Book Chat Issue #48
Life is sweet
Hello reading friends!
I thought I’d try my hand at a little video introduction, but it’s weird listening to yourself. You never sound like you think you do…
What do you think? Is it something I should do again?
What I’ve been reading
I went to Perth recently to attend my sister’s golden wedding anniversary and took only a carry-on suitcase with a weight limit of 7kgs. I travelled with my daughter and there was a hilarious moment at the airport when we dressed ourselves in several layers of clothing in order to reduce the weight of our tiny suitcases. I looked very strange wearing both trousers AND a dress. Oh well, I was never going to be a fashion icon.
The weight restrictions meant that I couldn’t take a physical book with me (crisis), so I spent ages searching the ebook catalogue at the library to find something that would keep me engaged. As I’ve mentioned before, you need to choose books carefully when you travel, because concentration levels are low and boredom levels are high.
I finally chose The Couple Upstairs by Holly Wainwright and it didn’t disappoint. Set in post-pandemic Sydney, the book tells the story of Mel, a single mum trying to negotiate life in all it’s messy glory. When a young man moves into the apartment upstairs (bearing an uncanny resemblance to someone from her past), she becomes obsessed with him and his girlfriend. Watching their interactions, she feels like she’s reliving her own past. Cleverly disguised as chicklit with it’s bright cover and cheerful fonts, it deals with issues around self-worth and self-regard with a light touch, and is quite funny in places. It was very real and relatable and I especially enjoyed the ending. Here’s an interesting article by Holly Wainwright about how her own experience was the genesis for this story.
I also enjoyed Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander, which employs a similarly light touch to some serious issues.
Set in 2019, Meredith works from home as a writer and has all her food delivered. She bakes a lot, does jigsaws and has a cat called Fred. She has online friends and one real-life friend, but hasn’t left her house for three years. She’s quite happy with her life, but a bit lonely, so she signs up for program run by a befriending charity. She gets a call from Tom, whom she grudgingly invites to her house.
Tom has his own issues but they gradually become friends.
“We sit in silence for a moment. I watch a bird land on the fence, then take off again. I wonder where it’s been, and where it’s going. What it must be like, to be able to go wherever you like, whenever you like. To be so small that you can balance on the skinniest branch of the tree, a delicate perch from which to view the world.”
This is not a romance novel, but a story about trusting yourself and others, and like The Couple Upstairs, it deals with some deep issues (especially around trauma and mental health). Some of it is sad, but as the cover says, it’s also sweet and hopeful. I loved it.
What I’ve been watching
Ages ago my good friend Valorie recommended “Anne with an E” on Netflix, but for some reason I never got around to watching it until this week. Based on the Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, it’s a delightful series. I’m just about to start series two. Anne is a feisty heroine with a big imagination. You’ve got to love her.
More on listening to your heart
In the last issue I talked about intuitive reading (thinking hard about what you really want to read) and how closely this aligns with intuitive eating (listening to your body), so I thought I’d share this fabulous article by writer Laura Lippman about learning to trust her intuition.
Every day, one day at a time, one meal at a time, one hunger pang at a time, I ask myself what I really want. I then eat whatever it is.
What I’ve been eating
It was my birthday this week so I’ve been eating a lot of cake. It wasn’t a hardship! I love cake, but I think I’ll be sticking to salad for a couple of days, as my body is definitely trying to tell me to lay off the sugar for a while. I did enjoy this delicious dessert at a winery called Sittella when I was in Perth. Isn’t it pretty?
If you’re a new subscriber you might not know that I’ve started a new virtual bookclub for readers of Book Chat. Our first book is The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin and our first meeting is in March (date to be advised).
It’s free and you don’t have to do anything except read the book and turn up. It’ll be fun, so please think about joining in. I’ll send out a link for the meeting just as soon as I get myself organised.
In the meantime, happy reading and look after yourself.