Hello Moonlings! I hope you are all well, and 2020 is treating you kindly. I had some inspiration to make a YouTube video talking about 3 books I read in 2019 that really challenged me.
The first one I had read before, but many aeons ago when I had only started university. The second I had wanted to read one of that nature but hadn’t yet. Finally “Dirt to Soil” was a wonderfully accurate gift from Le’Boo last Christmas. He is excellent at surprising me with books.
I hope you enjoy the video and let me know if you read certain books to challenge yourself! I am on GoodReads so feel free to join me over there.
“The Forest People.” – Colin Turnbull
“Against Empathy.” – Paul Bloom
I have not reviewed this on my GoodReads. I did only give it 4/5 stars, but I explain that in the video.
“Dirt to Soil.” – Gabe Brown
“Everyone needs to read this book. Not just farmers, or ranchers but every human. We all eat, and our choices on which food we buy may mean the life or death of our Earth.” – My GoodReads review
Moonlings! I have been missing for many weeks, and it’s the longest I’ve gone without posting. If you follow me on other platforms, I posted why I was missing. A huge milestone in my PhD was due, so I knuckled down to get it done. I promised an excerpt so here is some of it in quotes.
Agriculture has been the lifeblood of humankind for millennia. The cognizant of control over food growth allowed our evolutionary path to deviate from similar great ape species. Humanity’s propensity towards an omnivorous diet precipitated the development of the larger prefrontal cortex, giving us the gift of critical thought. This provided the building blocks to the cultivation of certain crops. Previously shifting groups associated with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle soon became unattractive for many tribes, as they began to put roots down in more ways than one.
When settled, humans became territorial. Villages became townships, the power of horses, mules, and donkeys were harnessed not only assist with the cultivation of crops but the transportation of surplus crops for trade with neighbouring towns. Riverbanks were preferred areas for settlement and families banded together for the management of larger areas of cultivated land. From there the portrait of our ancestry is clear. Our settled nature became the norm for most, as it provided food security whereas the nature of hunting and gathering could not.
As one of the cornerstones of humanity, agriculture has a universally deeply ingrained tradition across all cultures. Throughout the ages, when crops were in danger from natural forces, disease, or swarms, humans organised themselves so they could protect their most precious resource; food. This resulted in the domestication of various animals, the passing of herding knowledge through communities of practice and the improvement of agricultural tools which made the process of farming more accessible.
For most of human history, we have been hunter-gatherers. During pre-history (which is considered to be history before the written word), we hunted animals and gathered plants. Although there may have been an unconscious attempt to nourish the plants we ate, by not disturbing the roots or over-cultivation, the agricultural portion of humanity did not really take place until a period which is called the Neolithic Revolution (Embers & Embers 1996). To contextualise, this is roughly 10,000 years ago. It has since been established that agricultural development is one of the most important developments in human history (Anderson 1992). The ability to secure a reliable food source, allowed humans to settle in one place, thereby creating villages, towns and subsequently cities. Entire civilizations such as the Egyptians were built and sustained by agriculture (Brier & Hobbs 2008) consequently the link between agriculture and food consumption/production is essential to explore.
In the present day, tacit agricultural knowledge has still provided the most resistance to technological adaptation. Within the Republic of Ireland, where this study is poised, farming is synonymous with heritage and connection to the land. Generational farming is widely practiced where farms are still passed to the eldest child, along with the necessary knowledge for resilience. While farming communities have extensive resources available to them from governmental and non-profit organisations, they still enact convivial groups to ensure the health of their farm. Although national governments have a responsibility to their farmers, a disconnect can be observed between the two. Trust cannot be cultivated overnight and most threads of agricultural knowledge are woven between the past and the present. Adoption of technological changes which governments offer are often seen as suspicious to farmers, as ulterior motives can be attached to them.
In order to boost collaboration between useful information provided by governmental bodies and farmers, an understanding regarding local farming networks, and their importance is vital. This study aims to bridge that gap, when elements of a local network are understood, formal institutions have a greater opportunity of having a healthy dialogue with the farmers.
While the above is the aim of the study, the context in which the study takes place is also crucial. We have reached crisis levels globally in respects to the environment and climate change. Now more than ever we need to attend to the wisdom farmers can offer. According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) the highest Co2 emissions in the Republic of Ireland in 2016 was the agricultural sector. Although the Department of Agriculture, Food and The Marine recognises the need for change within the sector, Ireland is still poised to miss the Co2 goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
Farming can be a tough yet rewarding life, and without the necessary respect to those who dedicate themselves to producing our food, its security will be challenged. To address this gap in knowledge, this study develops a narrative based on embedded local farming practices within their network, including their opinions and perspectives. The aim is to understand why there is a need for a local knowledge networking systems. Furthermore, the study will explore how farmers might benefit from formalised services which are available from governmental organisations and investigate if there is a disconnect between both types of knowledge. While the context the study is from an Irish farming perspective, given the universality of farming, agricultural literature from a vast array of countries has been collected and reviewed. This was to ensure that the commonalities in contemporary agriculture is address accurately.
The narrative nature of this study will provide benefits through the lens of anthropological practice. Anthropology as a discipline has, for over 100 years, provided the philosophical expressions of every day. Perspective is provided by narrating the habitus of personhood (Bourdieu 1987) giving credence to individuated modes of cultural expression, skills and habits. Once this data is collected itis read very much like a text (Geertz 1973). These practices explored by Geertz in accordance with his considerations of interpretive anthropology and its enhancing possibilities:
“Given the dialectical nature of things, we all need our opponents, and both sorts of approach are essential. What we are most in want of right now is some way of synthesizing them.”
With all these considerations of local knowledge context (Ichijo & Kohlbacher 2008), we can return to the problem which is thus; If local knowledge from farmers can be captured, governmental policies may be enhanced (Hayhurst, Dietrich-O’Connor, et al 2013). This is of paramount importance as without a change to farming practices, the ensuing economic, environmental and sustainable issues will continue to grow (Fleming & Vanclay 2010). Convergence between these two perspectives needs to be established, wherein the farmers are protected in their tenuous situation. The role that knowledge plays and how that knowledge is transferred is can help address this conundrum.
If there are Selena stans here please forgive me for never realising her worth as an artist. I didn’t dislike her, I just had no opinion about her whatsoever.
I discovered this song on a meme page. They were discussing her emotion and how many pieces her heart had been broken into. Me being the kind of person who adores poetry and emotional songs, I thought I’d give it a listen.
I was not expecting the impact it would have on me. Selena is a beautiful soul and this song is potent. It brought me back to the girl I was in 2011. I was 21 / 22 again.
That girl is pictured above, and that’s what this post is about.
The girl pictured above is wearing a false smile. She is happy because she’s with her friends. Yet she is hurting inside so deeply she’s self-medicating. The smile is the lie she tells to those around her. It was her goal to appear nonchalant, but her mind was in turmoil.
Then this girl below. You’ve probably seen her before. Better yet you may have even been this girl before. (This is not about shaming, this is about growth).
This girl is trying too hard. She changed her hair because she wanted to change her identity. To bleach out the previous two years. She sold herself the narrative that she wasn’t to blame. She was the victim.
You were not the victim. You were a strong girl, who let her sense of self be diluted. You chose to ignore someone who told you who they were. You refused to listen and pretended that they were someone else. That you could be suited somehow if you just bowed yourself enough.
“When people show you who they are, believe them.” – Maya Angelou
Yet I have a tenderness for this girl because she was in so much pain. Pain because another relationship didn’t work. She didn’t want to address the fact that she may be to blame, she wanted to blame the other person.
There was equal blame.
The pain from not being who she thought she was, and really, she didn’t know who she was yet. It took her longer to find herself than most, but less time than some.
Eventually, though she learned how to transform the pain into understanding, and the blame into a lesson.
Basically, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Some people are victims because they’ve been manipulated, emotionally, physically or both. I wasn’t. (Well not so much so that I wouldn’t be able to get away).
I was angry, I was hurt, and I was so tired. Instead of realising both my culpability and my power, I ended up blaming the other person completely. Taking it out of my hands entirely.
Nothing is ever out of your hands entirely. You have choices. Don’t let life happen to you.
Anyways hindsight is 20/20. What I’m happy about now is how much I’ve grown to the point that I can actually admit when I’m wrong. (If Le’Boo is reading this, he’s probably laughing his ass off right about now).
This is that girl now, She is a WOMEN and Bish, she is not bowing for anyone.
Hark is this the sound of clickbait? No, it’s just how titles work in 2019…
This January, I had surgery and I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I knew at the time that it would be a challenge for me to recover emotionally. (I can be very pessimistic). So in order to survive, I promised to write down 3 things I was grateful for every day to remind myself of my privilege.
Of course, I wrote down the obvious ones, My parents. My brother. My Boo. My best friend. I put down being able to afford health care and small luxuries. Having food, water, shelter and love. Music, art, and books. My hearing, my sight and my breath.
What I’ve included here are the less obvious ones, the more obscure. The gratitudes that made me realise how fortunate I am, that in the history of the universe I live at the same time as the people and items on this list. Or that I exist at all. I’ve come a long way since teenage me wanted to stop existing entirely.
Honestly? Wonderful. You do not realise how much you take for granted until you start keeping count. Rather than feeling dismay at getting up at 5.30 (I’m not a morning person), I now think the following. Wow, I am employed in my dream job, something I wouldn’t have thought possible even 5 years ago.
When I’m feeling tired and grumpy, I think about how fortunate I am that when I do get to bed, it will be warm and comfortable.
Finally? While a lot on this list are things, they are simple; but genuinely? “The best things in life, aren’t things.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
It has been many busy days since I found out that you’re gone. I tried to write this letter when I first heard, but my heart hurt too much.
We are told when we meet certain people, to hold onto them for dear life. Yet what do we do when they are taken from us?
We go on without them, our worlds a little darker, but our lives enriched. When a light goes off in this world, it turns on in another.
It has been nearly three years since we met, and my progress under your guidance is palpable to everyone who knows me.
Although to most you may have appeared to ‘just’ be our supervisor, you were so much more to us.
Before I met you I never truly understood what a mentor was. Although I had been offered help or guidance in the past, no one matched the heights of your kindness. Having taken me under your wing, I grew beyond what I ever believed I could. You saw through ego, to the potential beneath, and there is no greater gift you could have given me.
Mentor, friend, you were our Father, a giant. Your intelligence stunned us all, and although you believed in me, I partly felt like there had been some mistake. I was an imposter in your shadow of brilliance.
My grief at your loss is thick and confounding.
Thank you for your grace, your patience and the memory of your smile. The ripples you cast into the universe will never cease, and your kindness lives on in us who are still here.
The podcast stops playing on my phone as it begins to ring. I see the name of a friend flash up. I’ve taken many calls in the past week, but I don’t have anything left. I look down at my messy clothes, I feel my unbrushed hair and teeth, and my general sense of disarray.
My hand is hovering over the phone on the counter, and eventually, it stops ringing. I feel two things mainly. Firstly, I feel sadness. Sadness because I don’t have the energy to talk to my friend on the phone. Secondly? Utter embarrassment.
Does your mental illness ever make you feel embarrassed? When you are at your lowest, the simplest things are impossible, and it’s hard not to be distraught.
When I’m depressed I can barely get out of bed, nevermind shower. So if a friend turns up randomly at my home, I’m probably not clean. This makes me feel ashamed for my state of being. Although it cannot be helped, it still hurts.
Also, I can’t sleep at night, so I usually sleep between 7am and 10am. I can hear you say, “you need to adopt a more healthy sleep pattern,” and I agree. It doesn’t mean I’m not trying, it just means it’s not working.
Mostly for me though, the hardest part of the depression, is the brain fog. The dissociation. I can’t string sentences together. I find driving difficult. It amps up my anxiety which feeds my depression. If I could get off the hamster wheel I would, but all I can do it wait for it to slow down.
I was able to do some washing today. This is a big win for me. Sometimes I’m fine. I’m ok, I can work, and read, and wash and learn, and not be hard on myself.
Sometimes though, I need to rest.
There are many vasts posts about mental health and no one solution.
The one that works for me, that makes me feel less embarrassed is I don’t take myself too seriously. Life is a wonder, and it’s amazing to be alive, but it doesn’t make it any less strange. I’m still a valid person, and my inactivity does not define my worth.
Firstly sorry I missed last week, I was at a friend’s wedding. Happy one week anniversary Mr & Mrs Sweetman from myself and Le’Boo!
Well, Moonlings, don’t worry, today my thoughts on mental health are positive. Often I forget to write down how I’m feeling on a good day. Or maybe the processes that helped me get through a particularly bad day. I think once the bad day is over I’m so happy to be balanced again I neglect self-reflection.
So that’s what this is. A simple bit of self-reflection. I look back to when someone recently hurt my feelings, and how I processed those feelings so no more fighting happened.
Somebody bruised my ego. Look I’m not perfect(much to my chagrin), and when people say cruel things they sometimes hurt my feelings. Normally I’m pretty much used to people not understanding me or saying hurtful things in an unsolicited way. I’ve grown to have a thick skin because I like who I am, my style and how soft I am in regards to the flora and fauna of the world.
Some people don’t like that, they are afraid of what they can’t categorise or understand. Does this make me any less valid? It certainly does not.
I also have the added bonus of not doing something just because it’s always been done that way. (I’ve been called the black sheep in my family more than once). If we didn’t question our realities then citizens would still be legally allowed to own slaves in America, homosexuality would still be a crime in Ireland, and women would not be allowed to vote or own property.
Anyways I digress. Basically, I realised that when someone makes you feel bad, you are allowing them that right. Have you ever heard this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt?
“No one can make you feel inferior, without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
This is a sentiment I come back to time and time again. If something cruel is making you feel bad, then there must be a break within yourself. The cruelty is an external force, and you cannot allow it to penetrate and become an internal force.
Notice how I wrote ‘a’ solution, and not ‘the’ solution as there are many ways to tackle mental health, and they are all valid as long as they follow this cardinal rule. They don’t harm another person. (This includes yourself because you are a person).
So I used one of my many solutions. The “letters we write, but never send,” method. Why do people do this? Surely talking it out is the only way to resolve a conflict between two sentient beings?
Nope. Sadly sometimes the other person is incapable of seeing things from your point of view. You cannot force them to see, because the only person you have control over is yourself. So what you must do is write down all your feelings, problems and thoughts so you can see them in a thoroughly organised way.
Address the letter to the person, tell them how they hurt you and why. Explain that you’ve tried to see from their perspective but you don’t understand because it seems unduly cruel. Then end with forgiveness and feel your calm returning.
I am not spouting ‘hippy’ nonsense, these methods do work to an extent. Especially on a once off fight or situation. However, if someone is being continual cruel or worse, abusive, you may simply need to walk away from that person.
Once you are done you can seal the envelope, burn it(safely), or even just rip it up and throw it away. Under no circumstances should you give the letter to the person, as this will just cause more hurt. Healing cannot happen if there is continued hurting on both sides.
Then do your best to forgive and move on, knowing that in your own heart it’s ok to be you.
Samaritans Ireland: Call: 116 123 or Text: 087 260 9090
Pieta International: Call: 1800 247 247 or Text: 51444
Hello, Mooonlings thank you for joining me for another list this week. June tends to be quite listy(yes it’s a word) because it’s half-way through the year. So it feels right to review music, books and other sundry items. You may have guessed by now my love of music and my appreciation for multiple genres.
I have listened to so many new albums this year so far that I had to split the post into two parts for clarity. Part one is today where I discuss albums I choose myself either from a love of the artist or curiosity. Part two involves suggestions from fellow writing friends on twitter. I wanted them to have a separate post so I could include their Twitter bio and link if you were feeling like you wanted to go follow them.
Just for practicality reasons, the artists will be listed in alphabetical order as there was no rhyme or reason to the process in which I listened to the albums. I’m going to rate them out of 5 moons ☽ as stars are not close enough to my heart. It’s similar to the system of bananas, so I kind of stole that from The Orang-utan Librarian. Credit where credit is due!
Andreya Triana – Life In Colour – (3.5/5) ☽.☽.☽
This is a Lady I discovered through Bonobos album “Black Sands.” She was featured on a couple of songs and her voice completely entranced me. On this album, She kicks down the door with “Woman,” transitioned into bluegrass with “I Give You My Heart,” and then “How Deep My Love Goes,” is an instant classic.
“Songs in the key of life cures me in the moment.”
“Freedom,” is a total bop and this album, in general, is a lot of fun. Great music, and coming into the summer, it’s just what I needed. This is a sweet ode to love and her lover.
Her closing song “It’s gonna be alright,” is so soothing, and her voice makes me believe her.
Avril Lavinge – Head Above Water – (4/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽
Look I love Avril Lavinge. We are around the same age, and when I was an awkward teenager her music made me feel cooler than I ever really was.
For me, this album proved she’s still got that magic she had when she was 15 singing “Let Go.” There are songs on this album that evoke the same feelings within me.
“Head Above Water,” is one of those opening tracks that I can’t stop singing. Thinking about it makes me want to put the album on. She screams her lungs out on “Birdie,” then she soothes us with “Crush.”
“Fly away little bird.”
“Tell Me It’s Over,” is Avril’s old-timey ballad and I’m here for it. “Dumb Blonde” screams like her infamous track “Girlfriend.” Guys let’s just enjoy this collab with Nicki Minaj.
“It was in me” feels like an ode to Alanis Morissette’s “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie,” and “Souvenir,” to me feels like it was written about her ex-husband, Chad Kroger. Don’t agree? Comment below!
Beyoncé – Homecoming: The Live Album – (5/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽.☽
Many people tell me Beyoncé is overrated and I guess some people have to be wrong, so us stans can be right.
While I am joking, and you have the right to think whatever you want, you can’t deny Beyoncé’s star power. I’ve watched the live film on Netflix, the performance brought me to tears many times. I’ve also been listening to “Homecoming” on repeat. It floors me every time.
Biosphere – The Senja Recordings – (2/5) ☽.☽.☽
Although I am a huge fan of Biosphere and one of my favourite ambient albums of all time is “Substrata,” I cannot recommend this one this to you. If you want ambient noise please feel free to listen, but his last musical album for me was “Departed Glories.” I still enjoyed this album as I did with “The Hilvarenbeek Recordings” but as far as music goes I cannot recommend this to you.
Chaka Khan – Hello Happiness – (5/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽.☽
This Queen is one of Le’Boo’s favourites and man, she is still hot as hell at 66 years of age! I’ve seen her live before and her voice is even bigger in person. Every track on this album is unbelievable.
“Take me back to the dance floor so I can dance away my blues.“
“Like a lady,” is about Le’Boo for sure, and what a track it is. Do you want to feel happy? Listen to this album, wiggle your hips, and give yourself to the music.
Dido – Still On My Mind – (5/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽
I’ve loved Dido from the beginning, and this album did not disappoint me. I adore “You don’t need a god,” “Chances,” and “Have to Stay.” The title track “Still on my mind,” is simply mesmerising.
There is some modern dance mixed in with her soulful voice, the lyrics are as blunt as ever, and we get an insight into Dido the mother, not just Dido the lover.
“I found a way to let you go, it’s gonna rip your heart out.”
Although she’s probably been chasing “Life for Rent,” since 2003, you cannot deny her voice and songwriting. I think if people weren’t comparing her to 2003 Dido they would just let themselves enjoy “Still On My Mind.”
Flying Lotus – Flamagra – (4/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽
Just kidding Le’Boo I really love this album.
Flying Lotus creates the kind of music you don’t think too much about. Don’t over-analyse. Put it on when you’re walking/doing yoga/cooking food and watch yourself flow.
Stand out tracks for me are “Burning Down The House,” “All Spies,” (makes me feel like I’m in a 90s video game) and “Yellow Belly.”
“Are you a spy mister?”
“Say Something” is sweetly melancholy leading into “Debbie is Depressed.” “The Climb” featuring Thundercat is an excellent blend of both artists and of course “Land of Honey” featuring Solange Knowles.
Hozier – Wasteland Baby! – (3.5/5) ☽.☽.☽
Not an album I keep coming back to sadly. “Nina Cried Power,” is a banger though.
Madonna – Madam X – (4.5/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽
Infused with Portuguese traditional fado music (which coincidently means long ago in Irish) Madonna continues her musical evolution. Tracks which interested me are”God Control,” “Batuka,” “Killers Who Are Paying,” and “Faz Gostoso” where she makes a great effort of speaking Portuguese and Spanish.
She once again hasn’t shied away from her jabs at the Catholic church (and other religions), or even her country of birth. This is a political album and for me, it is long overdue.
She has always been a mixed bag to me with her albums, some are ok, and then some are excellent. I’ve always loved “Ray Of Light,” and “Bedtime Stories,” and I think she’s on form here with this album. My favourite track is “Batuka” which blends traditional with trends, while still holding onto the emotion traditional music provides us.
Another 60-year-old Queen, and I still love her, and so I would say, do people who bought her first album “Madonna” brand new back in 1983. Thanks, Madonna!
Miley Cyrus – She is Coming (EP) (2.5/5) ☽.☽.
She’s been spamming us with “Mother’s Daughter,” and in fairness, itsa bop. I’m a Miley fan, and I feel like she really worked hard to find herself. “Unholy” is also quite a good song.
She’s very white, and I’m not sure she knows it. I know my limits and I think she is cringy when she raps on “Cattitude” but I really enjoyed RuPaul.
So I would give her half. 50%. A failing grade in America, but it depends on the system you’re working in… Not particularly to my taste, and I really liked her album “Younger Now.” Sorry Miley, it’s “The Climb” after all. She has nothing new to say on the other tracks that she hasn’t said before.
Norah Jones – Begin Again (2.5/5) ☽.☽
As with most white females, I have copies of “Come Away With Me,” and “Feels Like Home.” Norah Jones’ voice is consoling.
So to my surprise, she astounded me with the first track which was great, and then it got progressively more boring. Too similar to her early work without the beauty. I’m not saying this because she’s older, I just feel her heart isn’t in it anymore.
The only tracks I really liked where “My Heart Is Full,” and “Uh Oh.”
P!nk – Hurts to be Human – (5/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽.☽
I adore P!nk and all she does. I would give her 5 outta five on all her albums, hairstyles, the babies she makes with Cary Hart and her gymnastic skills.
Santana – Africa Speaks – (5/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽.☽
I’m actually blown away by this one. I had never heard of Buika before Santana collaborated with her, but man. This is absolutely everything I love. Jazz, African soul, guitars, fabulous vocals and just in time for the summer.
“Yo me lo merezco” (I deserve it) I’m sending all my love to the “Blue Skies,” and “Luna Hechicera” (in Spanish this is Sorceress moon), and the beautiful “Bembele” (in Swahili it means hide?).
Classically excellent music isn’t dead. It’s in the fingers of Carlos Santana and the vocals of Buika.
Solange – When I get home – (3/5) ☽.☽.☽
“A Seat At The Table,” was an absolute tour de force (yes I did just use that phrase), how disappointed was I when Solange released “When I Get Home,” and I just couldn’t get myself to fall in love with it.
The Chemical Brothers – No Geography – (5/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽
Just seen The Chemical Brothers for the first time this year and they were excellent. This album is more of the same excellent, with their modern twist. I give it 5/5 because I love The Chemical Brothers, but I stand by it.
Zaska – It Takes A Village – (4/5) ☽.☽.☽.☽
Aptly named, “It Takes A Village,” was Crowdfunded, locally produced, and packed full of Irish names. Maybe it’s my bias but I really do love this album, because of the local Irish stars and accents.
Treat yourself to “My Body,” Featuring Barq, “It’s Ridiculous,” Featuring Louise Gaffney, and “Wear,” featuring Wyvern Lingo. There are Irish themes and issues throughout, but this is genuinely just a good album.
Are you a fellow book worm? Do you love the smell of books? Or the sensation of words filtering through your brain, constructing stories about far off places, and exotic people? Then you have clicked on the right post!
I’ve read 30 books this year and rated 10 of those books 5 out of 5 on Goodreads. I have listed them below in order of preference, but let us remember, they are all excellent for their own reasons.
*There are no spoilers, this is a spoiler-free post! Enjoy my friends*
10. “Sourcery” – Terry Pratchett
Look we don’t even need to have a discussion here. Terry Pratchett is a beloved author for so many reasons. He is a hero in the writing community. You cannot read his books without being both touched and entertained. Seriously there is a joke on every page, with his humour being a mixture of complete silliness and intellectualism.
This book picks up with Rincewind the wizard whom we left back in book two “The Light Fantastic.” Rincewind is as reluctant as ever to be the hero, yet cannot stop his fate of becoming paramount to the survival of the Discworld.
Why couldn’t he have stayed at home, on his tiny cot, with the luggage snoozing in the wardrobe?
As far as debuts go, this is up there with the greats for me. I am a poetry fanatic, and very sensitive about its conjuncture. This wonderfully cathartic, yet tragic piece of work filled the gaps of my broken heart, as she waxed about pain, love, life, and the pursuit of elusive joy.
The work is divided into five parts, each a protective canopy over its subject matter. Beginning with “Screaming Numbness” we are treated to exquisitely painful lyrics about suffering and mental illness.
We press on into the pages of “Love & Loss” as she tells her tales from the world of love. As humans, we are never free from pain. We are allowed moments of beauty as a reprieve between the senseless chaos of the universe.
When the flushes of pain and joy are over we are treated to poems about the “Day and Night.” Her suffering mind remembers these times so vividly, and her fascination of the night sky appeals to fellow insomniac in me.
Life is a dazzling series of confusion and clarity. Mirza’s section, “C’est La Vie” has some hard truths about the world we try to live in. When I read these lines they ignite in me my own fears, wonders, and imagination.
The final section “Random Thoughts,” is just that, and we see the author grappling with the suffering of now, hopefully, one day leading to the freedom of tomorrow. Out of struggle, so will the time of quiet victory, and self-assurance be born. Where those of us with kindness, walk alongside those of difficult persuasions. She closes the collection strong leaving us both elated with hope, and sturdy with solidarity. Please buy this poetry collection, it is too exquisite to remain unread.
8. “The Secret Life Chimneys” – Agatha Christie
When I was a child I spent hours of my life watching Hercule Poirot shows with my mother. She has always loved Agatha Christie so recently I asked her what her favourite was and it wasn’t what I expected.
She choose “The Secret of Chimneys” and it is a laugh riot throughout. It does not take itself too seriously, although there is a dead man in the study. There are strong females, silly fathers and a cast of characters you cannot help but love.
7. “To The Women” – Scarlett Curtis
This collection of letters changed the game for me. I thought of all the women who have come before me, those I’ve known personally, and those who have fought on the front lines. When I say I cried in traffic. I genuinely did with one of the letters. The women wrote to her mother who was no longer with her. I ran home and hugged my mother.
6. “A Game Of Thrones” – George RR Martin
When the HBO show ended, I (and probably millions of others), went back to the books for solace and comfort. You cannot deny the character power of George RR Martin’s books. Although we are still two books short of a completed series, and Martin isn’t exactly a spring chicken, I live in hope that the story will conclude in an elegant threading of all storylines.
Until then I continue to read. I am on book three right now, immersed in the Song of Ice & Fire before it all went wrong.
5. “The Clan Of The Cave Bear” – Jean M. Auel
This book set in the prehistory of humankind kicked off a series that eventually disappointed me. Following the life of a young girl who is orphaned at five years old, she is taken in by the people of the Clan. Ayla is blonde and blue-eyed and appears ugly to the Clan who are dark and ancient.
There is love, loss and learning. I recommend reading the first book, but if you are short of time, do not worry about the rest. You will be disappointed. I rated the final book 1 out of 5 on Goodreads. A sad end to an epic series.
4. “The Handmaid’s Tale” – Margaret Atwood
I wanted to read this for a long time, and I finally got around to it this year. Even though it was written in 1985, (listen I wasn’t born until 1990!). So this book really affected me. It reminded me that no matter how far we have come, empires slip into dark ages.
It has happened over centuries countless times. It happened to the ancient Egyptian empire twice! With a racist, misogynistic president in the United States, the anti-immigration rhetoric in the United Kingdom, and the complete and utter media silence on what’s happening in Sudan, I realise we are never too far from chaos.
Do yourself a favour and read this book. I won’t tell you anything about it.
3. “The Hunger” – Alma Katsu
This semi-historical horror novel is on plenty of top ten modern horror novels for a reason. Set during the mass migration to the American West, the wagon train known as the Donner party encounters the horrors of hunger, disease and some unknown abomination.
As you jump between perspectives you understand the paranoia of the wide-open desert, the futility of money when there is no food to be bought, and the hidden secrets people keep close to their chest, in hopes they will never be discovered.
When you pick up this book, you will need to put it down on occasion, because it will disturb you. It won’t be long before you pick it up again, to see if you can understand the reasoning for the horror.
2. “The Witchcraft of Salem Village” – Shirley Jackson
I adore Shirley Jackson, and even though The Haunting of Hill House is cited as her best novel, I would argue it is only a small insight into her genius. My favourite of hers is “We Have Always Lived In A Castle.”
When I realised that Jackson had written a semi-historical version of the events that occurred in the now abandoned Salem village, I couldn’t help myself. This is an excellent yet frightening account.
1. The History Of Ancient Egypt – Bob Brier
Ever since I was a child I have idealised ancient Egypt in my head. I would read any books about it I could get my hands on. Fascinated by the hieroglyphs, mummification and papyrus, I imagined what life was like in times more ancient than my young mind could conceive.
My mother got me a beautiful book one Christmas that was tactile and interactive. There were real letters from Egyptologists, explanations about the Rosetta stone, and tutorials on their engravings.
The earliest settlers in the Nile valley was 700,000 years ago, and it wasn’t until 70,000 years ago that they even started using hand tools. Brier’s account brings us through the first settlers through 3000 years of history, all the way to the last Pharoh of Egypt Cleopatra.
I loved this. I listened to it on audiobook from Audible over a month and Bob Brier’s storytelling is superb. If you love ancient Egyptian history, you need to experience this.