Tag Archives: #imclever

The newest fiction hitting the market

While in lockdown many of us took up new hobbies, such as bread making, knitting, puzzle building, yoga with Adrienne, or podcasting, some of the clever clogs around the world wrote new books – and gosh are we thankful for that! There are so many new books hitting the market that we know you are going to love. This week we’re sharing new fiction titles and have chosen six that are highly likely to make your Christmas wishlist (is it too early to mention Christmas?). So sit back, and get ready to get clicking to let everyone know whether you want an audio, electronic or actual paper version. 

Cracked Pots by Heather Tucker

Cracked Pots s the much-anticipated follow-up novel from the author of The Clay Girl. The perfect girl, from the nicest family, vanishes. For once in Ari Appleton’s life, the mayhem is not the fault of her twisted mother or dead father – or is it? The tragedy unfolds, revelations surface, then one misstep cracks everything open, leaving 16-year-old Ari with terrifying questions. Are Appletons the root of all evil? From the waning flower-power ’60s in Toronto, through her East Coast university years, Ari fights to discover who she is and what it means to be the child of an addicted mother and depraved father. With wit, tenacity, and the incessant meddling of Jasper the seahorse in her head Ari rides turbulent waves of devilry and discovery, calamity and creation, abandonment and atonement on a journey to find her true self, and to find Natasha.

Cracked Pots is a story about a girl broken by both cruelty and truth. It is a revelation: that destiny is shaped in clay, not stone. It is also a celebration of rising after the blows, gathering the fragments, and piecing together a remarkable life through creativity, kindness, and belonging.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a distribution warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up, and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young-but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world? You can find Sally Rooney’s other books here.

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

Freckles is the brand new novel from million-copy bestselling author Cecelia Ahern. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. When a stranger utters these words to Allegra Bird, nicknamed Freckles, it turns her highly ordered life upside down. In her current life as a parking warden, she has left her eccentric father and unconventional childhood behind for a bold new life in the city. But a single encounter leads her to ask the question she’s been avoiding for so long: who are the people who made her the way she is? And who are the five people who can shape and determine her future? Just as she once joined the freckles on her skin to mirror the constellations in the night sky, she must once again look for connections. Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and growing into your own skin. Five people. Five stars. Freckle to freckle. Star to star.

After Story by Larissa Behrendt

When Indigenous lawyer Jasmine decides to take her mother Della on a tour of England’s most revered literary sites, Jasmine hopes it will bring them closer together and help them reconcile the past. Twenty-five years earlier the disappearance of Jasmine’s older sister devastated their tight-knit community. This tragedy returns to haunt Jasmine and Della when another child mysteriously goes missing on Hampstead Heath. As Jasmine immerses herself in the world of her literary idols – including Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolf – Della is inspired to rediscover the wisdom of her own culture and storytelling. But sometimes the stories that are not told can become too great to bear.

Ambitious and engrossing, After Story celebrates the extraordinary power of words and the quiet spaces between. We can be ready to listen, but are we ready to hear?

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

The Paper Palace is a magnificent literary debut about the myriad loves that make up a life. Before anyone else is awake, on a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the glorious fresh water pond below The Paper Palace, the gently decaying summer camp in the back woods of Cape Cod where her family has spent every summer for generations. As she passes the house, Elle glances through the screen porch at the uncleared table from a dinner party the previous evening; empty wine glasses, candle wax on the table cloth, echoes of laughter of family and friends. Then she dives beneath the surface of the freezing water to the shocking memory of the sudden passionate encounter she had the night before, up against the wall outside the house, as her husband and mother chatted to the dinner guests inside. So begins a story that unfolds over 24 hours and across 50 years, as decades of family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable incident in her childhood lead Elle to the precipice of a life-changing decision. Over the next 24 hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her much-loved husband, Peter, and the life she imagined would be hers with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.

Plum by Brendan Cowell

Plum is the wildly impressive, raucously funny and deeply moving second novel from award-winning writer, actor and director for television, theatre and film, Brendan Cowell. Peter ‘The Plum’ Lum is a 48-year-old ex-star NRL player, living with his son and girlfriend in Cronulla. He’s living a pretty cruisey life until one day he suffers an epileptic fit and discovers that he has a brain disorder as a result of the thousand-odd head knocks he took on the footy field in his twenty-year-career. According to his neurologist, Plum has to make some changes, right now, or it’s dementia, or even death. Reluctantly, Plum embarks on a journey of self-care and self-discovery, which is not so easy when all you’ve ever known is to go full tilt at everything. On top of this, he’s being haunted by dead poets, and, unable to stop crying, discovers he has a special gift for the spoken word. With spectral visits from Bukowski and Plath, the friendship of local misfits, and the prospect of new love, Plum might just save his own life. Plum is a powerfully moving, authentic, big-hearted, angry and joyous novel of men, their inarticulate pain and what it takes for them to save themselves – from themselves. It’s got a roaring energy, a raucous humour, a heart of gold and a poetic soul.

Enjoy!

Six of the best Spring Cleaning Books on the Market

Life has been a bit of a curve ball this past year which resulted in us all spending a lot of time inside our homes. Our homes have morphed into office spaces, schools, home gyms, restaurants, bakeries, puzzle worlds, and libraries so we thought it may be time for the annual spring clean. We have rustled up 6 of the greatest titles on the market to help you shed, mend and curate your things. 

Make yourself a cup of tea, pop your feet up and get ready to be inspired. 

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

Okay, so this one seems a tad scarier than it is. It’s all the title’s fault really. This book is a charming, practical, and unsentimental approach to putting a home in order while reflecting on the tiny joys that make up a long life. In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, dö meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, artist Margareta Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism. Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming. Margareta suggests which possessions you can easily get rid of (unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you’d ever use) and which you might want to keep (photographs, love letters, a few of your children’s art projects). Digging into her late husband’s tool shed, and her own secret drawer of vices, Margareta introduces an element of fun to a potentially daunting task. Along the way readers get a glimpse into her life in Sweden, and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.

Hinch Yourself Happy by Mrs Hinch

All the best cleaning tips to shine your sink and soothe your soul. Discover how to transform your home. Cleaning doesn’t have to be that job you dread. Not when Mrs Hinch is here to show you her sparkly ways. Mrs Hinch has taken Britain by storm with her infectiously addictive charm, clever cleaning hacks and her passionate belief in the life-changing magic of tidying. With the help of her cloth family, Mrs Hinch will help you turn your house into a home. Whether you’re a daily duster or looking for a monthly makeover, Hinch Yourself Happy shows you how to create not only a cleaner house, but a calmer you. If you want your kitchen to sparkle, then this is the book for you.

The Art of Repair by Molly Martin

For Molly Martin, it all started with a pair of socks. Her favourite pair. When the heels became threadbare, her mother got out her darning mushroom and showed her how to reinforce the thinning stitches and bring them back to life. She has been stitching and darning ever since. In The Art of Repair, Molly explores the humble origins of repair and how the act of mending a cherished item carefully by hand offers not just a practical solution but nourishment for the soul. Using her own beautiful illustrations, she guides us through the basics of the craft – from piecing and patching to the ancient Japanese art of Sashiko. This book will stay with you long after you put down your needle and thread. It offers an antidote to our increasingly disposable lifestyle, encouraging us to reconnect not just with the everyday objects in our environment but also with ourselves.

Create Space by Dilly Carter

Some of us just want to cut the clutter, live better with less, give ourself some headspace, and enjoy life more. Create Space shows you how taking steps to clear and simplify your living space can also clear your mind, improve your relationships, and enhance your wellbeing. This room-by-room guide to organising and decluttering your home is packed with ideas, advice, tips and techniques that are practical and functional as well as beautiful. Turn chaos into calm with step-by-step methods that you can adapt and sustain for your own needs. When you stop allowing your life to revolve around things that don’t matter, you instantly gain energy to focus on the things that do. Reclaim your space, your time, and your mind right now, to reorganise your living space into a place of sanctuary.

Curate by Lynda Gardener and Ali Heath

Designer, Photographer, Creative Director, Doyenne of the unique and decorative, Australian interior stylist and boutique hotelier, Lynda Gardener, is always on the hunt for finds to enhance her homes and decorating projects. Her ability to curate and display these personal treasures has created a trademark style that is loved internationally. Curate, the highly anticipated book by creative duo, Lynda Gardener and journalist and stylist Ali Heath, reveals how to create a home that is truly individual. With their shared love of a monochrome aesthetic and natural imperfections, they explore the eight Elements that bring a space to life: palette, nature, textiles, lighting, a combination of old and new, storage, collections and art. Ten aspirational homes show the style in practice, including a converted warehouse, one-bedroom studio, bijoux apartment, historic cottage, country estate, new-build barn, remote shack, period townhouse and rural retreat. With gloriously evocative photography and plenty of down-to-earth ideas, Curate will encourage you to embrace your individual style, dream big and create a timeless interior of your own.

Let It Go by Peter Walsh

Whether you’re selling your family home, blending households, or cleaning out your ageing parents’ home, sorting through a lifetime’s worth of accumulated possessions can be a daunting and stressful experience. When decluttering guru Peter Walsh went through the process of downsizing his childhood home and dividing his late parents’ possessions among his family, he realised that making these decisions about mementos and heirlooms creates strong emotions and can be an overwhelming chore. In Let It Go, Walsh helps you turn downsizing into a rejuvenating life change. He offers useful tips and practical takeaways, including how to understand the emotional challenges that accompany downsizing, establishing a hierarchy of mementos and collectibles, calculating the amount of stuff you can bring into your new life, and creating strategies for dividing heirlooms among family members without drama. Change your mindset around possessions and learn to Let It Go.

Enjoy!

Spring Food Inspiration

A new season brings new produce, and some much-appreciated variety into our regular menus. If the warmer days and brighter sunshine are inspiring a craving for lighter, fresher foods, check out these great new cookbooks for Spring meal ideas:

Together by Jamie Oliver

I can totally agree with Jamie Oliver when he says that he really missed sharing meals with friends and family during lockdown. And looking forward to doing so again, has been the inspiration for his latest book, Together. Together is all about dishes designed for sharing, whether that means 2 people or 12; recipes are arranged into themed menus – such as taco nights, boozy lunches or picnics in the park – and are simple (or can be prepped ahead) so that you can spend less time on cooking and more time with guests. Like Jamie’s other books, Together is a complete toolkit, with additional tips on table decorations, accomodating dietary requirements, and event planning.

Every. Night. of. the. Week. : Sanity Solutions for the Daily Dinner Grind by Lucy Tweed

Even the best cooks can feel dragged down by the need to cook dinner every night – in which case Every. Night. of. the. Week. will perk you up with tasty inspiration and laughter. From one cult Instagram account, ENOTW has evolved into a website, a homewares collab and now a book – all of which retain Lucy Tweed’s distinctive sassy personality, her focus on clean ingredients and supporting local businesses, and the use of clever shortcuts to achieve deliciousness. Whether it’s a day where you want to cook, or one where you just need to get food into tummies, ENOTW will offer you something that looks and tastes amazing.

Seasonal Kitchen: 70+ Delicious Recipes from Fast Ed by Ed Halmagyi

Seasonal Kitchen offers 70+ recipes that are personal favourites of “Fast Ed” Halmagyi. He also sees it as a celebration of his almost 20 years with Better Homes and Gardens – the show that has made him one of the best known and liked on TV. Fast Ed’s understanding of seasonality has been honed during filming, where he has travelled all over Australia to showcase the flavours and produce of our diverse regions. This collection of breakfasts, snacks, mains and sweets are simple yet tasty, and perfectly suited to the relaxed, celebrated Aussie lifestyle.

Vegetable Simple by Eric Ripert

Take a sneak peek at how a Michelin-starred chef cooks and eats at home, with Eric Ripert’s Vegetable Simple. The recipes, such as seared shiitake mushrooms, and romaine lettuce grilled with Caesar dressing, offer elegant, classic flavours and many are surprisingly simple, with as few as two ingredients. Eric Ripert explains that many of the dishes are inspired by his childhood in Provence, and that they can be served as main meals or side dishes. The recipes are aimed at home cooks, supplemented by professional tricks that help readers achieve superior results.

Bowls & Broths: Build a Bowlful of Flavour from Scratch, with Dumplings, Noodles and More by Pippa Middlehurst

Just reading the title of this book makes me feel hungry – there’s nothing more nourishing and satisfying than a big bowl of broth studded with tasty bites; broths are also incredibly versatile, with flavours that span from light and clean, to rich and spicy. Pippa Middlehurst (aka @Pippy Eats) shares her passion for East- and Southeast-Asian bowl foods by showing you how to build a flavourful bowl from the bottom up, using seasoning and sauce, crunchy bits and fresh herbs, aromatics and toppings, to maximise the power of ingredients, texture and flavour. There are chapters on dumplings, noodles, hotpots, rice and even sweets, and plenty of tips on preparing ahead, catering for groups and stocking your freezer.

Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen by Linda McCartney, with Paul, Mary & Stella McCartney

The late Linda McCartney, celebrated photographer and animal rights activist, played an important part in bringing meatless cooking into the mainstream over 30 years ago. Now her family – husband Sir Paul McCartney and daughters Mary and Stella – celebrate her legacy by updating and reissuing her book, Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen. The 90+ recipes are entirely plant-based and suitable for beginners. Interspersed are family photographs and stories that highlight Linda’s philosophy on animal rights and sustainability. With dishes ranging from classics such as American-style pancakes, chili con carne and lemon drizzle cake, to more recent favourites including pad Thai and pulled jackfruit burgers, Linda McCartney’s Kitchen is a great resource for anyone looking for meatless/ vegetarian/ vegan recipes.

Six gorgeous gardening books for spring

Spring has sprung and gosh what a welcome relief it is. Unlike all of the other seasons, Spring comes with the promise of hope and optimism. Blossoms bursting open on branches remind us that good things can come after months of gruelling times. 

It is with this optimism and joy that we are focusing on what we can do to embrace this cheery new season and take advantage of the sunnier days and brighter skies. So it is off to the garden we go with six gorgeous books to inspire the green thumbs among us. Fear not, we have also included books for those of you that have limited gardening space and those of you that are plant-keeping-challenged. 

Pure Style in the Garden by Jane Cumberbatch

With more and more of us spending most of our time at home, outdoor spaces have become our retreat; somewhere to breathe again, heighten our senses and escape the onslaught of noise, clutter and technology. Pure Style in the Garden offers ideas and inspiration for making the most of any outdoor space we might have; whether it is a garden, a patio or a balcony, or even just a window box  and for bringing touches of nature indoors for mindful enjoyment. Bestselling author Jane Cumberbatch’s ‘Pure Style’ philosophy is all about making the most of what’s around you and finding beauty in the simple and every day as an achievable alternative to the stressful demands of consumer society. In this book, which was put together over the course of 2020, she draws on her the inspiration of her own home and garden to supply ideas and inspiration for life-affirming colour, scent and texture, and to show how even the most unpromising outdoor space can be a source of sensuous renewal. Viewing the garden as an extension of the home, and with ideas for all seasons, this beautiful and inspiring book is illustrated with glorious photographs and enchanting paintings by the author herself. A book for dipping into or enjoying as one long read, or both.

You can click here to see Jane’s other ‘Pure Style’ series books.

Organic Gardening for Beginners by Lisa Lombardo

Imagine cooking with organic tomatoes right off the vine or seasoning with fresh, homegrown herbs. Organic Gardening for Beginners shows aspiring home gardeners how to get started. Learn to raise dozens of fruits and veggies at home with sustainable and eco-friendly practices that protect the environment and produce safe, nutritious food – no grocery store required.

Discover what it means to keep a completely organic garden with tips, advice, and step-by-step instructions for planting the right plants at the right time, designing an efficient layout, and attracting the right pollinators to help every garden thrive. Begin with an overview of the most popular types of organic gardening from in-ground to containers and decide which one works best in every space. Find out how to choose soil, control pests with no chemicals, and combine the crops that grow well together. Get an explanation of each crop that breaks down what it needs to grow and what beginners need to know for success. Grow your own thriving backyard ecosystem with expert advice on nourishing organic gardening.

The Heirloom Gardener by John Forti

This gorgeous book is an A-to-Z compilation of traditional gardening skills and heirloom plants, nostalgically illustrated with wood block art. Modern life is a cornucopia of technological wonders. But when we spend so much time glued to our phones and computer screens, something precious is lost: a sense of connection to the generations that have preceded us. John Forti is acutely aware of this loss, and his mission is to heal it. In The Heirloom Gardener, he celebrates and shares the lore and traditional practices that link us with the natural world and with each other. Arranged alphabetically, entries include heirloom flowers like beebalm, Johnny-jump-ups, and nasturtiums; traditional skills such as distilling, wreath-making, and brewing; and subjects such as ethnobotany, biodiversity, and organic gardening. Throughout, Forti highlights the ways in which these plants and practices can enrich modern life. The Heirloom Gardener is charmingly illustrated, resulting in a beautiful book that will inspire you to slow down, recharge, and reconnect.

Futuresteading by Jade Miles

Futuresteading is a practical and inspirational guide to living in a way that values tomorrow: a slower, simpler, steadier existence that is healthier for you, your home, and the environment. Whether you live in a city apartment, in the suburbs or on twenty acres, the principles of futuresteading offer easy-to-understand information and hands-on ideas. Learn to grow delicious food and medicinal plants; share rituals with loved ones through the seasons; feast on healthy home-cooked food for the family; nourish body and soul with outdoor expeditions and moments of rest; and create wonders with your hands. This welcoming handbook begins by showing how futuresteading works in an accessible and practical explainer, before venturing through six seasonal chapters – Awakening, Alive, High Heat, Harvest, The Turning, and Deep Chill – filled with inspiration for the garden, including making fences and wicking beds, along with over 30 rewarding recipes for slow, nourishing and easy meals. Grow, store, eat, preserve and share food that deepens the connections you have with your household, your soil, and those around you.

House Planted by Lisa Muñoz

This one is for the many of us who do not have a sprawling garden. Green up your living space with this bright, fresh, stylish introduction to choosing, caring for, and designing with houseplants. Get ready to transform your humble abode! Whether you have a funky bohemian den, a chic minimalist loft, or a closet-sized rental, indoor plants will bring a whole new level of warmth, comfort, and style into your home. In House Planted, interior plant designer Lisa Munoz guides you step by step and room by room through picking the perfect plant for the perfect spot and incorporating plants into your indoor decor. You’ll find info on plants that are hard to kill, hanging plants, succulents, air plants, and more. There are creative ideas for displaying plants, tips on caring for your new leafy friends, and primers on potting and troubleshooting. Casual and easy-going, with attainable styles and simple instructions, this short and sweet book of inspiration has everything you need, and nothing you don’t, to start you off on an adventure in better –and greener– living.

How Not to Kill Your Houseplants by Trisha Bora

Okay, another one for those of us who are less than green-thumbed. We’ve all killed houseplants. But a plant’s death is a good starting point, because it can help us answer the important question: Why did it die? Equipped with the right knowledge, you can make plants thrive for many years. How Not to Kill Your Houseplants is a comprehensive guide on how to care for houseplants. In this book, you will learn how to choose the right plants for your space and lifestyle, the right light requirements, when and how to water and fertilise them, the best potting mixes, and how to propagate plants.

With simple and effective advice, and seventy houseplant profiles, accompanied by stunning pictures, plant parenting has never been easier.

Enjoy!

Six fabulous fashion titles to get you out of track pants

It was fun in the beginning way back at the start of 2020, to wear super comfy clothes, or only dress the top half of our bodies ready for endless zoom meetings. But now, a year on, and while we are still staying safe at home, pulling on trackies or leggings when we aren’t actually exercising is turning a little sloth-like, possibly making us a little sluggish and less like we can take on the world. Fear not, Team Booko has rustled up a few fabulous books that will inspire you to dust off the wardrobe and dress like you mean business or at least feel like your old self again. 

Get the iron at the ready because you may just fancy getting dressed after reading about these titles… don’t worry, you can still keep your slippers on.

The Little Guide to Coco Chanel Style by Orange Hippo

This little guide is full of wit and wisdom from Coco Chanel, who remains one of the world’s most celebrated fashion designers and the creative genius who gave us the Little Black Dress and Chanel No. 5. Almost 50 years after her death, Coco Chanel remains one of the world’s most influential fashion designers. Her story is one of creative brilliance and innovation, she was a driving force in freeing women from the restrictive clothing they had been obliged to wear for generations. ‘In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different,’ Chanel would say, and throughout her life she demonstrated extraordinary passion and determination to change the world around her. There is much wisdom to glean from Chanel’s self-reflections, while her sharp wit and joie de vivre will amuse, surprise and inspire in equal measure. 

Vivienne Westwood Catwalk: The Complete Collections by Alexander Fury

One of the most thought-provoking and influential designers in the world, Vivienne Westwood once declared ‘the only reason I’m in fashion is to destroy the word “conformity”’. Vivienne Westwood has been reinventing, changing and challenging the world of fashion for over five decades. Celebrating 40 years of catwalk collections, this book records the inimitable creations imagined by Vivienne Westwood since her first runway show in 1981, as well as those designed by her husband and long-time collaborator, Andreas Kronthaler. Complete with an introduction and collection texts by Alexander Fury, and biographies written by the designers themselves, Vivienne Westwood Catwalk offers a rare opportunity to chart the development of a uniquely creative fashion house. This book offers an unrivalled overview of the collections of the world’s top fashion houses through original catwalk photography.

The Fashion Yearbook 2021: Best of Campaigns, Editorials and Covers by Julia Zirpel

The international fashion world is not only a hotbed of creativity, but also a fast-moving and mercurial one. This book cherry-picks some of the most intriguing editorials, covers and campaigns of 2020 and places them within the zeitgeist. In a year in which the carpet was swept out from under us, the sudden loss of stability also gave rise to new creativity, freedom, and surprise as fashion magazines began taking a more active political stance. Presented here in detail are the inspiring minds of photographers, stylists, models, and editors behind this sudden change in paradigm.

This compilation was selected by an international jury of 12 that includes Ariel Foxman, former Editor-in-Chief of InStyle, Donald Schneider, former art director of French Vogue and creative mind of the H&M designer collaborations, Sara Maino, Deputy Director of Vogue Italia and head of Vogue Talents, and street-style icon and influencer Veronika Heilbrunner. The Fashion Yearbook 2021 is a précis of the protagonists behind the scenes in an impressive illustrated book.

Clothes… and other things that matter by Alexandra Shulman

Clothes…and other things that matter is a book not only about clothes but about the way we live our lives. From childhood onwards, the way we dress is a result of our personal history. In a mix of memoir, fashion history and social observation. Alexandra Shulman delves into her own life to look at the emotions, ambitions, expectations and meanings behind the way we dress. From the bra to the bikini, the trench coat to trainers, the slip dress to the suit, she explores their meaning in women’s lives and how our wardrobes intersect with the larger world the career ladder, motherhood, romance, sexual identity, ambition, failure, body image and celebrity. It’s funny, refreshingly self-deprecating and often very moving; this startlingly honest memoir from the ex-editor of British Vogue will encourage women of all ages to consider what their own clothes mean to them, the life they live in them and the stories they tell.

The Ten: The stories behind the fashion classics by Lauren Cochrane

White T-shirt, Miniskirt, Hoodie, Jeans, Ballet flat, Breton top, Biker jacket, Little black dress, Stiletto, Trench. What are you wearing? In all likelihood, your outfit will feature at least one of these 10 items (paired with either trackpants or leggings while we stay safe at home). Familiar, commonplace, ubiquitous – each piece has become an emblem of a certain style, carrying its own connotations and historical significance. They aren’t just clothes, our social history is contained within these perfect 10 pieces. They’re vessels that hold the history of style, politics and identity: while trends may come and go, these are here to stay. The Ten includes deep dive explorations into each item’s history, how it gained its reputation, and what it means today, accompanied by stylish photography and illustrations. Stories of iconic adopters and landmarks in the story of each piece reveal how they have achieved their status as so ubiquitous and yet so extraordinary. From the evolution of the white T-shirt from army staple to symbol of achingly cool simplicity, the hoodie’s birth in the monasteries of Rome to its domination of streetwear, and the transition of the stiletto from the feet of fifteenth-century Iranian equestrians to those of New York businesswomen, The Ten puts fashion in context. Showing how certain pieces are just as ubiquitous on the catwalk as on the street, Lauren Cochrane’s crucial volume defines the fashion items that make up your wardrobe, and how they got there, providing the perfect excuse, a pedigree, a narrative, and a realness, for the reader to wear them time and time again.

How To Break Up With Fast Fashion: A guilt-free guide to changing the way you shop for good by Lauren Bravo

You probably know the statistics: global clothing production has roughly doubled in just 15 years, and every year an estimated 300,000 tonnes of used clothing ends up in landfill in the UK alone. In Australia we consume an average of 27 kilograms of new clothing per year and dispose an average 23 kilograms of that to landfill. Fast fashion is the ultimate toxic relationship. It’s bad news for the planet, our brains and our bank balances. We can’t go on like this; our shopping habits need an overhaul. Journalist Lauren Bravo loves clothes more than anything, but she’s called time on her affair with fast fashion in search of a slower, saner way of dressing. In this book, she’ll help you do the same. How To Break Up With Fast Fashion will help you to change your mindset, fall back in love with your wardrobe and embrace more sustainable ways of shopping, from the clothes swap to the charity shop. Full of refreshing honesty and realistic advice, Lauren will inspire you to repair, recycle and give your unloved items a new lease of life without sacrificing your style. Because fashion belongs to everyone, but no outfit should cost us the earth.

Enjoy!

Six Books that Help Us Create a Personal life Philosophy

Do you have any rules, beliefs or principles that you live by? Many of us do – even if we don’t realise, or can’t articulate them yet. These rules or principles are components of a personal philosophy that can contribute to our wellbeing by giving us clarity and direction in our daily lives. If you are interested in discovering your personal life philosophy, or explore how it can benefit your life, here are a few tools to get you started:

How to Live a Good Life: a Guide to Choosing your Personal Philosophy edited by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye C. Cleary and Daniel Kaufman
If you were inspired by last week’s blog post about using philosophy to solve life problems, then How to Live a Good Life will offer further guidance. This essay collection introduces fifteen schools of thought – from ancient Eastern and Western philosophies, to religious traditions, to modern philosophies – and what it is like to live according to those philosophies. Each contributor offers lively, personal accounts of what it means to live an examined life in the twenty-first century. How to Live a Good Life offers a clear, accessible guide, backed by deep academic expertise, for anyone considering their life-choices and looking for options for change.

Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: and Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster
This hilarious and relatable memoir has gone straight onto my To Read list.  Tara Schuster is a successful playwright and entertainment industry executive; but beneath that high-flyer veneer, she was a self-medicating mess trying to deal with depression, anxiety, and shame borne of parental neglect. Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies tells the story of Tara’s path to re-parenting herself and becoming a “ninja of self-love.”  She shares how she learnt to establish simple, daily rituals that helped to bring her mind, body, and relationships back to good health.  This is the book Tara wished someone had given her – and so she wrote it, hoping it will help other people feel less lonely in their experience.  A terrific guide to self-care for these times.

Be Bold: Manifest your Dream Life by Alexis Fernandez
Alexis Fernandez loves to understand how the mind works – so much so, that this Pilates instructor and personal trainer returned to uni to study neuroscience. She has been weaving her knowledge about body and mind into a successful podcast (Do You F*cking Mind?) and now her first book – Be Bold: Manifest your Dream Life. Alexis suggests that our brains are often conditioned to be more avoidant and protective than is necessary; and by realising how much control we have over our thoughts and our emotions, we can learn (and unlearn) how to unlock the best version of ourselves. Full of tough love, practical advice and ‘mindset hacks’, Be Bold: Manifest your Dream Life can help us set healthy boundaries, move on from regrets, and overcome feelings of self-pity.

The Success Experiment: FlexMami’s Formula to Knowing what you Really Want and How to Get It by Lillian Ahenkan
DJ / Podcaster / Entrepreneur / “Professional Opinion-Haver” and now Bestselling Author: Lilian Ahenkan, aka FlexMami, is an Australian social-media star with a global following. She thinks of her current success as an experiment; having transformed herself from “a uni dropout with poor time-management skills” to highly sought-after media personality, within the space of a few years, while retaining her unapologetically fierce and funny self. The hypothesis at the heart of The Success Experiment is that anyone can create a unique formula for their own personal success. You don’t have to be exceptional – you just need to learn the algorithm. FlexMami will help you discover yourself – what you want, what you value, where you want to be, and why; and turn these into goals based on what actually fulfils you, instead of what feels easy or achievable.

Emotional Intelligence: a Simple and Actionable Guide to Increasing Performance, Engagement and Ownership by Amy Jacobson
This is a great primer about the What, Why and Hows of Emotional Intelligence, written by an expert on emotional intelligence and human behaviour. As organisations around the world put greater focus on the mindset and wellbeing of staff, they are also placing greater value on Emotional Intelligence as an essential attribute of high performance. Amy Jacobson, an experienced EI specialist, shares a range of tools and tips to help us identify and manage our personal emotions and the emotions of those around us, using the five key concepts of self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, social skills and motivation. This guide is a practical, easy-to-use resource that offers powerful tools and actionable steps to create successful outcomes not just at work, but in personal and social situations as well.

Belonging: the Ancient Code of Togetherness by Owen Eastwood
Owen Eastwood is a performance coach who has worked with some of the most prestigious teams in the world, including national soccer and cricket teams, Royal Ballet School, the British Olympic Team, as well as the Command group at NATO. In Belonging: the Ancient Code of Togetherness, he explains how he helps teams to succeed by drawing upon the idea of Whakapapa from his own Maori heritage. Whakapapa is a powerful spiritual belief about belonging and identity that helps people connect and find a shared purpose. Belonging is not just about sports psychology; Owen Eastwood’s unique approach, which also weaves in insights from evolutionary science, personal development and philosophy, can unlock high performance in many different group contexts.

Why do we think like we do? Six of the newest books exploring logic

How many times do you stop yourself and question why you think like you do? The most common response is ‘hardly ever’. It’s usually not until someone challenges us directly on why we think, or act, like we do that we actually stop to give it some thought. In our household our children are developing their own critical thinking skills and it is them that question us on the logic behind our thoughts. There are so many books on the market that explore logic, mindsets, and reasoning so we thought we’d share six of the newest titles on the market. 

The Critical Thinking Toolkit by Galen Foresman

Okay, so this one is a textbook, but boy is it a good one. The Critical Thinking Toolkit is a comprehensive compendium that equips readers with the essential knowledge and methods for clear, analytical, logical thinking and critique in a range of scholarly contexts and everyday situations. It takes an expansive approach to critical thinking by exploring concepts from other disciplines, including evidence and justification from philosophy, cognitive biases and errors from psychology, race and gender from sociology and political science, and tropes and symbols from rhetoric Written in an accessible way, this book leads readers through terrain too often cluttered with jargon Ideal for beginning to advanced students, as well as general readers, looking for a sophisticated yet accessible introduction to critical thinking.

The Art of Logic by Eugenia Cheng

Emotions are powerful. In newspaper headlines and on social media, they have become the primary way of understanding the world. But strong feelings make it more difficult to see the reality behind the rhetoric. In The Art of Logic, Eugenia Cheng shows how mathematical logic can help us see things more clearly and know when politicians and companies are trying to mislead us. First Cheng explains how to use black-and-white logic to illuminate the world around us, giving us new insight into thorny political questions like public healthcare, Black Lives Matter and Brexit. Then she explains how logic and emotions, used side-by-side, can help us not only to be more rational individuals, but also to live more thoughtfully. Filled with useful real-life examples of logic and illogic at work The Art of Logic is an essential guide to decoding modern life.

Livewired by David Eagleman

How can a blind person learn to see with her tongue or a deaf person learn to hear with his skin? What does a baby born without a nose tell us about our sensory machinery? Might we someday control a robot with our thoughts? And what does any of this have to do with why we dream? The answers to these questions are not right in front of our eyes; they’re right behind our eyes. This book is not simply about what the brain is, but what it does. Covering decades of research to the present day, Livewired also presents new findings from Eagleman’s own research, including new discoveries in synaesthesia, dreaming and wearable neurotech devices that revolutionise how we think about the senses.

The Miniature Guide To Critical Thinking Through Concepts and Tools by Richard Paul and Linda Elder

Sometimes you just need a mini-little-book to give you the gist of something rather than a giant textbook. So here’s a gem of a miniature guide that does just that. This miniature guide, which has sold more than half a million copies, and is widely used in teaching and learning for both personal and professional lives. It distills the essence of critical thinking into a 24-page, pocket-sized guide and introduces the interrelated complex of critical thinking concepts and principles implicit in the works of Richard Paul and Linda Elder. 

The Beginner’s Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity by Matthew Van Natta

Optimize joy, overcome obstacles-discover the calm of stoicism. Being a stoic means embracing positivity and self-control through the ability to accept the uncertainty of outcomes. With this stoicism guide, the beginner stoic will learn how to take charge of their emotions on the path to sustained happiness and satisfaction.

This easy-to-navigate stoicism guide gives you the emotional tools needed to let go of the things you can’t control and find joy in what you have. Through thought-provoking strategies and exercises, this book helps you find contentment so you can build closer relationships and become an active member of society. This book explores the evolution and history of stoicism and how its principles can help you find peace.

Using Questions To Think by Nathan Dickman

Our ability to think, argue and reason is determined by our ability to question. Questions are a vital component of critical thinking, yet we underestimate the role they play. Using Questions to Think puts questioning back in the spotlight. Naming the parts of questions at the same time as we name parts of thought, this one-of-a-kind introduction allows us to see how questions relate to the definitions of propositions, premises, conclusions, and the validity of arguments. Why is this important? Making the role of questions visible in thinking reasoning and dialogue, allows us to ask better questions, improve our capability to understand an argument, exercise vigilance in the act of questioning, make explicit what you already know implicitly, engage with ideas that contradict our own and see ideas in broader context. 

Breathing new life into our current approach to critical thinking, this practical, much-needed textbook moves us away from the traditional focus on formal argument and fallacy identification, combines the Kantian critique of reason with Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutics and reminds us why thinking can only be understood as an answer to a question.

Enjoy!

Everything happens for a reason and other lies I’ve loved

In life’s toughest moments, how do you go on living? Kate Bowler has been exploring this question ever since she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer at age 35. In a profound, heartbreaking and unexpectedly funny talk, she offers some answers and challenges the idea that “everything happens for a reason”. Kate shares hard-won wisdom about how to make sense of the world after your life is suddenly, completely changed.

Six of the newest contemporary fiction titles on the market now

Contemporary fiction has been growing in popularity and the number of titles hitting the market is skyrocketing. It is a genre that typically has reality-based stories with strong characters and a believable storyline. We have loved researching this genre and while staying safe at home we have had the chance to read a little more than usual. Here are our top six picks of the newest contemporary fiction books that are on the market now.

The Truth About Her by Jacqueline Maley

How can you write other people’s stories, when you won’t admit the truth of your own? An absorbing, moving, ruefully tender, witty and wise novel of marriage, motherhood and the paths we navigate through both, for fans of Ann Patchett and Anne Tyler. Journalist and single mother Suzy Hamilton gets a phone call one summer morning, and finds out that the subject of one of her investigative exposes, 25-year-old wellness blogger Tracey Doran, has killed herself overnight. Suzy is horrified by this news but copes in the only way she knows how: through work, mothering, and carrying on with her ill-advised, tandem affairs. The consequences of her actions catch up with Suzy over the course of a sticky Sydney summer. She starts receiving anonymous vindictive letters and is pursued by Tracey’s mother wanting her, as a kind of rough justice, to tell Tracey’s story, but this time, the right way. A tender, absorbing, intelligent and moving exploration of guilt, shame, female anger, and, in particular, mothering, with all its trouble and treasure, The Truth About Her is mostly though a story about the nature of stories, who owns them, who gets to tell them, and why we need them. This is an entirely striking, stylish and contemporary novel.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu

Jena Chung plays the violin. She was once a child prodigy and is now addicted to sex. She’s struggling a little. Her professional life comprises rehearsals, concerts, auditions and relentless practice; her personal life is spent managing family demands, those of her creative friends, and lots of sex. Jena is selfish, impulsive and often behaves badly, though mostly only to her own detriment. And then she meets Mark, much older and worldly-wise, who bewitches her. Could this be love? When Jena wins an internship with the New York Philharmonic, she thinks the life she has dreamed of is about to begin. But when Trump is elected, New York changes irrevocably and Jena along with it. Is the dream over? With echoes of Frances Ha, Jena’s favourite film, truths are gradually revealed to her. Jena comes to learn that there are many different ways to live and love and that no one has the how-to guide for any of it, not even her indomitable mother. A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing unflinchingly explores the confusion of having expectations upturned, and the awkwardness and pain of being human in our increasingly dislocated world, and how, in spite of all this, we still try to become the person we want to be. It is a dazzling, original and astounding debut from a young writer with a fierce, intelligent and fearless new voice.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

32-year-old Nina Dean is a successful food writer with a loyal online following, but a life that is falling apart. When she uses dating apps for the first time, she becomes a victim of ghosting, and by the most beguiling of men. Her beloved dad is vanishing in slow motion into dementia, and she’s starting to think about ageing and the gendered double-standard of the biological clock. On top of this she has to deal with her mother’s desire for a mid-life makeover and the fact that all her friends seem to be slipping away from her . . . Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is funny, tender and painfully relatable, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships and the way we live today.

One Hundred Days by Alice Pung

One hundred days. It’s no time at all, she tells me. But she’s not the one waiting. In a heady whirlwind of independence, lust and defiance, sixteen-year-old Karuna falls pregnant. Not on purpose, but not entirely by accident, either. Incensed, Karuna’s mother, already over-protective, confines her to their fourteenth-storey housing-commission flat, to keep her safe from the outside world, and make sure she can’t get into any more trouble. Stuck inside for endless hours, Karuna battles her mother and herself for a sense of power in her own life, as a new life forms and grows within her. As the due date draws ever closer, the question of who will get to raise the baby, who it will call Mum, festers between them. One Hundred Days is a fractured fairytale exploring the fault lines between love and control. At times tense and claustrophobic, it is nevertheless brimming with humour, warmth and character. It is a magnificent new work from one of Australia’s most celebrated writers.

The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison by Meredith Jaffe

Can a wedding dress save a bunch of hardened criminals? The Full Monty meets Orange is the New Black in a poignantly comic story about a men’s prison sewing circle. Derek’s daughter Debbie is getting married. He’s desperate to be there, but he’s banged up in Yarrandarrah Correctional Centre for embezzling funds from the golf club, and, thanks to his ex-wife, Lorraine, he hasn’t spoken to Debbie in years. He wants to make a grand gesture, to show her how much he loves her. But what? Inspiration strikes while he’s embroidering a cushion at his weekly prison sewing circle, he’ll make her a wedding dress. His fellow stitchers rally around and soon this motley gang of criminals is immersed in a joyous whirl of silks, satins and covered buttons. But as time runs out and tensions rise both inside and outside the prison, the wedding dress project takes on greater significance. With lives at stake, Derek feels his chance to reconcile with Debbie is slipping through his fingers. This is a funny, dark and moving novel about finding humanity, friendship and redemption in unexpected places.

Enjoy!

Our Six Favourite Fantasy Novels

For some readers, fantasy means pure escapism – getting away from the stresses, constraints and issues of the everyday.  For others, the opposite can apply – fantastical settings allow us to examine and explore everyday issues with extra clarity.  Immerse yourself in the intricate and richly diverse genre of fantasy, and let your imagination soar – here are a few recent favourites to get you started.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Get two fantasy greats for the price of one with Good Omens, which is having a revival thanks to a celebrated TV adaptation (quality assured by Neil Gaiman’s role as showrunner).  Good Omens is a story about the Apocalypse – which happens to be coming sooner than what Aziraphale (an angel) and Crowley (a demon) would like.  Aziraphale and Crowley have been representing their respective sides on Earth for 6000 years, and have come to enjoy each other’s company (and their lives on Earth).  Unhappy with the thought of their cozy lives being upended, Crawley and Aziraphale team up to avert the Apocalypse.  Good Omens is a mix of urban fantasy, absurdist humour and political/workplace satire that is as gleeful and relevant today as ever.

The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

You may have met Geralt of Rivia through the Netflix series or through the popular video games – both have been lovingly created from the writings of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Discover why Witcher fans are so passionate about this world, with this short story collection that introduces the Continent, its witchers (superhuman monster hunters), monsters, epic sword fights, and magic. Once you know the background, head to The Blood of Elves, the first full-length novel of the series, which is about Geralt and Princess Ciri, whose fates are bound together.

The End of the World is Bigger than Love by Davina Bell

The End of the World is Bigger than Love came out last year, where its dreamy, post-apocalypse setting resonated eerily with the silence of lockdown.  Identical twin sisters, Summer and Winter, live alone on an island, trying to survive the aftermath of a monumental environmental disaster. Soon we discover these twin narrators to be unreliable – how, then, do we interpret what’s happening? Reviews (and the string of awards and nominations) have been universally positive. The End of the World is Better than Love is category-defying and unforgettable – it is complex, ambiguous, sometimes confusing, and always rich in language and emotions – a book that invites repeat reading.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

So. Much. Fun.  Carry On started as a spin-off of Rainbow Rowell’s previous success, Fangirl, but this funny, exuberant and romantic story has gained a life of its own, growing into an action-packed trilogy. Carry On is about Simon Snow, a teen wizard at a magical boarding school, who is known to be the Chosen One, but still struggling to learn to control and understand his powers. Sounds familiar?  While Rainbow Rowell states that Carry On is informed by a number of “Chosen One” stories, it has invited passionate debates  about its relationship to the Harry Potter universe.  I am really looking forward to the third and final book, Any Way the Wind Blows, due for release next month.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller, author of Circe and Song of Achilles, has actively contributed to our current interest in the Greek classics.  (Also check out recent retellings by Stephen Fry , Pat Barker and Natalie Haynes.) Circe is a witch-goddess from Greek Mythology, best known to readers through Homer’s Odyssey, where she encounters Odysseus during his long voyage.  Here she narrates her life, reinterpreting a number of myths from her perspective.  Madeline Miller has fleshed out Circe satisfyingly – with a heart, an independent mind and a sharp tongue.  This feminist retelling reclaims Circe from her traditional portrayal as a wicked witch, and reimagines her as a woman doing her best to overcome the odds.

A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay is a hidden gem of an author.  In 30+ years of writing, he has spun tales that are intriguing, immersive and often gutwrenching, creating fantasy worlds based on the histories of ancient China, Arthurian legends, the Byzantine Empire,  the Moors, and Mediaeval Europe.  A Brightness Long Ago is an epic story of war, destiny, ambition and love, set in a world inspired by Renaissance Italy.  Through the reminiscences of Danio, an old and powerful man who rose above his humble origins, we see how chance encounters, and the seemingly unimportant lives and actions of ordinary people, can nonetheless impact upon major historical events.  The intricate weaving and interconnectedness of the large cast is pure Guy Gavriel Kay; it also offers a poetic meditation on fate, choice and the power of memory.