Bookish

T5W Rewind – Tropes you Hate

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

This month’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series are Rewind topics – which means we can choose any previously used topic throughout the series. For today’s topic, I have chosen Tropes you Hate.

Before I dive into this topic, I really want to stress out that I do not hate any of those tropes below. They can get on my nerves when they are used as an ‘easy way out’ – as something that bypasses either characters’ developments or plots’ challenges.

I am not judging anyone who likes these tropes either. Please keep that in mind. It’s all a matter of personal preferences. 🙂


 

  1. Love at first sight, aka. instalove

love at first sight

Insta-love is probably my biggest pet peeve. I do not believe in love at first sight. I do believe of course in attraction at first sight, but that has nothing to do with love.

In my opinion, love goes hand in hand with respect. And respect is something that is usually earned through time. It is also about understanding and appreciating each other and again, that takes time.

I think the cliché of ‘their eyes met and they knew there were destined for each another’ send a naïve message of ‘as long as there is attraction between us and we are looking at each others’ eyes, it’s all good’.

In my humble opinion, it’s a simplistic and also a bit dangerous message to be sending out there.

As my favourite author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, once famously said: “Loving is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction.”

  1. Chosen ones / special snowflakes

special snowflake

Usually a character that is destined to be the hero and to save the entire world either because everyone around them or some prophecy says so, or because they have some incredibly unique power and are therefore extremely special.

I think this is a bit of a ‘an easy way out’ card. An author can potentially use it without having to think about characters’ motivations. Because you know… it’s their destiny!!!!

Of course some authors can use this cliché and make it work, yes HP fans, I’m talking about your favourite author. But in a lot of cases, this approach sometimes doesn’t go deep into characters’ motives and can make them a bit less relatable because of that.

  1. The Plain Jane who is magically transformed to win the hunky hero’s heart

plain-jane-it-is-i-dont-care

I honestly can not stand ‘The Plain Jane’ character. When you spice it up with a hunky hero saving her or his heart, I tend to lose a bit..

We are all unique and that makes us all interesting.

The Plain Jane is just a cliché that plays at our insecurities. The message of ‘there’s hope for all of us’ resonates but is it actually serving us?

I believe nobody is plain. Full stop.

  1. The evil one

evil one

The usual ‘good vs. evil’ dynamic is a cliché that gets on my nerves. We are all complex and pure evil villains are again, a bit of an easy way out.

It becomes double annoying when combined with the ‘monster is shot, stabbed, burned and impaled on a spike, and it rises again and again’ trope as well. I mean please, save us all our precious time and just kill those evil monsters off, will you?

It also has an irritable potential when combined with the evil one ‘accidentally‘ dying as well. I mean how convenient is that? When a murderer somehow stumbles and falls under a train, or off a cliff… yep, that one gets me too!

  1. Any good detective must be depressed—and preferably should have a drinking or substance overuse related problem.

dog detective

I think this one is quite self-explanatory. 😉

It’s usually closely followed by a maverick detective who doesn’t trust anyone and doesn’t need anybody’s help…


There you have it. Now over to you friends.

What are your favourite ‘tropes you personally dislike’? Fancy sharing some of them with me? 🙂

Non Fiction

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

we should all be feminists

We live in a society where shame can cause us to put on so much emotional armour that we are no longer connecting with others. You can call it fear, self-doubt, insecurity… whatever we call it, it’s than feeling we may get from time to time thinking we may just not be good enough. And all we do want is to hide. You may know by now, that shame is something Dr Brené Brown’s books talk about and I did explore it a bit in this post.

Why am I talking about shame whilst analysing a book about feminism? You see, how we perceive shame has something to do with our gender.

As Brown says, women tend to experience shame mostly about appearance – if we are thin, young or/and beautiful enough. Side note: of course, appearance shame is not limited to women only, men can experience it as well. It is however the number one shame trigger amongst women.

Adichie says: “forget the history of the word and the baggage it carries and think about the idea of it”.

And I agree. But before we do that, let’s address shame first.

Let’s say I tell my friend I’m a feminist and he looks at me and laughs whist saying back: “so you are telling me you stopped caring, won’t use deodorant and won’t shave your legs?”. Side note: that actually happened to me, admittedly it was more than a decade ago and had a lot to say about that certain individual rather than me… but the memory of it still stinks sometimes.

If the baggage around the word feminism targets a lack of interest in women’s appearances… then by default, it is used to instil shame in women. In other words, if you are a feminist, you clearly don’t care about your appearance, shame on you!

It bothers me.

That baggage is heavy, and I admit there were times when I would rather use a label of a ‘human activist’. Which is not a lie as I wholeheartedly believe in equal rights regardless of one’s gender, age, ethnicity, political, religious and sexual preferences etc.

But that didn’t specifically address the gender issue.

And I admit I was afraid. I didn’t want to be perceived in a certain way where I would have to defend myself. And I didn’t want to feel ashamed.

“My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.”

Not only we can start viewing that word feminist as something both men and women could use, but we can also address how we raise our children – and that applies to raising both girls and boys.

Side note: this is not to shame anybody’s parenting skills, I believe we all do the best we can. I’m talking about more general issue that goes very deep into our origins and roles we all play in this, regardless if we are parents or not.

In general, girls tend to be taught to be careful, to stay away from danger so they won’t get hurt. Boys are encouraged to be brave, to go out and seek adventures. If a boy gets hurt, he will be clapped for being the daring one, if a girl gets hurt, she will be scolded for being reckless and told not to do it again… Boys are encouraged to be loud, angry at times. But girls.. not so much. Pleasant is a word I personally cannot stand but sadly is the one sometimes used to describe a ‘nice’ woman. Why is it that if a woman is angry, she may be perceived as hysterical whereas a man may be perceived as passionate?

What can we do about it?

“Gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.”

And I could not agree more.

To make this world a different world, we must think about how we interact with each other, and that includes children, and how we rise up to challenges that will then shape our future. Using shame to solve a certain issue is not a way forward, it is an easy way out that doesn’t create such world.

We Should All Be Feminists is a short essay. I listened to it as an audio book and found Adichie to be a phenomenal narrator. Her beautiful voice talked about issues I really needed to address.

It’s a thought provoking piece that is extremely digestible as it is told via stories. And there is no judgement or hate attached to it. Just an open mind and a vision for better future.

I recommend this short book to everyone.

It’s an important topic and it gave me many thoughts that still linger days afterwards.

I understand the word feminism a bit more and sincerely hope that we all can be feminists

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple  (5/5)

Chitter-chatter

Chitter-Chatter: Why Do We Blog? Values 101

why do we blog

As some of you know, I’ve created a ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series where we can talk about book related topics.

If you have missed previous posts, we are still talking about:


In today’s Chitter-Chatter series, I would like to chat about why we find blogging enjoyable. I will explore the topic of personal values to help us understand.

A lot of coaching starts with exploring our values. Coaches believe that it is important to know them as they represent our core beliefs. They are our base and define who we are.

It is important to keep in mind that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ values.  For example, if family is a strong value of mine and my friend’s value is career, I may think of some of her choices as strange as they may go against my own value. This is when we can potentially get into conflict with others as our values may be clashing.

Knowing our values is also helpful in terms of being able to understand why we feel certain way. Susan David in her book Emotional Agility talks about emotions, that we sometimes perceive as ‘negative’, as actually being valuable to us. Those emotions can give us useful insights about what’s important in our lives and what our values are.

For example, let’s say someone cuts me off in traffic and I get angry. Rather than beating myself up for reacting that way, I can just pause and tell myself: “of course, I’m angry, respect is a value of mine and I feel it’s just been breached by that ‘disrespectful’ behaviour”. Side note: it’s not a fact that the behaviour was disrespectful, it was my opinion, but it helped me understand why I felt the way I did. The next step would be then to examine why I saw that behaviour as disrespectful and if I would like to change my opinion or if I’m happy with keeping it as it is. There is nothing wrong with keeping it as it is by the way. We are all entitled to have opinions!

I believe we all deep down know our values, but we haven’t named them yet, so they may still be a bit unclear to us.

I find helpful asking myself questions such as ‘what do I love doing’, ‘when do I feel content’ or ‘what makes me angry’ and so on. And when I notice my emotions, I can dig deeper to find what values are possibly behind them.

How does that relate to blogging?

We have different reasons why we blog, mostly because our values are not identical.

For example, if my value is creativity, I will blog regardless if I have followers, likes, comments etc. Because the act of writing honours that value of creativity. However, if my value is recognition, my motives will be different and I will find promotion of my work important.

We normally have many values and how we perceive them can sometimes present an internal value conflict.

For example, if both creativity and recognition are my values, they may cause me an inner tension as creativity wants me to spend time creating and recognition wants me to spend time promoting my work. They may argue over my time. When I recognise I have these values, I can divide my time so they both get my attention and I feel aligned with them. I could say I’ll spend x amount of time this week writing and y amount of time promoting my work. Or I could also change the way I look at promoting my blog in general. If I know I love being creative, I can see marketing as a creative process and acknowledge that I am honouring both of these values at once. It’s important to notice and name our values as that may help us shift our perspective.

The reasons I enjoy blogging is that it honour these values of mine:

  • Creativity – it’s fundamental that I create. If I don’t write, I must take photos, garden, draw, read (it’s considered creative due to imagination we use whilst reading), sing, bake, cook, dance… I just need to make stuff. If I don’t, I get super grumpy.
  • Connection / Love / Generosity – I group these together as I see them as one. I want to connect. I love people and blogging has enabled me to meet some wonderful peeps. I guess I could be writing posts just for the sake of my creativity but without that connection, it would feel less satisfying.

For me, connection doesn’t necessary relate to my blog. I am happy to visit others’ blogs and connect that way. Via doing so, I am sort of removing an external condition that people must read my blog for me to connect with them. Please don’t feel you have to visit my blog if I ever comment at yours. I am honestly commenting because I love your post!

But equally, please don’t feel that I don’t appreciate if you do comment on my blog. It means a lot to me and I am thankful for all those sweet and kind people who have commented so far. I appreciate every one of you. 

  • Authenticity– it’s extremely important to me to stay true to myself and to my values. I am not everybody’s cup of tea and that’s absolutely fine. Dita Von Teese once famously said: “you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches”. 😉 I want to write my opinions. And I am more than happy to have them challenged… but I won’t be writing reviews to please people nor will I read genre I have zero interest in to attract traffic.
  • Curiosity – I swear that one gets me more often into trouble that it actually serves me! My favourite word is why and I was one of those nightmare kids who would always ask questions and would never get satisfied with the ‘that’s the way it is’ answer. My poor parents had to constantly answer questions of: ‘why is the grass green’, ‘why is this man angry’, ‘why does this person need two seats’.. I wasn’t a mean child, I wanted to understand. And because I’m curious, I love analysing books. I want to get to know characters and understand their motives. When writing critical reviews, my curiosity is blissfully happy.
  • Growth – It sort of goes hand in hand with curiosity. I don’t feel I need to change but I still crave growing and evolving. If a book has a character that doesn’t grow, I lose interest. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to grow by the way, it’s just something that is personally important to me.

I also feel that I’m growing when I read positive reviews of books I personally didn’t enjoy reading that much.

Curiosity wants to know why these opinions are different, generosity enables me to keep an open mind and growth gets satisfied when I understand those different opinions. 🙂

These are not the only values of mine, but I find them fundamental when I’m blogging. When I’m honouring them, I am content and happy to carry on.  I am still figuring my values, please don’t feel bad if you don’t know yours yet. It is a process which doesn’t happen overnight.

If you know your values, your list may be very different to mine – and that’s ok! I appreciate how different we all are – it makes this world such an interesting place to live in.

Just before I wrap up, I want to tell you a story. A few years ago, I had an Instagram and Twitter accounts that related to rock climbing. I love taking photos and initially really enjoyed honouring this creative outlet of mine. My followers’ numbers grew, and I was getting more and more likes. And I’m not going to lie to you: it felt initially great. But then it somehow stopped feeling good and I started seeing it more as a chore. I thought long and hard about why my perspective shifted. I think my problem was that I wasn’t taking photos for me but rather for my audience. That started going against my value of authenticity. I also started neglecting connections as I was not fully present with others whilst thinking about what photo to take during my time with them. And it didn’t feel good. Once I started understanding my values, I also started understanding why I felt the way I did.

I’m sharing my experience not to preach my values. I’m sharing it as an example to demonstrate how knowing our values can help us understand ourselves better.

I believe that we feel good not because what our values are, but rather because we are aware of them and are aligned with them.


It’s time to chat.

  • Do you understand your values? (I’m still working mine out so don’t feel bad if you don’t, you are not alone!)
  • If you do, what values of yours relate to your blogging?

Please let me know in the comments below, I am dying to know… (that curiosity again…!)

PS. I am not judging anybody who has different values, please keep that in mind if you feel a bit scared or intimidated! 

Bookish

T5W Rewind – Favourite Villains

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam@Thoughts on Tomes over on Goodreads.

This month’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series are Rewind topics – which means we can choose any previously used topic throughout the series. For today’s topic, I have chosen Favourite Villains.


In any book I read or a movie I watch, I crave complex characters.

I enjoy discovering characters that are not entirely likeable.

The protagonists must have flaws and the purpose of their stories is to overcome them. Equally, for their antagonists, there must be still some humanity left in them in order for me to sympathise with them. I will not condone their actions, but I may at least understand, where that behaviour is coming from.

There are many evil psychopathic villains out there and they have their place. My list below probably consists mostly of sympathetic or rather tragic villains.

Side note: The Orangutan Librarian wrote a brilliant post on Why Villains are the Greatest. I really recommend checking it out!


  • Sméagol / Gollum – The Lord of the Ring Series

Gollum

Let’s pause and appreciate Gollum’s portrait by Frédéric Bennett 

Gollum is probably my favourite.

I like his character because there is still some humanity left in him, despite being consumed by his extremely powerful desire for the Ring.

He always gives me hope; that humanity can persevere.

  • Loki – Norse Mythology (and Marvel comics)

loki

Picture by incredible artist Sceith

Loki is a broken man damaged by his past.

The legends tell us the harder he tries, the harder he usually falls.

I guess that could make his actions seem somehow relatable. And I think that’s what makes him an interesting character as well.

  • Magneto – Marvel Comics, X-Men

Magneto

Image credit

Another character haunted by his dark past.

His intentions are to make the world a better place for the mutants.

Unfortunately his approach, to kill all humans, is what makes him an anti-hero material. That doesn’t mean we approve of his choices, but can at least understand what made him into that villain.

  • Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader

star wars origin

Photo credit

Because every hero has a villain potential.

And because we don’t know what we are capable of doing until everything we love is threatened to be taken away from us.

And because of that redemption and hope that goes with it.

  • Jamie Lannister from “A Song of Ice and Fire” series

George R.R Martin has this cunning ability to create complex characters that I just want to know more of.

got__jaime_lannister_by_antylopa-dazvdlv

Amazing drawing by Antylopa

Jamie is one of them.

In the first few books, he is a ‘classic’ villain. His actions are fuelled by his selfish and ego-centric behaviour and of course there is that sibling love.

Then he is forced to face his disability and he raises up to that challenge.

It has something to do with certain Brienne of Tarth. Their unlikely friendship and those first glimpses of Jamie’s humanity, that were there all along but buried deep within, are probably one of my favourite parts of the Game of Thrones series.


There you have it. Now over to you friends.

What are your favourite villains? Fancy sharing some of them with me? 🙂

About Me, Bookish

Book Blogger Insider Tag

#Tags

I’d like to thank Ashley @ Ashley in Wonderland and Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky for tagging me in the Book Blogger Insider Tag. I enjoy connecting with them at their blogs. If they are new to you, please go and say Hi as they both write some interesting reviews.

RULES:

  • Answer the questions below
  • Credit the creator: Jamie @ ALittleSliceofJamie
  • Tag at least 5 people
  • Have fun!

1. Where do you typically write your blog posts?

Usually in my home office on our PC. We painted the tiny wall behind the computer midnight blue and I love staring at it whilst formulating my thoughts. I really want to add a floating shelf and some fairy lights to it so my staring into nothingness gets some ‘texture’. 😉

2. How long does it take you to write a book review?

It depends. I usually write a draft first, which takes anything around 30 – 60 minutes. Then I like to sleep on it and edit it on my iPad. I usually don’t post straight away, but rather a few days after my initial draft.

3. When did you start your book blog?

In February 2018.

4. What’s the worst thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

All those passionate and wonderful reviews my fellow book bloggers write. I somehow want to read all of those books immediately. Don’t take me wrong, I love being inspired.. but..  I sometimes feel I need to read everything straight away. And I am the only one to blame for that …  #bookishproblems 🙈

problems

5. What is the best thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

I would say it’s the blogging community, discovering alike minded bloggers and sometimes expanding my reading horizons because of that has been tremendous fun and I am so grateful for all those interesting and kind people I got to meet so far. 🙂

blogging community

6. What blog post have you had the most fun writing so far?

Top 5 Wednesday Ideal Mash-Ups. Mostly because it turned out to be a creative thing I discussed with my boyfriend and his family and was a lot of fun in general.

7. What is your favourite type of blog post to write?

I enjoy deconstructing books – I am fascinated by human behaviour and love analysing characters wondering why they did what they did and how it got captured in a book. So I would say book reviews are probably my favourite posts to write.

8. When do you typically write?

Before I start working in the mornings, usually after I walk my dog and have some good coffee. Side note: I am seriously turning into a coffee snob these days buying freshly roasted coffee beans that I grind and all that jazz… 😉

9. How do you write your book reviews? With a cup of coffee or tea? With Netflix? Cuddledup with your fur baby?

I don’t have a routine. I may have some coffee, my dog likes to hang around with me in the study unless some cats and squirrels pay him a visit in our garden which triggers his guardian alert and requires his attention downstairs… I sometimes burn an intense stick (much to my dog’s annoyance) and really enjoy watching trees outside or stare into that dark wall mentioned in point 1). 🙂

10. When do you write your book reviews? Right after finishing the book? Two weeks after finishing the book?

I usually wait at least a few days, sometimes a week or two. I mostly formulate my thoughts whilst walking my dog and let them brew a bit. I tend to copy quotes whilst reading a book but don’t take notes. I probably would benefit from that though…

11. How often do you post?

I don’t have a fixed schedule, I tend to do regular #T5W posts and ideally would like to post at least one book review a week. But if that doesn’t happen, I won’t stress about it. I have also started a Chitter-Chatter series but again, no fixed routine there yet. It may be a Friday thing but don’t hold me to it.


I think most of the bloggers I interact with has done this tag by now.

If you haven’t done it yet, consider yourself tagged and if that is something you would enjoy doing, please let me know as I would love to read your answers. 🙂

Before I go, I have one question I’m desperate to know though:

What is your favourite type of blog post to write?

Fancy sharing that with me? 🙂 Thanks. 🙂

Chitter-chatter

Chitter-Chatter: How to Feel Better During Reading Slumps

CaféLatte (1)

As some of you know, I’ve created a ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series where we can talk about book related topics. If you have missed previous posts: we talked about To-Be-Read lists and how to manage them. In the previous episode we talked about Reading Challenges and how to feel comfortable at failing them.

For today’s Chitter-Chatter series, I have chosen a topic that is unfortunately well known within the bookish community; let’s talk reading slumps, shall we?

There have been many great articles written on reading slumps. Some of my favourite ones are:

  • Norrie @ Reading under the Blankie offers great tips on how to deal with such periods of time. I found some of her strategies useful.
  • The Orangutan Librarian talks about the joys of re-reading books and how that can help getting out of reading slumps. I can totally see her point and it is something I am planning on trying out shortly as well.
  • Krysta @ Pages Unbound talks about why reading slumps can actually be valuable to us, readers.  Her thoughts inspired me to write today’s post. Thanks Krysta for that!

What I want to talk about today is how to feel better during reading slumps.

I think these times could be troublesome to us, readers, as we may start feeling like we are failing at being readers. And that doesn’t feel good. Hopefully in today’s series, I can offer some tips on how to possibly change that.


As a life coach in training, I get told regularly how powerful words are. I suppose I don’t need to highlight it any further as my assumption is that readers of my blog love books therefore are in love with language and words. I could be wrong but I’m going with this theory. 🙂

Have you read a book that made you think a certain way and because of that you started feeling particular way? You may not even realise you were thinking something; you may just remember those awesome feelings you had afterwards.

The gift of books is to bring us thoughts than can make us feel certain way. Some books do it “cheaply” and go for obvious joyful or tear-jerking moments, some do it in a more subtle way but ultimately, all books make us think and therefore feel.

So how does that relate to those dreaded reading slumps?

In my opinion, how we name such periods of time is critical as that is what is forming our thoughts. If I say I’m in a reading slump, I honestly start feeling dreadful. Because I’m thinking I’m in a slump and therefore that I’m failing. All of that thinking is causing me to feel miserable.

As a self-confessed “recovering perfectionist”, I often make such statements about myself; shame again – it’s not my actions that are failing but me as a person who is failing. Because I’m thinking I am a reading failure, I also start producing thoughts causing apathy such as: “what’s the point anyway”… and as a consequence, I start feeling even less like doing something about it. And it all started with an innocent word slump that I made into a story, which then made me feel certain way.

We are all different and for you, that word may not spin into a story I told myself above. If that is the case, please carry on using it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t. But if you can somehow relate to what I have just written, here are some strategies you could try to stop feeling that way:


1)      You could not use that word slump. You could use something that makes you think differently about this phase and that will serve you.

I use ‘I read less than previous month’ or ‘I don’t read this month’ sentences. They are factual. However if I add judgement to them such as: ‘I read less than before and I’m failing’ it stops serving me.

So I’ve done what many coaches do, and have used a technique that softens an impact of a sentence and prevents me to add my own judgement to it. In this case, the sentence is: ‘I read less than previous month, and that’s OK’.

Can you feel the difference as soon as you read it? I certainly can.

2)      You can make the negative ‘I read less than before therefore I’m failing’ thought more neutral via: ‘I read less than previous month but there are certain days of a month when I am reading’.

Once that one is digested, you can take it even further ‘I read less than previous month but I read on a few evenings every week’.

You are basically trying to make yourself slowly feel like a reader again… that technique is moving your thought of the ‘I’m a failed reader’ to the ‘I am still a reader’ thought. All done in a believable way, which is based on facts rather than judgement.

3)      Or you could put a positive spin to it and add judgement that will make you feel better.

Side note: this is sometimes difficult to execute as you kind of have to believe it to get on board.

In this case, an example would be ‘I read less than previous month, and I finally have an opportunity to do other things I have been putting on hold’.

For some people, this strategy may be initially too radical and the first step to take maybe to try points 1) and 2) instead.


Disclaimer: I am a big fan of Brooke Castillo’s The Life Coach School podcast. It’s for everyone who is curious to see what a self-coaching may look like. Brooke offers many extremely valuable and free insights and I adore her no no-nonsense, let’s have a frank conversation approach. These tips above were inspired by some of her podcasts. If you find them useful, I suggest checking her podcast out as well as she talks about other topics that some may find interesting.

I firmly believe that the language I use in my head to describe my actions has immense power. If I start judging myself in a way that triggers feelings of shamehurtapathyfear… then I am not doing myself any favours and the likelihood of me getting out of a reading slump is smaller. Why? Because as terrible as this sounds, thoughts of this calibre can be quite indulgent. Brooke Castillo did an entire podcast on Indulgent Emotions and I’m telling you, they honestly can be that way once we give them enough room to roam free, I know that from my own experience.

Writing another believable narrative in my mind has helped me personally. I feel better that way. I enjoy those periods when I don’t read as I have trained my mind using all three of those points above. It’s still difficult sometimes as unwanted thoughts pop in now and again. But being aware of them and either privately journaling or talking to my loved ones are some of my coping strategies.

And then there is this lovely bookish community as well that has brought me so much joy already. All you wonderful like-minded book lovers that can provide useful insights and that generally ‘get’ it. Sometimes knowing it’s not just me but other people are going through that as well brings me a lot of comfort. So thanks so much for being there, I am grateful for that.


I use this as an opportunity to pass it over to you guys. Let’s chat.

  • What do you THINK of reading slumps?
  • How do you FEEL during those?

Fancy sharing that with me? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories. Thanks.

Non Fiction

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

the year of less

I have been following Cait Flandersblog for a while and had to read her book as I find her writing as well as topics she chooses to discuss extremely interesting. According her own words: Cait Flanders paid off $30,000 of debt, tossed 75% of her belongings and did a two-year shopping ban. She writes about consuming less and living more.”

The Year of Less is a memoir. It’s a story about what Cait discovered during her one year long self-imposed shopping ban. It’s not a how-to guide and I think it’s important to keep that in mind when reading this book to avoid any disappointment.


Before we dive in though, let’s first have a look at what GoodReads summary says:

WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy—only keeping her from meeting her goals—she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.

The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food—and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life—and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less.


Cait’s memoir is all about her numbing experiences and how she managed to get out of those addictive habits of hers. It can be used as an motivational read as there is nothing lighthearted about not wanting to experience pain, shame and other emotions we deem difficult. My heart went to her as I could relate with many things she was experiencing.

“I don’t remember how much it hurt with Chris, because back then I numbed myself. I numbed my sadness with food, and my emptiness with stuff.”

We live in a society where numbing is slowly becoming our way of coping.

Numbing could be any activity that we use to suppress feelings we don’t want to experience. Often commonly used numbing tools are: alcohol, food / sugar, binge TV watching, over-exercising, ‘busyness’, recreational drugs, self- medication, shopping sprees.. anything really that ‘takes that edge off‘ and that saves us from having to feel emotions we don’t want to encounter.

Dr Brené Brown talks about about numbing in her book Daring Greatly. Dr Brown’s extensive research points out following:  “We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

When we choose to numb all that painanxietyshame and fear, we are also numbing all that joy, cheerfulness, hope and love. It’s not easy to accept that when I was “busy” or “buying things to feel better”, I was also subduing all those feel-good emotions I was so desperately seeking.

What particularly resonated with my was this sentence of Cait’s:

“Who are you buying this for: the person you are, or the person you want to be?”

You see, I used to be guilty of such behaviour. I would buy dresses my “sophisticated” self would wear but I never ended up wearing them as they were just not me. I would buy books my “smart” self should read but they only gathered dust on shelves afterwards. I would buy make-up my “grown up” self should wear only for it to stay unused.. I bought things for the person I was so eagerly trying to become. It’s painful to admit it at times but having compassion towards my younger self helps as I can see her for who she was.

I recommend The Year of Less to anyone who is curious about what may happen once we stop numbing ourselves. It’s an journey of a 20-something Canadian gal that went through a lot of pain but came out much stronger because of it. It’s not a guide on what to do, but it may inspire you nevertheless.

Over the years, I have minimised my own possessions and am definitely more mindful about my purchases. However this book triggered some thoughts in me about my own future spending habits and I am seriously toying with an idea of coming up with a self-imposed shopping ban as well…. stay tuned! Side note: I reserve the right to change my mind though! 🙂

I’ll leave you with this beautiful passage from Cait’s book:

“One of the greatest lessons I learned during these years is that whenever you’re thinking of binging, it’s usually because some part of you or your life feels like it’s lacking—and nothing you drink, eat, or buy can fix it. I know, because I’ve tried it all and none of it worked.

There’s more to it but I won’t give it all up as it’s such a wonderful ending of Cait’s book, which made me all teary-eyed. 

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple  (4/5)