Monthly Archives: February 2014

What I’m reading now? February, 2014

I haven’t shared or read properly in a while but find myself in the middle of a kind of ‘spree’ so I thought I’d share.

Dass_Ram_Grist_for_the Mill_140225aRam Dass – Grist for the Mill

Grist for the Mill has been taking up most of my reading time and I love it as much as I love all of Ram Dass’s writings.

From Ram Dass, one of America’s most beloved spiritual figures and bestselling author of Be Here Now and Be Love Now, comes this timeless classic about the experience of being and the risks and rewards of our spiritual path. Originally published in 1976, the book is fully revised with a new introduction.

The-Examined-Life-140225aGrosz, Stephen – The Examined Life

I bought this book with a voucher for Waterstones that I received for Christmas. The case studies so far are fascinating and not too fantastical. Simple and strange experiences pinpoint personal issues that offer lessons for ordinary life as well. I like it so far.



The Last Days of Detroit

The Last Days of DetroitI borrowed this one from the library. I find Detroit’s collapse just impossibly incredible and yet it is true. There are whole suburbs just left in ruins and abandoned. Tows with no services, house sold off for nothing.


Once America’s capitalist dream town, the Silicon Valley of the Jazz Age, Detroit became the country’s greatest urban failure, having fallen the longest and the furthest. The city of Henry Ford, modernity, and Motown found itself blighted by riots, arson, unemployment, crime and corruption.

But what happens to a once-great place after it has been used up and discarded? Who stays there to try to make things work again? And what sorts of newcomers are drawn there?

filer_nathan_shock_of_the_Fall_140225aFiler, Nathan – The Shock of the Fall

Winner of the Costa Book Awards 2014 and a contender for my Bristol book tournament, the only question is why is it taking me so long to read this? I bought this one with my Waterstones voucher as well and it took a little longer than usual to add it to my phone because of the DRM Waterstones use. I won’t be buying from them again.

The Shock of the Fall is meant to cover mental health, loss and grief in an unsentimental manner.

The statistical probability of falling in love at first sight, by Jennifer E. Smith

The statistical probably of falling in love at first sight must be infinitesimal unless there is a relationship and the two people are meant to come together. That’s the beauty of statistics and love. One says it is highly unlikely and the other suggests that nothing is random.

Our main character has just missed the flight to her father’s wedding across the world and the only thing that makes this a sad event is that she is forced to wait for another flight. She hates to go, she hates the wedding and she hates his new bride.

Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

In this very well written story which is meant for a young adult audience, the story and the characters are written clearly and with a touch of sympathy which leaves no one unlikable.

This is Jennifer E. Smith’s fourth novel and one I highly recommend for younger readers.

My new plants of delight, thanks Bristol Old Vic

Following a performance of The Table of Delights at the Old Vic, we were left with a packet of seeds of unknown origin and quantity.

I finally planted them last week using an ingenious method Mersina and I learnt about at At-Bristol. We put a strip of absorbent paper within a plastic sealable pocket and added water. I created a little shelf for the seeds by stapling across the bag near the top and I put them near sunshine.

Here are the results, two to three days after attaching to the window.

New plant life

New life!

I still don’t know what the seeds have the potential to become but I have replanted them into this wellie boot. It was Mersina’s first ever wellie.

Mersina's first welly boot

Good cop, bad cop in parenting

This is the story that I was trying to relate to my daughter’s father about not taking things personally when you had to be an authority figure at home, but he wasn’t in the right frame of mind*.

When something goes wrong at home, when a child is naughty etc, you can act in one of two ways:

You can be the kind of police officer who when they spot a driver who has just committed a crime, can either pull them over, yell at them to get out of the car, slam them against the bonnet and rage in what seems to be a justified rant;
or, you can pull the person over, ask for their details, give them a fine and then get on with your night.

When it’s your job to be the police officer you can’t afford to take it personally. Expending all that energy and having to deal with the aftermath of the stress hormones and the upsetedness of the little child with whom your angry is just not sustainable.

You choose the type of enforcement that goes on in your family life. I do my best to be police officer that does her job and moves on. I try not to take it personally even when my child slaps me across the face and laughs and laughs. Whether I succeed or not, this is always my intention.


*Our daughter was getting manic and wanted a bath and someone had to chase after her.

Libraries are the best, and cheapest, at easing cravings

Smashing Plates Last December, Mark Taylor, the food reviewer, talked excitedly about a brand new cookbook he had received for review. It was called Smashing Plates and I wanted it. I went to Amazon ready to buy, but at £18+ I became a bit hesitant. What could I do? How long could I wait? I had no idea when I’d be able to afford £18 given over to just one purchase, and a trivial one at that.

On the very unlikely chance I could reserve it for the future, I went to the library catalogue to see if our library had it registered yet. Not only did they have it on their system but it was in our local library, just sitting on the shelf. I went and picked it up that evening after work.

Two months later and I was coveting a book about how Detroit went bust.


This is a topic which I find endlessly fascinating but I doubt I would ever do more than skim through this new work. At £4+ on Kindle, the price wasn’t excessive but it was too much to just buy a book that I would never read past the first few pages. This didn’t stop me wanting it ever since I’d seen it in Waterstones yesterday. Again I looked on the library’s catalogue as the very last resort and once again it was at the library just sitting there waiting for me.

Libraries are a beautiful thing. The one thing I didn’t manage to find there recently was a new knitting book called Botanical Knits 2.

I guess you can’t have everything.

Ask More, Get More by Michael Alden

Michael Alden overcame crime, drugs, and poverty to make millions of dollars in a short period of time. He is an average guy who learned how to “ask more” to “get more” out of life. The strategies and techniques he outlines in this book can help you get just about anything apparently—a better job, a new house, or a great vacation—faster and more consistently if you’re willing to follow his advice.

Alden starts off well. His tone is inspirational, his example motivational and his purpose apparently heartfelt. His work follows similar tales such as those of Tony Robbins who is a world-famous inspirational leader who is both practical in his techniques and electrifying in his words.

Alden doesn’t offer much practical advice until about a quarter of the way into the book and that’s not how to achieve in life, it’s a health and nutrition recipe. He is no Tony Robbins but he is a great example of success. His writing takes a little more perseverance and if I was his editor I would suggest he added the practical exercises much earlier on.