Books We Should Be Talking About · Reviews

“Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke

Drop everything that you are doing and go read this book.

I apologize for the bold text, but this collection of letters is truly a must read, a must feel, a must everything.

I really have no words. I think I will be keeping this one on my bedside table till the end of times. I might need to reach out for it to remember why I keep leaving the bed every single morning.

Most say this book is about writing, and that was indeed how it all started, I guess, a writer asking another writer for help. I do believe it grew to be much more than that though. These letters are about living. Yes, living as opposed to just surviving, even if sometimes that is all one can hope for, all that one can manage. But the feeling of failure that usually accompanies this barely surviving statement? That is a choice, that is a way of looking at things. And that is why, once I finished reading these letters, I went back on my collection of writings and brought this little thing I once wrote with me. It felt right. So here it is.

If anyone asks for me,
tell them I died…
but then tell them I survived.

If anyone calls out for me,
tell them I’m deaf…
but then tell them I can finally hear.

If anyone gives you a letter for me,
tell them I’m blind…
but then tell them I can finally see.

If no one searches for me,
tell them I finally lost…
but then tell them I succeeded.

Many things changed
Many things prevailed

Many paths disappeared
Many paths emerged

Many plans failed
Many plans triumphed

Many people passed away…
but many people were reborn.

If anyone asks for me,
tell them I finally died…
but then tell them I was reborn.

I changed,
but I prevailed.

I disappeared,
but I emerged.

I failed,
but I triumphed.

If nobody searches for me,
tell them I lost…
but then tell them I finally succeeded.

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Books We Should Be Talking About · Reviews

“The Fangirl Life” by Kathleen Smith

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with being unusual because it’s the currency that keeps the world turning and worth writing about.”

It amazes me how fiction is, after all these centuries, still looked down upon. Even though I understand why someone would label it as an escape, I believe many are those who mistakenly paint it as a switch-off button to all that is real, some going as far as calling it cowardice. I mean, why would anyone want to shut down a reality that keeps slapping us with truths about beauty, failure and so on? Preposterous concept, right?

The Fangirl Life by Kathleen Smith is a charming reminder that the word escape doesn’t mean that we suddenly stop existing. Even though it could indeed be seen as a break from the outside world, the one inside keeps both eyes, heart and mind, open. What we see while there, what we go through, what we learn, it can be used on the outside, and The Fangirl Life by Kathleen Smith shows us how. Instead of sending us out of our way to buy materials to improve our lives, The Fangirl Life teaches us how to find them within ourselves and write the greatest storyline ever, with its breathtaking ups and heartbreaking downs.

One of the greatest things about this book is Kathleen Smith and her delightful writing voice. She won’t make you feel awkward for loving the world of fiction. Instead, she will wrap an arm around your shoulders and say, I know exactly what you mean. She embraces her passion instead of making you feel guilty for it, which in turn opens doors to a safe haven that will have you feeling at home and comfortable enough to give her learning how to deal suggestions a go.

As the author reminds us, our life is the greatest story of all time. As avid followers of the fictional world, we know just what a story needs to capture our attention and to keep us intrigued, interested and in love, all at once. As executive producers, directors, writers and main characters of this rollercoaster-style adventure, we have the power. All we need to do is acknowledge our imagination as a skill instead of a distraction, and learn how to use it. Sure, there will be obstacles and unexpected curveballs, but hey, didn’t Miss Fisher get through hers? If she can do it, so can we. At our own pace, with our own breaks.

“No single success or failure will be what defines your role in life. Good character development happens when you show up every day and be kind to others and yourself.”

Being a fangirl is not ridiculous. Being a fangirl is powerful and Kathleen Smith will help us find a way of putting that power to good use with The Fangirl Life.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to plan my AU day.

Books We Should Be Talking About · Pulitzer Prize Winners · Reviews

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury glowed quietly on my bedside table for about a year before I opened it for the first time. I recall fragments of the thought behind the decision of reaching out for it the moment I did, but I am afraid the mending pieces were instantly consumed by the spectacular wording of the novel.

“He stepped into the bedroom and fired twice and the twin beds went up in a great simmering whisper, with more heat and passion and light than he would have supposed them to contain.”

Before I dive right into the storyline, I must mention the writing because it’s absolutely extraordinary. Please don’t ask me to explain why, it merely is. There’s nothing particularly intricate about it. To be honest, I found the language to be rather simple, but the way it was used… Sigh. The repetitions, the texture of the chosen words, the descriptions… I can still hear the deafening bickering of Mildred’s family and friends, I can feel Montag’s anger boiling, his blood rushing through his veins as he stands on the edge, on the verge of exploding… and then silence. What a fascinating experience.

“If there was no solution, well then now there was no problem, either.”

I must say that I found the scenario to be exceptionally frightening. For a moment I felt the bitter taste of hopelessness on my tongue – it’s an incredibly poisonous one, if not truly lethal. With everything that has been happening around the world lately, this is the sort of book that asks to be read, perhaps even out loud, for everyone in proximity to hear. If we all took a glimpse of this future, a future where memories are a target being obliterated by the ones proudly wearing vests of victimhood, a future where memories are remembered by outcasts instead of created by the uniqueness of every soul… perhaps then we would choose not to go down this road, a road battered by the insane amount of times we already went through it, spilling blood all over and then attempting to wash it away with tears…

“And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering.”

There is as much heartbreak as there is hope in this book. There are no perfect beings here, just choices – and we all have one.

“That’s the good part of dying; when you’ve got nothing to lose, you run any risk you want.”

Books We Should Be Talking About · Reviews

“The Illustrated Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis

I am credibly informed that young humans now sometimes suppress an incipient taste for classical music or good literature because it might prevent their Being like Folks; that people who would really wish to be – and are offered the Grace which would enable them to be – honest, chaste, or temperate, refuse it. To accept might make them Different, might offend against the Way of Life, take them out of Togetherness, impair their Integration with the Group. They might (horror of all horrors!) become individuals.


The Illustrated Screwtape Letters: Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil by C. S. Lewis is one hell of a brilliant, and both extremely clever and humorous, book. I had such a splendid time reading Screwtape’s opinions and theories on human beings and our odd ways.

This book is much more serious than it seems, though. Or maybe seeing it as serious is why we really need it in our lives. We have a lot to learn from this one single senior devil. And the junior one, the one Screwtape is addressing his/its letters to? The fact that he/it is falling in love with our ways, the human ways, says a lot about us.

To be honest, I think this book should be part of a must read before attempting at living list. I believe it to be quite a helpful, and thoughtful, guide. Laughs included.

Here’s to Satire. Cheers!

P.S. This particular edition, illustrated by William Papas, is absolutely stunning.

Books We Should Be Talking About

“We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It saddens me to say this, to be acutely aware of how these speeches are still needed. But as Chimamanda says, there’s hope.

We Should All Be Feminists is a great introduction to a topic that runs very deep, having powerful roots in our language, in our way of seeing and living the world. I hope people don’t stop here, I hope they won’t stay trapped in these truths without looking any further, without looking at their own surroundings. I hope feminism doesn’t become an empty fashionable concept, a statement worn for being the colour of the season.

Truth is, law can be changed, it can be rewritten. But minds? They are hard to change because one has to question their own ideological foundations. It’s certainly not easy, but I believe it to be far from impossible.

The media feeds on what we digest and regurgitates it back to us.

And we keep devouring it. It’s a vicious cycle. I believe it’s time to intervene on how people are consuming and dealing with these symbols, these meanings. It’s time to make this a matter of literacy, which it truly is. Just because one can read, it doesn’t mean that one can understand. A bridge must be built. We can’t allow ourselves to be reduced to a list. We are first and foremost human. Being different is something we truly have in common. It should be celebrated, not weighted.

I wrote a thesis about gender and named it Zero Gravity. When asked about the title, I said that was what I thought we needed. Not the nonexistence of difference, but the acceptance of difference equally. “Wishful thinking?” If I don’t dare to even consider it a possibility, why am I even talking about feminism?

Reality is but a perception. We have a say on how we interpret what surrounds us. We should use that power for good.



Este post será traduzido em breve. Dieser Post wird in Kürze übersetzt.

Books We Should Be Talking About

“Whatever… Love is Love” by Maria Bello

“Whatever… Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves” is the beginning of something.

Maria Bello is a writer, as we all are. She has been writing her own story, as we all have. In 2015 the well-known actress took one immense and brave step, one that I am extremely grateful for. It was in 2015, with Whatever… Love is Love, that she invited us to visit the backstage of the unfinished script of her life.

Maria Bello dares to question everything. I believe that shows nothing but strength. The fact that she decided to share her journey into self-loving and self-understanding with the world? That’s courage. You see, we are all far from being perfect, we have all made mistakes and taken wrong turns at some point, and most of us are well and consciously aware of this. Still, when in social context, when amongst strangers, this is not something we proclaim. Why? For a thousand and one different reasons. Maria Bello goes after those reasons, after those whys. Should we even be comparing ourselves to perfection? What does perfection even mean? What does it look like? Why do I have to be perfect? Do I want to be perfect? Do I feel comfortable with perfection? Should I?

This is one of the reasons why I absolutely loved Whatever… Love is Love. While Maria Bello questions herself, one can’t help but wonder. This is why I believe this book is the beginning of something, something that could be tremendously good. This book opens doors, it allows people to think these questions over. And if you don’t feel ready to put yourself out there and expose, question, your own beliefs, Maria Bello lends you hers and discusses them with you. She doesn’t ask you to accept them, she doesn’t ask for anything, really. Instead, she is giving us, the readers, a way in without having to go out. I think that publishing this book was truly a beautiful gesture. This is not, in my opinion, about being narcissistic. Far from it, actually. This is about being human and caring. This is hope.

“We are all constantly becoming.”

I adore how she talks about labels, how she makes them fit her and not the other way around. She wears the ones that make her comfortable and gets rid of the ones that cause her pain. It’s still a work in progress, of course, as we all are, till the very moment of our deaths, or even beyond. As humans, we are fluid. Not having found a path, the path, is not a sign of failure, but of hope.

We are not defined by our sexuality, we are not defined by our religion, we are not defined by the way we look or dress, we are not defined by anything or anyone but ourselves… and if there’s one thing we need to accept is that we are a work in progress. We are a raw, unfinished, indefinable, beautiful work of art.

“Sending golden shoes to you and all whom you love, Maria.”

And to you, Maria Bello, a very honest thank you. Here’s to being a whatever and proud!


Português


“Whatever… Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves” é o começo de alguma coisa.

Maria Bello é escritora! Todos o somos! Tem vindo a escrever a sua própria história! Como todos nós outros o temos feito! Em 2015 a conhecida atriz deu um grande e corajoso passo e por esse passo eu pessoalmente estou-lhe imensamente grata. Foi em 2015, com Whatever… Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves, que Maria Bello nos convidou a visitar os bastidores do guião inacabado da sua vida.

Maria Bello atreve-se a questionar tudo. Acredito que esta atitude revela força. O facto de a autora ter decidido partilhar a sua jornada em direção ao amor e entendimento próprio com o mundo? É preciso coragem! Veja, nós estamos todos longe de ser perfeitos, todos cometemos erros, todos fazemos escolhas erradas em algum momento, e a maioria de nós está bem consciente disso. Ainda assim, em determinadas situações, contextos, quando entre estranhos, não é algo que confessemos. Porquê? Por mil e uma razões. Maria Bello vai atrás dessas razões, atrás desses porquês. Devemos estar sequer a comparar-nos à perfeição? O que é que perfeição significa? Com o que se parece? Porque é que eu tenho que ser perfeito? Quero ser perfeito? Sinto-me confortável com a perfeição? Devo?

Esta é uma das razões pela qual gostei de Whatever… Love is Love. Enquanto Maria Bello se questiona a si mesma, o leitor não pode deixar de, em paralelo, refletir acerca da sua própria existência. É por isso que acredito que este livro é o começo de algo, algo que pode ser muito bom. Este livro abre portas, convida à reflexão. E se não se sentir preparado para se expor, questionar as suas próprias crenças, Maria Bello empresta-lhe as dela, e discute-as consigo. Ela não lhe pede para as aceitar, ela nada pede. Em vez disso, ela dá-nos a nós, leitores, uma forma de refletir o dentro sem ter de ir para fora. Penso que publicar este livro foi um gesto verdadeiramente belo. Não uma atitude narcisista de uma narcisista, longe disso. Trata-se de um gesto discricionário do ser humano e importar-se. Trata-se de um gesto de esperança.

“Nós estamos todos constantemente a tornar-nos.”*1

É entusiasmante o modo como fala de rótulos, como os torna parte dela, e não o contrário. Ela veste aqueles com que se sente confortável e despe-se daqueles que lhe causam dor. O seu ser, existir, é ainda um processo em franco desenvolvimento, claro, como com todos nós. Como humanos, somos fluidos. Não ter encontrado um caminho, o caminho, não é sinal de fracasso, mas de esperança.

Não somos definidos pela nossa sexualidade, não somos definidos pela nossa religião, não somos definidos pela nossa aparência, ou pelo que trajamos, não somos definidos por nada nem ninguém, mas sim por nós mesmos… e se há algo que temos que aceitar é que somos um processo em desenvolvimento. Somos uma obra de arte sempre em bruto, inacabada, indefinida.

“Enviando-lhe sapatos d’oiro a si e a todos quantos ama, Maria.”*1

E a si, Maria Bello, um muito honesto obrigada. Um brinde a ser whatever com orgulho!


Deutsch


“Whatever… Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves” ist der Beginn von etwas.

Maria Bello ist eine Schriftstellerin wie wir alle es sind. Sie hat ihre eigene Geschichte geschrieben, wie wir alle es getan haben. 2015 hat die bekannte Schauspielerin einen riesigen und verdammt mutigen Schritt gewagt, einen für den ich ihr extrem dankbar bin. Es war 2015, dass sie uns mit Whatever… Love is Love in den Backstagebereich des unfertigen Skriptes ihres Lebens eingeladen hat.

Maria Bello wagt es alles in Frage zu stellen. Ich glaube, dass sie damit nichts anderes als Stärke beweist. Die Tatsache, dass sie sich dazu entschieden hat, ihre Reise hin zur Selbstliebe und zur Selbstfindung mit der Welt zu teilen? Das ist mutig. Wisst ihr, wir sind alle weit entfernt davon perfekt zu sein, wir alle haben Fehler gemacht und so manches Mal die falsche Entscheidung getroffen, und vielen von uns ist dies sehr wohl bewusst. Trotzdem ist dies im sozialen Kontext, wenn wir unter Fremden sind, nichts, was wir offen kundtun. Warum? Aus tausendundeinem verschiedenen Gründen. Maria Bello verfolgt diese Gründe, diese Warums. Sollten wir uns selbst überhaupt mit Perfektion vergleichen? Was bedeutet Perfektion überhaupt? Wie sieht sie aus? Warum muss ich perfekt sein? Will ich perfekt sein? Fühle ich mich wohl mit Perfektion? Sollte ich das?

Dies ist einer der Gründe, warum ich Whatever… Love is Love so liebe. Während Maria Bello sich selbst hinterfragt, kann man nur staunen. Das ist der Grund, warum ich glaube, dass dieses Buch der Anfang von etwas ist, etwas, das extrem gut sein könnte. Dieses Buch öffnet Türen, es erlaubt Menschen diese Fragen zu überdenken. Und wenn man sich nicht bereit dazu fühlt, sich zu outen und die eigenen Überzeugungen preiszugeben oder zu hinterfragen, leiht Maria Bello einem die ihren und diskutiert sie. Sie bittet euch nicht sie zu akzeptieren, sie bittet um gar nichts. Stattdessen gibt sie uns, den Lesern, einen Weg hinein ohne herausgehen zu müssen. Ich denke, dass die Veröffentlichung dieses Buches eine wirklich schöne Geste war. Es geht meiner Meinung nach nicht darum, narzistisch zu sein, ganz im Gegenteil. Es geht darum, menschlich zu sein und sich zu sorgen. Das ist Hoffnung.

“Wir alle werden unentwegt.”*1

Ich bewundere wie sie über die Label spricht, wie sie dafür sorgt, dass sie sich ihr anpassen, nicht andersherum. Sie trägt diejenigen, die für sie angenehm sind und schüttelt die ab, die ihr Kummer bereiten. Natürlich ist es ein noch unvollendetes Werk, wie wir alle es sind, bis zu dem Moment unseres Todes, oder sogar darüber hinaus. Als Menschen sind wir fließend. Einen Pfad, den Pfad, nicht gefunden zu haben, ist kein Zeichen von Versagen, sondern von Hoffnung.

Wir werden nicht von unserer Sexualität definiert, wir werden nicht von unserer Religion definitiert, wir werden nicht von unserem Aussehen oder der Art und Weise wie wir uns anziehen definiert, wir werden von nichts und niemand anderem definiert als von uns selbst…und wenn es eine Sache gibt, die wir akzeptieren müssen, dann die, dass wir ein unvollendetes Werk sind. Wir sind ein rohes, unfertiges, undefinierbares, wunderschönes Kunstwerk.

“Sende goldene Schuhe an dich und alle, die du liebst, Maria.”*1

Und an dich, Maria, ein sehr aufrichtiges Dankeschön. Ein Hoch darauf, was auch immer und stolz darauf zu sein.



*1 Tradução livre/ Freie Übersetzung