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On Fashion, Travel and Lifestyle.

Category: From the Bookshelf

From the Bookshelf. “The life-changing manga of tidying up. A magical story.” by Marie Kondo, illustrated by Yuko Uramoto.

The Life Changing Manga

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Marie Kondo and her method changed my life, but for sure it made me realise that organising possessions and personal space does have a power to change a lot and that instead of approaching the task with a loose plan on how to, it makes much more sense to use a well defined method.

After two bestsellers came time for an unexpected publication – a manga book. I was intrigued enough to place an order and despite my initial doubt, enjoyed the story of Chiaki, a single Japanese gal living in Tokyo who wants to make her life more meaningful and joyful, but doesn’t quite know how to. “The life-changing manga of tidying up. A magical story.” has all attributes of a real manga. The story line is focused on improving and organising, which in the process leads to changing own life. Perhaps I wouldn’t recommend to start own KonMari adventure here, but if you already are a fan, it is a nice addition to what you read so far and can visualise the whole process.

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From the Bookshelf. “Love Parisienne: The French Woman’s Guide to Love and Passion.” by F. Besson, E. Amor and C. Steinlen.

Love Parisienne

Put your hand in the air if you ever dreamed of being Parisian and living the fantasy of a chic existence filled with stylish adventures, liberation, sexy encounters, charming bistros and great clothes. There you see, we have all been there. The City of Lights and its magic holds the universal power to inspire and amaze, while Parisian women are considered to be arbiters of elegance and allure, as well as certain life wisdom. This universal desire to be more French is a graceful subject for publications. Now, after a success of “How to be Parisian wherever you are” and “Love. Style. Life.” , comes “Love Parisienne: The French Woman’s Guide to Love and Passion.”, a funny and comprehensive guide to l’amour according to three friends with Parisian zip codes and decades of dating and relationship experiences.

The book is divided into three parts – for single and dating, for those entering into a serious relationship and finally for seasoned couples. Each part offers smart, witty and helpful advice on how to enjoy each phase of dating and staying in a long lasting relationship, at all times being true to oneself and going through life with self respect and grace. This is no self-help book, but a take on love life from Paris that will bring smile to your face as well as some moments of reflection.

From the Bookshelf. “Dress Scandinavian” by Pernille Teisbæk.

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Pernille Teisbæk is an undeniable star of social media, a model and fashion editor who made her name into a globally recognisable brand. Being Danish, she promotes Scandinavian designs and herself favours a simple style identified with Scandinavian aesthetics. Now the time came for Pernille to write a book on the very subject that brought her fame – dressing Scandinavian.

I was very curious about the book and when I finally got it, I read it in two afternoons. The lecture of “Dress Scandinavian” left me with a feeling of a slight disappointment, because in my opinion the subject was treated in too superficial manner. On many pages filled with a great number of good pictures there was very little content, I didn’t learn anything new. The book left me with a sense of an unfulfilled promise. True, living in Norway Scandinavian style and fashion is something that surrounds me every day, so it is no wonder I didn’t find it groundbreaking, but even despite this daily exposure I was hoping for some more practical tips and inspiration on how to do it better. All in all, the lecture was enjoyable, a light entertaining reading that perhaps is more valid for those who would like to master a basic understanding of the Scandinavian style.

From the Bookshelf. “Goodbye Things. The New Japanese Minimalism.” by Fumio Sasaki.

Goodbye Things

I think that an alternative title to “Goodbye Things. The New Japanese Minimalism.” could be Confessions of a Minimalist, because Fumio Sasaki really shares a lot from his personal struggles that in the end led him to the path of a minimalist. But this is by no means a self help book, but an honest story of a realisation that things and constant craving for more often come from within and are caused by loneliness, self doubt, inferiority complex and the need to keep up with the proverbial Joneses. To have less is liberating. To have less opens the door to self discovery. To have less gives more time, space, freedom and a peace of mind.

The author is somebody whom I would call a radical minimalist. He downsized in every aspect of his “material being”, in the number of possessions and the actual living space. He said farewell to so much, but did so with little regret. Perhaps this lifestyle is not for everyone, definitely not for me, but as you read the book, there is no pressure from the writer to follow his more extreme example. The thought behind can be summarised in a following sentence: love people in your life, not objects, because objects should never be a centrepiece of your universe, only utilities in it.

From the Bookshelf. “Hygge. The Danish Art of Happiness.” by Marie Tourell Søderberg.

Hygge Book

Ever since hygge became a buzzword, there are more and more publications dedicated to this subject, and since the concept is closely linked to the Danish way of living, several Danish authors decided to share their ideas on what it is and what it means to hygge. Even though this concept is not a new thing for me, because when living in Scandinavia hygge is something you are very much used to (for more, read How to Hygge? ), I was still intrigued to read how can one write about it for those who weren’t born into it.

“Hygge. The Danish Art of Happiness.” is a pleasant, heartwarming book about coming together and experiencing the joy of little things, whether it is a lazy evening by candlelights, playing boardgames with friends or the smell of freshly baked bread rolls, the common ground is in feeling happy, cozy and relaxed, it is about living authentic and being grateful for simple pleasures that life has to offer.

From the Bookshelf. “No More Dirty Looks.” by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt.

NO MORE DIRTY LOOKS

I can almost promise you that you will have more than one panic reaction when reading “No More Dirty Looks. The Truth about Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics” by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt. I did and on one occasion it lead to an emergency label reading in an attempt to detox my cosmetic cabinet. This is a shocking material and the only thing more scary than reading it is not reading it.

I was petrified to see how many dirty ingredients polluted my beauty products, and this after I already decided to pay more attention and select better, having read a similar position from my bookshelf. To find out more please refer to “Skin Cleanse. The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clean, Calm, Happy Skin.” by Adina Grigore.  Clearly I was fooled by so called “natural brands” and less than honest recommendations from magazines and bloggers who swore by certain products. “No More Dirty Looks.” tells a lot about ingredients and ways to substitute products filled with harmful, dangerous (to the point of being carcinogenic and toxic) ingredients with safe, clean alternatives that are available on the market. Will you be surprised to hear that I started to research, checked availability and already swapped some of the bad stuff with healthier, more reliable alternatives?

What is also important to mention is that the book refers to practices and legislations from the United States of America, but regardless of the fact, it is universal enough to give you plenty food for thought no matter where you leave. After all, cosmetics are a global commodity and they cross borders all the time. As a consolation for some, EU regulations are quoted as much more restrictive and controlling than American, but nonetheless I was shocked with my discoveries. I definitely recommend the lecture of “No More Dirty Looks.”, it is an eye opening book.

From the Bookshelf. “L’Art de la Simplicite. How to Live More With Less.” by Dominique Loreau.

LArt de la Simplicite

I intended to read “L’Art de la Simplicite.” by Dominique Loreau to broaden my minimalist mindset and gain more insight into how to live more with less. I was also curious about the Japanese influence that the author is mentioning, having lived in Japan for many years and adopting Asian mindset into his thought.

The book is divided into three parts related to different spheres of existence, from materialistic, through physical closing with notes on spiritual life. The first part was very interesting, although did not surprise me with anything new, it was more of a repetition of what I already knew or read about before. It wasn’t boring though, because many subjects and suggestions were presented in a simple and straightforward way. The second part related to body was more of a challenge, as I did not agree with some suggestions. In addition, it seems that the author believes in “one size fits all” solution and is not afraid to say how many meals one should eat or how many beauty products to own. For me it is more of an individual choice and not wanting to fast regularly or eat my meals from a wooden bowl doesn’t mean I am not taking the minimalistic approach seriously enough. Finally, the last part related to mind made me very disappointed. I quickly lost interest to go through more chapters and put the unfinished book  down. It has been some weeks since I did that and I still feel no urge nor motivation to read its final pages.

Overall I was less than impressed, the book started well but after a while reading it became more and more tiresome, to the point of getting irritating. For me it turned out to be a self help book more than anything else and this type of literature is never my choice. Finally, it hardly ever happens that I do not finish my reading and with this in mind, I wouldn’t recommend the lecture.

From the Bookshelf. “Show Your Style.” by Aimee Song.

SHOW YOUR STYLE

When it comes to Instagram, Aimee Song knows well what she is talking about. It is enough to check the number of followers linked to her account – 4,6 million as per today. I am convinced this is her trade and when reading the book, the initial impression is confirmed. The author of “Show Your Style” gives her readers many practical advices on how to establish, develop and maintain Instagram presence aiming for followers and social media recognition. In her book Aimee shares  her tips on taking professional photos and building a consistent feed that will be coherent and visually attractive.

All well and true, but to make it really happen all your waking hours should be dedicated to this task, because the amount of time and effort needed to create a single “great shot” is overwhelming. In my opinion, naturally. What is more, it is no secret that having an attractive face and a good physique, agenda filled with many exotic travels, pretty clothes and expensive accessories will further contribute to the visual side of any Instagram profile.

So was this book a good reading? Yes and no. Yes, because it is written in a light, entertaining way, well edited and illustrated with good pictures, not to forget a genuinely good advice and practical tips. No, because some of those tips are either unrealistic or too time consuming for an average Instagram user, who is no longer twenty-something and living less than a glamorous life balancing career with family.

From the Bookshelf. “Model Woman. Eileen Ford and the business of beauty” by Robert Lacey.

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Eileen Ford created her own profession by opening a modelling agency. She was a self made woman who followed her extraordinary sense of time and never took a step back from a career that she chose for herself. “Model Woman” by Robert Lacey is a biography that presents a multidimensional image of Mrs. Ford, that in many aspects was bitter sweet. Apart from reading about an interesting and inspiring persona, the book offers an insight into a birth of a modern day modelling and an evolution of a profession,that led from anonymous photo-models to international super stars. An interesting reading for all who would like to know a little bit more on the subject.

From the Bookshelf. “Deluxe. How luxury lost its lustre.” by Dana Thomas.

deluxe

Having read “Deluxe. How luxury lost its lustre.” I lost all desire to purchase LV handbag, a thought I was entertaining for some years. Why did I want it in the first place? Because I perceived is as classy and timeless, something that Audrey Hepburn travelled with, an item with history and heritage. But why did I change my mind? Thanks to this eye opening lecture that is a real lesson in luxury retail.

Luxury lost its lustre and there is very little we can do about it. Luxury became something that is designed to be produced fast and sold even faster, without the romantic vision of a high fashion made to last for seasons to come. Forget about the true European craftsmanship, dedication to detail, understated elegance and bespoke customer service. Instead think of mass production in China, inferior quality, cutting corners, outlets and fake copies. Except for a few selected manufacturers that stayed true to their heritage, it is no longer about a unique approach to the product, but about saturating the market with as many identical copies as possible. Sadly enough, most customers will never go back to the glamour of old days, when every shopping trip was a real experience, when things were made to measure, beautifully crafted and designed to last and if there were any visible names or monograms, they would be the discreet initials of the owner.

Having said all this, I truly recommend “Deluxe.” for being an insightful, well researched and honest reading.