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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Books To Read In June

Books To Read In June

I feel like Winter is prime book-reading time. The days and nights are colder and it's simply rude not to stay in with a book, a hot chocolate or a glass of wine and all the blankets. I promise I am writing this blog post at a dining table and not from the comfort of my bed. Anyway, today I have a lil' quartet of books I plan on reading and in some cases re-reading. They'll probably cross over into July as well because we all know I am a classic book diver but I hope to at least make a good dent in these ones...

Fates and Furies x Lauren Groff: Oh my gosh, this novel. Why has it taken me so long!? I am only seventy-ish pages in so far and already so much has happened. The characters are well-formed and I love the way Groff writes. That's not the most eloquent of opinions but ugh, it's intoxicatingly good. I'm loving this novel immensely. 

The Lonely City x Olivia Laing: Laing has a new book coming out soon, a novel, which prompted me that I own this and should really pick it up to read. It's about travelling alone and an exploration of artist's works on the topic. I think she's done a similar book on alcohol+authors so I'm guessing this may take a similar approach. I will keep you posted.

The Secret History x Donna Tartt: I started reading this again last year, got nearly 200 pages in and then was clearly swayed by some other book. Insert that girl doing the facepalm emoji here. Anyway, this feels like the perfect Wintery read. American college campus, classics students, a mystery and eloquence in both prose and sartorially. This book is intoxicatingly good so I need to get back into it. 

The Cost Of Living x Deborah Levy: A recommendation straight from Kiran's Instagram, side note, check out her Women+Their Books feature here. Another volume of essays and musings from a brilliant writer.  I've only read the beginning of this book and already know it's going to be one of my favourites and one I'll go back to and annotate the life out of. Read that enticing blurb on the Time Out website if you need further persuasion. 

-What have you been reading lately? 
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Five Things: June

Five Things: June

My roundup of five things is back for June. This month we have; a couple of online reads, some things you should watch, a book you should read and some earrings you should send me on the sly in the post. All jokes aside on the last point, if I win Lotto or something-these are mine. 

The Royal Wedding According To Caitlin: "The prince who goes against all narratives of masculinity, and is brave enough to speak openly about his own emotional and mental problems, and revolutionises the way we think of a heavily stigmatised illness. The prince who rejects all the nice, blonde English girls he is supposed to marry and finds a woman from a different continent and culture, a woman who is emotionally stronger than him, brighter than him, more confident than him-and gives her, in front of a global audience of two billion people, his platform, to show her world." Caitlin Moran wrote a brilliant piece for the Times about the recent royal wedding. She expands on some of the many brilliant comments she made on Twitter but also provides a refreshing insight into the occasion. If you think you're sick about hearing about *that* wedding, I suggest you read this before giving the idea of it a rest.

Heartburn: Nora. Freakin'. Ephron. Why has it taken me so long to read her work? Much like the decadent, rich meals she describes in Heartburn, I devoured this over a few sittings. A story about marriage and betrayal, told with humour and candidness. This semi-autobiographical novel could easily have been bleak and depressing but Ephron tells it with such brilliance. I highly recommend you give this a read.

A Starfish For Your Ears: Showing my 00's girl movie history here but these earrings remind me of Aquamarine when starfish adorn the mermaid's ears. Well that's how I remember it at least. I like star motifs so naturally that extends to starfish. It helps of course that they're under Alexa's banner as well but yeah. I wouldn't be upset if these were in my life.

Should I Buy This?: I love these chatty blog posts that Leandra and Amelia do. That and I just like seeing what people are buying+thinking of buying. I prefer this format to people's hauls on YouTube, maybe because it's easier to digest? Anyway, I digress. While this post is seasonally off, for me at least, it's still giving me inspiration for next Summer and beyond.

What Olivia Vlogged: My girl Liv always uploads fantastic content but I've particularly loved her videos lately. I don't really tune in to anyone's channels anymore but Liv's is one I always visit. Her office tour in particular had me all *heart eyed emojis* but if you're planning a wedding and aren't sure where to start, her recent video showcasing Kikki K's bridal range is worth a watch too. If you get wedding guest anxiety like me, she has some tips in there too for guests of the couple.

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The Female Persuasion x Meg Wolitzer

The Female Persuasion x Meg Wolitzer

I wish I could tell you where and when I first heard about this book but the truth is, I cannot remember. I have an inkling it was in the pages of Vogue, forecasting upcoming books for 2018 but either way I made note of it and went so far as to pre-order the book. That mightn't sound like a big deal but I hardly ever do this with books. To cut a long story short, it is safe to say this was one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year. If you're time poor, it didn't disappoint. If you're after the details, keep reading...

When I think of the novels I enjoy the most, they seem to have factors in common; elements of escapism yet also enough to resonate. Whether that's in a character trait or even just a sentence that provides some sense of association. I don't need to see myself in the pages but I think having aspects that perhaps provide some glimmer of meaning only better the reading experience. I certainly found this with The Female Persuasion. The story really centres around Greer Kadetsky, and the journey she goes on in the aftermath of her meeting female powerhouse and feminist icon, Faith Frank a visiting speaker at Ryland College. She ends up working alongside Faith at her foundation Loci and we see her come into her own. We are also introduced to Greer's boyfriend Corey and her best friend Zee and they all form pivotal parts of the story. It explores topics of feminism, ambition, self-discovery, friendship and family among others. 

One thing I really liked about this book was the way it took you through Greer's perspective but it also looked at the backstory of Faith, Corey and Zee in a bit more detail. They each probably had a chapter or so dedicated to them but I felt like adding those additional voices alongside Greer's didn't detract from the story and instead enhanced it. I also love that all the characters are flawed and remain so, despite overcoming conflicts they may face. Particularly when it came to Greer and Faith. Without giving away any spoilers Greer in a sense places Faith on a pedestal. Perhaps without realising, perhaps because of her age and subsequent perceived wisdom. Anyway, when Greer learns that Faith is in fact human like everyone else, it's somewhat...refreshing. I'm probably explaining this badly but just the way we can sometimes idealise people, whether it be because of their age or something else, we in a sense dehumanise them. So to see a character go through that experience and in such a poignant way was brilliant. 

The Female Persuasion was a ride from start to finish. Admittedly it took me a little while to get into because I have a fantastic habit of attempting to read multiple books at once. I did really enjoy it though and found myself wishing the train trips I found myself on were longer, just so I could read more before having to go back into the real worlds of work or home. If you've been considering giving this a read, I highly recommend it. It's a rewarding read. 

"...there would be people you would meet who would affect you and turn you ever so slightly in a different direction. Suddenly you knew what you were working for, and you didn't feel as if you were wasting your time."

Further Listening: NPR PodcastThe High Low (Meg Wolitzer comes in partway through this episode).

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