Hello, dear readers, and happy spring! I know this is controversial across the world, but where I’m from, spring comes on 1 March and no later. So, I’m officially in renewed spirits.
I love spring, it’s my favourite season. The trees are blooming, everything is greener, mornings are sunny, but still keep a fresh chill, it’s magic, and I can’t wait to indulge in it for the next three months.
In just over a week, I’ll be in Paris to celebrate my partner’s 25th birthday, and I can’t contain myself. The architecture, the landmarks, the bakeries, the beautiful lilt of spoken French all around me on the street. I’m so excited.
And because excitement and energy have been the keywords for me in the past couple of weeks, I’ve also found fresh enthusiasm for my current reads. I’m still very much taking it slow with my reading, as I’d like 2023 to be all about mindfulness. But, since you last heard from me, I finished two books, so let me get you up to speed.
February’s book club read, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou was an indulgence. I read this first book in Angelou’s series of memoirs when I was 16 and, I confess, didn’t much get all the underlayers of race and identity explored. I’m glad to have re-read it, now with a much deeper understanding of the social and political context of Angelou’s childhood and teenage years in 1930s and 40s America.
I savoured this book. It’s a difficult, but powerful book. I’ve been acutely aware of my white privilege for years now, but still this memoir made me check in again with myself and think about all the essential things in my life that I’ve always seen as a given. Here’s an abstract that stopped me in my tracks:
“Whitefolks couldn’t be people because their feet were too small, their skin too white and see-throughy, and they didn’t walk on the balls of their feet the way people did — they walked on their heels like horses. People were those who lived on my side of town.” — Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
TW: The book includes some graphic depictions of sexual assault, rape, racism, and physical assault.
The second book I finished recently is Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell. I liked this book, it’s an informative overview of the power of language behind cults and cultish practices. As a massive language nerd, I loved the concept behind it. It analyses the special vocabularies of infamous groups such as Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate, but also dives into day-to-day cultish practices such as marketing and fitness trends.
Although the parts analysing extreme cults were incredibly intriguing, most of the book explores the language behind MLM (multi-level marketing) and fitness and wellness practices, as well as social media trends, making it feel uncomfortably close to home, but in a thought-provoking, rather than anxiety-inducing way.
My only criticism of the book is how often it would mention something, then go “more on that in part 5” or “more on that later”, which I found very disruptive of my reading flow and interest in the topic. I rated it 3.75 stars and I would recommend it to those interested in the power of language to shape our beliefs and behaviours.
New Book Release
Today’s fresh-off-the-press book release is actually a non-fiction pick. I rarely recommend non-fiction, as I’m an escapism and fiction fan through and through, but Enchantment: Reawakening Wonder in an Exhausted Age by Katherine May sounds like a non-fiction book I’d eagerly pick up.
With spring comes renewal, an appreciation of nature as it does its magic and comes back to life, and a desire for cleansing: of our homes, bodies, souls, and habits. Enchantment teaches us to stop and embrace mindfulness and wonder, prompted by the beauty of nature and everything around us.
Craving a different path, May explores the restorative properties of the natural world and begins to rekindle her sense of wonder. It is a journey that takes her from sacred wells to wild moors, from cradling seas to starfalls. Through deliberate attention and ritual, she finds nourishment and a more hopeful relationship to the world around her. — the publisher
Enchantment comes out this Thursday, 9 March.
And that’s it for today’s column, one about new beginnings. What have you been reading and are you looking forward to spring, if, of course, you’re in the Northern hemisphere? Let me know in the comments!