Women & Their Books: Sandrine Vaillancourt

Women & Their Books: Sandrine Vaillancourt

What better way to round out the month than with bookish banter and another inspiring, brilliant lady showcasing her books? This month we have one of my blog-friends, all the way over in Montreal, the lovely Sandrine chatting about her books. Sandrine writes on a wide range of topics, from books to fashion and she also vlogs+has a killer Instagram. She's one of the people responsible for introducing me to what is easily one of my alltime favourite memoirs, Dolly Alderton's. Fun fact, she even met Dolly whilst she was in London recently. We have similar tastes when it comes to books so I may be a litle more biased than usually but Sandrine's recommended some great reads so I hope you enjoy her lil' interview...

-What are you currently reading?

I just started reading Nora Ephron's collection of essays called Crazy Salad & Scribble Scribble, which were originally published as columns for Esquire magazine in the 1970s. It's very different from her other books I've read, which felt more personal, so I'm still trying to figure out if I like this one or not. She is hilarious and extremely gifted with a talent for writing but unfortunately these essays feel a bit outdated.

-What is your most read book?

Funnily enough I rarely reread books, unless it's a coffee table book because I can go back to certain sections without reading the whole thing again. For example I love Pernille Teisbaek's Dress Scandinavian (above). Her style is perfection and I love the way her passion for fashion translates into words, so I sometimes go back to chapters I've loved or have forgotten. The same goes for Alexa Chung's It or A Paris Dream by Jeanne Damas. 

-What is your favourite book written by a woman? 

Dolly Alderton's Everything I Know About Love. This memoir completely changed the way I see nonfiction pieces and literary representations of women. Although her life and the challenges she has to go through are completely different from my own experiences,  this book made me feel a wide range of emotions. It's probably the only book I would ever want to read again and again, and I'd recommend it to every woman in their twenties.

-What was your favourite book or series of books as a child?

When I was young, I mostly read French-Canadian books like Le journal d'Aurelie Laflamme (Aurelie Laflamme's Diary) but unfortunately I was not a big reader. I started getting more into chick-lit when I was around twelve. Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series were my favourite. 

-Is there any book you wish you had written?

Dolly's book is one of them and The Rules Do Not Apply x Ariel Levy is another one. Nonfiction is such a fascinating genre and authors need to have such a curiosity, attention for detail and an awareness of the people around them to deliver something so personal to a wider audience. Levy's memoir is certainly modern and I loved reading about her experience of writing for The New Yorker

-Finally, what books are on your wishlist at the moment?

There are so many! I've just ordered Promising Young Women x Caroline O'Donoghue which was recommended by Dolly Alderton. I'm also looking forward to reading Why Social Media Is Ruining Our Lives x journalist Katherine Ormerod-someone I coincidentally love to follow on social media. Her book is coming out in October so I'll have time to read a few books before then. Finally, something a bit different from what I usually read, She Must Be Mad a collection of poems x Charly Cox. 

/ / Thanks so much to Sandrine for being a part of my Women+Their Books series for July! Next month we are bringing things back to my side of the world and I'm excited to share that with you as well as some other fabulous women I have lined up in the coming months. If there's anyone you think I should feature in this series, sing out. 

*All images c/o Sandrine's blog. 

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Who Is She?

Who Is She?

It would be natural for me to make a self-deprecatory comment. Pretend I'm holding out my phone as if to take a selfie, whilst pouting and asking the world "who am I?" a la Emma Roberts in Wild Child. I guess it's ironic I am feeling this way in 'quarter life crisis' year. Or perhaps not. Isn't the point of 25 to be constantly questioning one's identity? So lately as a blogger I've felt lost. Even calling myself a blogger at the moment feels treacherous. Like a branch I'm trying carefully to not fall off. A piece of fabric hanging on by a thread. 

When I started blogging in 2011 it was because I felt inspired and fueled by my desire to write. Meeting Lady Melbourne aka Phoebe and hearing more about what she does empowered me. Being a longtime Tavi Gevinson fangirl made me want to create magic like she did and still does. What else motivated me was wanting to be my own editor so to speak. That year I'd been contributing to my university's student magazine. I'd loved seeing my name on the masthead and my columns in print. They're one hundred per cent embarrassing for me to look at now but I know at the time I was so chuffed to have them published. At the same time, I wanted to write about fashion and books and pop culture. Topics that weren't always taken seriously. At the time the magazine was very much geared around politics and sport so I can see why that happened but it made me want to just be my own publisher, editor, etc.

So rodarterebel was born. Yep. I bet none of you knew that was a thing for all of five minutes. It morphed into Nana Wintour in December of 2011. Bored and wanting a distraction from my dull as dishwater Psychology paper, I loved coming home and pressing publish on new posts. I wanted to post all the time. My questionable series titles and necessity to use alliteration and ridiculously tiny images. I mean, in my introductory post I describe myself as possessing "certain viewpoints and interests of days gone by" and "look to the past for creative insight and influence to then bring forward into the present". Sophie, what the heck does that even mean!? But I LOVED it. Nana Wintour was mainly my little secret for a while. I thought people would find it strange. That was it. Having to explain Nana Wintour either resulted in perplexing looks, or people got it instantly. There was no in-between. In many cases it was just easier for me to keep quiet about it. 

Over the next few years my love for this lil' corner of the interwebs bloomed. Blogging filled me with an enormous sense of self-pride and really boosted my confidence in many ways. Sure, I am not the most confident person in any room but hey, every little bit counts. Anyway, I was proud as punch of Nana Wintour. I still am. When I published a post I'd been a bit nervous about or I'd worked hard to organise something behind the scenes. It's always been immensely satisfying and rewarding. Side note: blog posts take time. If you're easily distracted, more so. I posted a lot. Maintaining schedules and a makeshift editorial calendar of sorts. Making sure there was always something waiting to go live, even when I was on holiday. Up until earlier this year I even used to plan out my Instagram and Facebook posts. 

You are most probably thinking-why did she pour all this energy into a hobby? For a time, I treated this blog as another notch on my CV. In some ways it did help me establish a couple of part-time jobs I had in the past. Of course it enabled me, and still does to an extent, to have the opportunity to experience and review things I would not normally be privy to. Of course in the early days I was swept up in the hype. I was young and starry-eyed and when packages arrived it was like being a kid in a candy store. I will always be grateful for that side of things among many other aspects of blogging. That being said, I did find the influx of packages at times overwhelming. And I was and am by no means a major blogger so I cannot imagine what it's like for people getting packages day after day. I'm not going to lie, the way in which the blogging and PR side of things works now does leave me feeling frustrated and disenchanted at times. It gets under my sensitive skin. That's a discussion for another day though.

Now the part I really have avoided writing. Six years down the line and I feel so incredibly lost as a blogger. It's almost cyclical-the self doubt I felt at the beginning seems to have come back. I am always questioning my place as a blogger. While I no longer aspire to 'keep up' so to speak, I do wonder what that means for me. Do I still have a place or am I shouting into a quite literally endless void of cyberspace? Do I post when I want to and just accept that I don't maintain a schedule as I once did? Do I rebrand, or do I just retreat with my notebooks offline?

I cannot imagine my life without blogging and writing. You cannot silence this chatty, contemplative, enthusiastic woman that easily. My ideas of writing and sharing online may be a bit fogged and muddled for now. I believe this is what they call writer's block. Please bear with me. Stick around. I won't be going anywhere. I'll just be navigating my way through what exactly Nana Wintour is these days. And that, as I am learning, takes time. I will see you soon.*

If you made it to the end of this post, you deserve a medal, or at the very least a block of chocolate or some kind of treat. Indulge. Life is too short. 

*One of my regular features will be back later in the week and then I am taking an unofficial hiatus whilst I work through the above ^. 
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Useless Magic x Florence Welch

Useless Magic x Florence Welch

It's a bloomin' good time to be a Florence Welch fangirl right now. In the space of a few weeks she released album four, High As Hope and the above book. When I heard about Florence's book, I swiftly emailed the lovely people at Time Out and preordered my copy that way. It arrived last Friday and was softly whispering to me beneath stacks of paper on my desk. Like some magical, Harry Potter-esque book. Or really just anything that demands to be read. 

Useless Magic, Florence's volume of poetry and lyrics is an exquisite, clothbound treasure. Inside you will find the lyrics to all the songs on Florence's albums. Side note: I've discovered now that I've been singing some of her songs incorrectly for years. My fangirl life is a lie, and vice versa. She also shares some of her poetry throughout and as she notes, the lines between poetry and song are so interconnected and deeply rooted for her at this point. I guess in many ways poetry is essentially songwriting without melody or instrumentation. Her songs really read like poetry too when they're presented like this as well. 

She also includes plenty of visual inspiration throughout; whether it be photographs she's taken herself, notes written on Chateau Marmont stationery, her favourite songs amongst other things. She notes that Walking On Broken Glass x Annie Lennox is one of her favourites. I'm listening to it as I write this actually. Whilst everything feels carefully selected this book also feels incredibly intimate and personal. We're being given an exclusive pass into the pensieve that is Florence's brilliant mind.

I really wanted to draw out reading Useless Magic for as long as possible but the truth is, it demanded to be read in rather indulgent bursts. I think I finished it over three separate sessions and will definitely be re-immersing myself in its pages many a time now. If you're a Florence Welch fangirl or boy, like exquisite words and books that are simply stunning to look at, this is for you. Useless Magic is my new kindred spirit in paper form. Get yourself a copy now and thank me later.

-Have you read Useless Magic? What did you think of it?

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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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