness, I love walking. If I find I need a breather, I take myself for a walk. It needn't be far afield, although a tranquil setting does help. I have a few breaks during my workday and I try to spend at least one, if not all of them going for a wander. Some of my favourite places to wander are around gardens but I also enjoy just meandering around cities, laneways and things too. 

3) Watch a TV show/catch up on YouTube. Preferably without phones nearby although this isn't always possible. I do like to zone out when I'm watching something I enjoy though. At the moment I'm watching Big Little Lies and also the new episodes of Will and Grace

4. Read. As Matilda Wormwood would say "Oh yes, I love to read." Magazines, novels, poetry. I love it. I try to always take some form of reading material with me on my commute to and from work and am notorious for overpacking books when I travel. They're my paper security blanket I guess.

5. Throw on glitter eyeshadow or bright lipstick. Heck if you want to go bold, why not rock both at the same time? You do you. I know the idea of makeup and self confidence can be dismissed as frivolous or silly but it's hard not to feel good when you're wearing one or the other. My go-to's are the Stila Liquid Metal shadows or something like MAC Impassioned or Lancome Idole lipsticks.

6. Talk. Whether that be to a friend, counsellor, someone you think is rad on Twitter. Whether it be heavy or light. Talking is the freaking best. You never know what you will learn.

-How do you practice self care?
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Makeup I Have Used Up

Makeup I Have Used Up

It's been a long time since I've done one of these posts so inspired by Cass, I decided to do one this month. That and I've had this mini vase of these products on my bookshelf staring at me for months. Whoops. Anyway, here's some makeup items I've used up...

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla: This has been my go-to, ride or die concealer for years. I want to say four years but it might even be longer than that. So surely I've been through a fair few of these now. I've recently switched shades to Custard but will probably be closer to this colour again next Autumn and Winter. Repurchase? Until the day it is discontinued.

Lancome Grandiose Liner*: I'm notoriously terrible when it comes to eyeliner of the liquid variety. We just don't mesh well. That being said, this liner is the first I've used where I can actually apply it properly and have things looking half decent. That probably comes down to the incredibly fine nib but also the way you can angle the actual eyeliner pen to suit you. Genius move, Ms. Eldridge. Repurchase? One day, when my wallet is in "treat yo'self" mode.

Glossier Boy Brow: One of Glossier's cult products is this brow gel. I had the shade brown, but they have since expanded the shade range to include a clear variety and also a black. Compared to other brow gels I've tried, I find the fact it isn't so thick makes it easier to work with and it looks more natural. Especially for someone like me with dark eyebrows anyhow, I don't want something that'll make my brows look cartoony or starkly different coloured. This delivers and keeps them in place. Repurchase? I did get a backup in an order with a friend which I'm currently using. 

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara: Another cult product, with a somewhat questionable name. Seriously this one perplexes me. Anyway, this mascara really makes your lashes look a lot thicker and fuller. It's been quite a while since I finished this so apologies if my review skills are a bit rusty. I remember liking this but not loving it. Repurchase? No because I like other mascaras more than this. Like anything beauty, this is just personal preference and I know a lot of people do love this mascara.

NARS Pro Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base: Another NARS staple for me and one I have Ingrid to thank for bringing to my attention a good while ago. As someone with oily eyelids, bane of my existence, if I am not wearing primer, eyeshadow will just disappear into my crease. As much as I love my glitter eyeshadow, finding a thin line of it where my eyelid starts is not a good look. This prevents that and then some. I've tried a couple of other primers; Too Faced's Shadow Insurance and Primer Potion+others I'm probably forgetting and liked none of them or found them ineffective. Highly, highly recommend this. Repurchase? Until the day this is discontinued and I've sent NARS an extremely emotional letter.

Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara*: Lancome's iconic, swan neck mascara had a makeover last year with a more matte, more dramatic formula. This was one of the first Lancome mascaras I tried and along with Monsieur Big, it's another of my favourites. They do mascaras so much justice and I find they're at their best after they've dried out a little bit. Repurchase? Perhaps one day. I tend to flit between mascaras I like quite a bit and I like trying new ones so it may be a while but it'll be an inevitable occurrence.

-Have you tried any of these products? What did you think of them?

*PR Sample

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