Small Things

I find you in a summer breeze

and Sunday afternoons.

I find you in a cup of tea,

and the smell of morning rain.

I find you in the chime of a bike bell,

and the nostalgic taste of childhood sweets.

I find you in the small things,

in the significant insignificances.

‘This Is Going To Hurt’ – Book of the Week

Heart-breaking, laughter-inducing, page-turning. The best book I have read in a while.

Wow. Just wow. I finished this book last night and needed to take a day to reflect on it before I began writing. I do not think I could thank Adam Kay enough for writing ‘This Is Going To Hurt’. It has given me a whole new view on the NHS and the medical profession in general.

This book is the ingenious collection of diary entries secretly made by a Doctor from his first day on the job all the way until he becomes a consultant. It is a very difficult book to put down as it is a perfect cocktail of one part humour, one part sadness, and one part the infuriating general public. Kay specialises in gynaecology, so his anecdotes range from delivering babies to pulling bizarre things out of private parts.

This book highlights not only the importance of the NHS, but also the many flaws within it. My (already high) respect for our doctors has massively sky-rocketed. We all know that being a doctor is hard work, but this journal really gives such a deep insight into the true exhaustion and exploits they face. We get exposed to the goings-on inside our hospitals, and gain a new perspective on major issues being debated in society now surrounding health care.

I do not want to give too much away, but the ending absolutely blew me away. It came out of nowhere and will probably follow me for a long time. Due to the nature of this book written in fragmented journal entries, it is very easy to put down and pick up when you have time (which works well for me as and English Lit student who barely has time to read what she actually wants to) and so I do genuinely recommend this to anyone, especially those of us in the UK who want a greater insight into our nation’s greatest pride: the NHS.

 

Let me know what you thought of this book below, and let me know if you have any recommendations!

Lots of love, Evie x

‘Freakonomics’ – Book of the Week

What do I know about economics? Diddly-squat. Nil. Nothing. But this book taught me the absolute basics, and was also an enjoyable read. Can you ask for more?

‘Freakonomics’ is written by top economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, and was a best-seller when it came out. These two economists write about economics in a new and exciting way, sometimes criticised within the economics world, but loved by the public regardless. It answers questions like how are teachers like sumo wrestlers? Why do drug dealers still live with their mothers? And why swimming pools are more deadly than guns. You can explore the trends in baby names and whether they define your child’s future career prospects. ‘Freakonomics’ teaches you to view the world differently, and to remember that correlation does not equal causation.

I recommend this book to anyone looking to expand their literary horizons beyond classic fiction novels. It is a real change-up and very readable.

But it for super cheap on Amazon! £6.57!

Lots of love from Evie x

‘Spark Joy’ – Book of the Week

Note: Sorry I haven’t written in so long! My new term at Uni has started and it is 50 Shades of Cray. I have a whole list of blog post ideas to do though so if you haven’t already then please follow this blog so you never miss a new post!

I’m sure you have heard of the hit cleaning sensation of Marie Kondo. If you haven’t, I implore you to go check out her new Netflix show ‘Tidying-Up with Marie Kondo’. It is such a feel-good show and absolutely inspired me to change my life (as well as this book!) This show and book are not just aimed at slobs or hoarders, they are even aimed at the most “clean freak” amongst us. The KonMarie method is not only about tidying, but also changes your perception of how you treat your possessions and house.

Marie tells us that it is of paramount importance to go through every single item that you own, hold it to your heart and ask yourself “Does This Spark Joy?” (with few exceptions for 100% necessary items such as passports and birth certificates, etc.) If this item does not spark joy for you, then respectfully thank it and give it away/throw it away. By every single item I mean every piece of cutlery, book, sock and shoe. This way, by the end of the process, you are absolutely surrounded by things that make you genuinely happy. I did this method and did give away a massive deal of my items (I would estimate around 70%) but now my space is way less cluttered, and I feel happy everywhere I turn.

Marie also teaches us how to fold clothes in a way that saves space and also that helps us see exactly how many of each clothing item we have. She teaches us how to organise, display and take pride in our items. Ever since picking up this book, I have become obsessed with organising, reorganising, tidying and cleaning. I have a great deal more appreciation for my belongings.

I would absolutely recommend this book and the KonMarie method of tidying to anyone with some patience and a real desire to feel more joy and comfort in their home. This book has genuinely changed my life and I can’t stop telling people about it! If you would like me to make a post about how I personally approached the KonMarie method, or perhaps what changes I have seen in my life as a result, then let me know in the comments below!

Here is the link to purchase the book on Amazon (where it is cheapest at only £7.87!) click the picture below:

 

Thank you very much for reading,

Love from Evie x

‘Them: Adventures With Extremists’ – Book of the Week

By now you should all know what a massive Jon Ronson fan I am. I have already written two reviews of ‘The Psychopath Test‘ and ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed‘, and I adored both of these books. Again, I did really enjoy this book, but I would not say it is as strong as the other two.

Ronson talks to a wide variety of characters to get a total understanding of different kings of extremists. He talks to an Islamic Fundamentalist, various KKK (Ku Klux Klan) branches, and even members of the Bilderberg group. He explores lizards ruling us in the form of Beyonce and Queen Elizabeth II. Gun lobbying white supremacists. Jihadis looking to take down the British government. These earlier topics were so interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning about them.

Although I did enjoy the novel, as I stated before I felt that it was not as strong as his other texts. Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, but I felt some of the chapters were weaker and a bit repetitive. There are a few chapters dedicated to the Bilderberg group, which was relatively interesting but there was not enough substance to justify that much time. I would have liked more chapters on the KKK or Sharia Law advocates as these are the real extremist groups I think people were hoping to read about when they saw this novel. However, what is good about Ronson’s books is that the chapters are all separate stories, and so if one does not take your fancy then you can easily skip ahead to the next chapter.

Ultimately though I do recommend this book as it gives an interesting insight into the lives of these extremists. In true Ronson style, it is approached with a light-heartedness that does not make this a heavy read. He never truly mocks these extremists, rather tries to understand them, all while under the threat of them finding out that he is Jewish. His kind and respectable manner enables the extremists to trust him and we see a side of them that the world does not get to see.

This was only a short review as I think my blog content is a little Ronson heavy! Just wanted to share my opinion with you guys. What did you think of the book? And do you have any recommendations for me? Please let me know in the comments below!

To buy the book on amazon, click the image below:

‘Them: Adventures With Extremists’, £6.48, Amazon

 

Free Audible Download Link:

 

If you are interested then Amazon has given me the opportunity of offering you guys a 30 Day Free Trial with Kindle Unlimited! It’s like Netflix but for eBooks! There are over 1 million ebooks and audiobooks and you get to read an unlimited amount. The first 30 days is absolutely free with the link below, and after that it is only £7.99 a month, however you get to cancel at any time if you are unhappy with the service (which I highly doubt). That’s only £7.99 per month for unlimited books and audiobooks! And the first month is free? Unbelievable. You don’t even need a kindle! You can just download the free app onto your smartphone or tablet. If  you are ready to KindleUnlimited and Chill then just click the link below:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/kindle-dbs/hz/signup?tag=evelynrichard-21

Lots of love, Evie x

‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ – Book of the Week

 

Anyone who is a regular to this blog knows that I am a massive fan of Jon Ronson. After reading ‘The Psychopath Test’ (the detailed and enthusiastic review for that is here) I went and bought all of his books and downloaded his podcasts. My next book of choice was ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’. Again, a similar thing  happened when I started reading this book, I realised it sounded familiar. “Oh yes!” I thought, “I have already seen him do a Ted Talk on this topic.” The TedTalk also stuck in my mind, and so I will link to it below:

 

Although he explores many medias, Ronson mainly focuses his attention on online shaming- in particular Twitter. How people can tweet a misworded joke and end up being hated by the entire world. Death threats and rape threats thrown at them, and real-life ramifications such as being fired. Online shaming and exposure is even more relevant now than it was in 2015 when this novel was published as people like beauty-guru Laura Lee, director of Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn, and more recently even beloved comedy-actor Kevin Hart have been under fire as people have dug up offensive tweets from years ago. It has started a debate around how long can someone have a dodgy tweet held against them? Should someone be fired for saying something offensive years ago, or do we forgive them? Who even deserves forgiveness? Is a racist tweet worse than a homophobic/sexist tweet? Ronson touches on these issues and more in his book. He also looks to empathise with the shamed. He gives context to their misworded tweets and gives advice on how to ride the shaming train and come out unscathed. He looks into the mob-mentality of public shaming and the psychology of being embarrassed. He researches cases where people have felt so ashamed for their acts that they have committed suicide (for example, Ashley-Madison is a site for people looking to start an affair. It was hacked and the names and details of thousands of users were leaked).

I recommend this book to anyone else who is as aware of the rise in online scandals and shaming and wants to explore the debates surrounding it. I would love to hear of your thoughts down below!

Love from, Evie x

‘Enduring Love’ – Book of the Week

First of all, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Joyous Kwanzaa/Happy Holidays! Terribly sorry that I didn’t write for a while. I had a lot of essays to complete (including on this novel) however I could not write about it until after I submitted my essay in case I was accused of self-plagiarising! Anyways, I have a lot of posts lined up to make up for my absence!

The reason I focused my essay on ‘Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan is because it asks more questions than it answers. While our narrator is telling us about how everyone is crazy and obsessive, we as a reader are left to wonder whether it was actually our narrator who was the mad one?

The main concept of the story is that Joe and Clarissa are having a picnic in a field when they notice a hot air balloon carrying a small child goes out of control. Joe and four strangers rush forwards to hold onto the balloon and save the boy. The balloon gets whisked into the air and four of the men drop off, yet a man called John Logan lets go too late and falls to his death. Joe is unable to rationalise the events that happened. One of the other attempted rescuers, named Jed, falls desperately in love with Joe despite them knowing one another. The rest of the text follows Joe making sense of the balloon event, and also trying to prove to Clarissa that Jed is obsessed with him.

McEwan drops so many clues within his twists and turns that cause the reader to doubt everything they read. Joe himself is proven untrustworthy as he contradicts himself and constantly lies to the police. What is going on here?  Is Jed really obsessed with Joe? Is Jed even real? Why does Clarissa not believe Joe for so long? I think you can really see that I enjoyed the uncertainty of this text.

The text also raises issues to do with philosophy, Science vs Religion, Game Theory, mental health and, as the title suggests, love. ‘Enduring Love’ could allude to Joe having to endure Jed’s love, which he does not want nor reciprocate. ‘Enduring Love’ could also suggest that Joe and Clarissa’s love has to endure the difficult events that take place in the book. McEwan plays with form; stream of consciousness, epistolary, various viewpoints and even an appendix with psychological case studies.

I very much recommend this novel to anyone looking for something that will really make them think. Although McEwan’s writing style is fairly simplistic and easy to follow, his actual content holds a great deal of ambiguity and forces the reader to truly think and fill in the narrative gaps. I love a book where I am forced to question not only everything I am told, but the actual narrative-voice itself. I would adore to hear what you thought in the comments down below!

Lots of love, Evie x

‘North and South’ – Book of the Week

Just a quick one!

‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell particularly caught my eye as its perception of the North/South divide (in England) is still a widely discussed subject to this day. The North/South divide is a common phrase used and is the topic of many comical commentaries of English Society. The people of the North in the novel, as stereotyped today as well, tend to be; friendlier, drink more, poorer and tougher. Southerners are typically seen as stern, rich, well-educated, feeble and that stereotype of British people that America is in love with (think Hugh Grant). Though of course applying character traits to certain groups of people simply because they were born in Chelsea or York is hugely unfair and inaccurate, they are strong stereotypes which have lasted the test of time due to the relevance of ‘North and South’.

This book explores ideas of capitalism and socialism, left-wing and right-wing, class issues and cultural identity. Gaskell throws her hat into the ring of old money vs new money. A rich Londoner Margaret travels to the North and learns to see the beauty in the simplicity of the working-classes. She meets a business owner, Thornton, whom she expresses her distaste in his lack of welfare. He points out to her that he “started from the bottom now we here” (Drake) and that if he can do it with no help or handouts then so can anyone. This idea of a self-made rags-to-riches story is key in our social and political discussions nowadays. Lord Sugar of the UK’s Apprentice came from humble beginnings and now is a self-made billionaire. However, the argument could be made that perhaps people need a little boost in life to get them to where they need to be. Let’s take Donald Trump of America’s Apprentice (oh, and POTUS). Trump was given from his father a “small loan of a million dollars” and now is estimated to be worth $3.1 billion.

For Gaskell to summarise the debate of welfare would be to ignore the masses of pros and cons on either side and to close the book on one of the ongoing issues of the political sphere. I feel Gaskell used her novel in order to explore ideas on both sides, and exposed her characters to the other’s perspective. Although Gaskell lands on a fairly pro-welfare note by having Thornton increase the wages and working conditions for his employees, she does not overlook the importance of rugged individualism and self reliance. These issues explored are rather relevant even today, and that is why I recommend this novel to anyone interested in exploring politics in a narrative form.

 

Lots of love, Evie x

‘The Time Machine’ – Book of the Week

“Oh wow, you are blessing us with a second ‘Book of the Week’?” I hear you praise. Yes reader, I feel I need to make up for my sporadic (and by that I mean pretty much not at all) posting recently. Plus, I just finished this book and wanted to share with you my thoughts.

Hollywood owes a great deal to H.G. Wells’s classic ‘The Time Machine’. It has been the inspiration of works such as ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Planet of the Apes’, and even ‘Men In Black III’. Wells was a pioneer of the concept of Time Travel and used his writing to bring it into the mainstream consciousness.

The story goes that an unnamed time traveller goes to the year 802,701 AD and discovers than humans are the shared ancestor to two new species: the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi, the time traveller finds out, were the ruling classes. They are small, fair, beautiful, kind yet also very weak and stupid. The Murlocks were the working classes who now live underground. They are hairy and scary and speak only in grunts and screams. The time traveller spends his time with the Eloi as they look the most human and therefore he feels he can connect with them better. Yet, when he learns more about the Murlocks, he realises that he was unfair to judge them on their appearances as they are in fact closer to the humans the time traveller is used to. They may look like monsters, but they are intelligent and resourceful, and they are strongly family-orientated and hard-working. The time traveller then travels back to current day to tell his friends about his discoveries.

When I first picked up my copy of ‘The Time Machine’ I did not expect it to spark a deep conversation around class issues. A great deal of SciFi texts and films now are more focused on their special-effects, action scenes, and jamming in as many Pop-Culture references as possible instead of aiming to tackle bigger issues that society faces. In Britain today we do still have somewhat of a class structure, however nowadays it is more nuanced, less rigid and more allowing for social mobility. In 1895, when the text was published, ideas about welfare had only really been born. Before this time, the poor man was poor because he is lazy, or he is stupid, or he simply was not a good enough Christian. It was not because the nature of capitalism predisposes certain marginalised groups in society to be able to earn less money than others. Wells’s use of his notability in society to spread important messages regarding class certainly aided bringing the cause to the public’s attention and may have helped in the establishment of welfare and possibly even the free healthcare we benefit from in the UK. It is only a short book but it is packed full of so much whimsy and adventure, and I recommend it to anyone looking to liven up a rainy afternoon.

Let me know in the comments what you thought of this text, I would love to hear! Also, let me know in the comments below what book you would like me to cover next.

Lots of love from Evie x

‘The Psychopath Test’ – Book of the Week

I came across Jon Ronson about two years ago when I happened to click on a Ted Talk of his entitled ‘Strange answers to the psychopath test’. I have always had an interest in psychology, made stronger when I studied it at A-Level, and so in intrigued I clicked on it. Psychopathy, it turns out, is something I thought I knew more about than I did. It turns out that Psychopaths aren’t all violent serial killers or crazed sex offenders, and there is an estimated 1 in 100 (or 1 in 25 if you believe the psychologist in Shane Dawson’s latest YouTube series- which I highly recommend). They blend into society and could be you or me. In Ronson’s book, he explores the realm of psychopathy but also various other mental illnesses. He looks at the child psychology crisis; about how children are being diagnosed with ADHD and Austism at an alarming rate. He looks at anxiety and how on can not possibly be both a Psychopath and also suffer from GAD. Ronson talks to diagnosed psychopaths, psychologists, neurologists, journalists, sceptics and a variety of others to present a well-rounded exploration of the topic.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, what is ‘The Psychopath Test’? Well, the name of the book is in reference to the Hare Psychopathy Test which is the formal test which is being currently used to define if people are Psychopaths or not. There are 20 items on the checklist, and with each item you will be awarded either 0, 1, or 2 points. At the end you count up the points and if you score 30 or above you are considered a Psychopath. Of course, this system carries many flaws (as Ronson explores) and should be carried out by a trained professional, but I will add the checklist below as I know you are dying to find out if you are a Psychopath:

  1. Glibness/ Superficial charm
  2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
  3. need for stimulation/ prone to boredom
  4. Pathological lying
  5. conning/ manipulative
  6. lack of remorse or guilt
  7. shallow affect
  8. callous/ lack of empathy
  9. parasitic lifestyle
  10. poor behavioural controls
  11. promiscuous sexual behaviour
  12. early behaviour problems
  13. lack of realistic, long-term goals
  14. impulsivity
  15. irresponsibility
  16. failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  17. many short-term marital relationships
  18. juvenile delinquency
  19. revocation of conditional release
  20. criminal verstility

I do absolutely recomend this book if you are as interested by Psychology as I am. It packs in so much information and knowledge, while also maintaining an investigative and engrossing style. Below I will add the original YouTube video I watched. This video has one of the many stories in the book in it, so if you find it intriguing then there is a lot more where that came from.

Let me know down below your score from the test! And also mention in the comments if there are any books you recommend.

Lots of love, Evie x