shutting the door (Instagram Stories)

If you’re a daily scroller, you’ll have seen it. It’s the latest, biggest news in social media and hot on the iphones of the #avocadotoast #butfirstcoffee #feedfeed crew. And Instagram Stories is yet another door or window to our inner selves and – while I can see how Snapchat might want to *scream* as their business model becomes just about redundant – I’m not sure I’m all that happy either about the latest update to my favourite platform.

A new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile’ is the social media giant’s mission here. What about those moments you might want to really truly share? The moment today when Small decided to beat me fair and square at table tennis? Or when Mini lay on the sofa and read cover-to-over her 5th book of the summer? I shared those moments without needed to video or snap them but instead by living them in real life.

What if I had grabbed my phone and shared these moments with my 2k+ followers, how would that have actually benefited me? Or them? Surely my moments are mostly utterly dull to most of the world? Besides, by tomorrow, they would have completely evaporated anyway – which definitely proves to me I should spend my time more wisely.

All this is different to the Instagram I know and love. Why? Because the photography app (which is what it is to me) is full of choice and inspiration and creative ideas… that is, if you make your follow choices carefully.

Just one day into Stories and it has shown me that I need to cut out at least half of the number of those I follow. Particularly those supplementing their Instagram lives with Stories. Because – with the new update – I’m being served their mundane and it’s exactly the opposite of inspiring.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Exclusive to website, social

Summer Reads: The Day Before Happiness/This Too Shall Pass

We’re mostly lazing at this end. And I’m still not only appreciating every damn second as well as fast feeling the effects of a slower-paced life. Roaming in and out of rooms with books, cups of tea and (too often) chocolate biscuits in hand, I wondering what it was about the frenetic multi-tasking that I thought made me so happy.

Of course, I’m hardly bored at all.

This week’s reads are both relatively fresh off the press. (Well, more accurately, The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca has been on shelves for a while but has been recently re-translated into English by Jill Foulston.)

Both books were a spur-of-the-moment impulse (I honestly can’t control) purchase at Daunt while helping the Smalls to pick out more summer reads. Usually I like to fully research a book and readers’ thoughts before finally committing to my wish list. But that was when I had less time.

Either way, they appealed and so I read.

De Luca is one of Italy’s bestselling authors (he’s written around 60 books) but I had always considered him to be too heavy on the metaphors for my liking.   However, a sucker for any tale of WW2, I particularly fancied The Day Before Happiness, set in Naples, centred around a young orphan boy and his relationship with Don Gaetano, his adult guardian and concierge of the apartment building.

The writing is absolutely beautiful and the stories (within the story) are vivid but… I wouldn’t say I couldn’t put it down. Perhaps De Luca is an acquired taste?

This Too Shall Pass (by Milena Busquets) is a curious mix: sex and death, past and present, philosophy and farce all collide in this short novel set in Cadaqués, a beach town in Spain. Blanca, our narrator, has just buried her mother and is only too aware of a feeling of emptiness as well as a loss of youth. Her age (40), her various men (ex-husbands and current lovers) and her memories of her mother (pre and during Parkinson’s) provide us with an intimate tale of pleasure and loss.

Definitely one for the summer if you fancy a little more to think about.

[Next up is The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson]


Leave a Comment

Filed under books, Exclusive to website

Summer reads: GIRL IN TRANSLATION by Jean Kwok

Do you remember where you bought that book? That book which has been lying on your bookshelf for at least six months? Or maybe you (unlike me) don’t buy books on a whim… unable to ignore the temptation of yet another novel?

This one I remember well. It was our last morning in New York last April and we had finally made it to the Tenement Museum in the Lower East side. Not only did the visit totally exceed our expectations (bearing in mind EVERYONE had told us we had to include it in our itinery) but the bookshop, housed within the museum, literally knocked our socks off. [This may have been one of 3 books I lugged home in my already bulging suitcase.]

Kimberly Chang is our the heroine in Jean Kwok’s debut novel. Arriving in New York, fresh from Hong Kong, in the early 1980s, Kimberly’s mother earns two cents an hour in a sweatshop while her 11-year-old daughter faces the challenge of school. Neither of them speak a word of English and they live in what could only be described as extreme poverty.

An immigrant herself, Kwok tells the tale vividly. Her view of the city, her struggles at school, her work in the factory after school and her teenage angst amid it all. As they live and learn to survive straddling two cultures, we journey and empathise with Kimberly all the way.

I was thoroughly absorbed in this novel. Some have called it predictable and criticized the ending for being too clichéd. I would have been disappointed if it had been any less so.

[Next up is The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca]

Leave a Comment

Filed under books, Exclusive to website

let’s discuss freedom

The Watch House, Blakeney, Norfolk

The Watch House, Blakeney, Norfolk

Freedom is a funny old thing. What makes you feel free might make me feel trapped. Some feel they can’t escape from the person they feel they should be, others never feel restricted and explore away without limitation. And – I presume because this summer I’m roaming free – it’s made me question our ever-changing (and highly personal) sense of freedom and the impact it has on us.

There’s no doubt that our privileged lives are full of alternative beginning, middles and endings. But I was wondering if this endless freedom might mean a serious lack of perspective? After all, you can only really understand the enormity of any freedom when it no longer exists.

When we were in Norfolk last week I noticed a house on the horizon. Far across the salt marshes, it was clear that reaching this house on foot would be some sort of mission, even with knowledge of tidal times/terrain. I heard from locals that it had no electricity nor running water. But I saw this house as freedom; a remote sort of adventurous freedom.

Freedom from judgement is something many of us try to escape. A need for approval, a confirmation of who and what we are. And social media seems to battle against this type of freedom, particularly for those seeking privacy. But the sharing limit has to be self-imposed so that there is no personal burden or constraint other than what we, as individuals, feel comfortable with. Do you feel as free not to express as you do to voice those opinions?

What would make you feel freer? How does a sense of freedom contribute to your happiness?

For those interested, the house pictured is available to rent for a maximum of 3 nights/£50 per night. I have an idea: let’s trap ourselves there + talk about FREEDOM.


Leave a Comment

Filed under Exclusive to website, life