Reading List #3: Books, Creativity, and Food

Today something has shifted a little. Though I’m missing my sister, friends, and other family, I also made a bit of a loose to-do list last night that has given me a bit of structure to the day. My sleep has been all over the place, so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to have a perfect structure, but I’m also trying to give shape to each day. My reading the past week has reflected my interests a little more.

by Tucker Good, Unsplash.

I find comfort in certain things when life is uncertain – good food, nostalgia, books, animals, creativity. Sometimes helping other people gives more meaning when I’ve lost sight of what’s important. My husband suggested I try a game called Kind Words recently (available on Steam, link to a review below), and I also downloaded an app called Slowly, an international pen-pal app based on interests (it sends ‘letters’ slowly, ie. in the time they would really take to post internationally!).

I’m still finding it very hard to write, and even read books. That’s why I read an article about ways I can focus on reading. My anxious brain has been bouncing, and I feel restless yet also extremely tired. The frustrating thing is that I keep downloading books onto my Kindle, and I have bookcases full of books, so I’m just trying to take it slow and not worry too much about it.

A highlight of my week was getting a letter from a friend, with a Star Wars stamp, no less! I’m looking forward to writing back and writing to more friends. I’m not that keen on video calls or Zoom because for some reason, I can’t lipread people that well on a screen, unless it’s my sister on Facetime – could be video quality, or distance from the screen.

This Week’s Links

  1. 17 Totally Normal Things to Feel Right Now, According to Therapists – Self, Anna Borges. Excerpt: ‘Truth be told, this list is only the tip of the iceberg of what therapists are hearing right now—and by extension, what people are feeling. If I covered it all, this article would be 10 times this length, minimum. From depression to boredom to intimacy to inadequacy to excitement, people are going through the whole spectrum of emotions right now. The point is, no matter what you feel each day, it is a valid response to this truly wild experience we’re all living through.’
  2. Motivational Quotes Around COVID-19 and Why They Are Making Me So Angry – Lola Jane Thorne Blog. Excerpt: ‘As a coach I help people to overcome the inner emotional barriers that prevent them from achieving their goals. It is almost never because they do not have time, it is almost always emotional. To say that you are lacking discipline is careless and uncompassionate. It is inconsiderate to those who are watching their loved ones go off to work as key-workers, or people with vulnerable and sick loved ones. Of course those people have high levels of anxiety and may be feeling too anxious to use their time learning a new skill.’
  3. Tips To Stay Focused While Reading – Book Riot, Elise Moser. Excerpt: ‘Spending most of our days at home seems like a dream to a devoted reader. But many bookish people, myself included, are finding it hard to stay focused while reading. There are so many distractions with constant news updates, policy changes, and trying to keep in touch with our friends and families.’
  4. Finding Food Pleasures in a Time of Crisis – Ruby Tandoh, Eater. Excerpt: ‘I can’t stop thinking about food. Everything is falling apart, but all I can think about is the softness of fondant icing when you press in a birthday candle. Refreshing the application form for Universal Credit, I daydream about biting the heads off jelly babies. I scroll through terrible news while thinking about the snap of fridge-cold chocolate. Idly threading spaghetti hoops onto the prongs of a fork, finding a Minstrel down the back of the sofa, kissing a freshly-steamed bao on its bottom. These are the thoughts that clutter my mind.’
  5. 8 Marvellous and Melancholy Things I’ve Learned About Creativity – The Oatmeal. Excerpt: ‘Ten years ago, I created The Oatmeal. I thought an appropriate way to mark the decade would be to publish a comic called ‘Ten things I’ve learned about creativity in ten years.’ Ten things. Ten years. Clean, simple, appropriate. That was the plan. It was a good plan. But as you’ll see, creativity is not a horse. It cannot be trained or ridden.’
  6. This Day…How Irene Copes with (Nocturnal) Fears – Flow Magazine. Excerpt: ‘Because that is what I now know about myself: if something is too much for me to cope with in the evening, it suddenly feels different in the morning. I was thinking about the episode of De wereld draait door (The World Keeps Reeling; a Dutch TV talk show) recently, in which neuropsychologist Erik Scherder and the show’s presenter Matthijs van Nieuwkerk talk about their fears, and in which they both say that it is all worse at night, so much worse.’
  7. The 22 Best New Fiction Books to Read During Quarantine (And others to look forward to!) – Parade, Megan O’Neill Melle. Excerpt: ‘Through books, we’re reminded of transcendent love, humanity and the adventure and travel we’ll soon enough have. As you continue to shelter in place, dive into some of spring’s best new fiction books (and when possible, check in with your local book store, many of which are offering online orders and shipping!).’ Includes a new Emily St. John Mandel book, author of Station Eleven.
  8. ‘Kind Words’ is the rare social network where everyone is nice – Kris Naudus, Engadget. Excerpt: ‘The older I get, the less energy I have for social media. Twitter is too busy, Facebook is too stupid and dating apps are just… ugh. But I still have that need to connect with people in some way, something I can approach at my own pace and not feel any kind of obligation. Last year came Popcannibal’s Kind Words, a non-game game that lets you reach out, but expects nothing from you in return except good vibes.’
  9. On Acknowledging Small Losses – Stella Duffy. Excerpt: ‘They are not everything, our small losses, but they are something. And it is OK to acknowledge our small losses while we feel the ongoing uncertainty and fear we are all living with. If we fail to acknowledge the small losses, they are likely to accumulate and come back to bite us.’
  10. The BFI Cats V Dogs Collection of Films – Archival films from the British Film Institute of our love affair with cats and dogs! Proof that there have always been cat videos…
  11. And a few theatre links: Deafinitely Theatre’s release of filmed plays and content – Love’s Labour’s Lost, Contractions, and Grounded. Love’s Labour’s Lost is now streaming! I’d also recommend Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints programme of plays, podcasts, and pictures. Plus Chickenshed theatre also released a recording of their spring show, Waiting For The Ship To Sail (about global migration) which sadly had to be cancelled. All have subtitles (and transcripts for podcasts etc).

I hope you are all keeping well. My comments are always open if you want to chat or share something you’ve read! I hope your week ahead goes as well as it possibly can.

‘After that hard winter, one could not get enough of the nimble air. Every morning I wakened with a fresh consciousness that winter was over. There were none of the signs of spring for which I used to watch in Virginia, no budding woods or blooming gardens. There was only—spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere: in the sky, in the swift clouds, in the pale sunshine, and in the warm, high wind—rising suddenly, sinking suddenly, impulsive and playful like a big puppy that pawed you and then lay down to be petted. If I had been tossed down blindfold on that red prairie, I should have known that it was spring.’ – Willa Cather, My Antonia.

1 thought on “Reading List #3: Books, Creativity, and Food

  1. Reblogged this on toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish) and commented:
    Some very interesting articles and reflections on the week kindly provided by writer Liz Ward.

    Liked by 1 person

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