Weekend & Wrap-up

So let’s get this summary of the month out of the way, and just ignore the fact that October isn’t over yet.

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Books read; Ten. The eight in the pic plus Exit West by Mohsin Hamid and The Sign of four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Rereads? One. The Sign of four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A phrase in it inspired a cocktail, not the first time that has happens.

Best book? The bear and the nightingale by Katherine Arden probably. I do want to read the follow-up now (more a symbolic statement that something on the to do list. I have commitment issues with series apparently). The Kwan books are not far behind though (and it is a testament to how much I have liked them that I have read all three books in the trilogy. Sure, it took me two years from the first to the second but it happened!).

Worst? I had very few nice things to say about either Ferguson or Hållander.

Worth mentioning? Conversations with friends by Sally Rooney is much hyped, I’ve seen it around IG and it’s recently been translated into Swedish. I had gotten the image that it was more sarcastic and funny, in fact it was raw but strangely readable. In a review that flashed before my eyes someone made comparisons with both Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler and The idiot by Elif Batuman. There is a commonality; all books are stories about women with literary ambitions that over think everything as they try their place in the world. I like it more than the former but not nearly as much as the latter. That said it did draw me in, and I was hooked. The end broke my heart a little bit.

Scent; Accord oud by Byredo all day every day. I’ve gotten used to it and don’t find it strong any more. It also smells “less” as I’m wrapped in layers of wool, and the staying power isn’t what I thought it would be (or maybe I’ve just gotten really used to it). The Overrose candle was a disappointment and I’m trying something new now.

Meditation game; Average. It’s the 28th and I’ve used the Mindfulness app 16 times. That’s roughly half of the days. And I can feel the effect of it, on the days I do it. Huge improvement from last month.

Clothes made? A dress, seen yesterday. Halfway through a few projects, need to go buy zippers, thread and more elbow patches.

So, bring on November. It’s gonna be an intense month with The August prize coming up, the H&MXErdem collar hitting stores, some epical bad weather ( as is tradition) and looming deadlines. Let’s get ready to rumble!!

-Suss

 

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Thursday&Trend alert!

I’m gonna bring up The bear and the nightingale one last time and then I’ll stop. But this cover, which is from the hardback that came last year, must have been on the tables of many creative spirits because a quick browse in the shops (when I was looking for jeans and a shirt of the sustainable kind) was like seeing this cover all over.

These are some of the items I found that would make excellent camouflage, and that’s not bringing up all the items that could match it “in spirit” if not outright; I’m talking about blue brocade, Russian style coats, plenty of fur (fake of course but still glamorous). Dressing trendy this season means pretending you are a woman traveling on the Tran-sibirian Railway between Moscow and Beijing as it would be if Chanel made a commercial of it (and pretended that it was the 20s). I also went by a shopwindow and saw children clothes that would also have looked good next to this cover, although I don’t think they should read the book.

This is making me want to shop floral dresses something awful, which obviously is the last thing I need right now. I should however buy my own copy of this book as I will probably want to read it again and again, and look at the cover for inspiration.

-Suss

 

Tuesday&The Man Booker prize

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So the winner of the Man Booker prize is announced today. I haven’t read more than two of the books shortlisted, but then again I rarely do.

The first one was Autumn på Ali Smith that was one of the first books I read this year. I loved it and vowed to read more by Smith. I’ve yet to make good on that promise but it will happen, if nothing else because she has released the second part in her quartet; Winter. The fact that both Smith and Knausgaard have started to write series that are made up of four installments and named after the different seasons is a funny little coincidence. But I digress.

The other Man Booker nominee that I have read is Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. I do remember liking The Reluctant fundamentalist, also by him, but I can’t recollect more of it right now than the scene where the man goes to a friend’s or a girlfriend’s house, to meet the parents, and decided to wear a “kurta” a special kind of shirt, pointing out that when flummoxed by dress codes or lack of such, one can always go with the ethnic card. I don’t know why I that passage has stayed with me, but it has.

In any case Exit West is both a very different novel, and somewhat the same. For better or for worse it has the same detached quality. This one is narrated, and there is very little dialogue, the thoughts and actions are attributed to Nadia and Saeed. I felt very little connection to them actually.

What the novel does have a rather genius twist or maybe it’s a plot device; magical doors that open and close and through which people can travel freely. At least to begin with, some doors become heavily guarded quickly. But in the aftermath of the whole discussion we have had in Europe about boarder control, this brings thing to a head; what if we couldn’t keep refugees out? What then?

I’m obviously not saying we should keep refugees out, people are fleeing the most horrible situations and if we call ourselves humanitarians we cannot let them die or rot in refugee camps. And as is always the case; if the burden was shared then there would be less of a problem. Some nations just are not remembering what other nations did for them in troubled times. So maybe the book isn’t about Nadia and Saeed, maybe the doors are the protagonists, or hope. What I did love about this book, that I in general only liked, was the short interludes about what happened with other people thanks to the doors; friendships, reconnected family and love. Those little glimpses gave me more than the rest.

In the end; well worth reading I thought, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 to give some indication but those kind of measurements don’t say much.

It did remind me a bit of Rushdie, The Satanic verses in particular, but that’s the magical realism, the detached storytelling and ,mostly, people flying through time and space. In my head I also started to compile a list of “7 books where they travel though doors and other ordinary objects”. Reaching Naria through the back of the closet comes to mind, and the going from fireplace to fireplace in Harry Potter and, of course, Jonathan Strange  travels through mirrors. Hamid has been inspired by english literature (maybe).

-Suss

Friday&Feelgood

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I do not read a lot of “feel good”-novels. If I want that sort of lighter entertainment, which at times can be much-needed, I usually go for a memoir or a biography centered around someone in the fashion industry or a non-fiction book about something related, like that book about colours. Or you know what, I reread. That is often my solution; all the joy of reading but none of the concern of new information.

However this week I went out of my comfort zone.  I hope that everyone understands what I mean by “feel good-books”, but as much as I can rattle of authors in that genre I have read very few and liked even fewer. Some of them are poorly written there is no getting around that, and I have found myself being bored by the plot. As a voracious reader I am used to some of the best literature and it has made me picky.

Enter Kevin Kwan. I told you of how much I liked China Rich girlfriend the other day, and having finished Rich people problems too there is more to gush about. The writing is very good, some of the characters are insipid but then that’s the case in real life too. These books would be as funny without say an Eddie or a Colette.

I think I respond well to the fact that there seems to be a literary underpinning here, that Kwan is well-read and loves books to begin with. And even if it’s only a bit noticeable in things like that list of books to read to be cultured or a few names that turn up, in many ways I think it’s like smiling when you are on the phone; the other person cannot see it but they can absolutely hear it. And it makes all the difference. And at a later point I will write about the similarities in Rich people problems and Tale of Genji. Plus ça change and all that.,

And then the food references you guys; if I’m gonna read this genre I must at some point start to drool, if there isn’t talk of eating and good food I lose attention and go off to read a cookbook (also a great substitute for feel good).

It is true, the main characters remain a tad bit underdeveloped as they all the other personages flit by in quick procession; Nicholas and Rachel are a vehicle more than the focus but I’m fine with that. It’s like being at a party and not having much of a conversation with the host and hostess because of talking to everyone else there. Not polite but a very good time nonetheless.

-Suss

Thursday & ToG

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Now that GoT has aired its season finale I’ve turned to Tale of Genji, and you are gonna hear about it endlessly. I will not provide weekly recaps but it is highly probable that I will have some sort of reflections and opinions on a weekly basis. These are seven things that have crossed my mind as I’ve read the first 100 pages.

  1. This book weighs in at 1,6 kilograms. I’ve mentioned everywhere that it’s 1400 pages because I want to impress people, and maybe looking for a little sympathy, but it must be noted that this book is difficult to read physically because of weight and shape. I’ve already hurt my hand once.
  2. It is the perfect time of the year to start reading it. There is a bit of back story but the adventures of Genji start during autumn so the description of the season fit reality. And a woman gets killed/scared to death by a ghost early on so for those that celebrate Halloween it’s a match.
  3. In another part of the world, 1000 years later, things are not the same. There is a scene early on which I would label “rape”. That’s not what it’s called in the book. And Genji is flabbergasted by the fact that a women that he had dragged to the bedroom, and had sex with even though she said no and actually cried the whole time, doesn’t want to stay in touch. He labels her frigid because as he is handsome, and know around town as an “elegant lover” there must be something wrong with her.
  4. Ugh wait no things aren’t so different are they? And what the f&%k is an “elegant lover” anyways?
  5. The description of the clothes and colours are inspiring. This has been one of my main motivations for reading this, as I know with the Diary of Lady Murasaki and The Pillow book of Sei Shonagon. I’m getting ideas but I need to figure out what is meant by “blue-green”; Teal? Petroleum? Some kind of turquoise? What colour is “blue-green”?
  6. We should consider reinstating “directional taboos”. So there was this thinking that some things should not be placed in certain direction, like no bathrooms in the North-East of the house, and then om some days you couldn’t travel in a specific direction. Best excuse for being late ever. None of that old “train didn’t arrive on time”. Apparently japanese folk beliefs at the time created a “complex spatio-temporal scheme that incorporated notions of auspiciousness and inauspiciousness”.  Surely there is an app for that?
  7. Let’s all be thankful that we don’t communicate in haiku. People are whipping out poems all the time in this book, being very snarky, referencing each other and showing how well read and up to date with the goss that they are. Oh wait, things haven’t changed much have they?  It’s just not haiku anymore but Twitter, IG captions and texts.

-Suss

7 things for October (and the rest of fall really)

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So here we are; already October. Fall is in full swing and by “in full swing” I mean more rainy days than not, leaves that go from a wonderful red to a rather unflattering brown and that week of desperation towards the end of the month when it’s all dark and gloomy but too early to start making Christmas plans to cheer things up. Here are seven things that will get me through the month, and probably beyond, in no particular order.

  1. Reading The Tale of Genji. It is finally happening, the reading has begun and it’s exciting, inspiring and it’s 1400 pages long so I’m gonna have something to do when staying in.
  2. Feeling warm in my knitted kimono jacket. This is not something I made recently but this is the time of year that I bring it out, plum-coloured goes with this season like “whoa”.
  3. Scenting myself with Accord Oud from Byredo. I’m seven years to late to the Oud-game, and lord knows I have tried a lot of them on. As I used my samples last month I was, much to my surprise, taken by this one. I don’t even know how I ended up with a sample of it to begin with. “Never say never” is the moral of the story.
  4. Wearing my double monk strap shoes. I think I got my first monkstraps when I was twelve and I had waged a campaign to get them, it’s a kind of shoe I really like. But it can be hard to find a pair that fits my feet. The boy’s department might have something from time to time but they are often too wide. Every now and again I come across a pair in the women’s department. On the top of my double monk wish list you will always find brown suede ones but a pair of funky black ones with a bit of fake snake it just the kind of thing that works with 90% of my closet (as it is a cabinet of curiosities TBH). With these shoes being the foundation of my outfits I will prioritize short tight skirts paired with very clean-cut shirts and sweaters.
  5. Applying red lipstick. At the moment I’m back on the Chilean sunset from Victoria BeckhamxEstée Lauder but that is subject to change, when it comes to red lipsticks I’m a slut. But honestly this particular lipstick looks good with the plum kimono and that.
  6. Painting my nails in a dark red. This particular one is called Bordeaux and I also bought a so-called gel like top coat. It does give a nice finish though, but is still easy to take off.
  7. Checking the time on my watch and not being bloody distracted by my phone. This is not the watch I have dreamt of, it is not even a watch I really want but it’s a watch that is a reasonable size and that I can live with. I prefer leather bands to start with but finding a watch that is small enough for my wrists at a price that is small enough for my current budget is tricky. So this is my compromise for now, a Casio.

What do you do to get through October?

-Suss

Monday &My Fair Lady

IMG_4616So this weekend I poured over the pages of China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan; the second part in a trilogy that started with Crazy Rich Asians and end with Rich People problems.

This is bitchy, funny, and an utter delight. It is intended as satire but ends up also being a love letter, to food if nothing else.

The center of the plot is Rachel and Nicholas; both have Chinese roots but she grew up as an immigrant in the US and he in a very rich Chinese family that has lived in Singapore for generations. His mother makes Lady Catherine of Rosings look humble and inclusive. A few women of that family would give the Bingley sisters a run for their money when it comes to scheming. And obviously there are a few good eggs, like cousin Astrid.

So there is that whole Rom-Com, Pride and Prejudice thing, going on, which is nice but also a vehicle to tell a bigger story of obnoxiously rich people who either flaunt it or hide it very very well. The sterotype of rich are in a way the same all over the world, they are stingy especially if they are “old money” even though different cultures have their peculiarities. There is a lot of labels mentioned (I don’t pay that much attention), descriptions of stylish interior and clothes (I’m listening) and loads and loads of delicious food (I’m taking notes). I have never had “Lobster noodles” but now that I have read about it I cannot get the idea out of my head, recipes have been googled and a shopping list with ingredients have been written.

Another list that has been written is in the book, a list of recommended books to read when trying to go from woman about town to respectable wife; scandal beauty Kitty Pong attempts to climb the social ladder and gets some insider help (at a price) and part of that is a very strict regimen when its comes to clothes, culture and carats. These are a few of the recommended books.

  1. Snobs by Julian Fellows. Kwan, through his character Corinna Ko-Tung, nods to a fellow satirist and writer. I haven’t read any of Fellows’s books (although I loved Downton Abbey that he created) but this one, and possibly Belgravia, could be just the sort of comfort reads that I need in the middle of winter.
  2. People like Us by Dominick Dunne. Having read plenty by Dunne in the magazine Vanity Fair I have never read his books, but I should.
  3. D.V by Diana Vreeland. I have this book, have read it more than once and recommend it to many people. She was larger than life even if only half the things in the book are true. And fashion would not be the same with out her.
  4. Jane Austen- complete works, starting with Pride and Prejudice. Excellent recommendation, I wholeheartedly agree.
  5. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery. I read this last year and it is a brilliant book, and again Kwan nods to the people on whose shoulders he stands on, which is a very classy thing to do. Also; his name was Makepeace!
  6. Anthony Trollope– all the books in the Palliser series, beginning with Can you forgive her? I have not read a Trollope in my life but I’m writing it down for 2018. My TBR is currently full until the end of the year.
  7. A princess remembers; the memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur by Gayatri Devi. I have never heard of this book but I’m intrigued. Somehow I imagine there to be loads of descriptions of nice jewlery. Will look for it.

One book I will most certainly make time for, before any of these, is the third book by Kwan. I already have it and might just start it today.

-Suss