Reading Roundup: May 2021

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Joseph Addison

I truly believe that reading is something that should be done daily. Even if you only read a page, or perhaps naught but a few sentences, it is such a good workout for your brain.

Don’t feel you have time to open a physical book? Try an audiobook, I tend to listen to mine while I’m cooking dinner or doing the dishes! It makes the work go faster and helps me get through my massive “To Read” pile faster.

Since becoming a Mom, I find I need to schedule reading into my day, much as I pencil in time to exercise. This way, I am sure to exercise both my mind and my body consistently. Otherwise it is much too easy to get stuck in the mindless scrolling or binge-watching loops that don’t bring me nearly as much joy as reading does.

And, on that note, here are the best things I read this month!

articles

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com
Book sales jump a third in first week of bookshop reopening in England and Wales, by Alison Flood

Honestly, this article made me so happy I almost cried. As a booklover who has just recovered from a dry spell of 5 years due to stress and anxiety, it is heartwarming to see people continuing to profess their love of books even during a pandemic. I cannot WAIT until I too can return to my favourite used bookstores and even the giant chains when all this is over – hopefully some if not all of them have survived. Even if my to-read pile is stacked obscenely high already, you can bet I’ll come home with a few new treasures after my first visit to a real-life bookstore. LONG LIVE BOOKS.

Customers both old and new have been queuing patiently – they’ve stuck by us throughout this lockdown because they wanted to ensure they had a bookshop in the town when we came out the other side.

Read bookseller James Ashmore, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire

Could you wear a dress for 100 days? By Emma Beddington

What a fascinating and timely idea: wearing the same clothes for 100 days to help jumpstart an incredibly necessary move against fast fashion and rampant consumerism towards more sustainable living in every aspect of life. I’m actually very tempted to try this challenge out, and the dress itself looks beautiful! After having Aria, I became so quickly overwhelmed at how many clothes she had when we were highly likely to leave her in the same outfit for days until it inevitably got spit-up or poop on it. In putting away the too-small clothes every three months or so I was struck by how many of them she had never worn: that we had hardly even looked at! It made me think of my own closet and how 80% of the clothes (or so…) go completely unworn. I’ll likely at least wait until isolation is over to clean out my closet again as obviously right now I live in leggings and baggy shirts but this challenge has me itching to declutter… Not to mention acquire less stuff in the future – and from more sustainable sources when I do!

What did I learn? That no one else cares what I wear except me, but I care, a bit, and I want to care more. My 46-year-old body is fine and strong and functional – I should respect, and even celebrate, it.

Emma Beddington

Anyone who says they enjoy every minute of motherhood is flat-out lying by Sage Yathon

This was an incredibly raw and honest portrayal of motherhood. I feel like every single mother, soon-to-be-mom, and person thinking of one day being a mom should read this or something similar. Seriously, it should be required reading. So many depictions of motherhood are so sanitized, so scrubbed free of the more difficult parts of raising children. But these parts are just as important. Motherhood is not always easy, it’s not always fun, and some days there will be a part of you that just wants to throw in the towel and lock your bedroom door. And that’s OK. We are human, after all. We had lives and interests and routines before becoming Moms (or parents of any kind). The transition is a hard one, and the rules keep changing daily as your babies learn and grow. But is it worth it? Yes. Yes it is.

The reason we do it is we get to love our children. We are lucky to have the opportunity to love them. We have been given access to this intense love that is inside of us.

Sage Yathon

‘As borders closed, I became trapped in my Americanness’: China, the US and me by Angela Qian

If you’re looking to gain an understanding of the complexities inherent in living life as a second-generation American, may I humbly suggest reading this article. It is beautifully written, a heart-wrenching account of what it is like to feel as if you do not belong in the country your parents came from. Qian is raw, honest and more than a little self-deprecating but this only makes her writing all the more approachable even for someone whose family has lived only in one nation for generations. Reading articles like this can only bring us closer to our fellow humans and their experience of living on this beautiful planet of ours.

I had tried my best to keep up with the Chinese world, but time spent in one world was time spent away from my other one.

Angela Qian

The diabolical genius of the baby advice industry, by Oliver Burkeman

Ah, baby-rearing advice. Sometimes it can be so helpful (don’t worry if she doesn’t like veggies, she’ll come around) but also so anxiety-inducing (if you don’t let her cry herself to sleep she’ll depend on you to rock her to sleep for the rest of her life). Every time I start to panic about not following this-or-that model of baby development, I remind myself that humans have been raising their young for centuries upon centuries, mostly successfully I might add, without knowing exactly how many calories a 13 month old should be consuming (and how many of these MUST be from plant sources) or how much poop is normal. No, Aria is not speaking more than 3 words yet at almost 16 months but she is social, communicates with us in her own way, and is a joy to be around. She’ll get there. And no, we don’t let her cry herself to sleep. But if that is what works for you and your family, so much the better. I bet you anything both our kids will turn out just fine. If you’ve ever experienced the existential anxiety of raising another human from birth, give this article a read. I promise it will leave you feeling much more confident and much less confused. We’ve got this!

We ought to stop thinking of children as construction projects, and instead think of ourselves as gardeners, providing a secure and stable environment in which our children will prove remarkably capable of raising themselves.

Oliver Burkeman

blogs

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com
The One Essential Tip You Need To Improve Your Writing by Stuart Danker

I really love Stuart’s writing. It is free, easy, humorous and reads like a wonderful conversation. I can’t get enough of his posts and this one in particular really struck home for me! There is SO much advice online (and in physical books) on how to be a better writer but, as Stuart mentions, not all of it will resonate with you. And that’s OK! You need to find your own voice and your own path. No piece of advice will substitute for just sitting down and doing the work.

In the end, your writing is unique to you, and the only way to discover your craft is by practising it often enough to learn where you can improve.

Stuart Danker

Conquering the World: Choose One of Two Paths by Cristian Mihai

This blogger is another one whose writing I enjoy. In this post, he peppers a piece about conquering the world in modern-day terms with tidbits about the life of Alexander the Great which supports the point he is making perfectly. The main argument is that there are two ways one can go about life: Conquering the world (warrior path) or conquering yourself (philosopher path). With my competitive nature and driving ambition I originally thought I would be one to take the warrior path, like the author himself, but the more I think about it the more I believe the Philosopher’s path would do wonders for my mental and physical health. I love a good challenge and thrive on achievements but, in all honesty, my mental health suffers when I am constantly driving myself forward at a relentless pace. Perhaps instead my energy would be better used defeating the need for external validation and becoming more comfortable in my own mind and body. What do you think?

Contrary to popular belief, life’s not about failure or success. Life’s about pursuing what is most important to you, regardless of failure or success.

Cristian Mihai

That’s Noody, by Stuart M. Perkins on Storyshucker

If you have never read this man’s writing (which, with everything available to read both on and off the internet, you likely haven’t) do yourself a favour and at least go read this blog. If you like it, which I hope you will, read a few more. Stuart’s writing has this comfortable quality, like you’re being told a story around a campfire while waiting for your marshmallows to toast. Every time he publishes a new blog, I run to read it knowing I’ll finish it with a smile on my face, even if the ending is a sad one. I would happily read a whole book of this man’s words. That reminds me…I should check if he has written one.

I loved hearing old family stories and she loved telling them. She taught me to remember where I came from while never forgetting where I wanted to go.

Stuart M. Perkins

books

Remember what I said above? About how even if you only read a page or a sentence a day, it counts? Well, I lived that reality this month. It just seemed like one thing after another took the place of my reading time (more often than not it was a desire to sleep…) and so I barely made any progress on either The Fiery Cross or Ramses.

On the bright side, I did start two new audiobooks, Becoming by Michelle Obama and The Help by Kathryn Stockett so I’m still on track to complete my 21 books in 2021.

And that’s it for my reading roundup this month! Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think?

As always, thanks for stopping by.

And, remember, no matter how much or how little you manage to read (or exercise)…

Life is beautiful

xo Erin

further reading

2 thoughts on “Reading Roundup: May 2021

  1. Aw shucks, what a lovely post, and I’m grateful for all the kind words in your mention. You really made my day, so thanks for this. Not to be biased here, but superb post!

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