Books – Becoming by Michelle Obama

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I’ve been reading a lot during the past few weeks. If you have any good recommendations, please pop them in the comments. I’ve just finished Becoming by Michelle Obama. I enjoyed the memoir but there were a few things that jarred with me. She emerges through the book as iconic and compelling but seems to have sailed through life. Obviously bright and accomplished at school, she meets the brilliant Obama, juggles motherhood and work with ease and eventually chronicles her experiences of political life with Obama.

I enjoyed reading about her early life and meeting Obama who is clearly brilliant and an eloquent orator. Learning about just how clever the man is and his altruistic accomplishments are engrossing. 

However, I found the her constant ease of passage throughout her perfect life and constant referrals to race rather irritating. Her writing wasn’t emotive but full of anecdotes and memories plus lacking in analysis. For example, when she spoke about the death of her 26 year old friend, I felt she was rather distant. More ‘when’ rather than ‘why’. All a little too perfect without much vulnerability. 

On the plus side, they both clearly care deeply for their country and are very driven. Overall, it is a fascinating read and I can recommend it. Most people love the book too and I’ve never seen so many 5* reviews on Goodreads. I gave it 3 which I may increase to 4. Unfortunately, you can’t do half stars on Goodreads.

 

 

 

Books – Travel, Memoir and a Dystopian Tale…

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I have not blogged for a while because I’ve finally realised if the Lockdown is going on for a few weeks, I will have to do some projects around the house. More of this coming but in the meantime here are some books I’ve been recently enjoying. 

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

My daughter recently bought me the above book for Mother’s Day and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it so here is my review.

The book is about Helen Russell moving, with her husband ‘Lego Man’, to Legoland, hmmm meant Jutland, Denmark.

A hilarious memoir about living in Denmark with mishaps, misunderstandings and discoveries relating to the Danish culture. An enlightening book where you discover the differences between British and Danish life with sassy, humorous and fascinating commentaries taking you through a whole calendar year of family life in Denmark.

Danes pay high taxes but work fewer hours, have a good work-life balance and a strong welfare state. The state provides free or low cost healthcare, childcare and all education, including university. There are some judgements Russell made about Denmark, which are probably just her specific experiences, such as Danish socialising construed as obligatory evening classes and traditional village activities. Obviously, people are proud of their environment and want to relay a particular image to foreigners. Although, to be fair, Russell did admit that Denmark isn’t quite the gender-equality utopian ideology which is proudly conveyed by the Danish community.

I didn’t agree with everything she said about British life. I think some of her comparisons were based upon London middle class rat race commuter life. For example, most people don’t work longer than their allotted hours.

This book got me through the first few weeks of lockdown and I was sorry when I finished it. Highly entertaining. 

Here are some other books I’ve enjoyed:

Body Tourists Jane Rogers

An intriguing book about a scientist who has worked out how to transfer digital identities of rich, dead people into the bodies of young (poor) volunteers. A dystopian view which is so weird it is fascinating. There are thought provoking questions to consider throughout and I won’t forget this book for a long time which is always a sign of a good read, don’t you think?

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Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

A moving portrayal of Toru Watanabe’s memories of a previous life as a student in the 60s. His friend suddenly died and he has a troubling but close relationship with Kizuki’s girlfriend, Naoko. The book explores love, rebellion, mental health, friendship and vulnerability. The story is an intimate snapshot of life in 60s Japan too.

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Mrs P’s Journey by Sarah Hartley

A true story about the woman who created the A – Z London map book! A portrayal of Phyllis Pearsall’s life during her traumatic childhood, unsatisfactory marriage and subsequent frustration at the lack of maps of London. Phyllis set about covering 23,000 streets, on foot, and then produces the relevant maps and eventually sets up her own company. Pure brilliance.

Calypso by David Sedaris

Oh this is another hilarious book! Fabulous and well written. Sedaris buys a beach house on the Carolina coast and with his sharp observations about middle age and mortality the story is uplifting, contemporary, insightful and a little dark too. I can highly recommend and writing this has reminded me to read more of Sedaris’ stuff.

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Thanks for reading and stopping by.

Back to Blogging…

Sorry, it has been so long! I’ve been meaning to return for some time. Obviously, with all that is going on in the world, now is a good time to blog.

Deciding what to write isn’t as complicated as you would envisage. Focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t, is my intention. We are, at the very least, social distancing or even self-isolating. Or, as I am, somewhere in between.

Topics will be the usual MISHMASH. The content will be suggesting and exploring ideas rather than telling you what you should be doing! The aim is to be as helpful as possible, in these troubling times.

As the whole business, is so worrying at present, I aim to inform, entertain and maintain wellbeing. The content will be researched, informative but also just fun.
Here are some topic which I will be investigating:

Health, Fitness, and Wellbeing
Gardening
Cooking and Food Shopping
Podcasts
Books/reading
Social Media, online education and virtual tours/life
Photography, films, telly, etc.

Hopefully, my new chatty approach will be interesting and if you’ve any ideas let everyone know in the comments.

Broadstairs (part 2) – Jazz, Art, Cafes, Skeletons, Quirky Pubs and Ab Fab Ladies!

Well, in the first Broadstairs blog, I didn’t really say what happened at Broadstairs and as it was such a weird and wonderful day, here goes…  We found a parking spot (which is amazing luck) and walked to the seafront.  There was a fete with an amateur art exhibition near the bandstand which was a jolly affair selling the usual stuff plus a small jazz band playing on the bandstand.  The art exhibition was an interesting mix of contemporary and traditional art and inspiring to look at as we soak up the community spirit of Broadstairs.

Strolling along the promenade was uplifting as you look across the glorious views. I headed towards town to the cafe “The Old Curiosity Shop” which is fascinating because it has a well in it! If you look down the well you will see, not water, but human skeletons at the bottom! Enjoyed a cuppa and tea cake and carried on exploring the small but bustling town. It’s an enticing place with lots of independent cafes, restaurants, pubs and gift shops.  Broadstairs may be on the small side but full of character and interest.

At lunch time, I ventured into The Chapel Bar to enjoy a pint and check out the craft beers.  The Chapel Bar was an old book shop but has been adapted into a pub.  Really quirky because the shelves are still filled with books on everything from philosophy to literature.  Quite fascinating.  The owners were opening the doors as we arrived and my hubby and I entered the premises eager for a small libation but they weren’t really ready and took about 15 minutes to pour our beers!  A person could die of thirst in that place although the beer was delicious so I suppose it was worth the wait.

During the afternoon, we went back to the car, grabbed some beach stuff and sat on the superb beach.  It was lovely and had such a warm, family atmosphere even though the weather was cloudy.  After an afternoon of people watching, reading and snoozing we ventured into the Dickens’ pub for dinner.  This is a great place,  commands wonderful views of Viking Bay and is very busy.  Luckily, a large party left as we arrived and I managed to seize a table for two.    Then it happened.  They saw, they entered and conquered.  A group of ladies arrived en masse.  The noise was unbelievable and I couldn’t help noticing how most of them were tall and fabulous.  I quickly realised they all had six inch heels on!  Yes, I kid you not.  Never seen such glamour.  Hair done, makeup done, fab dresses on and boy they partied on.  Squashed next to me, screaming with laughter (not me), I managed to enjoy a scrumptious roast dinner but I was glad to depart.  They looked absolutely fabulous though and that is great to observe.

After rediscovering the nostalgic grandeur and quirkiness of Broadstairs, I decided that I must frequent it more often so I can explore the surrounding area.  Possibly a few days away next August for the annual folk festival…

Thanks for reading my blog and don’t forget to follow.

Minimalism – Progress at last…


Although I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject, I have now realised that I’m quite pleased, at last, with how my home is looking.

This has taken many months. Books, clothes and unwanted furniture have now been despatched to charity shops, decorating has been done and the place is beginning to look how I want it. Here are some of my tips that i’ve collected during my journey.
Take your time
Clear one section of a room at a time
Do something new
Take a trip to a new place and explore (mini, mini holiday)
Write about experiences – start a blog or journal

I’ve not managed whole tech free days.  I blame the blogging haha!  But I’m working on that.  Minimalism does change the mindset.  No more worrying about what people think or wasting time on arrogance or ignorance.  It isn’t worth the energy.

This encourages positive thinking and a healthier outlook. The parkruns and village jogs have been started and enjoyed or should that be endured! Now to sort the healthy eating (see previous blog).

If you follow me, a big thank you and if you don’t, please do!

Bye until next time…

Books I’ve enjoyed during Spring 16

Recently, I’ve enjoyed a couple of books after reading several mediocre ones.  This has encouraged me to spend more time reading and I decided to blog about them…

Follow You Home by Mark Edwards

This is a gripping psychological thriller and I was hooked immediately.  This was handy because I was enduring a cramped, long haul flight and it kept me occupied.

It’s about a couple, Daniel and Laura, who are on a back packing trip around Europe.  When they fall asleep their passports and money are stolen.  They are then put in an unbelievably difficult situation when thrown off the train in the middle of a Romanian forest area and the action develops from there.

This creepy, unusual tale keeps you guessing with plenty of twists and atrocities in Romania that continue to haunt them when they return home.  Quite a unique, frightening tale and I can recommend the book.  In fact, I shall now read more of Edwards’ books.

Perfect by Rachel Joyce

This is a very unusual book and quite different from anything else I’ve read.  It is about the life of two young lads and their lives as children but it also weaves a present day tale.  It is all about connections and the nuances of personality and what is reality and what is imagined.  It embodies the feeling of how people can influence each other by innocuous stories and actions.  Again, I enjoyed this book because it was so different from anything else I have read.

Please share any books that you have enjoyed and thank you for reading my blog.  Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @mishmashmedia_

Thanks,

Andyx

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