All posts filed under: Read + Write

Book vending machine at Books Actually in Singapore

The Reading Year | My Top Books Of 2017

Today I’m taking a break from travel-related missives to talk about books, glorious books – the top books of 2017, and those I didn’t enjoy so much too. Many of my favourite below-the-line discussions on this little website have revolved around the written word, why we read what we do, and shared recommendations. A surprising part of our long trip away from home has been how much I missed paper books – their unmistakable smell, thoughtfully designed covers, the crunch of a page between the fingers, the pleasing crack of a paperback’s spine. E-readers are ever so convenient, but nothing will trump a proper book for me. I’ve read thirty books this year (but plan to squeeze a few more in on the thirteen-hour flight back to London and over the festive period), far fewer than some years, but not too shabby. Last year, I promised “I’ll strive to always be reading, to always have a book on the go, to never be without one in my bag (Rory Gilmore, you’d be proud), to always …

Grandad’s Garden

It’s hard to imagine as I sit curled in the armchair by the window, contemplating a chai tea to warm up, that these photographs were only taken last Saturday, in what may well have been the last of the August sun. I spent what felt like hours lingering among the coneflowers and tomato plants, staying outside long after my grandparents had gone back inside. I could hear their laughter through the open window as I took photograph after photograph of the dahlias striving towards the sky, trying to capture their height and essence of the sublime. I laughed too, for it was one of those fleeting moments where one feels rooted in the present moment, consumed by joy in the here and now. This was Saturday afternoon in Fred’s little garden on the fringes of northwest London.  I recently heard the words spoken “For what is joy if it is not recorded?” and the sentence made my heart quicken and flutter. For what is joy if it is not recorded, and what – the speaker went on – is love …

Soothing Those Mean Reds

Holly Golightly said it best. “You know those days when you get the mean reds? Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?”  I’ve felt anxiety budding in me lately, dense and sly as weeds in a neglected garden. Beginning small as a pinhead, they hide in the dark, damp spaces, but given the slightest hint of air and light, explode into full, malignant bloom. I don’t struggle with anxiety very often (if you are a more frequent attendee, as many of those close to me are, you have my full sympathy). My common-law husband is the unruffled son of an esteemed psychotherapist (useful for putting worries in perspective) while my childhood fears of murderers beyond the windowpane and tragic plane crashes gradually morphed into a reliance on statistics and logic and a personal philosophy akin to what will be will be. But I do struggle with it sometimes. It often begins with a rational worry before somersaulting into the entirely irrational realm. I might find myself …

Women’s March, London | 21.01.2017

After a week of feeling down in the dumps about the state of things, I’ve spent most of the weekend sobbing happy tears over the photographs pouring in from women’s marches around the world. 100,000 of us marched in London and I don’t think I ever loved this city more. Children, dogs, babies, men and women and everyone in between, of all colours and creeds, came together to fight for what we believe in. What amazing signals we can send when we come together; what comfort there is in knowing that, despite the constant stream of bad news, despite the ogre in that big white house, despite the right-wing vice our country is currently gripped in, we are not alone. An incredibly emboldening, joyful, cheering movement to be part of. Here’s to the next one!

feminist poster by Lauren Albee

Why I March

I march for the forgotten, for the great women behind all the great men, for the women who have died alone or uncommemorated. I march for all of the women who have raised children on their own. I march for all the little girls and young women coming of age in the era of Donald Trump, who believe they can never be President, or fly to the moon, or write books as well as men can, or save lives, or do whatever it is they aspire to. I march for the women abused by their partners and I march for the two women murdered every week in this country by the person closest to them. I’m marching for my future sons and daughters. I march because I want them to know that fighting for what’s right is worth it; that their mother couldn’t sleep for worry about the future; that their mother couldn’t sleep without knowing she’d tried, in some small significant way, to make things right. I march for anyone who’s ever looked in the mirror and wished they were …