A basket on my bike

Mel Howard | April, 15 2016

Little Things That Make My Life Easier-Part 5

I don’t have one yet, but already I can feel the ease its presence will bring to my life. Having the milk carton corner dig into my slightly sunburnt (yes I’m still getting sunburnt) back, although pleasantly cooling, does not make for comfortable bumpy rides home.

Also I really want to thread something pretty through the cage.

lovelove

Why Fashion Matters

Juliet Sulejmani | April 14, 2016

Why Fashion Matters by Frances Corner
144 PAGES
First Published 2014
Frances Corner, Head of London College of Fashion, Author

 

I was perusing the bookshelves at the Ian Potter Gallery Book Store and the quirky look of this book and title caught my eye.

The book is basically made up of 101 thoughts or mini essays on why fashion matters. Looking at fashion from a super wide lens (which is fantastic), and including, not just how wearing clothes makes us feel, but also the changes taking place in the industry, manufacturing and sustainability to just name a few things.

As someone who recently studied fashion design, worked in the industry and reads almost everything that is published relating to fashion, I didn’t really gain any extra insight, unfortunately.

However, Why Fashion Matters would be a great book for someone with limited fashion industry knowledge, or for someone who was thinking about studying or getting a job in the industry.

One thing I will be using the book for though is the part at the back of the book, and I’m just having a giggle to myself because I just realised the part I love is called ‘Further Reading and Selected Sources’.

Anyone who has studied a course will recognise this title, it is usually at the back of all the course unit outlines, and absolutely no except for the curious and smart ones student ever bothers to do any further reading. And I’m giggling because it is so typical for a teacher, in this case, Frances Corner who is the Head of London College of Fashion, to include such a section at the back of her book, and I love her for it.

Jx

Book 17 for 2016

Notes and Quotes

  • “The prehistoric caveman with the latest beads, the post-war woman in Dior’s New Look, the latest fashion blog recording street style as it happens – they are all tied to our very human need to express individuality.” Page 7
  • Read Marcel Proust, Doris Lessing, Jean Rhys, Virgina Woolfs’ Orlando.
  • “According to a Cotton Inc. survey, the average American woman owns 8.3pairs (jeans).” Page 25
  • Who is Jane Sheperdson? Page 57
  • “The words we never use might be like the clothes we can never wear.”  – Adam Philips Page 109
  • “Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee?” – Albert Camus Page 110

Son of Saul

Juliet Sulejmani | April 13, 2016

Son of Saul / Saul fia (2015)
Director: Laszlo Nemes
Hungarian
Drama/Thriller/War
Cast: Geza Rohrig, Levente Molnar, Urs Rechn
Writers: Laslzo Nemes, Clara Royer
1h 47min

 

My friend Baz asked me to go to the movies with him to watch Son of Saul. He said something like, it’s based on WW2, and something about prisoners who had to work in the camps. Baz and I usually always like the same things so of course I said yes.

Son of Saul, a Hungarian film also called Saul fia. The first feature film for director László Nemes. The film premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and won the Grand Prix, it also won Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Award this year amongst other awards.

The film takes place over two days, in an Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and follows Saul Auslander a Hungarian who has been made a Sonderkommando -prisoners who have no choice but to help the Nazis exterminate Jews.

So, I have watched a few films based on World War II and read quite a few books, such as; The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Night, The Book Thief, The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank, and I’ve been to Germany, so I know about that terrible, terrible, terrible time in history. However this film, this film, excuse my language, was fucked. It’s the only word I could think of after I left the cinema. The film really shares this story with you in an unforgettable way.

It is a powerful film and I am really glad that I watched it, and at the same time those scenes of horror are etched in my mind forever. Baz and I left the cinema and didn’t know what to say. What those people went through, it is just unimaginable, and the fact that it actually happened, it just really makes you think. About humanity, about power, about how lucky we are.

I am not at all surprised that Son of Saul won an Oscar, it was shot so well, the whole time you feel like you are seeing what is happening right through Saul’s eyes. A lot of the horrific scenes are a blur, but you don’t really need to see it to understand what is going on.

Jx

Film 19 for 2016

The Dry by Jane Harper

Juliet Sulejmani | April 12, 2016

THE DRY BY JANE HARPER
352 PAGES
PUBLISH DATE 31.05.2016
FICTION/CRIME AND MYSTERY
JANE HARPER, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR

 

Pan Macmillan sent me this book earlier this year, it is Jane Harper’s debut novel which will be published in June 2016.

There seemed to be a lot of hype online about this book since it won the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. All the major Australian publishers were trying to get their hands on it, Pan Macmillan were the lucky ones and have labeled ‘The Dry’ as ‘The Book of the Year 2016’.

I hadn’t read a crime thriller since I was in high school, which feels like a million years ago now. When I think back to those days I would always wonder why I was drawn to these books and why I didn’t spend my time reading the classics.

I read ‘The Dry’ in under two days and now I can tell myself, and you, why I chose those novels.

They make your heart race. They get your mind whirring, wondering, why did he say that? If he didn’t do it, then who did? Where was he? What really did happen to Ellie? Is it Falk? No, of course not, he wasn’t even there. Then, there is the temptation to skip past the pages and go to the end to find out, because you just have to know, but then stopping yourself because that’s cheating. But who is it? Then you get to the part, the climax, in this book, for me particularly the first page of Chapter 40, my eyes were literally wide open, unblinking and I realised I was holding my breath.

This experience is why. Why I chose crime/mystery novels over other books every time.

I don’t really like to read reviews or even the back cover of a book before I read it because I like the surprise, and the thrill of not knowing, so I never know how much to share when I write a review or talk about a book. Especially for this book, because it is so clever, there are so many surprises, twists and turns, it’s fabulous. But basically a guy, his wife and child are found dead in a country town five hours drive from Melbourne. Aaron Falk returns to the country for the funerals and that’s where the story starts to unfold.

I also can’t remember the last time I really fell in love with a character (actually, don’t tell anyone but I think it was Edward in Twilight), but Aaron Falk is a really special guy.

Jx

Book 16 for 2016

How to be Danish by Patrick Kingsley

Juliet Sulejmani | April 11, 2016

How to be Danish – A journey to the cutlrual heart of Denmark, by Patrick Kingsley
183 Pages
Originally published in 2012
Non fiction
Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian’s migration correspondent, journalist, author
November 28 1881 – February 22, 1942.

I was in Avenue Bookstore in Albert Park about two weeks ago and this book caught my eye. I have been unconsciously looking for a book of it’s kind ever since I got to experience Danish culture through the wonderful women behind the blogs “UNGT BLOD” and “IDA LAERKE“.

This book gives you a great over view of Danish culture.

Kingsley has divided the book into 8 parts covering; education, food, design DNA, welfare, immigrants, Copenhagen, The Killing and Jutland.

I recommend the book to anyone who is curious about Denmark and I wish that there were a book like this for all the cities in the world.

The gist of the book for me was that Denmark is about being a collective nation. Everything that anyone does is for the benefit of everyone else and for the benefit of the country and also the world. Think low unemployment rate, think small gap between lower class and upper class, think world’s largest producers of windmills, think design innovation etc.

Some things I’m inspired to do after reading the book are; travel to Denmark, start riding a bike, think about ways that I can make a positive difference in the world, watch The Killing, go to NOMA and read more books on How to be Danish.

Notes and Quotes:

  • “It’s no coincidence that the name of the Danes’ most famous export -Lego toys- is derived from the Danish words “leg godt”. Play well.” Page 19
  • “The last two (debating and philosophy) are particulary important because the ability to articulate an argument is a key part of being an active citizen.” Page 22
  • Lurpak Danish Butter, Page 27
  • Rene Redzepi, Noma, Page 32
  • Watch Borgen and The Killing
  • Read, Being Danish by Richard Jenkins and Life Between Buildings by Gehl
  • Copenhagen Cycle Chic Blog, Page 122
  • “No. We dress for our destination, not our journey.” Page 122

Book 15 for 2016

The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig

 

Juliet Sulejmani | April 09, 2016

The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig
265 including the afterword
Translated from German
Originally published in 1982.
Stefan Zweig and Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and photographer.
November 28 1881 – February 22, 1942.

 

The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig was the March read for the Untitled Book Club, chosen by @triinbooks.

I had not heard of Stefan Zweig before and didn’t really know what to expect.

 I can’t say that I enjoyed the book, because it was a rollercoaster ride for my emotions, but I am glad that I read it and I am sure that I will be reading other works by Zweig in the future.

The novel, set in 1926, postwar Austria follows the life of Christine Hoflehener, who suffers a great deal of loss and revelation throughout the story. Christine is a poor young postal worker, who is invited to visit her wealthy aunt who is holidaying from America. While she stays with her aunt she is shown a world, which she could have never even imagined. It is often described as a ‘Cinderella story’. Her aunt helps to transform her into a respectable, beautiful member of sophisticated society. Christine succeeds in tricking everyone, including herself, that she is a part of this world, until eventually this façade comes crumbling down, taking Christine way, way down with it.

 At this point in the story, I was deeply worried for Christine and what will happen to her once she has to go back to her poor life, to look after her sick mother, where no-one really looks twice at her or even cares about what she has to say. I am also angry at her aunt for judging her niece and also for not helping her and her family when she clearly has the means to. However, you begin to realise that her aunt is actually afraid of losing everything that she has and acts accordingly to look after herself to maintain the life that she has built.

For me, this book was an eye-opener, and insight into post war Austria. It also made me feel more grateful for my life and the possibilities and opportunities that we have today. I also feel though, that some things don’t really change. There is still a big divide in terms of poverty and wealth, and there are people who are fighting everyday to not just get ahead but stay afloat.

Notes:

– This book was published posthumously, it was found amongst Zweig’s belongings after he and his wife were found dead after they took their life in a suicide pact together. Which is similar to a part in the story where Christine and another Ferdinand think about taking their lives and putting an end to their struggle.

– It is believed that Zweig’s own suicide plans were documented in this story, maybe it was his suicide note, maybe not. I don’t know enough about Zweig to be able to make such assumptions, but also I wonder if maybe he hadn’t yet finished the book, maybe he was hoping for a different kind of ending, which is why he hadn’t yet published the novel.

 – I also discovered that Wes Anderson is a fan of Zweig’s work and used ‘The Post Office Girl’ and Zweig himself as inspiration for his film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.” I’ll definitely have to re-watch it now so I can see the parallels.

Book 14 for 2016

Why I still, and will continue to, buy Records

Gracie Crowley| April 05, 2016

My record collection is one of my most prized possessions. One that lately I find myself adding more to. I have noticed both a lot of support and criticism for the individuals who still buy and listen to records. I’ve heard praises from “that’s so cool” to “you’ll be able to keep them forever!”, to criticisms such as “you wanna-be hipster” to “you listen to all those songs on Spotify why do you need to spend even more money?”

Both online and offline it is something I’ve become more aware of. Sure, some individuals have records because they consider it trendy, and that’s fine because who the hell cares what others do with their time and money, get a life people. Some others have records because they’ve inherited them. And some like myself have them due to inheritance and also a specific love for the sound of a record.

People can say what they want about this, because it seems every man and his dog is an expert on the psychological motives behind why people do what they do nowadays. However my collection means more to me than I could possibly ever describe with words, I inherited most of it from a very dear friend, which is why I treat them as if made out of gold. However I continue to buy them for the same reasons my parents bought them in the 70’s, for the same reason my dear friend did – they are a little physical slice of music I can hold for my life, and one day pass on. Also, the sound is different, and if you do not believe me then you have never listened to Zeppelins ‘Physical Graffiti’ on vinyl before. I feel as if whenever I put any of my favourite albums on, the artist is there in the room with me; which is a feeling I never want to give up.

A little fact to keep in mind now is that vinyl records just had their biggest year (2015) in sales since 1988. So it is not a minority of people buying and collecting records nowadays.

So whether it be an afternoon with friends listening to any of them, or a night where I’m one bottle of red wine deep after a rather shit day, I feel comfort. I have never felt like I have ever wasted a cent on a record. To be totally honest, I’d prefer the company of my records to the company of humans any day. Especially those who would mock something that myself and countless others spend time and money on finding and collecting.

Untitled Book Club

Juliet Sulejmani | April 01, 2016

 

“Fiction books are my soul food, junk food and brain food all in one. More, they’re my oxygen – I need them to live.” So says Baz about why he reads.

Baz and I instantly became friends a few years ago when we bonded over our love of books, culture and style. I don’t think I know anyone who is as passionate about literature as Baz is. You will never see him without a book. We’d often read the same books because we found it really beneficial and more fun to be able to discuss books together, and gossip over the characters. Which is why I wasn’t surprised at all one day, about a year ago, when he came to tell me that he wanted to start his own Book Club.

And today is the first Anniversary of the ‘Untitled Book Club’, the Book Club Baz started exactly a year ago with the book ‘Angels’ by Denis Johnson.

To celebrate, I sat down with Baz and asked him a few questions.

  1. What inspired you to start the Untitled Book Club?I always wanted to belong to one, and the two or three I’ve been a part of in the past failed miserably.

    If I commit to something it’s because I genuinely like and have an interest in the thing and I know I have the time it requires. For some reason I’ll never understand, most people don’t seem to take into account their lifestyles and will excitedly commit to a thing and not far down the track come to see that they’ve miscalculated their time and don’t have it to give. Or, they just come to realise very quickly that they like the idea of the thing more than they like the doing of it. Their excitement, which can almost seem like a genuine interest or passion, turns out to be a case of bored eyes settling on a shiny new thing. Not really acknowledging what it means to make a commitment is the main reason the Book Clubs I’ve participated in didn’t go anywhere.

    A bit over a year ago I saw that I had come to a point where I’d gotten to know enough people who devoted a lot of time to reading and were lovers like myself of literary fiction that I could, if I wanted to, get us together to start a little group. The circumstances were right for me to start a Book Club that had a chance of some mileage. And with myself at the helm, I knew I had the passion to give it my constant love and energy.

  2. Had you been in a Book Club before starting your own?Answered in first question.😛
  3. Have you always loved to read, what was the first book you remember reading?Always, from the moment I was able to, yes. My mum tells me that she used to read to me, but the earliest memory I have is reading the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. There were many books in the series and I was obsessed. I would borrow them all the time from the library at my primary school.
  4. How many members are in your Book Club and where are they from?There are currently just over 30 members. We hail from all over the globe: Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Norway, Austria, the Philippines, and India!
  5. Has the success of the Book Club surprised you?Nope! I was quietly confident because of the reasons I gave in my answer to your first question. However, I don’t know if I consider it that successful. Of the 30+ members only about 10 are what I would consider actively engaged. So it’s far from perfect. But in group activities you’re always going to have your outliers.
  6. If I ask you what is your favourite book and who is your favourite author, what/who is the first ones to come to mind?As most readers will tell you, the answer to this question can change on any given day. But I will say that when asked the question from time to time, I never fail to mention the works of Tolstoy (especially Anna Karenina), and the stories of Alice Munro.
  7. How could someone join your Book Club?I have to get a sense of the person’s reading habits and taste in fiction before I consider having them be part of the more private Facebook group. They have to be a good fit and have genuine interest in participating in the conversation. It’s the only way the group can operate successfully. But anyone on Instagram can read along with us. All you have to do is go to @UntitledBookClub to see what the pick of the month is, and use the #UntitledBookClub hashtag to participate!
  8. What are you currently reading?I’m just about to start Anne Tyler’s latest novel A Spool of Blue Thread.
  9. How do you choose what to read?What attracts me to a new author is partly gut instinct, learning what it is the author is recognised for in his or her fiction and whether that appeals to me. But most of the books I’ve chosen can be traced back to earlier books or writers I love. I will try someone new if a writer I love is a fan of their work.
  10. Can you share a quote that you like with us? 

    I can share two.”Only very simple things can be said without falsehood.” – Iris Murdoch, Under the Net

    “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Thank you Baz, I look forward to all the books that we will read in the second year of the Untitled Book Club.

If you are interested in seeing what else Baz has to say, head over to his IG account @bazfiction, or click HERE to read the short stories that he has shared on The Juliet Report.

Learning to ride a bike… at 26

by Mel Howard | March, 22 2016

 

I, like most children in the post caveman world, was given a pretty pink bicycle at some nondescript young age. Most likely with pink hair on the handles, lights (read, glitter and/or sequins) and of course with training wheels, that probably also had lights. I recall liking this bike. I recall gleefully scooting around the pergola on it as my heart lifted out of my chest and flew up to the child wonderland reserved for waterslides, magicians, Santa-Claus-is-on-the-phone-calls and half-time whiz fizz and curly wurly binges at mums weekly netball games.

My dad did the expected thing at this stage of my bike-riding career and suggested it was time to lose the training wheels. Being the stubbornly hesitant and dramatically angled first grandchild I was (am), I declared never to ride until my training wheels were back on- I probably yelled this at my parents, throwing my hand over my forehead as they, with an expression torn between amusement and horror at having created such a monster, either watered the snow peas or hung washing on the line. Dad, rightly challenging my stupidity (my word not his) responded by leaving them off and I sauntered around for a month or two confident that I had made the right choice in my adult foundational structure.

As the years progressed I laid claim to being the roller-blading chick, until a teenie tiny rock on my friends newly laid bitumen road put a bloody end to that facet of my identity and my brand new school sports shirt. Soon after it came the mountain scooter beside my Santa sack, yes they exist and they are quite a sight to behold, or were at 9. I’ve got nothing against them really, but on the one day I dared ride my sweet enormous scooter to school, Joel Rutherford told me that my scooting leg would soon be shorter than my other, I believed him entirely and much to my mothers disgust, my days cutting scoot laps down my street were suddenly over.

There have been a few times in my life where not riding a bike has presented problems and until Byron I’ve chosen to look at these moments as strengthening my problem solving skills instead of just working through the bike issue.  

I rode a bike properly, as in to somewhere and back, for the first time in November last year, with my best friend, in the most beautiful park I’ve ever seen, in Lyon, France. It was Autumn and there was a zoo and the whole day was magic. Adult wonderland magic. Of the non-sexy kind. That’s another post though.

At 26 and in lieu of a reliable public transport system I’ve had to face my biking fears and finally man up to my five-year-old self. Calmly pat her on the shoulder and say ‘sweetie, it’s time to move up to the big girl wheels’.

I do love walking. Perhaps at first because it was my only option, but I have fostered a genuine appreciation for long walks, sans time restraints obviously. It’s free time in my mind, like bus trips, or train journeys, real free time where you are already achieving your goal, making everything else a bonus. I chat with friends far away, power through podcasts, I have my best ideas usually too. Sometimes I stop over for a snooze in the sunshine, because why the heck not!

Once I work out how to do the standy-upy thing over bumps and concentrate on something other than not running into parked cars, I’m sure the riding will enhance the impromptu sunshine snoozing. And although I currently feel the physical riding action is severely limiting my already limited wardrobe choices, there’s a particular part on my bike ride in and out of town, where I don’t have to pedal or worry about pot holes and I can see what feels like forever clearly in front of me. When I get to that road, my heart flies a little and in the corner of my eye I can see the pink hair sparkling on the handlebars.

 

Someone get me a curly wurly!

 

Lovelove

 

mgirling