Bookish

2019 Wishlist & Slow Reading Experiment

slow reading

Happy New Year!

I’ve recently read many wonderful posts written on goals for 2019 – in particular, Umut’s confession really resonated with me. I started thinking about my own plans. I have been reflecting on what I learned during 2018 what I want to take away from it:

I’ve noticed that setting a concrete challenging reading goal for 2018 produced a few interesting outcomes:

  1. I read more – much more than I would normally read – I haven’t met my 100 books goal, but wasn’t that far away from it.
  2. Reading became a chore and I had to abandon my goal to preserve my sanity and to enjoy reading for what I want it to be – something I cherish but also something that I don’t want to do all the time.

I started this blog with the intention to write on a regular basis as well as to talk about books. That indeed was a success. I wrote a lot more in 2018 than I did in previous years. It was hard at times, but it also brought me a lot of joy. And as a lovely byproduct, I happened to discover this supportive and amazing community. I am so grateful for your love my friends, I feel so lucky to be part of it.

There have been many ups and downs in 2018 and I am so appreciative for my loved ones, that were there for me. To celebrate the great times together and to lend me their strong shoulders when I needed them to cry on them during those tough times.


Let’s look ahead.

I like to choose a theme for the upcoming year. I like to write it in my journal and use it as a beacon in the dark, whenever I feel like I’m losing my way. I’m currently toying with following words as contenders for 2019:

Notice / Listen / Tune In

I want to listen more this year and be more attentive in general – I’m striving to notice rather than to react. I want to give my full focus to others when they speak – no interruptions, no offer of an immediate advice. I also want to tune in inwards to hear my own voice – in order to observe my habits and my thinking… I’m leaning towards Notice so far but that may still change.

Based on my summary above, do you have any other suggestions please? I’m reaching out to all those creative souls out there.

I’ll be grateful for any other suggestions please. 🙂 Thanks! 


In terms of my goals for this year:

Big Goal:

Get certified as a Life Coach. I am starting Masters in Coaching later on this month. This will take a lot of my spare time as I still have a 40+ hours a week full-time job. I’ve gone through my compulsory reading list (nearly fainted a few times after I fully grasped its length 😉 ) and started cracking on with a few of those mandatory reads. They are super interesting! 🙂

Bookish / Creative:

Read fewer books and enjoy slow reading experience. This may go against many reading goals but I honestly want to read less this year. 😉 I started experimenting with it with my last book, The Winter of the Witch and it made me so happy.

I’ll be writing a separate discussion post about it as there’s a lot to talk about. Stay tuned for that one. 🙂

Read some of the books I already own but haven’t read yet. Perhaps many of you can relate to the process of buying books, looking at them lovingly, being excited about reading them…. and then forgetting all about them. I have many eBooks. I don’t even know what I own and haven’t read.

I’ve been compiling a spreadsheet (my inner organiser is loving it) of all books I own. My plan is to choose my reading material from this list on a regular basis. I won’t constrict myself entirely to it but will start reducing it.

Space Fleet adventure – my dear friend Alexandra invited me to take a part in her Fleet Space Adventure. I have a character that I’ll be writing about – her name is Ada Novák. I have learned so much about this creative writing process already – thank you Alexandra for all of your help, you are such a wonderful friend and I am so grateful I have met you.

Please come over to say hello – either to read along or to take part and to join our expanding crew. Ada may even coach you if you let her… 😉

Carry on writing blog posts but post less frequently – I’m currently thinking once a week or once every two weeks. Again, this may change but having a less of an internal pressure to ‘create content’ will help me focus on studying.

It will also hopefully enable me to enjoy blogging for what I want it to be – a hobby that will connect me with others and that will honour my value of creativity as well as my love for books.

Mental Health:

Less time online, more face to face interactions. Sadly, this will mean less blog hoping but I’ve noticed tremendous health benefits when I switched off my phone and went out for meals or walks with others or on my own. I’m currently setting up boundaries – I’m thinking no online time on weekends as well as some evenings. This may still change but that’s where I may be heading…

Fitness:

Running challenges – I’ve signed up for several 10-12km long trail races, one of them includes 600m elevation – I may have got carried away a bit with that one but hey, let’s embrace it… somehow …. 😉 Strangely, I started enjoying running during 2018 – miracles do happen my friends! Running longer distances still doesn’t come naturally to me (I’m an ex-sprinter, anything longer than 400m is looooong….). It is hard sometimes, especially on those cold and dark mornings. But it makes me happy afterwards – all those endorphins, that sense of achievement, that joy of watching sunrises and smiling at other runners I get to meet on trails… it all totally outweighs the initial discomfort I think.

Fun climbing challenge – my boyfriend and I created a friendly (a total lie he he!) climbing couple competition for 2019. I may even start climbing more often as I’m totally going to win this one. 😉


Over to you now:

  • Do you use a theme for the upcoming year?
  • Where’s your focus going to go this year?

Fancy sharing it with you? As always, I love hearing from you. 💗💗💗

Bookish

I am a Dragon Rider and Fantasy is my Genre #GenreTag

One of my favourite blogging friends, Alexandra, tagged me recently in the ‘This is My Genre Tag’.

If you don’t know Alexandra’s blog yet, please pop over to say hello – her posts are witty, thoughtful and full of heart.

Recently, Alexandra launched a new reading / writing project –

her SPACE FLEET Is Seeking New Recruits!

I will be taking a part in it and if you like sci-fi / fantasy please come over for a visit. I hope some of you will join us on this big space adventure. 🙂


Without further ado, let’s have a look at my favourite genre. 🙂TolkienWhat is your favourite genre?

I love many genres, but if I really, really have to choose one, it would be fantasy.

And to be more precise, it would be myth / folk inspired fantasy.

Who is your favourite author in this genre?

J.R.R. Tolkien for sure.

“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

For that bitter-sweetness his books bring me.

For that imagination, exquisite language, careful attention to detail and that hope that is felt throughout his stories. His books are extremely quotable and as a fellow dreamer, my favourite quote of his is: “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” .

I also enjoy books from Neil Gaiman, George R. R. MartinRick Riordan and Katherine Arden.

What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

Imagination sprinkled with possibility.

Whenever I read historic fiction, nonfiction or fiction in general, I tend to get bogged down by details wondering if they are correct. It sometimes distracts me from the story. Fantasy on the other hand is one wild ride.

I appreciate the myth inspired stories because I’m drawn to our ancestors’ need to explain the world around them.

I also like to ride dragons from time to time and enjoy getting lost in Rivendell whenever time permits. 🙂

What is the book that started your love of this genre?

There is no book per se – my grandma and my dad would read me myths and folk legends as bedtime stories. My love for fantasy started from hearing those as a child and I still remember, as if it was yesterday, how I would ask them to read me just one more story…. 🙂

If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – because it is a hauntingly beautiful coming-of-age story that is heavily inspired by Russian folklore.

It’s such an atmospheric winter book – perfect for this current season! 😊 My review of this book can be found here

Why do you read?

René Descartes once said: Cogito ergo sum. (I think; therefore I am.).

I would like to extend that to reading: I read; therefore I am.

How can one think without reading? That’s my logic anyhow.. 😉 😉


If you have time / haven’t done this tag already, I’d love to hear from:

Gemma | Lisa | Melanie | Orangutan | Leslie

Nonfiction November

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Week 3 – In Search of Growth

Nonfiction NovemberWelcome to another post in the Nonfiction November series. For those of you new to this, Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves.

If you haven’t read my previous post in the series yet, you can find Week 1 – My Year in Nonfiction post here – and Week 2 – Fiction with Nonfiction Book Pairing here.

Today’s topic is Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert and is hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness

There are three ways to join in this week – we can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that we have read and can recommend (be the expert), we can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that we have been dying to read (ask the expert), or we can create your own list of books on a topic that we’d like to read (become the expert).

I’ve decided to roll up my sleeves and look at the topic, that is, as a life coach, very close to my heart. I feel I have read a lot of books on this topics but I’d like to read more books as well. So I’m mixing Be the Expert with the Ask the Expert categories.

Today, I would like to talk about Growth and why I firmly believe in the “it’s not about the goal but rather about the journey” concept.


I feel we live in times, when we talk a lot about achievements. Don’t take me wrong – I don’t want to dismiss them or downplay them. Achievements start bothering me when the outcome becomes the only thing ‘that matters’. When all that discomfort, courage and grind that lies behind them gets overlooked. When the primary focus is on the result, rather than its process.

I firmly believe that behind any self-development is a strong desire to grow.

But when we talk about growth, I guess the important part is how we approach it. In other words:

  1. do we want to grow become we believe we are not good enough and are hoping that if we grow, we may become someone else and will feel better
  2. or do we want to grow because we want to be uncomfortable and enjoy the process, rather than its outcome.

Those two different categories indicate from which place we approach growth, the first one is coming from a fear mindset – i.e. I need to change, I’m afraid they don’t like who I am, I am not good enough, have not enough, do enough…

The second category comes from an abundance mindset. We believe we have enough and are enough but also feel that we can still go after our dreams, face our fears, be uncertain / vulnerable, let people in – in other words, we are happy to be uncomfortable and face all emotions that come with it.

Deciding how to approach growth is critical. I always tell myself: “I will grow because I want to, not because I feel I need to.” This simple sentence can shift my own mentality profoundly.

My favourite question to ask myself is: “who am I becoming in this process“? Let’s think about it. It’s a very direct question that prompts us to look for growth and how it shapes us.

I also agree with Tony Robbins, who once said: “All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone.” Without discomfort, there is no growth. And without growth, there is no story to tell. At least that’s what I believe in.😊

Which books would I recommend on this subject? I’m glad you asked!

Brené BrownDaring Greatly , Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness

“…sometimes when we are beating ourselves up, we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, “Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.” ” ~  Brené Brown

Tim Ferriss: Tools of Titans

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” ~ Tim Ferriss

Martha N. Beck: Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live

“Fear is the raw material from which courage is manufactured.” ~ Martha N. Beck

Byron Katie: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.” ~Byron Katie

Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Susan David: Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life 

“Emotions are data, they are not directives” ~  Susan David

Rob Bell: How to Be Here

“It’s important to embrace several truths about yourself and those around you, beginning with this one: who you AREN’T isn’t interesting.” ~ Rob Bell


That’s just a few of my favourite books. There are many more but also, there are even more I am yet to read! So many books, so little time! 😊

Now over to you.

Fancy sharing some of your favourite books about growth and self-development with me?

As always, I would love to know!

 

 

 

 

Fiction

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan

The Christmas Lights

Let’s first appreciate the book’s gorgeous cover, shall we? I must admit I am usually immune (read utterly oblivious) to books’ covers but this one really appealed to me and drew me in.

Maybe it’s the festive period, maybe it’s the stars or the northern lights… or maybe it’s the recent trip to Canadian Rockies.. who knows, I love this cover. 😊 What do you think?

Let’s start with the GoodReads blurb:

December 2018, and free-spirited influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the ‘perfect’ life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can’t explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who’ll listen.

June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . .

The mountains keep secrets – Signy knows this better than anyone – and as Bo’s life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.

I was intrigued by both the book’s premise as well as its settings. I am slightly curious about social media ‘influencers’ and wanted to hear Swan‘s take on them. That as well as me being able to read endless books featuring Norwegian fjords! 😉

Let’s first talk about the pace. I must admit, I found the book’s beginning slightly on the slow side and it took me a while to get into it. Once I got involved though, I could not put it down. I read and read and then read some more. And yes, I was utterly bleary-eyed the next day, courtesy of The Christmas Lights. Sadly, I found the ending slightly disappointing, mainly due to being able to guess what was about to happen. It did not spoil the overall impact the book left though as it was an entertaining ride!

There are two story-lines that intertwine throughout the book. There is the present narrative told by Bo, a social media influencer. The second story-line is set in 1936 and is voiced by Signy, a young shepherd girl. Both female protagonists have to face danger – Bo is facing an online stalker whilst Signy is on a lookout for a dangerous animal.

It took me a while to warm up to Bo. It becomes quite clear from the beginning, that Bo has a lot of unresolved issues, some of which include dealing with a terrible loss. Her solution is to get distracted by escaping to new places. Bo is a part of a couple called The Wanderlusters – the ‘action’ duo that travels the world whilst embracing daring adventures, as well as promoting products from their sponsors on the way. I found her character self-indulgent, sometimes borderline annoying… yet also vulnerable and kind. There was definitely a mixture of emotions Bo triggered in me and I appreciated that she was complex and not entirely likeable as that made her feel more real.

I also enjoyed how Swan touched on what gets presented on some Instagram feeds and how reality vs. what is shown on social media, can sometimes be two very different things.

Signy‘s story appealed to me as her character is both feisty as well as modest. Signy is a fourteen year old girl, who learned very early in life, how to live in austere conditions and who loves animals she is in charge of. I found her story very poetic but also raw and brutal at times. It’s not just the wilderness that brings danger and Signy needs to learn very quickly whom to trust.

I thought the atmosphere was excellent.  I especially loved the harshness of wintery Norwegian fjords, full of serene solidarity as well as hidden dangers.

I also started feeling quite giddy about the upcoming festive period. I dreamt about lights that shine through those dark nights as well as those delightful smells of mulled wine and gingerbread that usually surround Christmas markets, and all those wonderful feelings that come with this time of year.

I recommend this book to those, who are after an adventure, who appreciate a little bit of a love story and who want to get into a festive mood. It is a charming holiday read that may just keep you awake at night as you may want to read that next page! 😊

I would like to thank to both the publisher, Pan Macmillan as well as the author, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Now over to you! Do you enjoy festive reads? And is The Christmas Lights something that appeals to you? 

As always, I really want to know. 😊

Nonfiction November

NONFICTION NOVEMBER: Week 2 – Nonfiction Book Pairing

Welcome to another post in the Nonfiction November series. For those of you new to this, Nonfiction November is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves.

If you haven’t read my previous post in the series yet, you can find it here.

Today’s topic is fiction/nonfiction book pairings and is hosted at Sarah’s Book Shelves blog.

For my nonfiction picks, I decided to stick to memoirs and mythology as these particular nonfiction genres tend to relate to fiction really well, are full of wonderful stories. They can be a great introduction to nonfiction for those, who are reluctant to read this genre.

Let’s take a look at my picks:

1. Stories about Survival

“We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome.” ~ Isabel Allende

Kristin Hannah’s Great Alone is quite a well-known fiction (my review here). It is a beautiful haunting coming-of-age story, which takes us to hostile Alaska during the 70’s. It’s a story about survival – not just the environmental one, but the domestic one as well.

If you have enjoyed it or think you could enjoy it, then I highly recommend The Educated by Tara Westhover (my review here). It’s a powerful memoir, which covers coming-of-age story, features survival and openly talks about mental health issues, whilst drawing us in and keeping us engaged via a compelling story-telling.

2. Stories about Self-Discovery

“The longest journey is the journey inward.” ~ Dag Hannarskjold

I’m sure some of you heard of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Some of you may have seen its movie version featuring Reese Witherspoon. Wild is a memoir that deals with loss but also is a journey of discovering one’s identity. It takes us to the challenging Pacific Crest Trail, where Strayed not only started her trail, but also her journey inward.

I would pair Wild with Katherine Center’s Happiness for Beginners. Center‘s story pulled me in as the main character’s search for meaning as well as her discovering of who she was and what she stood for, really appealed to me. Plus the setting was in the mountain wilderness of Wyoming, something I found highly alluring.

3. Stories about Mythical Creatures

My last pairing is hopefully appropriate for the upcoming time of year. I am a winter person and can not tell you how excited I am about this approaching season. Winter’s coming my friends!

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein

If you enjoy J.R.R Tolkien‘s stories, especially The Lord of the Rings, I really recommend Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology (my review here).

Gaiman‘s retelling of Norse myths takes us to the land of Frost Giants, lets us be crossed with the manipulate and always speculating Locki, and delivers not only the seasonal frost but also the beautiful land of fjords and northern lights.

Tolkien was highly influenced by these myths. For example Gandalf was Tolkien‘s version of Odin, he even referred to him as an “Odinic wanderer“. Tolkien‘s references to elves, Middle Earth, Balrog and much more are all his tributes to those powerfully raw and dark myths.

Both of these books are highly atmospheric reads and could be great companions in the upcoming festive period.


Now over to you.

What would be your nonfiction with fiction pairing?

Non Fiction

My Year in Non Fiction

I found out recently via Kristin’s post that there is such a thing as Non Fiction November, which is being hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Julie at JulzReads, Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves, Katie at Doing Dewey, and Rennie at What’s Nonfiction.

As I love reading nonfiction , I’ve decided to take part in this celebration.i heart nonfictionWeek 1 – My Year in Nonfiction – hosted by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness

In this post, I would like to look back at my year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions:

  • What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

My picks are two books as both of them really touched me and left me with many thoughts that lingered for months after I finished reading those:

Educated by Tara Westover (my review here) for its testament of how we can choose not to be defined by our past and circumstances.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (review is currently being written) for Noah’s witty and extremely well articulated essays set in post-Apartheid South Africa, which cover feminism, racism and much more.

  • Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

This year, I have been drawn towards topics of feminism and racism. I really enjoyed reading We Should All Be Feminist by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (review here) and want to learn more about it in the upcoming months.

As a life coach in training, I have also been attracted towards topics that explore what makes us tick. I thoroughly enjoyed Jon Ronson’s So You Have Been Publicly Shamed (review here) and currently loving Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead as well as Seth Godin’s Linchpin.

  • What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Daring greatlyBrené Brown’ Daring Greatly because:

  • it’s not a boring factual book
  • it’s full of real stories of struggle
  • it gives me hope
  • it teaches me how to be brave
  • and because it shows me that I am not alone.

This book really speaks to my heart. Every time I hear Theodore Roosevelt’s quote below, which goes hand in hand with the book, I have tears in my eyes:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

  • What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I am hoping to discover more nonfiction as well as to connect with alike minded blogging community and to perhaps inspire some of my readers to give nonfiction a go.

There is still a common misconception out there that nonfiction is dry and… boring.

There are many nonfiction books that are full of stories of epic battles that feature both heroes and anti-heroes and I am hoping that by writing about them may pique some of your interest… yes, I do have a cunning plan!


What about you? Do you enjoy nonfiction?

If so, what nonfiction book have you recommended the most? 

Chitter-chatter

Chitter-Chatter: Anticipated Releases

Before we dive into into today’s post, let me update you on my reviewing progress. 😉

Remember all those books I promised to review in my previous two posts? Well, it would honestly helped had I wrote notes whilst reading them as I am now desperately remembering what I wanted to actually write about. Mental note to self: “Please be a dear and write notes whilst reviewing books. Your future-self will thank you for that. Ta!” I haven’t given up yet, there is still hope … ! 😉


Now the review bit is over, welcome to the ‘Chitter-Chatter‘ series. I’m so glad you are here. ❤️

In case you have missed previous posts in this series, we are still talking about:


Let’s dive into today’s topic. Let’s talk about that deliciously sweet feeling of anticipation.

Why now? Firstly, I’m already kind of getting excited about Christmas and secondly, James and I have an epic, two week long road trip ahead of us, that I am have been anticipating for months, created a vision board for and just can not wait to tell you about at some point. 😊

Those two points made me think about the joy of anticipation and how it can be extended to books as well.

I love anticipating new book releases. Currently, I have three books I just can not wait to get my hands on:

  • Katherine Arden’s The Winter of the Witch
  • Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars
  • and Sarah J. Maas’ final book in the Throne of Glass series, Kingdom of Ash

I can not wait to read those but equally, I am really enjoying that feeling of anticipation. I am picturing how much I will be enjoying reading them and as I am thinking about that, I am actually creating a lot of enjoyment already for myself.

I was reading the other day a note that said that sometimes, it’s nice to have things lined up just for the sake of anticipation. Regardless of how those things actually turn out to be.

You can think about a vacation you’ll be taking. Planning it, dreaming about it, visualising who you will be spending it with, what you will be talking about, what you will be doing, how much fun it will be… and you know what? It actually doesn’t matter how that vacation turns out to be, because in your mind, you will be creating those feelings ahead of time. And will be enjoying them regardless if the ‘real deal’ delivers or not.

You can of course do the same thing with books – looking forward to reading a book yet to be written by one of your favourite authors can be extremely enjoyable regardless if you happen to enjoy that book in the end or not. It’s that long, excited and sweet feeling of anticipation you will be cultivating prior to the actual reading experience.

Yes, there is also a possibility of an anticipated event not turning up to be the way we envisioned it but that disappointment doesn’t take away those giddy months of anticipation. It may be a temporary downer, I agree, but it still doesn’t take away those feelings we felt beforehand.

Of course we can decide to play it safe and numb those excited feelings in order not to get disappointed… because you know, it may hurt a little. But if we decide to squash our anticipation, we will also numb the follow up enjoyment, should that event actually deliver.  Numbing emotions is not a selective process. Something I very vividly remember from my own past…

So here’s the deal.

Shall we make a pact to celebrate anticipation, look forward to all our eagerly awaited releases no matter what we think of them afterwards?

And let’s be bold, let’s extend that to other aspects of our lives, shall we?


Let’s chat!

Tell me what you are anticipating / are looking forward to at the moment?

As always, I love reading your comments and getting to know you. ❤️