An Open Letter to Myself on my One Year Blogging Anniversary

Dear me,

You did it – you’ve been blogging for a whole year. I know that when you started this, it was because you love to read, and you wanted an outlet to share all of your thoughts about one of your favourite hobbies, but I also know that you probably didn’t anticipate lasting this long so I’m really proud of you. Although ‘this is one for the books’, it’s also become one for the life lessons, new friendships, and everything in between. This is a space where you can talk about whatever you want, and I like that you never shied away from that, even when it made you vulnerable and nervous to be so open.

In the past year especially, you have been growing into such a strong and beautiful person even though you don’t see that a lot of the time. Between you and me, I think the one year ago you who started this blog would be really proud of the person you are now, and if you could see yourself through her eyes, I bet your perception of yourself would be a lot different. Reading has helped you through so much, and I’m glad you could find a community of people like you to share that passion with. When you first started one year ago, I don’t think you understood how impactful your blog would be on your personal life. You have made some amazing friends, both online and off, and read some of the most eye-opening and life changing books this past year which have enriched your life in ways you may not even be fully aware of yet.

If your experiences last year are any indication of what’s to come, I’m excited to look back this time next year at all of the new adventures you went on because of all the great books waiting to be discovered by you right now in this very moment. I know that these days it’s become difficult to finish books as fast as you used to, and sometimes even to pick one up at all, but my wish for you is that in the next year, as you get to know yourself more deeply, that you get to read even more books that change your life for the better. Happy one year of blogging; I can’t wait to see all the wonderful things and books in store for you next.

Always & Forever,
Catherine

“One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”


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Review// The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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Author: Cormac McCarthy
Series: Standalone
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: September 26, 2006
Book Length: 241 pages 
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Review: 4/5

My Review:

In a post-apocalyptic world where a man and his son struggle to survive, The Road offers a horrifying glimpse into what life is like for the little civilization that is left.

This book follows the man and child as they are walking along the road in search of food, shelter, and supplies to continue their journey. Admittedly, it wasn’t until about the 40% mark that things started to get interesting for me. Up until that point, it didn’t seem like the two were faced with very many dangers aside from the unfortunate living conditions that made it difficult to get through each day. This danger eventually came in the form of people whom the boy referred to as “bad guys” that seemed to be capturing, severing and eating other humans. As they ventured off the road from abandoned house to abandoned house searching for what they needed, I was always curious as to what, if anything, may be lurking in the shadows next.

Although the man and the boy do not speak to each other very much, the conversations they did have pulled at my heart strings. It was evident that in this new world, people were forced to harden in order to maintain any chance of going on, but the true softness of humanity could still be found in the voice of the child. Society had become very ‘every man for himself’, yet it was the boy who always found it in his heart to ask his father to extend a hand and share their food or bring other potential ‘good guys’ along on their journey.

This is undoubtedly a book about survival, but not so much about the act itself as it is about the survival of the defining qualities of human nature: compassion, hope, humility, kindness, and optimism—even when it seems too difficult to carry on.

What’s the bravest thing you ever did?
He spat into the road a bloody phlegm. Getting up this morning, he said.

-Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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Review// The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

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Author: Heather Rose
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: September 1, 2016
Book Length: 296 pages 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Review: 1/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

A mesmerising literary novel about a lost man in search of connection – a meditation on love, art and commitment, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest art events in modern history, Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present.

She watched as the final hours of The Artist is Present passed by, sitter after sitter in a gaze with the woman across the table. Jane felt she had witnessed a thing of inexplicable beauty among humans who had been drawn to this art and had found the reflection of a great mystery. What are we? How should we live?

If this was a dream, then he wanted to know when it would end. Maybe it would end if he went to see Lydia. But it was the one thing he was not allowed to do.

Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.

This dazzlingly original novel asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them.

My Review:

I feel guilty for not having felt the way the majority of reviewers did about this. I thought I would enjoy it because art and history are two of my favourite things to learn about and this incorporated both, but I just couldn’t get into the story. This was somewhere between a 1 and 2, but if it wasn’t for book club, I would have ‘DNF’d’ it before it got slightly more enjoyable, so I think a 1 is more appropriate.

Despite giving it a 1, I think the idea behind the book was interesting. Marina Abramovic, the artist in the book, was an actual performance artist who performed a piece called The Artist is Present, where she sat for 75 days straight across from various visitors to the MoMa for a few minutes at a time. In the book, the visitors would basically see these visions of their lovers as they sat across from and stared into Marina’s eyes – some getting very emotional. If you search The Artist is Present on YouTube, you will see real footage of people having sat across from her during the exhibition, and I think it’s cool that this whole thing happened in real life and was made into a book including some real and some fictional events. I also liked the storyline with Levin the most; his chapters were the ones I was most engrossed in because I wanted to know what would happen between him and his wife.

Even though the idea was interesting, I still felt bored while reading. I know there is a documentary about this performance art piece, and something tells me I would probably like that better. Overall, I really don’t think this was necessarily bad, it just wasn’t for me. So if you think it sounds interesting, I would give it a chance because majority of people did like this more than I did.

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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Review// Unf*ck Yourself: Get Out of Your Head & Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop

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Author: Gary John Bishop
Series: Standalone
Genre: Self Help
Release Date: October 22, 2016
Book Length: 221 pages 
Publisher: Harper One
Review: 2.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Have you ever felt like a hamster on a wheel, furiously churning your way through life but somehow going nowhere? It seems like there’s a barrage of information surrounding us in our everyday lives with the keys to this thing or that thing, be it wealth, success, happiness or purpose. The truth is, most of it fails to capture what it truly takes to overcome our greatest barrier to a greater life…ourselves. What if everything you ever wanted resided in you like a well of potential, waiting to be expressed? Unfu*k Yourself is the handbook for the resigned and defeated, a manifesto for real life change and unleashing your own greatness.

My Review:

Not the worst self-help book I’ve read, but not the most memorable either. I do have to say though that Gary John Bishop was very motivating – I liked the 7 personal assertions he broke each chapter down by:

1. I am willing
2. I am wired to win
3. I got this
4. I embrace uncertainty
5. I am not my thoughts; I am what I do
6. I am relentless
7. I expect nothing and accept everything

The main idea this book presents is that you can’t just sit around waiting for life to hand you things or for you to be ‘ready’ to face certain challenges that come with making positive changes. Although the message is a good one, the manner in which the author conveys it does come off as a little bit aggressive at times, and I could see how one could be turned off by that. Usually with these types of books, there is an ‘aha moment’ for me, and even though some of his insight was important and something I needed to hear, I just didn’t feel that. For this reason, I have given it a 2 on Goodreads, however, if I really think about it, it was probably closer to a 3 as I did enjoy it for the most part – I just didn’t feel as strongly about it as I would have liked.

Don’t let your mind control you any longer. Stop letting it hold you back with its excuses and distractions and worries. You are not your thoughts. You are your actions. You are what you do. And your actions are the only thing separating you from where you are and where you want to be. This isn’t just about seizing the day; this is about seizing the moment, the hour, the week, the month. This is abut seizing your fucking life and staking a claim for yourself as though your life depends on it. Because, the reality is, it does.


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3 Favourite Quotes from 3 Favourite Books

There is something about revisiting an old favourite that feels like coming home – whether that be a memory, a food, a hobby, or book. Something I haven’t done in a while is revisit a favourite book, so in this post I thought I would take a trip down memory lane and dig up three of my favourite quotes (in no particular order) from a few books that are very close to my heart.

“…I can be myself around you, even if I don’t know who I am yet.”

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Ever since I read this a few months ago, I have not been able to stop thinking about that quote. It’s such a simple, innocent statement, yet it holds so much power. As a teenager, I really did think that I would have it all figured out by now – that I would be so sure and confident in my life, choices, and path that I was taking to accomplish all I set my mind to. The harsh reality check is that I could not be farther from that place, and the even harder pill to swallow is that that’s okay, because newsflash: you are always kind of going to be a work in progress. But the sliver lining is that through all the chaotic mess of question marks that is your life, there is a good chance that the stars will align just right in order to bring you people with which you feel you can be your true self around – regardless of if you even know who that is yet. And maybe you will never really know who you are just yet, because once you think you know, life throws another curve ball, but sometimes finding someone you can be the work-in-progress ‘you’ around while you try to make sense of it all is one of the luckiest, most magical things one could ever ask for.

“The world, my friend Govinda, is not imperfect, or on a slow path towards perfection: no, it is perfect in every moment, all sin already carries the divine forgiveness in itself, all small children already have the old person in themselves, all infants already have death, all dying people the eternal life. It is not possible for any person to see how far another one has already progressed on his path; in the robber and dice-gambler, the Buddha is waiting; in the Brahman, the robber is waiting. In deep meditation, there is the possibility to put time out of existence, to see all life which was, is, and will be as if it was simultaneous, and there everything is good, everything is perfect, everything is Brahman. Therefore, I see whatever exists as good, death is to me like life, sin like holiness, wisdom like foolishness, everything has to be as it is, everything only requires my consent, only my willingness, my loving agreement, to be good for me, to do nothing but work for my benefit, to be unable to ever harm me. I have experienced on my body and on my soul that I needed sin very much, I needed lust, the desire for possessions, vanity, and needed the most shameful despair, in order to learn how to give up all resistance, in order to learn how to love the world, in order to stop comparing it to some world I wished, I imagined, some kind of perfection I had made up, but to leave it as it is and to love it and to enjoy being a part of it.”

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Okay that probably isn’t even considered a quote, it’s more like a passage, and if you read it all, I’m impressed. Hopefully you came away from it thinking really hard about what it means, because I know I did. I feel like I say this a lot, but this book changed my life and searching through my copy for quotes made me want to read it again, ASAP. I will never forget New Years Eve in 2014 going into 2015, there was this wall that everyone was writing their wishes for the new year on, and all I wrote on the wall was, “to be happy.” “To be happy” – what a general, vague statement, that of course means different things to different people, but at the time (and even now), is really all I wanted out of life. When I think about it now, it’s silly that I wished for something I had in me all along, and that I knew that no matter what happened, I would always have somewhere. I didn’t need a new years wish to hope that my year or life would be happy, because it was and is, just as it’s miserable and seemingly unbearable too. What Siddartha is saying is that you need both – you need to experience both extremes in order to appreciate the full picture. As difficult as it is to see sometimes, Siddartha is right when he says that everything that exists is good, because everything that exists makes up the full picture that is your life, and as far as I know we only get one of those, so I hope the picture you make of it is one that’s beautiful.

“When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn’t know.
“Oh, sure you know,” the photographer said.
“She wants,” said Jay Cee wittily, “to be everything.” 

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This book. Not even going to lie, reading this book was like inviting a dark fog to form around my perspective of the world to the point where it suffocated me. Why, then, is it one of my favourite books of all time? Because Sylvia Plath puts into words thoughts and feelings I have never known how to express myself. I have never connected so much to the words of an author, which, when you read about her personal life, is really sad, but there is just something about her writing that gets to me and this quote is no exception. The main character in this book, Esther, is extremely overwhelmed by life and by the finality of making choices that affect it. Like Esther, I have always felt that way too. Sometimes I wish that I could experience everything – that I could be and do and live out every path to see which one suits me best, to see which one brings me the “best” life. I don’t think Esther meant it when she said she didn’t know who she wanted to be, I think she just wanted to be so many things and didn’t know which to choose, because choosing one path means missing out on all the others. But the thing is, the choosing and risking having regrets about it isn’t the scary part. The scary part is actually the not choosing of anything because you’re too afraid and having every option rot at your feet because you took too long to decide. Being everything like I wish I could be doesn’t have to come from living all versions of my choices out side by side to see which one is best; contrary to my belief, being everything can actually come from making tough choices that lead me to better than I could have ever dreamed on my own.

To anyone who made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope you find a book whose words impact you as much as these ones did for me.

❤ Cat


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