2018 Book Recommendations

I’m a huge bookworm. For me, books win over movies and TV every single time. My favourite smell in the entire world is the smell of a new book (as my boyfriend so eloquently put it, “I got that when I noticed you sniffing your books like a crackhead”). The worst thing is being unable to find a good book to read; it’s so frustrating getting halfway through a book and realising it just isn’t your cup of tea, or searching for ages in a bookstore only to come out empty-handed.

So for anyone else who despises that lull between good reads, here’s a list of my current favourites. I’ll update this list as new books worth reading hit my shelves, so check back if you need fresh reading inspo. Note—these aren’t all new releases! They’re just my current favourites and books that I’ve finished fairly recently.

If you have any books you think I should read, please shoot me a message or comment on this post; I’m always looking for something new!

Happy reading!

Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling

Duh. This one is a total given and anyone who knows me knows that this will always be top of my list. I always feel like I need to defend Harry Potter, though, because I think people tend to be under the assumption that you have to be into the fantasy genre to like this series. This is so far from the truth! I didn’t get into Harry Potter until I was in high school, the year the final movie came out in theatres. I had literally zero interest in the series until I was forced to watch all the movies with a friend for—no joke—lack of anything better to do. After that, I became completely hooked and have since read the series through a few times. I don’t read or watch any other fantasy novels/movies, even though I’ve tried to get into the genre, but I remain in love with Harry Potter. Must must must read!

Conversations With Friends

Sally Rooney

This novel is about an Irish college student named Frances, her best friend/ex-girlfriend Bobbi, and their separate, but equally as problematic affairs with a married couple. There’s a pattern of self-destruction within Frances that makes it hard to decide whether you hate her, love her, or see yourself in her (maybe all of the above?). To me, this novel feels strongly like a modern-day rendition of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. It’s one of my all-time favourite novels; I’ve read it about four times (certain parts even more) and annotated everything in it to the point where there’s no longer any room in the margins. I can’t say enough good things about this one!

Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, & Swells: The Best of Early Vanity Fair

Ed. Graydon Carter and David Friend

This is a collection of the best essays and articles from Vanity Fair throughout the early 20th century. It’s definitely not the book for everyone, but I was enamoured the whole way through. It provides a really interesting look into the minds of journalists, essayists, and consumers in the 1910s/20s/30s. Also very cool seeing subtle nods towards the beginnings of different social movements like feminism and civil rights!

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled Hosseini

Have the tissues ready for this one. This is a novel set in Afghanistan and follows two women, very different in age, who end up married to the same man; the older, Miriam, helps the younger, Laila, escape their abusive husband. It has obvious mother-daughter and self-sacrificial themes throughout the novel, reminiscent of Khaled Hosseini’s first novel, The Kite Runner (another one I highly recommend).

Me Before You; After You; Still Me

Jojo Moyes

I’m a big fan of all of Jojo Moyes’ writing. Her books are generally easy reads, but super captivating and emotional at the same time. I’m especially in love with her Me Before You series. I initially got hooked after watching the movie with Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. I was worried that the sequels wouldn’t live up to the first, especially considering how the first book ended, but all three of them are amazing reads! Highly recommend if you’re looking for a “fluff” read or a romantic novel.

Jasper Jones

Craig Silvey

This one reminds me so much of To Kill A Mockingbird, only it’s set in 1960s Australia and focuses on an Aboriginal man instead of an African American man. It details the story of high school-aged boy named Charlie who gets caught up in a murder case of a girl from his school. Jasper Jones, an Aboriginal boy and town outcast/scapegoat, is thought to have murdered the girl, but matters become complicated when Charlie finds out that Jasper was in love with the girl and the two had been planning to run away together before her death. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading this book, and shed real tears (maybe even more than once).

Outline

Rachel Cusk

This is a really interesting novel. If I’m being honest, I picked it off the shelf at Reading’s simply because it had a nice-looking cover. It’s a novel set in 10 different conversations/narratives; each chapter is a new dialogue between the main character and a secondary character. The book teaches a lot about relationships (especially failed ones) and personal losses. It wasn’t what I had expected when I bought the book (not that I was really expecting anything in particular seeing as I hadn’t even read the description), but it didn’t disappoint. Not exactly a light read, but a good one nonetheless!

 

Got some suggestions for me? Comment your favourite books below!

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Breaking: It’s May And I Still Haven’t Given Up On My New Year’s Resolution

Full disclosure, I’m not the best at follow-through. I forget to text people back, I’m awful at replying to emails, and I’m constantly giving up on tasks that aren’t immediately easy. Not surprisingly, my New Year’s resolutions usually go the way of my unanswered texts and emails and failed tasks.

Most years, my resolutions end up being fairly cliché ones: drink more water, eat healthier, actually utilise my gym membership, go to all my lectures—you get the idea. Perhaps I’ve failed at most of them because subconsciously I don’t really want to achieve them; I have no impetus or particular motivation to stick to them. Or maybe it’s because they’ve all been focused on extrinsic things. That’s why this year I decided to indulge in a little bit of introspection to find something that I genuinely, truly wanted to change about myself.

Of course, I’m far from perfect, so I had a lot of less-than-ideal attributes to choose from. I need to be more patient, more conscientious of my surroundings, more environmentally-aware, less selfish; the slightly embarrassing and very confronting list is as long as Santa’s naughty list (which, after this introspection, I’ve decided I’m more than likely a part of). But the one thing that I’d been noticing increasingly over the previous few months was how pessimistic I’d become.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a totally glass-half-full kind of girl. I’m not the first to find a silver lining or to look on the bright side of a situation. My motto has always been “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed”; I’m my father’s daughter in that way (and in most other ways, too). While that was a pretty fail-safe outlook—I was rarely surprised when things didn’t work out for me—it also cast a very dark cloud over my life. I was always anticipating things going wrong; so much so that when something went right, I couldn’t even enjoy it because I was so busy wondering when the other shoe would drop.

So there it was. I decided I would be more positive. No more expecting the worst. No more anticipating failure. The funniest part was that once I had settled on my resolution, my first thought was, “I wonder how long this will last before I give up”. It took effort to push that out of my head and tell myself I could do this.

I’m proud to announce that I’m still sticking to my resolution. It’s not quite halfway through 2018 yet, but this is probably the longest I’ve ever kept a New Year’s resolution. And let me tell you, it has worked wonders in my life.

I started by encouraging myself when I felt like I couldn’t do something. I forced myself to go places and do things I didn’t particularly want to go to or do. I made sure I was speaking more positively about others as well as about myself; it’s made me feel good about those around me and my relationships with them, and also about myself. I put a real effort into consistently building up myself and everyone around me. It has made me infinitely more confident and optimistic.

I’ve come to realise that my pessimism was preventing me from achieving so much. There were tons of things that I wouldn’t even attempt because I thought I would fail or because “what’s the point anyway? I’m just one person, how can I make a difference?”. In the past few months I’ve become more conscious of my environment and of those less fortunate than I am. I understand now that although I’m just one person amongst billions, my actions have impact and can create change in the world, even if that change is small.

My newfound positivity has made me more patient and empathetic toward others and myself. I’ve learned the difference between “thank you” and “sorry”. I used to apologise for everything—I assumed I was being a burden on those around me. Now I realise that although I sometimes need to apologise for something I’ve done—”sorry for making you do this for me”—other times I need not apologise for my actions, but instead thank someone for theirs—”thank you for helping me do this”.

I’ve even noticed physical changes! I sleep better, my skin is clearer, I get fewer headaches (they used to be as frequent as twice daily), and I have more energy. I find it easier to interact with people I’ve never met and I’m more receptive to others reaching out to me.

In sum, a seemingly small adjustment of my outlook has created positive changes in pretty much every aspect of my life. I’m blown away by the massive turnaround I’ve experienced. The good news? You don’t have to wait until 2019 to do a little self-renovation.

2018 Trend Forecasting

DIVERGENCE

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The question “where are you from?” may soon become obsolete as in today’s culture of globalisation and international travel, boundaries are broken and barriers are crossed. Differing cultures are now fusing together to create an exchange of diverse and contrasting works of art, textiles, colours, and designs, bringing forth a new multicultural revolution. We are preserving local traditions while simultaneously bringing forth a new innovation and cultural fusion. As fashion becomes a language in and of itself, there rests a certain appreciation and acceptance of cultural differences between designers, photographers, models, and consumers alike.

HYPERFUNCTIONALISM

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Fashion has always been the loudest form of silent protest and decorative trapping, crossing the line between personal, unique style and a social—if not political—statement. With sustainability becoming more important in the fashion industry, we are changing the ways in which people produce, wear, and recycle. Through expressive creative minimalism, the fashion industry brings forth convertible and versatile garments. One garment worn many different ways shows the world that less is more. One garment, endless possibilities.

OVEREXPRESSION

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A completed and defined coordination of patterns and colours has created a certain uniformity. This kind of synchronisation, which manifested itself in the 70s and was echoed in the 90s, has encouraged the following of a consistent theme in playing matchmaker. While the word uniform may once have evoked images of conformity and sameness, we are reinventing the word to emphasise personality and individuality. This overemphasis of both a pattern and colour obsession results in a purposeful exhibition of simplicity and perhaps a relaxed form of professional dressing.