Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Let's Go On An Adventure"- And Other Thoughts and Inspirations

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” 
– Jawaharial Nehru 

Recently I've come upon some interesting and inspirational things which I want to share with everyone- so happy reading!

I love this.


The Mussenden Temple located near Castlerock in Northern Ireland, is on my "Places To Visit In My Lifetime" list- it truly is the most romantic library I've come across so far.
What's even more amazing is the inscription written around the building:

 "Tis pleasant, safely to behold from shore/ The rolling ship, and hear the tempest roar." 

 My desire to visit this place is incredibly huge- gahh!

Florence Welch (of Florence + The Machine) performing at Chanel's Spring/Summer 2012 show.
Who's looking at the models when Florence is standing there in full splendour?

The Florence +The Machine Limited Edition vinyls- photos taken by Karl Lagerfeld.

Never Let Me Go is one of my favorite songs from Florence. There's something about singing about the ocean which pulls at my heart strings.

Literary quotes which pulls at my heartstrings:

"How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life."
-W. Somerset Maughan, The Painted Veil

This book is a favourite. I have read this book at least three times and every time I am moved by Walter's love for Kitty and felt heart-wrenched when Kitty's infidelity was revealed! This incident released an unbearable effect on Walter, which is felt throughout the entire story. Each time I read this book, I can't help wondering about all of the what-ifs.
The title instantly pulls your attention- it was actually inspired by Shelley's sonnet: "Lift not the painted veil which those who live call life."

Things To Look Forward To:

I've been anticipating this book for a very long time- I've been a fan of C.S. Richardson's since stumbling upon "The End of the Alphabet". When I found out he was writing another book and it was called "The Emperor of Paris", I was highly intrigued. Now the cover's unveiled and a summary is out:

The Emperor of Paris

Like his father before him, Octavio runs the Notre-Dame bakery, and knows the secret recipe for the perfect Parisian baguette. But, also like his father, Octavio has never mastered the art of reading and his only knowledge of the world beyond the bakery door comes from his own imagination. Just a few streets away, Isabeau works out of sight in the basement of the Louvre, trying to forget her disfigured beauty by losing herself in the paintings she restores and the stories she reads. The two might never have met, but for a curious chain of coincidences involving a mysterious traveller, an impoverished painter, a jaded bookseller, and a book of fairytales, lost and found . .  (from Goodreads)
I can't wait to get a hands on a copy!

Anna Karenina (directed by Joe Wright) 
Love his films and am interested to see his adaptation of this classic. Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley will be reunited once more, alongside actors as Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Kelly Macdonald and Michelle Dockery!

Speaking of Michelle Dockery (as a big fan of Downton Abbey, I'm really enjoying most of what the actors do outside of the show):

BBC is planning to do an adaptation of William Boyd's "Restless" which Michelle is set to star in, alongside Hayley Atwell- very much looking forward to it. Oh BBC, you never fail to deliver excellent quality drama.

Have a fantastic week everyone!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My 50 Book Pledge: Books 1-12, A Review

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. 
-Arnold Lobels

Hello everyone!

This January, I signed up for HarperCollins Canada's 50 Book Pledge- a pledge to read fifty books this year. Being the bookworm that I am, I took the challenge- only time will tell if I even go beyond it!

For now, I would like to share with you my thoughts of the reads I have read so far.

1. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

Opening: "I live with my father, Ray Nickel, in that low brick bungalow out on highway number twelve. Blue shutters, brown door, one shattered window. Nothing great. The furniture keeps disappearing, though. That keeps things interesting."

Thoughts: This book was recommended to me by someone whom I previously worked with- he told me that I might enjoy this, and I took his word for it. I've never read any of Miriam Toews' works but now was the time to do so. I found myself enjoying it immensely  It was terribly witty and bold- by the end of the novel, I wanted to be friends with Nomi and bike off into the sunset towards New York City.

2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Opening: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

Thoughts: I will never forget the day I came across this book. I was twelve years old when I was taking part of the Summer Reading Club at the local library and for every book that you read, you were eligible to win a prize. Just my luck, I happened to win that time and I had the option to choose a jewellery making kit or a book. The kit did sound pretty enticing, but then The Hobbit caught my eye.
"What's a Hobbit?" I thought to myself.
Curiosity got the better of me, and as soon as my hands touched that book, I knew there was no looking back.
It has been a while since I've last read it- about a few years or so. Now the opportunity arose to refresh my memory and walk down the path with Bilbo once more. It is a classic to be treasured and I cannot wait for the film to arrive later in the year!

3. The Virgin Cure by Ami Mckay

Opening: "I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart."

Thoughts: This was a Matchbook Book Club's book pick for the month of January of this year. It was a fascinating read of Manhattan in the late nineteenth century, especially when it came to dealing with the subject of  the "virgin cure", where the belief that by if a diseased man deflowers a woman, it would bring about a cure. We follow Moth's struggles and triumphs through a storytelling that immerses the reader deep into her world, and continues to do so until the end.

4. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Opening: "The boulevard du Cange was a broad, quiet street that marked the eastern flank of the city of Amiens. The wagons that rolled in from Lille and Arras to the north drove directly into the tanneries and mills of the Saint Leu quarter without needing to use this rutted, leafy road."

Thoughts: Beautifully written, where the story haunts you long after you've closed the book.  Faulks portrays the horrors of war to such a way that it cannot be easily cast aside and the love Stephen has for Isabelle can be seen as beautiful. I highly recommend checking out BBC's recent version of Birdsong, which stars Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy.

5. The Plague by Albert Camus

Opening: "The unusual events described in this chronicle occurred in 194- at Oran. Everyone agreed that considering their somewhat extraordinary character, they were out of place there."

Thoughts: Camus pulls you into this isolated and dark world where the human condition is hanging on a piece of thread, when a plague strikes the town of Oran. What strikes me the most was how Camus was able to intimately portray the multi-layered emotions found in every person when facing an unbearable outcome to which there is nothing but uncertainty and death knocking at one's door. The author has wrote many other wonderful titles, but this is certainly one of those novels you must read in your lifetime.

6. Tinkers by Paul Harding

Opening: "George Washington Crosby began to hallucinate eight days before he died. From the rented hospital bed, placed in the middle of his own living room, he saw insects running in and out of imaginary cracks in the ceiling plaster."

Thoughts: Tinkers is a book which needs to be read by many. The story is incredibly moving, where it opens up the life of a dying man through rich details and an almost poetic narrative. I particularly loved the part where the author talks about clockwork mechanics- I've always been fascinated by clocks and the hidden secrets they contained behind its shell. 

7. Tales of the Night by Peter Hoeg

Opening: "On March 18, 1929, a young Dane, David Rehn, was in attendance when the railway line from Cabinda, near the mouth of the Congo, to Kantanga in Central Africa was dedicated to integrity."

Thoughts: I love Hoeg's writing. The way he unravels a story is much like watching an old film noir: slowly but surely with sincerity and grace.

8. The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys

Opening: "It seems that I am to die again."

Thoughts: This book was a Matchbook Book Club's February pick. A wonderful story which took place during Victor Hugo's Paris. It was interesting to hear from Charles Sainte-Beuve point of view when it came to his love for Adele and the eventual downfall of the friendship between Hugo and himself as time went on.

10.  Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Opening: "Dom DeLuise, celebrity fat man (and five of clubs), has been implicated in the following unseemly acts in my mind's eye: He has hocked a fat globule of spittle (nine of clubs) on Albert Einstein's thick white mane (three of diamonds) and delivered a devastating karate kick (five of spades) to the groin of Pope Benedict XVI (six of diamonds)."

Thoughts: This was a very interesting read! This book had been my constant companion during all those  mornings when I could sneak in a time before work to stop by the cafe and read a chapter or two. It changed the way I look at memory. What a ride it was to read about the author's transformation from a journalist who has the occasional forgetful ways which we all have been victims of, to becoming U.S. Memory Champion. The fact that anyone can get to that point, is what makes it all the more fascinating.

11. Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason

Opening: "They were able to guess his age, but had more trouble determining which part of the world he came from."

Thoughts: I've always been a fan of Scandinavian literature, but more recently, I became more fascinated with their take on Mystery and Horror. Arctic Chill sinks you in an icy world where a case of murder leaves much to the imagination. Nothing is for certain and where the answers lie, it cannot be easily found. A great night cap read.

Our March 2012 book club pick! Theme: Touching Ground (in light of our non-fiction picks).  Title: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
12. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Opening: "Midnight was closing in, the one-legged woman was grievously burned, and the Mumbai police were coming for Abdul and his father."

Thoughts: This book is our Matchbook Book Club's March pick.
 By the time I finished reading this book, it was hard to imagine that everything the author wrote was not fictitious. It was a complete eye-opener to see what life is like in the slums of Mumbai and to see such contrast between these people and those who are mere steps away from the airport, and the well-off individuals living in the city. Death and suffering are facets of life which the individuals within the book are all too familiar with. I applaud Katherine Boo for being able to venture to such depths in order to capture their stories, for it is of incredible important that these stories are told.

And my current read?

I will continue to post up my reads for my 50 Book Pledge from time to time, so make sure to check back!

Take care!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Me? I Like Paris In The Rain

The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.
-Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls


I must admit: today wasn't the most brightest of days. First, there's the sinking acknowledgement that it's a Tuesday- a far cry from being a Friday. Secondly, as I was heading out of the office at the end of what seemed to be a Very Long Day, it began to rain.
Like the best of us, we don't think very highly of overcast weather, let alone being wet when it does pour. As raindrops began to fall, I reached into my bag and took out my umbrella. As I stepped out, I couldn't help but think about that scene in Midnight in Paris when Gil admits that Paris becomes a place to love all over again in the rain.
He does have a point- there's something about the rain that releases a sort of quiet bliss- this can be felt everywhere.
And remember: although April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May. Because Al Jolson told me so.

When it rains, I always find myself either listening or humming this wonderful song:

I adore Edith Piaf's version, but Louis Armstrong's take on La Vie En Rose is perfect for days like these.
Here's to always looking at life through rose-coloured glasses.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Wink And A Smile

 Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway, and today, I saw one! It got on at 42nd and off at 59th, where, I assume, it was going to Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake, as almost all hats are.
- Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail


Happy long weekend everyone! It's the perfect time to create incredible memories among family and friends while at the same time, having the wonderful opportunity to unwind into the comforts of one's pleasures and small dreams reserved for hours like these.

It's a gorgeous Saturday evening. There's a spring in my step and a lightness in my heart.
Spring in Toronto is beautiful- the buds are appearing on the trees, the grass is green, and there's a flurry of activity taking place down at the Harbourfront. I hear the cherry blossoms in High Park are beginning to bloom, and I find myself getting into the old habit of stepping into one of  my favourite bookstores to pick out one or two (or five) books, picking up my favourite flowers, dropping by my usual cafe for tea, strolling down the Distillery District or the AGO... this simple routine I find,  is the cure for anything.


Come warmer weather, I want to dance under the stars with this song playing in the background. Care to join?

I can tell you right now that I don't ever think I will ever appreciate the Romantic Comedies of this day and age. But by god, weren't they amazing in the '90s! I'm talking about One Fine Day, Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, When Harry Met Sally, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, My Best Friend's Wedding, and it goes on. One stands out in particular to me and I find myself going back to it time and again (I've probably watched it a few times and never has it lost its magic):

You've Got Mail, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks:

It's got to be New York in the Fall, the constant presence of books and bookshops which fill up almost every scene:
"|The Shop Around the Corner" would have been paradise to eight year old me.

It's the reference to Pride and Prejudice, the ability to relate to Kathleen in some moments when it comes to being a hopeless romantic, how Joe and Kathleen look at each other as they deny the inevitable, the songs throughout the film which capture moments perfectly.
It's the Brownstone and its interior- I adored the decor  and how it houses a piano, a typewriter, and wall-to-wall bookshelves:

And yes, daisies are the friendliest flowers. Best of all, it's the way the film ended, on a warm sunny day like what we're about to experience in a month's time.
I always feel so good after I watch this film- like I can't wait to start a new day with the hope that things will be okay and that within the ordinary of everyday things, comes the unexpected.
It's crazy to think that someone you pass by on the street, or on the train, or in the coffee shop you drop by regularly, could possibly be the love your life, and you didn't know it. Here's to finding that wonderful person who will make you feel extraordinary.


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