Books I Have Read This Year

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I am a lover of books although…not always a loyal one. In my defence, this is not completely my fault; during the term I can hardly devote time to anything other than feasting my eyes on my course reading lists. And as much as I enjoy reading ethnographies, I do think it necessary to take a break every so often and indulge in a book of my choice.

I generally find myself being drawn to three genres: fiction, self-help and smart-thinking; these are the types of books that excite me the most and stick with me a while after finishing them. Having said that, there have been a couple of books that I have ventured into this year in which a page – usually around the halfway point – remains dog-eared; the point at which I have thought ‘I’ve given you a chance, but I can’t go any further’. I decided to include them in this list anyway, for as much as I did not enjoy them, someone else may.

Here goes. In no particular order:

  • GHANA MUST GO – Taiye Selasi

This is one of my favourite books in general, not least because I find it so relatable. Set mainly in the US and Ghana, Selasi depicts the story of the Sai family – one composed of such different personalities, histories and identities. The style of the book is such that the storyline starts at the end point (the death of a family member), and rewinds to the family history leading up to that event.

Why I loved it: It was focused on personal journeys, it is very descriptive and I got a great sense of who each family member and character was and their complexities.

  • LETTERS TO A YOUNG ARTIST – Anna Deavere Smith

I ordered this book after deciding that I wanted to further explore and work on my creative side. It is a book filled with letters to the reader, and it is rich in wisdom and advice about possible situations one might face on the journey to pursue a creative career.

Why I liked it: It is a well structured book, divided into small sections, which makes it easy to refer back to. It also does not need to be read in a linear fashion, for each chapter presents a lesson separate from the others.

  • ALL ABOUT LOVE – Bell Hooks

I expected this book to be written in an academic manner – full of theories and references, but it wasn’t. It is an easy read and offers up thirteen chapters/lessons about different types of love: spiritual, romantic, self-love, to name a few. Each chapter begins with a page dedicated to a quote which matches its theme.

Why I liked it: It is insightful, reflective and applicable to everyday life and relationships.

  • CATCHER IN THE RYE – J.D Salinger

This has also become one of my favourite books – Salinger’s writing style is such that it sucks you into the story, and makes you feel as though you were accompanying the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, on his adventures. Due to the rich detail and eventfulness of the book, it is easy to forget that the entire story was set over three days.

Why I loved it: The storyline was easy to escape into and I enjoyed the sense of ‘journey’ that it took me on. I could very easily imagine the scenes in action in real life.

  • HUMANS OF NEW YORK – Brandon Stanton

I have been a fan of the HONY website for a while (who isn’t), so when my sister offered me the book as a birthday gift, I was ever grateful. It is a great looking book which features people from the website.

Why I loved it: Flicking through its pages can lead you to feel several different emotions in a short period of time. It also features beautiful photography (duh).

  • TORTILLA FLAT – John Steinbeck

I enjoyed reading ‘Of Mice and Men’ in english literature in school, and so having picked up Tortilla Flat over a year ago, I decided to start it only couple of weeks ago. It is a relatively short book, however I feel myself trudging through it. Sadly, I am not getting as much satisfaction out of this book as I expected, even though it can be funny in parts. Steinbeck tells the story of a group of men living in an area called ‘Tortilla Flat’  in the Monterey region of California, their fortunes, losses and hopes. I am currently just over halfway through, but it is taking me time to read and I am not immersing myself in it as much as I would like.

  • WORKS OF LOVE – Soren Kierkegaard

I won’t say much on this, except it is not necessarily a book that you can read to wind down. It carries many references to Christian teachings about love, and needless to say, is very philosophical and at times, repetitive.

  • NW – Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith is my literary angel. Forreal. I really enjoyed NW for the same reason that I like the Catcher in the Rye and Ghana Must Go: it follows the history and complexity of a relationship between best friends, who they have become, their relationships and their own realisations about themselves. It is very believable, funny and honest.

Why I loved it: It is quite random yet that in itself is representative of the place in which it is set – London. It is also hilarious and well written.

That’s about it, folks! Which books have caught your eye this year?

Until next time.

My A/W Style

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It is probably fair to call time on summer where I live – it has been raining on and off for the past week! So in an effort to usher in the new season in a optimistic way, I decided to organise my wardrobe and sartorially prepare for the colder months.

I find that A/W calls for more dramatic dressing – experiencing cold weather where you live can be a curse as much as a blessing in that you can be more experimental with what you wear. Generally, I tend to have a basic ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ uniform as a base, and I tend to add texture, layer and colour with chunky knitted pieces, classic jackets and practical yet stylish boots or lace up flat shoes. When I feel like brightening my look up, I turn to prints for an uplift and a point of interest.

With sunrise and sunset starting to draw closer together, I am looking forward to dressing more creatively gradually working more and more autumnal items into my daily style.




Personal Communities

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It’s funny how it can take a good clearout or spring clean to remind you of all the snippets and forms of community surrounding you. At the start of this week, I started clearing out my room and moving things about in order to create more space, and in the process, I uncovered multiple mini treasure-troves of souvenirs, birthday cards, school reports, a yearbook and christmas gifts that I had received over past years.

Opening each one felt like unlocking a forgotten mental safe of memories and friendships that defined those points in my life. Especially finding the more detailed or written-in cards, and a few unopened ones, in a strange way reminded me of who I was at that stage, and who I have grown – and continue to grow – into. After being distracted from my original spring-cleaning task for long enough, I came to realise how your ‘community’ – your supporters, friends, family, mentors, teachers, even employers or colleagues, can extend far beyond your consciousness of its existence.

It can be easy to discount certain ‘invisible’ members of your community, especially if we do not hear from them as frequently as those closer to us. Even if simple gestures such as Christmas or birthday cards can seem generic or empty, to an extent, its sender did think of you and consider you a part of his or her community, enough so to extend such a gesture of acknowledgement and well-wishing towards you.

Inevitably as you go forward in life, you will lose some of those relationships and networks, but it is somewhat exciting to think back and witness how these members of your community have somehow shaped you, inspired you, taught you a lesson and more. Plus, if you’re ever feeling unsure about your growth or who you are and what you have accomplished, looking through these little accounts of yourself written by people who are important to you can re-affirm the positive elements about you, but also enlighten you to some constructive (mostly constructive, but not always!) criticism about yourself that you may have worked on since then. In a way, I like to think about it as a sort of autobiographical diary.

Flipping through these souvenirs felt quite therapeutic, and turned a rather mundane task into a pleasant and fulfilling one! Despite this, it made my task slightly harder as I felt reluctant to dispose of them but hey, I guess part of moving on is letting go….

Hinoki Wood.

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Hey, how’s it going?

Let me just tell you about this MUJI candle right here. It will have your room smelling like a log fire and beyond. This little candle? It takes me places, and I’m sure it would do the same for you. Generally, I tend to keep going back to Hinoki Wood, but other MUJI colours and scents are very much available! (Although this one is truly the best).

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*TIP: Use in a dimly lit room for optimum relaxation*

I hope you’ve had a good week :).

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined

Much of the charm of a building lies in the way that it makes you feel; the different spaces in which we find ourselves evoke different reactions within us that go unnoticed or which we do not attribute to the space around us. However, our relationship with buildings is a symbiotic one in which materials and bodies constantly interact with and transform one another.

This notion lies at the heart of the current ‘Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined’ exhibition, at the RA in London until April 6th. It explores the importance of the spaces around us: how natural elements such as light, wind, and sight engage our senses and emotions, how buildings affect our thoughts, and engage all parts of us both internally and externally. Body and soul.

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Right from the start of the exhibition (independent of the direction in which you choose to begin) I felt compelled to interact with the space around me. I immediately felt self-conscious in amongst the structure, materials, colours, heights, and even sounds of each section. Each space seemed so radically different from the last, and completely unexpected.

Each room was modelled to different degrees upon the architectural styles of each designer, all 6 of which hail from different parts of the world including Japan, Burkina Faso and Ireland. Each had a different sensory appeal and inspirations.

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(Unfortunately, my camera decided to delete a few pictures, but was kind enough to let some remain.)

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I wish that a space such as this exhibition would be permanently available to the general  public – I enjoyed the whimsical and playful nature of the straw tunnel, especially the way  in which it encouraged people to interact with and build it – to leave their mark.

Overall, the exhibition was shorter than I expected, but I left feeling inspired and pensive.  The everyday, mundane aspects of each day that we take for granted, such as buildings  and the spaces which we inhabit, affect in ways greater than we realise. If only we took  the time to observe the architectural detail and beauty around us, and be inspired by it….

I hope you enjoyed the short video I made just for you 🙂

Get Creative

Whenever I spend long periods of time away from the routinised flow of uni life, I feel as though I uncover new things about myself. Most recently, I became conscious of the fact that anytime I do something creative, in any capacity, I feel a complete buzz and excitement. I’ve mentioned this before, but the increasing importance that writing holds for me is something that I try to cherish and nurture everyday. The ability for us to creatively express ourselves is infinitely available, it is simply up to us to tap into it. Whatever you produce does not need to be measured or judged, but it just has to be a manifestation of what you’re feeling or who you are, and unashamedly so.

I truly believe in the innate nature of creativity within each person: we are continuously being creative, even in circumstances which we would not conventionally define as such. It’s just that it takes on a different significance for some. I guess what i’m getting at here, is the importance of finding or realising that creativity should not be automatically relegated to artists professional creatives, whose work can oftentimes be constrained if it is dependent on a market. Rather, you must see that we all nurture a degree of creative ‘talent’, which, if tapped into, can release us into a dimension of inner freedom, fulfillment and exploration.

The UNIversaliTY Project: TONY

I’ve recently started a series called ‘The Universality Project’, with the aim to encourage us to (figuratively) swap shoes with each other. Through films, interviews and articles, I’ll be introducing and presenting the stories of day-to-day people I come across, including friends and family :).

In this first video I present Tony, a stylish man and calm of pace, who I spotted strolling along Portobello Road on a December afternoon last year. Here, he discusses his current internal struggles and his self-perception.

Thank you for watching, and I hope you enjoy the project. Check out more at http://www.universalityproject.com

🙂