Sunday, October 28, 2018

Books I'm Planning to Read

books to read in autumn

It's officially dark at 4pm and I haven't left the house once today... I'm really not sure why everyone's fawning over single digit temperatures, for I'm just glad that I'll be off to warmer environment in two weeks (going to Hong Kong!).

The end of summer kickstarted my reading habit again and as we find ourselves with nothing but darkness and time in the evenings, I'm trying to start reading more again. Usually I read 1 non-fiction book and 2 fiction at the same time – it helps switch things up depending on my mood! I'm sharing a peek at what I'm currently reading now...

books to read in autumn

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

This was on my to-read for a while and thanks to my friend who works in publishing, I managed to get this on her staff discount. The last non-fiction book I read was Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit Forming Products and my other in current rotation is Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed which is very enjoyable - and I'm excited to get started with this one as it dives into contemporary societal attitudes around race and identity in Britain.

It evolved from Reni Eddo-Lodge's blog post and her frustration about discussions on race in the country and I think now more than ever, it's one that will inform how we think about identify through these tumultuous times.

Lest I get too political (Matt said one of my recent Instagram stories about Philip Green was too political and that's why no one engaged LOL) I'll just say I'm looking forward to this one!

books to read in autumn

The Book of Dust: Volume One La Belle Savauge by Philip Pullman

I actually talked about this on my Instagram as was kindly gifted an illustrated soft copy of the book but totally sidetracked and haven't finished reading this! A prequel to His Dark Materials, I'm already immersed in Pullman's vivid descriptions of Oxford and the imagery that's to come...

One of the dark, cold evening methinks.

If On a Winter's Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino

A classic pick, this is perfect for my postmodernist fancy - I love novels which challenges literary structures so I think this will be just the book for it. It reminds me of Paul Auster's metaphysical style and unexplained plots, so I'm sure while it's going to be an inventive journey, it'll be slightly frustrating too!

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran-Foer

Everything Is Illuminated is possibly my favourite book by Safran-Foer, his trademark style of combing sadness and humour in a way that I've never seen before was what drawn me in in the first place, and daring to be so poignant and ever so close to truth is something that I've always admired. I'm halfway through this, while it does retain a lot of the same non-sequitur remarks and traits as in his previous work, I'm not overly attached to this.

The basic plot centres around the Bloch family who find themselves amidst a breakdown and familial crises threaten to change their lives for good. It's filled with a lot of dialogue so it can be hard to follow, and specific cultural references that may be hard to pick up.

One thing I do enjoy though, is the Jewish context this is set in - presumably influence by his own background, it's enjoyable to see how religion (in the lightest sense) entwine with the banalities in love, relationships and a world full of references to hypernormalised consumer brands.

books to read in autumn

That's it on the shelf for now! What are you reading + please send me your recommendations :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I Went to A Concert By Myself and Loved It

how to enjoy your own company boost self-confidence

I'd be ashamed to call myself a blogger but it's as the title says: two weeks ago, I went to a music gig by myself and survived, in fact – I loved it.

Some of you know that I listen and love Korean hip-hop (≠ K-pop but hey) and I was so down to party like a responsible adult when Zico was doing his European tour. Several things though - Matt isn't into it, and my friends are probably at that point, broke from buying BTS tickets so you know what? I went and nabbed myself a solo ticket.

Enjoying your own company

I'm usually quite nervous about spending time alone, and sometimes it doesn't help that we're told to surround ourself with copious amount of 'positive energy and people' and a ride-or-die girl gang, an idea that perpetuates that being alone is somehow shameful.

This year I set out to do more things that I actually enjoy, and sometimes that means going out of your comfort zone. I'll have to admit, I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy it because I was alone and the fear of being self-conscious (lol that went out the door pretty quickly) but I think that's quite normal if you're not used to going out and doing things alone, right?

As an only child, I think it was pretty difficult for me growing up because I didn't have anyone to talk to / play with and would always wish for a sibling during my birthdays, until my 10th birthday where I started wishing for a Tamagotchi for myself, ha.

You'd think I would have settled into a good mould of enjoying my own company but it's something I'm still working on, being comfortable walking on the streets and feeling good about it.

how to enjoy your own company boost self-confidence

Cultivating a sense of confidence

I was, am still not a confident person and it makes life really quite terrible. It didn't help that my adolescent years were plagued by skin problems and moving to a different country, and still today I struggle with my skin (that literally makes it more than 10 years) – not the greatest confidence boost shall we say.

On the flip side, it makes me very unhappy, constantly worried about outward appearances and wondering what other people think of me. It was getting to a point that affected people around me and that isn't how I'd like to continue living life...

It's probably far-fetched to correlate going to a concert and self-confidence but I would consider that a step forwards in our otherwise hypernormalised society where everyone is successful and young and impossibly attractive.

how to enjoy your own company boost self-confidence

Starting my new job at a young company surrounded by smart, driven and incredibly capable individuals have left me reeling in self-doubt lately and was something I touched on in an Instagram post - am I doing enough? Why aren't I making the big bucks yet?! How on earth do I make myself useful?

I don't have an instant cure to these lingering and unhelpful thoughts but making a start by doing things I enjoy and something I'm good at sounds like the right thing to do?

how to enjoy your own company boost self-confidence

There is no right or wrong

Would it have been better that I had friends with me at the show? Probably. But I can honestly say that I loved going to a gig by myself and put those self-conscious thoughts to sleep just for 2 hours and enjoy what was happening right in front of me.

I don't think there's a prescribed list of what you should do to feel more comfortable - I certainly don't - but I feel like we all know intuitively what we are capable of doing to start making that step, be it treating yourself a coffee date and going shopping, playing video games for hours straight (guilty - I played for 5 hours once gulp)...

I'm putting a conscious effort to spend my time enjoying the present moment, alone or together because time machines don't exist yet and I'm certainly better off spending time being content than in constant worry.

how to enjoy your own company boost self-confidence

What about you? What are your favourite alone time activities?
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