on the kindle | daring greatly

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Inspired by Circle of Pine’s #theyearinbooks and my new kindle …

This might be my year of reading life changing books!

So I came across this Ted talk through the rabbit hole that is the internet and then realised that I just had to read this speaker’s book.

Brene Brown is an academic story-teller who has been researching shame and vulnerability for over a decade. Sounds like a fun book – right? Anyway, after years of study she realised that all the “Wholehearted” people she had interviewed, those who lived full happy lives, had one thing in common. They were open to vulnerability, they were willing to open themselves up to uncertainty and be all in.

Daring Greatly, explores our fear of vulnerability, how we protect ourselves from it, the price we pay for not being vulnerable and how to own our vulnerability. It also looks at the opposite of vulnerability, shame, and how it differs from guilt.

For me the underlying message is not what would you do if you couldn’t fail, it is what would you do even if you might fail. A much more vulnerable idea but one that is certainly mind opening.

A second idea that struck me was that we live in a ‘culture of scarcity’. We are always worried if there is enough. At the societal level we ask if there are enough jobs, money, etc but on the individual level we (definitely myself included) have a constant voice saying I am not good / thin / talented enough. And I certainly say I don’t have enough time on a daily basis. For Dr Brown the opposite of scarcity is not abundance but enough, what she calls ‘wholeheartedness’ which at its core is vulnerability and worthiness.

I have to say I think I am open to trying things out and taking risks but only in some areas of my life (hey, you don’t just wake up one day and find yourself in Italy). But I know that it is not something I do with my dreams of making photography a bigger part of my life. There were some big aha moments all through this book and I definitely recommend it to everyone. This is one for the boys too as I think if we all worked some of this into our lives the world would honestly be a better place.

If you don’t have time for another book check out the ‘original’ Ted Talk and this is a great longer form talk especially for creatives on Chase Jarvis Live.

I might move onto reading some of her other books or perhaps some of the other authors she mentions. Oh so many options.

Have you read any life-changing books this year?

on the kindle | food, girls and amsterdam

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Inspired by Circle of Pine’s #theyearinbooks and my new kindle …

I’m not one to give critical book reviews, I just don’t think I am that discerning. So I think I might stick to sharing what I learn from some of the non-fiction books that I read. I am kind of hoping to read at least two books a month. One fiction and one non-fiction. Increasing my literary intake is also necessary as the quality of my English seems to be deteriorating, although my Italian is only improving at an incredibly slow rate. Anyway!


This month I read a book-book, In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan. Mr Pollan and his book and ideas have been doing the circuit for a while but I spotted it on the library shelf at work so thought I would loan a book from a library!

Without giving the book away the principle behind the book is “Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants.” It is the first line of the book so really not giving it away.

It is very American focussed, but considering the American diet is pretty much going everywhere and I don’t think the British diet is that much better it is still relevant to other nations. Pollan basically scrutinises what he calls ‘nutritionism’. Food just isn’t food anymore because scientists tried, and still try, to reduce food down to its component parts and gave advise without really knowing what they were talking about leading to ‘component’ advice like the low-fat 80s and 90s and diets we get now which are low carb, high fat, high protein etc. Food exists within a context. You don’t just eat protein, carbs or fat. You eat a carrot (within the object of the carrot), within a meal, within a lifestyle and a culture.

One point I found particularly interesting and hadn’t really thought about is that as humans we can survive and be healthy on very varied diets. But not the ‘Western Diet’. Think for example the differences between the Masai who basically eat blood and meat, some cultures which are vegetarian, some like the Inuit who eat incredibly fatty diets. And they are healthy. But when we get to the Western diet which is full of food which is no longer really food we are becoming really really unhealthy.

His advice is to get back to a starting point of eating actual real food. Ones that don’t have hundreds of ingredients. Ones that your great grandmother would recognise.

Well worth the read if you are getting tired of all the fad diets.


On the fiction front I read Gone Girl. The first half of the book I was a bit bored and wondering what all the fuss was about but then it got interesting. Still not the most amazing book ever but worth the read. I’ll be interested to see how the movie worked out now.

I also picked up The Miniaturist because I had seen the cover and decided I wanted to read it and when Laura mentioned it was her book for this past month I thought I would check it out again and the price was reduced. I really enjoyed this book, just a story with a bit of magic running through it as well as intrigue and a bit of girl power in a sort of medieval laid back kind of way. I also now want to go back to Amsterdam for a visit.


Next on my non-Fiction list is This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. Not a light hearted read for sure. For the fiction side I might see if I can find something that is set in Japan.

on the kindle | the life changing magic of tidying

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So I bought a Kindle and love it. I have finished two books this month which feels like more than I have read in ages. So using my new kindle and Circle of Pine’s #theyearinbooks as inspiration I thought I would share a little bit of what I am reading. It hasn’t been something I have done on here before so let me know if you find it interesting or not.


I literally finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo in an evening and a morning. I seriously think the author is a wee bit crazy but the principals and methodology made a whole lot of sense to me. Her advice is incredibly blunt and potentially sexist at times, such as: “if sweat pants are your everyday attire, you’ll end up looking like you belong in them” but this in fact made it quite amusing to read and I was constantly having a little giggle while reading the book. One caveat is that her fondness for tidying is just not the norm (she was cleaning her house when she was 5) and I think her cultural upbringing makes it hard (or undesirable) to wholly transplant to many “Western” homes.

Aside from the main ideas of the book, one concept that intrigued me is that as children we are not taught to tidy. We are just told to tidy our room and it is almost like we are expected to have some genetic programming on how tidying should be done. But if you think about us as individuals we probably own more things than ever before in history. As a cave person I had my hammer weapon thing and my furry shoes and I probably didn’t mind the bones piling up in the corner of the cave because I was more concerned with my survival.

Confession time here: I just never feel like I get on top of the tidying (separate to cleaning I am not gross). There are always piles of clothes that I haven’t put away after washing and craft supplies that I take out of hiding and then sit on the dining table for days/weeks because it is too much of a hassle to put them away again. But I really don’t want to spend hours a week tidying so that I can vacuum and clean the floors. There are seriously better things to do with my life and the reason this book caught my attention is because it seemed like it might have an out.

Marie Kondi’s tidying method (the KonMari Method) actually makes a huge amount of sense to me. I think more important than the actual process is the underlying philosophy:

  • You should only have things in your house which bring you joy. If it doesn’t bring you joy get rid of it.
  • Properly tidying your house will give you the space and time to properly pursue higher level goals. The author apparently now spends 5 minutes a day putting away things she has used and once a year will spend about an hour reassessing what she owns.

The process itself is pretty simple. Step 1. Discard. Step 2. Organise. The book outlines an order in which this should be done and gives some tips on how things should be organised. But in a nutshell everything has a home.

I have so far only gotten around to the Step 1 Part 1 (cleaning out my clothes). And do you know what – I actually enjoyed tidying! I was getting rid of things that haven’t fitted me in five years (why did I bring them to Italy?) and items given to me by friends that just didn’t work for me. Because I couldn’t then leave my remaining clothes in a pile until I moved onto the next section to discard I did put them away with the KoMari folding technique so that my clothes are all vertically displayed in the cupboard/drawers. Seriously if I do nothing else in this book that will have revolutionised my life!

I am actually excited to start sorting the rest and will let you know how it goes and how I keep up with it.


Also this month I finished Living to Tell the Tale Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s autobiography that I started ages ago. We bought it as part of the Ebook Pack so I have a few more GGM books to go through though no complaint as I love his writing and his biography was beautifully done too.

This month I have started reading: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. We are travelling a bit this month so I will have plenty of train, airport lounge and flight time to consume that and maybe another one even.