Bookish

T5W – Best Books I’ve Read So Far in 2018

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

This week’s topics for the Top 5 Wednesday series is: Best Books You’ve Read So Far in 2018.

I have read many excellent books this year. I had a few months when I didn’t feel like reading but despite of that, I have managed to read about 40 books.

Out of those, following five books really stood out for me:

  • Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (review)

educated

A powerful testament of how we can choose to stop being defined by our past. It is a thought provoking memoir that left me with a strong feeling of unease long after I finished reading it. I still think about it months after I finished reading this book. Its main theme is privilege – we don’t get to choose circumstances we are born into. It also explores belonging, shame, forgiveness as well as the ability to become an observer, rather than a victim of your past.

“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.” 

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (review)

eleanor

I enjoyed its witty writing, consistent pacing and all those wonderful characters. Eleanor is the main protagonist but there are many supporting personalities that I enjoyed reading about as well. They are really what this book is all about. They are vivid, charming and you just want to know a little bit more of them and have to keep on reading. It is not a fun or a light-hearted book as it deals with some serious issues, but I appreciated how it made me think as well as feel.

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.” 

  • Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe

What a lovely book. Circe tells a story of an eternal witch, who gets banished for her actions. It is a slow story full of beautiful and lyrical writing. I loved everything about it, especially the Greek mythology aspect and the feminist thoughts. My review will follow shortly.

“When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.”

  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (review)

norse mythology

It is a collection of stories that feel modern. They are fast paced and full of action and Gaiman’s sharp writing gives them a nice punch. There is also a lot of humour involved. I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by the author himself and highly recommend the audio version of this book.

“Because,” said Thor, “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.” 

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (review)

big little lies

It is a wonderful story of a friendship of three women, their dealings with motherhood as well as having to come to terms with some dark demons from their pasts. I saw many shame related topics in this book. Moriarty deeply understands human behaviour and portrayed honest struggles of mothers and women in general.

“She’d swallowed it whole and pretended it meant nothing, and therefore it had come to mean everything.” 


Now over to you my friends. 🙂

Fancy sharing with me your favourite 2018 reads so far?

Can’t wait to see yours. 🙂

Fiction

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

eleanor

Today was meant to be my next Chitter-Chatter day. Today, I wanted to talk about books’ re-ratings.

Then I read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and changed my mind. I must tell you about this book. I just have to get it out of my system before I forget… 🙂

I started reading it on Monday’s night this week and had it not been for that pesky thing called work, I would have read it till early hours of Tuesday morning.

I told you Educated was my book of 2018. Well, I’m not sure if it still holds. I really, really fell in love with Eleanor, who is completely fine by the way, thanks for asking.


I’ll start with a warning.

This book deals with some tough issues such as loneliness, social isolation, child abuse, shame as well as death. I will include trigger warnings at the end of my post but if you are sensitive to any of these, please proceed with care, it is a sad book.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant (Ms.). Our main protagonist. She is of course, as the title suggests, completely fine.

Or is she?

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.” 

Eleanor is someone, you just cannot help falling in love with. She has no social skills, doesn’t understand emotions or relationships and likes to say it as it is. Whilst thinking she is doing everyone a favour of course.

She is a breath of fresh air. She doesn’t want to purposely hurt anyone but can not keep her mouth shut at times. She can be judgemental and even arrogant at times but as the story starts unfolding, we start glimpses of where that thinking is coming from. And she is willing to grow. Something I find fundamental when deciding whether to like a character or not. Her highly articulate and brilliantly descriptive thoughts made me laugh out loud so many times. This book strikes a lovely balance in bittersweetness. There are many extremely sad parts but there is also this warm undercurrent of human goodness.

“There are days when I feel so lightly connected to the earth that the threads that tether me to the planet are gossamer thin, spun sugar. A strong gust of wind could dislodge me completely, and I’d lift off and blow away, like one of those seeds in a dandelion clock. The threads tighten slightly from Monday to Friday.” 

Eleanor likes her routine, which is an admin work from 9 to 5, combined with a meal-deal lunch and a crossword puzzle. She also enjoys a few bottles of vodka on weekends, which help her with her sleeping habits. Then there are those regular Wednesdays’ calls with Mummy… but Mummy is someone we don’t like to talk about a lot. And then there’s the man of her dreams. She finally found him. He doesn’t know it yet but it’s only a matter of time…

Eleanor is an extremely intelligent person. She likes order and logic. Here’s an example of what she thought of some of those warning signs we like to put onto everything these days. This is her first McDonalds’ coffee experience:

“There was nothing to tempt me from the choice of desserts, so I opted instead for a coffee, which was bitter and lukewarm. Naturally, I had been about to pour it all over myself but, just in time, had read the warning printed on the paper cup, alerting me to the fact that hot liquids can cause injury. A lucky escape, Eleanor! I said to myself, laughing quietly. I began to suspect that Mr. McDonald was a very foolish man indeed, although, judging from the undiminished queue, a wealthy one.”

There is something raw and vulnerable about Eleanor. She never belonged anywhere. She had a challenging upbringing and also happens to suffer with acute shame, which makes her shy away from a human interaction. She is lonely and withdrawn. There is also that numbing part thanks to those bottles of vodka. I talked about numbing in this post. When we numb difficult emotions, we also numb those lovely emotions such as happiness and joy. They don’t stand a chance. And you can feel that in this book. You definitely can.

I loved everything about Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Its witty writing, consistent pacing and all those wonderful characters. Eleanor is the main protagonist but there are many supporting personalities that I enjoyed reading about as well. They are really what this book is all about. They are vivid, charming and you just want to know a little bit more of them and have to keep on reading.

Trigger warnings: child abuse, emotional and physical abuse, sexual assault, self-harm, suicide, depression and addiction. As said, it is not a light-hearted fun book, please take care if you are sensitive to these. ❤️

Recommended? Yes! Yes! Yes! Especially if you enjoy character driven books. It’s an utterly mesmerising book that will make you laugh whilst having tears in your eyes.


Over to you:

  • Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?
  • If you haven’t read this book, what do you think? Fancy reading it?
Non Fiction

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

you have been shamed

My boyfriend James likes to say rather sarcastically: “Good luck having Vera read something from one of your recommended authors”. Why? Well, I tend to possess the gift of ‘a zero attention span’. I get super excited about an author’s recommendation, and five seconds later, I forget all about it. Despite how much I would like to read something from that author and the fact that their books are added to my TBR list (which I tend to ignore completely these days).

Why am I telling you this?

About 6 years ago, James recommended Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test to me, telling me how brilliant Jon Ronson was and how much he enjoyed that book. I listened, got super excited … and still haven’t read that book to this day….

A few weeks ago, I happened to find out Jon Ronson wrote this book about shame. Shame is one of those topics I always want to know more of. My curiosity was immediately sparked, I had to read that book!

Well, I did. And I loved it and I promptly told James off for not telling me sooner how brilliant Jon Ronson was… true story. 😉

For those of you, who have recommended me authors or books so far: there is still hope that I may read them one day… it may be a convoluted and a long-winded process, but I may get there. Do not despair! 😉 And I do appreciate all of your recommendations, I promise. ❤️


Let’s have a look at what Goodreads’ says about this book first:

From the internationally bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world’s most overlooked forces.

For the past three years, Jon Ronson has been immersing himself in the world of modern-day public shaming—meeting famous shamees, shamers, and bystanders who have been impacted.  This is the perfect time for a modern-day Scarlet Letter—a radically empathetic book about public shaming, and about shaming as a form of social control. It has become such a big part of our lives it has begun to feel weird and empty when there isn’t anyone to be furious about. Whole careers are being ruined by one mistake. A transgression is revealed. Our collective outrage at it has the force of a hurricane. Then we all quickly forget about it and move on to the next one, and it doesn’t cross our minds to wonder if the shamed person is okay or in ruins. What’s it doing to them? What’s it doing to us?

Ronson’s book is a powerful, funny, unique, and very humane dispatch from the frontline, in the escalating war on human nature and its flaws.


I listened to this book as an audiobook. It is narrated by the author himself. I enjoyed both Ronson’s musical Welsh accent as well as his narrative. If you enjoy listening to non-fiction podcasts, the audio version of this book may be a way to go.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed investigates, as the title suggests, public shaming. Shame is this corrosive feeling we may experience when we think we may just not be good enough. And we are worried that ‘they’ will find out one day. Public shaming is turning that fear of being found out, into a nightmare scenario of a roaring and upset crowd shouting at us ‘shame on you, what a terrible person you are’.

“We are defining the boundaries of normality by tearing apart the people outside it.” 

Ronson’s book seriously played with my emotions. His curious and funny approach got him to meet people who, according to his words: ‘didn’t do that much wrong’. I could not stomach how torn apart those people got. Hearing about it was both chilling and utterly terrifying. Sadly, it was all believable as well. And I think that is what got me.

“There is nothing I dislike more in the world than people who care more about ideology than they do about people.” 

I personally enjoyed the first half of the book a little bit more than its latter part. That could have been me getting confused with names though. I do have a poor memory and perhaps reading this as a book, rather than listening to it,  would have helped me as I would have been able to reference names a bit better that way.

What I did enjoy was Ronson’s sharp writing style, his diverse spectre of cases as well as the thought provoking topic itself. I also appreciated Ronson sharing some of his own stories. And his use of humour sometimes helped, especially when thinking about such heavy topic as shame.

What’s Ronson’s answer to public shaming? I’ll let you read the book to find it. 😊

Recommended? Yes! It’s not a collection of boring facts but rather a vivid portrait of incidents that could have potentially happened to many of us.

Fiction

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

great alone

“Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold.”

 “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” by Robert W. Service.


The Great Alone melted my heart. 🙂 What worked for me in particular was that it wasn’t just a love story. Love did play an extremely important part in it but it was not the only focus point. Something I appreciated a lot.

After I have had some time to digest The Great Alone, I feel a few clichés were used, its ending seemed a bit rushed and there was a lot of drama that at times felt a little bit too… unnecessary.

But…

I loved it. My emotions were all over the place – I laughed, cried… and I wholeheartedly recommend this book despite of those points above.


Before I dive into my review, here’s what Goodreads‘ says about it:

Alaska, 1974. Untamed. Unpredictable. A story of a family in crisis struggling to survive at the edge of the world, it is also a story of young and enduring love.

Cora Allbright and her husband Ernt, a recently-returned Vietnam veteran scarred by the war, uproot their thirteen year old daughter Leni to start a new life in Alaska. Utterly unprepared for the weather and the isolation, but welcomed by the close-knit community, they fight to build a home in this harsh, beautiful wilderness.

At once an epic story of human survival and love, and an intimate portrait of a family tested beyond endurance, The Great Alone offers a glimpse into a vanishing way of life in America. With her trademark combination of elegant prose and deeply drawn characters, Kristin Hannah has delivered an enormously powerful story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the remarkable and enduring strength of women.

About the highest stakes a family can face and the bonds that can tear a community apart, this is a novel as spectacular and powerful as Alaska itself. It is the finest example of Kristin Hannah’s ability to weave together the deeply personal with the universal.


The Great Alone is set in 70’s and is a coming-of-age story of 13-year-old Leni. I loved her straight away. She is an avid reader, a keen photographer but also feels lonely as her family moves from place to place. She is this curious and sensitive character that will melt your heart.

The story begins fully when her father Ernt decides to take her and her mum Cora to Alaska.

The Great Alone is a survival story. The survival is not just about lasting through harsh Alaskan winters though, it is also about facing increasingly unpredictable and volatile home dynamics.

“All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home.” 

There is another survival story there, which Ernt is going through. He is a war veteran and his story of survival is how he manages to cope with all that emotional pain he endured during the war.

I thought Hannah’s touching on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was important. This was 70’s. People didn’t talk about PTSD then. I do not condone any form of abusive behaviour and I think it is absolutely not OK to behave in such way – but having that knowledge of what Ernt went through made me understand, where his behaviour may have been coming from.

Side note: I am aware that not every brave soldier suffers from PTSD and that those who may suffer from it don’t necessarily exhibit abusive behaviour either. But I do believe that there are many heroic soldiers that need our help, and who may feel our system sometimes fails them. I hope things are better these days than they were in the 70’s, but I think we should still be raising an awareness around such a difficult topic. 

I thought at times, Ernt’s wife Cora senses that too. She knows that war changed her husband. She remembers what he was like ‘before’ and is hoping that her sticking by him and loving him could heal him somehow.

“Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.” 


The Great Alone‘s story gently flows through the harsh and cold Alaskan wilderness. Hannah’s writing is extremely atmospheric; I felt I was in the stunning Alaska the entire time. Protagonists are well developed, the supporting characters are charming and I fell for all of them big time.

The questions I kept on asking myself whilst reading this book were following: “what does it mean to be alive?” and “how do we leave people we love?

Recommended: Yes! 

Possible triggers: Domestic abuse. Please do take care. 


Over to you now. As always, I love hearing from you.

  • Have you read The Great Alone?
  • If not, what do you think of its blurb? Is that something you may enjoy?

 

Fantasy

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

spinning silverSummer is coming my friends. As a winter person, I’m trying to survive it with books that will make me feel cold. I recently finished Norse Mythology and now I am about to tell you about another cold tale of winter in the wonderful story of Spinning Silver.

Before I tell you my thoughts, here’s what Goodreads have to say:


Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.


Novik stays true to her Uprooted’s Slavic theme. Spinning Silver craftily mixes Slavic folk stories with a hint of Rumpelstiltskin retelling. In case you are wondering: Uprooted is not related to Spinning Silver. These are two standalone books.

Spinning Silver takes us to wintery Lithuania. Frost covered wings of cruel winter bring mysterious riders to its villages. They travel to the human world via their winter road; steal people’s gold and kill whoever / whatever gets in their way. They are called Staryk (the ancient / old ones). And people fear and hate them equally.

Meet Miryem – our first protagonist, a moneylender’s daughter trying to revive her father’s dying business to save her ill mother. She is smart but is starting to close herself off emotionally to do what is ‘necessary’.

Then there is Wanda, a servant girl who is trying to get by. Her future is looking bleak as her abusive drunken father has one thing on his mind: how to sell her off so he can get more money for his alcohol.

The third protagonist, Irina is smart and scheming, but also compassionate and protective. She would do anything to save people from Winter’s reign. Will she succeed?

All these there females have following in common: they are happy to think for themselves and to make their own destinies. Their actions are not full off ‘roaring and screaming’ but are rather more subtle – their bravery is demonstrated by them showing up. They follow through with their smart but also uncertain plans whilst forming unlikely alliance. Novik’s beautifully crafted females are brave whilst remaining vulnerable, smart but also afraid. They show range of emotions that deeply resonated with me.

What is slightly unusual about Spinning Silver is that there are three supporting characters as well which we get to hear talking now and again. They are added gradually and because of that, they don’t overpower the narrative. They only add their unique perspectives from time to time.

There is always an element of danger whenever introducing multiple POVs. That is that us, readers, may prefer some over others. I did struggle connecting with these three characters but appreciated the part they played. Spinning Silver is narrated in first person and using this technique gave me an additional insight into the storyline.

There is a touch of slow burning romance (‘kindling’ kind of slow), which is weaved in extremely carefully. I enjoyed the main focus being on both characters’ motives as well as their mission without them being distracted by romance thoughts. Also, the slow burn is something I personally take over instalove any day.

Novik’s language is exquisite – deliberately chosen words, eerie mood, skilfully built tension. It’s all there. I was pulled into the story from the beginning, it’s a fairly slow paced one but it’s extremely atmospheric and you will appreciate it either whilst curled under a warm blanket on a cold winter day or like me, craving some cold shade on a hot day whilst dreaming of icy winter roads…

I saw in Spinning Silver a story of underdogs and a strong message of brain over brawn. 

I also thought Novik‘s exploration of Rumpelstiltskin being portrayed via a Jewish moneylender, as well as being a woman, was intriguing. I am trying not to reveal too much as spoilers are my major pet peeve. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts though if you read this book.

Recommended? Yes!!! Especially if you have enjoyed Uprooted! Also, if you have enjoyed other Slavic themes books such as Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale or Bardugo’s The Grishaverse Series.

Possible triggers: child abuse and antisemitism

Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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


What do you think? Do you want to read Spinning Silver or have you read it already?

And do you like Slavic folk tales?

Non Fiction

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

norse mythology

I was a bit of an odd child. I used to live in imaginary worlds full of fairies and other mythical creatures to whom I would serve tea.

I remember playing in my native woods with them, making houses for them and also having some heated arguments with them when they didn’t do what I wanted them to do.

I also remember Thor, Loki and Odin featuring in some of my encounters from time to time.

I was fascinated by mythology as a child. I would read anything I could get my hands on that was written on Greek / Norse / South American / Egyptian / Slavic etc. myths and tales.

The Norse myths were amongst my favourite ones. I am more of a winter rather than a summer person and I have always been interested in Scandinavia; its beautiful nature, architecture that compliments it and its people. Stories full of frost giants really are my thing. 🙂

Retellings of classical myths can be a bit of a hit or miss in my case. Sometimes I love them and sometimes, they are just not for me. I’m happy to report that Gaiman’s Norse Mythology was clearly written for me… 😉

But before I review this book, let’s have a look at GoodReads blurb first:

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.


Norse Mythology is a collection of stories. Because of that, it could be easily read (or listened to) whilst reading other books or being short on time.

I absolutely adored this collection. Gaiman’s spin on Norse myths is a brilliant example how we can use something old and make it work. Not every work we crate must be ‘original‘, in fact telling something familiar whilst using our own voices and experiences can be extremely powerful.

Those stories feel modern, Gaiman’s sharp writing gives them a nice punch. They are fast paced and full of action. There is also a lot of humour involved – I chuckled many times. And they brought me back my childhood memories and that bittersweet feeling of nostalgia.

I listened to this collection of stories as an audiobook narrated by the author himself.

Gaiman is not only a skilled writer, but he also is an excellent narrator.

I found his voice splendidly adjusting to different characters – it would become loud and booming whenever Thor entered a scene and softer with hints of cunningness / slyness whenever Loki would show up. His accent adjusted well to dwarfs and giants and I honestly had a blast. I am likely to re-listen to these stories again as I loved them so much.

Side note: I did laugh-out-loud a few times whilst listening to this audiobook on a busy London tube. I got a few weird stares, but it did make my usually unpleasant tube experience quite bearable! I also nearly missed my stop a few times… so beware! 😉

Parting comments: I’ve always been fascinated how people across different geographies created myths that had so many similarities. Our need to explain our world via story telling is something that has always captivated me. If you are familiar with Greek myths, you may find many alike sounding themes in those Norse myths as well. Our vivid imagination, and how we can perceive nature and everything that is happening around us, without having to dip into scientific explanations, is something I have appreciated, and it is probably the main reason why I love mythology in general.


Over to you! 🙂

  • Have you read this book?
  • Do you read myths in general? And if so, what is your ‘favourite’ geography?

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

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)