Cashmere Wrap & Macadamia Nuts

On Fashion, Travel and Lifestyle.

Category: From the Bookshelf

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.

model-woman

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.

From the Bookshelf. “all in good taste” by kate spade new york.

all-in-good-taste

I bought “all in good taste” with the intention of bringing more entertainment into my new home and in the process, doing so with more grace and imagination. And I sure can tell you, Kate Spade Team knows good entertainment and is not afraid to share their secrets, ideas, past experiences and recipes.

“all in good taste” is a healthy dose of inspiration and motivation that goes beyond hosting social gatherings, touching on good manners, style and interior decoration. Sure, some ideas are a little over the top and not achievable if you do not live in a palazzo, but many are positively down to earth and possible to follow even with a limited space and on a budget. So by all means, if you would like to revamp your approach to socialising and receiving guests, this book is a must.

From the Bookshelf. “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay (Miss Minimalist).

joy-of-less

Before reading “The Joy of Less” I wasn’t sure I can call myself a minimalist, but now I know – I have a long way to go if I want to achieve the ideal, but the thing is, I am not sure I want to go that far!

I enjoyed the lecture and agree with most points made by Francine Jay aka Miss Minimalist. A clean and clutter free home makes daily life more enjoyable and less stressful. I am a strong believer in letting things go if they stopped serving the purpose, don’t bring any joy or simply were purchased without giving it enough thought. Same with organising and designating own place to whatever you own, I got so used to it that I cannot truly relax if my surrounding is not neat and kind of empty. However, some minimalist recommendations seemed too extreme for my liking. For example, I do not see a reason to let go of my collection of wine glasses and switch to one size fits all glasses, I am sure it would make wine or champagne drinking less enjoyable, same as I disagree with a suggestion to forsake clothes that require dry cleaning, silk and wool garments are those I hold in highest esteem and even though they require some effort, I would never let them go.

On the whole, the book was very enjoyable and filled with common sense, down to earth advice on how to clean and organise better, be more conscious in the future, inspire those around you to change and keep the clutter at bay for good. In today’s world when everything is so available and in abundance, it is easy to get lost among material things and loose the sense of what the real priority is, “The Joy of Less” can help to avoid it and start living more consciously and gracefully. 

From the Bookshelf. “Spark Joy. An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying.” by Marie Kondo.

Spark Joy

Marie Kondo is a Japanese expert, who made her passion for cleaning and tidying into a profession, getting recognition and achieving an international success. She created her KonMari method, where the only criterium of keeping material possessions is an emotional reaction towards them. If it “sparks joy”, brings happiness and warm thoughts, it is a keeper. If it doesn’t, it is an excess that should be tossed without sentiments.

When I read her first book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying”, I felt like going through my possessions at once and “downsizing”, feeling as if their amount was weighting on me. Since that day much has been gave away, sold or simply discarded, but there is always room for improvement. Reading her second book, I felt like reorganising and simplifying, and yes, tossing some more. I haven’t done the total KonMari clearance, this I admit, but I am getting there, this day will come.

“Spark Joy” could be called a comprehensive tidying handbook, which gives numerous practical advices on how to do things, if not for more philosophical aspect brought up by the author. In her theory things are not merely material, they also hold certain energy that can affect the owner and the household. The key message is following, if you surround yourself with beautiful things that you really cherish, you bring joy into your life, and if you keep them in the right order and give each and every a designated space, you create harmony. Joyous and harmonious home is perhaps something that most aspire for, so why not support it with some practical know-how on how to fold, store, arrange, pack, select…?

From the Bookshelf. “Skin Cleanse. The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clean, Calm, Happy Skin.” by Adina Grigore.

Skin Cleanse. Adina Grigore

“Skin Cleanse. The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clean, Calm, Happy Skin.” is a big title for a modest book. Normally I am rather sceptical towards books that promise to inspire major changes, but this one had good reviews and since I still need to improve the condition of my skin, I decided to give it a chance.

The book focuses on the influence that food, lifestyle and chemicals from beauty products have on a skin, the biggest body organ. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that low quality, processed food will affect your skin condition, but when you read about chemicals that you willingly apply to it with everyday care, matters become slightly shocking. I admit that in the past I rarely considered ingredients in potions and lotions adorning my bathroom shelves, for if I did, perhaps my visits to the dermatologist would be less frequent.

The author, Adina Grigore, had her own struggles with skin condition, and as desperate times call for desperate measures, she took a radical course. At one point she stopped to use whatever beauty products she had and that experiment led to interesting observations. So yes, the book promotes a major cut  and clearance of your bathroom shelf contents, encouraging true minimalism and substituting ready made products with home made ones. Those ideas are too revolutionary for my own liking, so I doubt you will see me preparing sugar & honey scrub anytime soon, but there were other points that really made me think, look into my plate, read ingredient lists carefully and go for an occasional “clean” day, when I wash my face with nothing but water and use no beauty products whatsoever. As scary as it may sound, it is actually quite pleasant and to my surprise it has a positive effect on my skin. Perhaps there is a method in this approach, the only way to judge for yourself is to read “Skin Cleanse. (…).” and see how far can you go and what comes out of it.