Summer may be coming to an end here in the Scottish Highlands, but earlier sunsets and dark evenings do have a few upsides, and the excuse to curl up with a book, movie or a box set have to be pretty much at the top of my Autumn-ready list. I’ve had a fantastic run of books and entertainment over the summer, and last month I even managed to smash my three-books-a-month post-children record (insert nerdy bookworm fist pump wherever you like).
Technically, though, that’s not really true, as I actually started my first book for August, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, back in July – I just didn’t finish it in time for the last update. And how glad I am I didn’t rush it, because it’s one to savour folks, particularly if you’re the dreamy creative type (and the dreamy creative type is my favourite type to be). If you follow these updates regularly you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast, in which she encourages people from all walks of life to follow their creative dreams. This book is more of the same (but different), as Gilbert leads readers to discover their own ‘Big Magic’, through sections on courage, enchantment, permission, persistence and trust. Along the way she shares lots of anecdotes about her own creative life and the lives of others – I particularly liked her thoughts on ideas and how they might exist as entities hopping on and off humans in the universe (thereby explaining why two people might come up with the same idea for say a book). Although some might scoff at such assertions, a world where ideas hop around the universe is exactly the kind of world I want to live in (see dreamy creative type). And if, like me, you’re a dreamer, I think you’ll find yourself giving Big Magic two very big thumbs up.
Reading wise, the middle of the month was something of a Jane Austen fest, when I refreshed myself on the classic that is Pride and Prejudice, before moving on to Curtis Sittenfeld’s modern reimagining of the story in Eligible, a millennial revamp which sees journalist Liz having an affair with a married man, single yoga teacher Jane undergoing artificial insemination and the rest of the Bennet family behaving pretty much true to form – with a little bit more rude talk. Throw in sweet doctor-turned-reality-tv-star Chip Bingley and haughty neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy and you have all the ingredients for a fantastic retelling of the classic (which, it goes without saying, I adored). Even if you haven’t read the original I’m quite sure you could enjoy Eligible as a stand alone novel. But for the full experience read both – and then resist the urge to re-watch the BBC adaption and THAT lake scene while pondering all the while where on earth the last 20 + years have gone.
My final read for August was Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, a book I’d heard about so often on podcasts and recommended reading lists I felt I really ought to give a whirl. And I’m glad I did – Gladwell’s dissection of what makes people successful is truly enlightening, revealing that everything from a person’s date of birth to the era in which they live are big factors towards an ‘accumulative social advantage’ which brings success to only a chosen few. This extremely well researched book blows apart any notion that success is based solely on talent, and really brings home that if everyone was offered the same opportunities there would be much more chance of people reaching their potential to succeed. From a parental point of view it certainly provides food for thought on areas like school entry dates. And on the social front it certainly reiterates the assertion that opportunity should be for the many, not the few.
On to what I’ve been watching over the last month, and it would be fair to say it amounts to pretty much one thing: Mad Men. How my husband and I have managed to miss this gem of a TV show, for what, the last ten years or so, I cannot account for. I’m playing the baby/young children card, but all I can say is thankyou to my parents who recommended we catch up on the series on Netflix over coffee not so long ago. How we have managed to survive till this point without Don, Betty, Pete, Peggy and co in our lives I do not know. Thankfully we have another five seasons or so before we have to return to that Sterling Cooper-free desolate place.
I haven’t been doing much listening lately but I have caught up on a few of the Hashtag Authentic podcasts and the new Alison Perry podcast. I’ll try to do better next month – but until then, I’d love to hear in the comments what you’ve been reading, watching and listening to aswell!
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