“I don’t believe the cure for loneliness is meeting someone, not necessarily. I think it’s about two things: learning how to befriend yourself and understanding that many of the things that seem to afflict us as individuals are in fact a result of larger forces of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted.”
I think I have previously expressed the thought that certain books find you at the right time, when reading them takes on a particular significance. This definitely happened in the case of “The Lonely City”; I bought the book in March 2016, a few days after its release, and amidst the various events of the years to come, which were not easy for so many reasons (pandemic included), I forgot about it for a while, partly because I already had a long stack of previously purchased books to read. The book followed me through various house moves and it was only last month that I happened to see it on my shelf and decided to read it.
The Lonely City takes on a completely different meaning in the aftermath of the pandemic, where we have all experienced loneliness on different levels due to forced isolation. It is precisely after the pandemic that the need to escape from loneliness has increased; predominantly taking on a negative connotation, loneliness is fought against in various ways (also thanks to new technologies and social media, which, however, also have dark sides and often make one feel even more lonely), instead of being seen as a natural condition that can be inspiring and allow human beings to develop their talents and personalities. This is precisely what Olivia Laing’s book is about: the British writer recalls her time living in New York, alone in the city that never sleeps; since she was raised by a homosexual mother, Laing’s personal story influences the text, and the author recounts how the visual arts mitigated her loneliness. In her memoir, she analyzes the lives of a number of LGBT artists, especially the ones that were part of New York’s East Village artistic scene. The account of these artists’ lives intersects with the writer’s personal story, focusing on loneliness in the city.
For the beginning of 2023, I have decided to collect a series of small things that make life worth living from the nonfiction title “14,000 Things To Be Happy About: The Happy Book” by Barbara Ann Kipfer because the book celebrates things that makes us smile; my copy now features a lot of highlighted phrases because I wanted to emphasize the things that I relate to the most and that are very meaningful to me.
It is a book I recommend to anyone (I own the paperback edition and it is nice to be able to carry it around with me and open a random page that reminds me of something that makes me feel joyful); we will not get to relate to every single sentence included in the book because every person is different and no one has the same experiences. Nevertheless, it makes us think about ourselves as individuals, reflect on who we are, who we have been, and who we will become.
I have created a list of 140 things from “14,000 Things” that mean the most to me; I invite you to read the book and choose the parts that make you smile the most and that resonate with your own lives.
Happy New Year 2023!
the art of candymaking;
keeping on nodding terms with the person you used to be;
I first read this novel when I was about ten years old because my mom gifted me a collection of literary classics that included Little Women and its sequel, Little Men. Since I was born and raised in Italy, my first copy was an Italian edition which I still own, even though it now shows many signs of wear and tear because I have read it multiple times over the years. A few years ago I also bought a beautiful American edition which is part of the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics and I have already read it twice since then.
What is it about Little Women that has made the book so precious for so many different generations over the decades? Probably this is also due to the fact that it was one of the first books to focus on female characters; it seems that men are more like supporting characters in the lives of the female protagonists, and, even though it is narrated in the third person, the book tends to tell the events mainly from the point of view of the March sisters.
The story is set in the 1860s and begins during the American Civil War; Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March live in the small town of Concord, Massachusetts (where Louisa May Alcott also wrote the book), and the first chapter introduces the sisters who are preparing to face a Christmas of hardships because of the war, with many concerns due to the fact that their father serves as chaplain for the Union Army. The March sisters have very distinct personalities but are united by the deep affection they feel for each other; Meg, the eldest (she is sixteen when the story begins), is very rational and feels responsible to the other sisters. Together with Jo, she works to support them all; while she is employed as a governess by a family in the neighborhood, Jo assists her wealthy aunt March, who lives alone in a mansion. Jo is stubborn and very outspoken; she loves writing stories, some of which will be published by local newspapers to provide financial support for the family.
“The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”
During the course of last summer I read my second Agatha Christie book and I really enjoyed it; Death On The Nile is a great mystery novel and I have also reviewed it on the blog. While I really appreciated the twists and the setting, reading Murder On The Orient Express, my third Agatha Christie book, has been an even better experience, since I was already familiar with the character of Hercule Poirot and the writer’s style.
To me, this book confirmed Agatha Christie’s genius in building the plot and creating the right amount of suspense in the process of solving the case. I am very fascinated by the fact that, even though this novel was published in 1934, it feels very modern and the language used by Christie makes you feel like you were reading a modern novel, as if it were set in present times.
The book takes place aboard the Orient Express, a train that used to connect the Middle East to Europe in the first decades of the 20th century. The famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is traveling from Istanbul to London by train, along with a series of passengers that make for very interesting characters; they come from all different places and each of them has their secrets and peculiar traits. When a murder occurs, Poirot and the other passengers find themselves stuck on the train while traveling through Yugoslavia due to a heavy snowfall and it is very likely that the murderer is still on board.
As Poirot begins to investigate the murder, which immediately appears to be related to a crime case in the USA that occurred a few years before the events in the book, the passengers are being interrogated by the detective, and it is clear from the outset that most of them have something to hide… During this investigation, Poirot is accompanied by Monsieur Bouc, his old friend and director of the Wagon Lits; while Bouc immediately jumps to conclusions about who the perpetrator of the murder might be, Poirot prefers to wait until he is well informed about the facts before expressing an opinion on the matter.
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