Posted in Food, Lifestyle, london

Friday Food Trip: The Roti King

Ah, the joys of de-stressing over food on a Friday night. After a really long day, I went to dinner with my sister and a couple of friends to an unknown (unknown to me anyway!) place near Euston called The Roti King.

I have to admit to being a bit skeptical at first. I’ve never really been fond of Malaysian food, apart from nasi goreng. But I am also the kind of person that is easily swayed by good advertising and believe me, the really long queue outside the restaurant was as good an ad campaign as any.

We must have waited about 90 minutes just to get into the restaurant. They had a really small space, I don’t think they could have sat more than 30 people at any given time. So top tips if you want to try this restaurant?

  1. Be prepared to queue 
  2. The chances of getting a table earlier depends on how many there are in your party. There were people who had only been queuing 5 minutes but a table for two was available so they were able to jump the queue. Whereas because we were a party of four, we waited a while.
  3. They do takeaway as well so that might be an option to consider.
  4. Its cash only guys. The nearest cashpoint is in Euston station so be prepared with some G’s.

Anyway, we finally got in around 8:30 and by this point the savoury smell was really getting to my stomach. I was so so hungry (so what else is new) that I just rattled off appetizers straight away. Roti to me is like a softer version of nan bread, or the malaysian equivalent of crepe. We ordered roti with spinach and cheese, roti special (this comes with either chicken, fish or lamb curry sauce) and the chicken murtabak which is roti with chicken and egg filling.

The first two were awesome. The last one was a bit bland and really filling, especially since we still ordered mains. I think if we ever go back there again, I’d order more of the roti with chicken curry. It was just so so good, my mouth is watering at the memory.

So, with the mains I would recommend sharing. We didn’t anticipate the portions to be as big as they were. I also didn’t anticipate how spicy the dishes would be which was stupid of me seeing as the dish I ordered had a big red S (for spicy) beside it. I am not known for my tolerance for spicy food so for the life of me, I have no idea why I ordered the sambal fried rice. Sambal literally means chilli-based. We are talking about rice that was probably cooked in chilli! It was so spicy that the first spoonful had me reaching almost immediately for my glass of diet coke.

Tip: My friend Angelica recommenda getting the soya milk to counteract the effect of the spiciness. I never knew that. Unfortunately, the only thing I tolerate less than spiciness is soya milk. Ugh. 

It was incredibly delicious despite that though. I didn’t finish the dish because there’s only so much spice I could take so my sister swapped plates with me and I was able to try her flat rice noodles instead, called char kuey teow, also really really good. I forgot to take a photo of it but its almost similar to the one below except that they used flat rice noodles intead of canton and I’ve always loved flat rice noodles, or ho fun as the Chinese call it. 

All in all, I give this restaurant a 4 out of 5 rating. It was good and it was cheap. With the amount of food we had we only paid about 14£ each and we would have paid less if we thought about sharing instead of ordering one dish each. As it was, we ended up asking them for a box for our leftover.

I would definitely recommend this place if you’re looking for authentic food and like us, you’ve spent a little too much this month and payday seems ages away.
Cheers! x 

Posted in Health and Well-Being, Lifestyle

The Bare Necessities and how I realised that Health IS Wealth

A colleague of mine recently had to miss work for a week because he was extremely unwell. He works so hard: he shows up for work an hour before we’re meant to be there to make sure he’s ready for the day; when you’re working with him, you always know you’re safe because he has so much experience and you know that he knows what he’s doing; he has the highest standards and does not suffer fools (or laziness); he’s at work so much that people joke that he should change his post code to our place of employment.

It made me think about our motivations and what drives us to work as hard as we do. For him, he does it to support his family. He’s recently realised his dream of bringing his entire family to the UK, to provide his children with all the opportunities that would have otherwise been unavailable to them had they stayed in the Philippines. That cost a lot of money, and in his own words, they’re currently broke but they’re all broke together. 

For a lot of people, money is the biggest motivator. Let’s face it, love may make the world go round but you need cash to grease the wheels. Its kinda difficult to keep mushy feelings going if your roof is leaking because you have no money for repairs, or if you’re living off bread and beans every day.

I know a lot of people who work at least 60 hours a week just to earn extra money. Heck, I’ve done it and I often don’t recognise myself at the end of a 60-hour work week. I think we never stop to think about the impact it has on us when we work as hard as we do. We are not machines; in fact, even machines have down-time. There are times when we – human beings – DON’T. And in a stressful environment like nursing, that can have serious consequences.

Work is physically demanding, no doubt about that. I am on my feet 80% of the time, even when I’m supposed to be doing admin work. By necessity – because of the nature of our job – our brain goes into overdrive most of the time. In addition, you give so much of yourself to care for your patients and to work harmoniously with your colleagues that the work also becomes an emotional drain. Now imagine experiencing that for 60 hours per week. Is it any wonder that people get sick?

I think we need to take better care of ourselves. I think we all need to remember that money and career are no substitutes for physical, mental and emotional well-being. I guess its one of the hazards of the world that we live in. We’ve become too enamored of material things that we’ve forgotten the bare necessities (the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife), such as health and simple freakin’ joy. Do you really need the latest iPhone X and is it worth forking over almost a thousand pounds? Do you need that Burberry trench coat so badly that you’ll run yourself ragged to buy it? Do you really need to be trying London’s trendiest restaurant every Friday night? 

I guess I’m writing this blog as a reminder to myself. My favourite sushi place sells a box called Health and Happiness and I think I’m coming to realise that health IS happiness and like happiness, its a choice that you have to make every day. Don’t be blinded by the bling, or the craving to buy a Prada bag you don’t actually need, or the zeroes you want to see in your bank account. All of that means nothing if you’re bedridden for a month because you’ve worked yourself to the bone. Health is happiness and health is wealth. Let’s do ourselves a favour and take care of ourselves more than we take care of our bank account. 

Posted in Lifestyle, london, Music, Reviews

A Love Letter to Music and Intimate Concert Venues

I recently went to an intimate concert at the O2 Academy in Brixton and I just have to write about what a great venue it was and how awesome small venues are in general. Granted, it was a Killers concert so I would have had a great time regardless of where it was held. But really, I found it amazing that a band who had sold out arenas like Wembley can also choose to have a gig in a comparatively small venue.

This isn’t the first time I’ve attended gigs like these. In the past couple of years, I’ve bought tickets to watch underrated artists who may not sell out big venues but whom I really really like, maybe because I listened to their music repeatedly while I was growing up. Like Vonda Shepard for example, who rose to fame while playing songs on the hit show Ally McBeal.

I remember I used to “borrow” (and I use this term loosely) CDs from my uncle Tony’s extensive collection and hers was one of the albums that I would take up with me to my room. I was a very emotional and angsty teenager and I spent quite a lot of time in my room agonising over my teenage crushes and Vonda’s songs were (and still are) the perfect accompaniment to that. I dare any woman from my generation to tell me they didn’t cry their heart out to Baby Don’t You Break My Heart Slow.

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I saw Vonda at Bush Hall, Sheperd’s Bush last year. When my sister and I were queuing up for this show, I was half afraid that we were being scammed because from the outside the place did not look like any concert venue I’ve ever been to before. There wasn’t even a proper entryway, just a tiny door that resembled the stage door that theatre performers go in and out of. But you should never judge a book by its cover I guess because the inside was absolutely beautiful. This hall looked more like it was used for wedding receptions and parties rather than concerts. It was awesome. And at 26£ per ticket, it was a freakin’ steal! 
Anyway, here are some of the other reasons why small venues are A-awesome:

You don’t need to queue for an entire day just to get a good view

So the last time I went to see The Killers at Hyde Park, I queued at 6am, had an egg mcmuffin at around 10 and nothing else thereafter, had small sips of water throughout the day so that I wouldn’t have to go to the toilet for the next 12 hours and eventually I got to see Brandon and co. at around 9pm. The reason I did all that is because I am only just over 5 feet on a good day and I wanted a good view of the band for my first Killers concert. So I was right up the front during the show but it came at the price of my sanity.

For their concert at Brixton, I came at 7 after having had a good pub dinner and a couple of rounds of drinks, bought another round of drinks at the actual venue before eventually grabbing a spot and still managed to have a good view of the band. O2 Brixton also has an amazing sloping floor so even if you’re at the back and vertically challenged like me, you’ll still be able to see Brandon Mr. Brightside Flowers. 

If you do make the effort to come early, the view is spectacular

The Apple Music Festival is held annually at The Roundhouse, another intimate venue. I’ve been lucky enough that even though I’ve never won any tickets for that festival (you can’t buy tickets, you have to enter a lottery because its completely free), I’ve had at least one friend win tickets 3 years in a row and they’ve taken me along as their plus one. I’ve seen Robin Thicke, Avicii, Little Mix and the last One Direction concert before the band broke up. I queued up pretty early for 1D because I am a not-so-closet directioner and as a result I got to see them up close. I had to battle it out with what seemed like hundreds of tweens though; at one point I thought a stampede would break out! I never want to go through it again, but it was still a great experience.

The acoustics are awesome

Because its such a small venue, the sound is kind of contained and so to me the acoustics sounded so much better than it does in the bigger venues.

 

You feel one with the crowd and with the artist

Gavin Degraw is one of those underrated artists who should be more famous than they are. His songs got me through college. One song in particular has special meaning to me and is the reason why I bought tickets to see him perform TWICE  in one year, both times at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town. The first time I saw him live, More Than Anyone was not on the setlist and I was crushed. I was determined to keep watching him until he played it. And when he did, I really truly felt like he was singing it just  for me.


 

Absolutely beautiful. Thousands of people all singing along to my favourite song. I do love it when artists do sing-alongs during concerts. I saw Kodaline at Hammersmith Apollo and they asked the crowd to sing along to The One, which is actually the one song of theirs that I know the words to. I love the lyrics to this song. 

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I think for most artists, having people sing along to your songs is a form of validation. I mean, take The Killers for example. Every time they play Mr. Brightside, Brandon hardly needs to sing because the audience does it for him:


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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hearing Mr. Brightside live is akin to a religous experience. Lol

In some cases, you pay peanuts for the tickets.

The Killers tickets were a bit pricey at 68£ but most of the tickets for the shows I’ve seen hardly ever go over 30£. If you’re a music lover like me, that’s nothing. Also, when I’m watching lesser known artists, not only are the tickets cheaper but there’s also a guarantee that everyone who’s there are true fans which makes for a better experience.

So yeah, I’m sure arena concerts and festivals are awesome in their own way and they’ll have an entirely different atmosphere because of the huge crowds and the number of other activities that you can do. But I personally am spoiled for life after having been to shows like these. Although I wouldn’t turn my nose up if someone were to offer me, say, free Glastonbury tickets. I just want to celebrate music and all joys that come with it. 

Posted in LGBT, Lifestyle, relationships

The Things You Find Yourself Doing When You’re Under The Weather

Dear Readers,

I apologise for being a little remiss on my blogging this past week as I have been battling the flu since last weekend. There were times when I was literally up all night coughing away and trying to find a comfortable position that best accommodates breathing. It sucked not being able to go out to enjoy the last remaining days of good weather but I somehow found ways to distract myself while I was stuck at home. I indulged my inner homebody and somehow managed to have a good time even while I was sick. That’s me, finding the silver lining in even the dreariest of situations.

So, what have I been up to this past week apart from applying liberal amounts of Vicks Vaporub. I’m glad you asked because I’m in the mood to tell you. This won’t be the most coherent of blogs. I’m going to have an existential ramble about things that have been weighing on my mind so be warned.

Netflix

Ah, good old Netflix. Where would we be without this streaming behemoth? For the discounted value of 9.99 a month, you’ll have hundreds of movies and tv series at the tip of your fingers. I’ve been looking for a good series to watch now that Game of Thrones has dropped the bomb that it won’t be showing the 8th season until 2019 (argh). Failing that, I’d settle for some good reruns.

So what to watch on Netflix? My sister was watching The Defenders one night and I tried that but only lasted an episode. I’ve never really been a fan of superheroes apart from the ones from the Marvel Universe. So I somehow found myself watching a show called Shadow Hunters and I got hooked.

This series is based on The Mortal Instruments book series by Cassandra Clare, the first three books of which I read a year ago. Its not groundbreakingly original and a few of my Goodreads friends have slammed the author for being a hack and capitalising on current YA trends to make cash and even plagiarising a few storylines. I guess I can see where they’re coming from but, come on, I don’t think she should be singled out when most of these YA fantasy novels feature the irritating commonalities of a love triangle or the perfect heroine whom everyone around her feels the need to protect, or the hero on a journey to self-discovery who somehow finds himself having special powers that make him different even among people who are different. These formulaic plot lines can be found in The Twilight Series, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Divergent Series. If Cassandra Clare was able to make a name for herself by using the same formula, guys, just live and let live. No one’s forcing you to read the books.

Anyway, I quite liked the books and I liked the series even more. I like that an LGBT couple is one of the main focus of the storylines, its further proof of how far we’ve come as a society. The so-called ‘Malec’ tandem is one my favourite parts of the show and it didn’t even occur to me be weirded out by the fact that this was a romance between a guy and another guy. That wedding scene gave me the feels. Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario do such a great job handling these characters. It doesn’t hurt that Matt is outrageously good-looking. Its hard to appreciate the scene below without context  and without knowing the backstory but I think its still one of the best scenes of the series.

Also? Props on the background song. I’ve been playing ‘War of Hearts’ by Ruelle on repeat this past week because of this.

Another show that’s awesome but has sadly been cancelled is Sense8. Its about 8 people who are telepathically linked to each other and can read each other’s thoughts and feel each other’s emotions and share in each other’s experiences. I read somewhere that this series is really groundbreaking because of its message of equality. I feel like this is a recurring theme right now in most movies and tv series, the message that love is  love regardless of gender, sexuality, age, race or background. I really really like this show, especially during light-hearted moments like the one below:

I’ve forgotten how good this song is, and surprisingly relevant. Its also an awesome song to sing along to when you’re feeling frustrated with life, and I have to say I found myself singing this song a lot this past week.

Figuring Out The Future

I’m a creature of habit and I struggle with change. Paradoxically though, I also hate being stuck. I have to feel like I’m driving towards something in order to feel satisfied. I know this is a cliche but the journey really is the destination in my case. I like having a goal in sight and I enjoy working towards that goal. Lately it seems like I’m not setting any goals for myself and I’m just coasting along, letting life happen to me instead of taking the bull by its horns and making things happen.

It doesn’t help that people close to me who I really care about have been moving on to new things and I can’t help but feel like I’m being left behind. I’m really happy for them but I hate being the person who stays. I think I would rather be the person who leaves. I feel like I’ve lost an entire support system that I didn’t even know I need. I know they’ll always be my friends and we’ll still see each other and catch up. I believe in the kind of friendship that I have with these people and its the kind that will withstand distances and busy schedules. Still, I will miss being able to have that shared experience and having them get exactly what I’m going through. I guess it all boils down to the fact that there have been far too many goodbyes in my life this year.

I think about moving on sometimes, so I made a list of the good things I’ve got going for me to find reasons to stay. There’s not a lot but the few that made it to the list are major ones. I still enjoy what I do, and I like my team. I feel appreciated by most of the people I work with and I no longer give a damn about the people who don’t appreciate me. I still feel like I’m making a difference, and that’s really important to me. Professionally speaking, its never been just about the money for me. I’ve turned down high-paying jobs before because I feel like I wouldn’t make a difference in that organisation. I need to know that what I do matters. I don’t want to be just another nameless employee. I guess that more than ever is why I stay where I am. I feel valued, and my contribution to the department and the organisation has always been acknowledged by the people who matter. I guess I should remember that the next time I feel the urge to look for greener pastures. I’m really really lucky to be where I am and to do what I do.

Personal Woes

My personal life has ben stagnant for the last year or so. I’m one of those people who are just really unlucky when it comes to dating. Its a combination of not being able to meet the right people and my lack of belief in the whole online dating system. I know a lot of people have had success with it and I have now taken to banning myself from Facebook because every time I look at relationship photos of people who I know met their partners on online dating, I think to myself, why the hell can’t I just do what they do?

It just feels so wrong. And believe me, I’ve had ample time to think about this this past week while I was coughing away in bed. I do not want my relationship narrative to include swiping right on Tinder. Its just really frustrating to think about the fact that London has the highest number of single people in the world and I struggle to meet even one. And the ones I do meet are just not my type.

I’ve been accused of being picky before. I prefer to think of it as having standards. I would really like to have a stable relationship. At this point, I am so sick of the dating game. The endless miscommunication, the not-knowing, the uncertainty, the construing of signals and analysing little things down to the minute details – its fun for a while but sometimes you just really want to start building a life with someone.

I found the answer in church of all places. Now my faith in religion is not at its strongest, I think I’ve lost my way a little bit there. But I go to church partly out of obligation to my mother but also because I can’t force myself to relinquish my belief in a higher power. So I was sitting in church last Sunday and the priest was talking about love. He said that love isn’t what the movies make it out to be, but rather its a decision. That really stuck with me. Maybe its time to make the decision that I want to settle down with someone and all my actions should align with that decision. Its really given me something to think about.

I’m sorry this blog has been a bit of a ramble. I usually post to entertain but this one is really more like a catharsis for me. My next posts will be back to their normal length, I promise.

Its good to be back.

Posted in Books, Lifestyle, london

Top Five Reasons Why You Should Join A Book Club

In one of my many attempts to alleviate boredom and broaden my social circle, I joined the Armchair Murders Book Club at Waterstones a couple of months ago. The club meets every first Wednesday of the month at the Piccadilly branch of the well-know bookstore.

When I first started telling people about it, I got a lot of raised eyebrows and funny looks. I think some of my friends had this picture of me sitting with a bunch of old people and knitting while we talk about books. To be fair, I had the same apprehensions going into the first meeting. But I just reached a point where being on the Goodreads community wasn’t enough anymore and I just wanted to meet people who have a similar passion for books. I thought to myself that, if nothing else, I would at least get free wine out of it.

I think back to that first meeting and compared it to the one I attended on Wednesday evening and it really warms my heart to see how much the group has grown in numbers. I think we had about six people in the group when I first joined; on Wednesday there were 15 of us coming in to discuss this month’s book. Half the people in the group were my age or younger, which made for a very lively discussion. Everyone was so into it.

Anyway, if you love books and you love talking about them and analysing them down to the smallest detail, then joining a book club is one of the best things you can do. If you’re having second thoughts because you have pre-conceived notions about book clubs, STOP RIGHT THERE and allow me to tell you why joining one is awesome:

 

Free Wine

You laugh, but this is actually one of the biggest draw for some people. I mean, if you have to be bored out of your mind, its better to be bored with a glass of pinot grigio in your hand right?

(By the way, I don’t know if all book clubs offer free wine, but Waterstones certainly does)

 

Ten Percent Discount on Books of the Month

If you buy books as much as I do, every little discount helps. Of all the perks, I think this is the one I love most. The club often selects books for the next two months and I often just get both because I know they’ll be discounted anyway.

 

You read books that you don’t normally read

I have to admit that I used to be the kind of reader that stuck to certain genres or authors. I mean, I’ve always really loved murder/ mystery and crime fiction, but my choices tend to be more generic or a novel that’s made it to the bestseller’s list. Never in a million years would I have picked up a book like Black Water Lilies, which has been translated from French to English. And that would have been a shame because its now become one of my favourite books.

Because of the book club, I have literally learned not to judge a book by its cover and I’ve discovered so many more books to read. Its also broadened my taste in books in general, as in I now pick up a book because its a good story and not just because its written by an author whose work I’ve read before.

 

A New Perspective

This month’s book was If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. If you haven’t read it already, you can see my review on this book here. I raced through that book because the plot and the characters really gripped me. And you can see from my review that I was really drawn to the romantic part of it, going so far as to say that I felt like love was the overarching theme of the book.

Wednesday night’s discussion really gave me a fresh insight into the book. By listening to other people’s opinions and their own interpretation of some of the scenes, I can see my own naïveté and how my own personality and outlook in life colour the way I see things. Among the key points that I learned last night was that love is different from obsession. Love is not love if it hurts other people and that even if you think you’re doing something for someone you supposedly love, it doesn’t mean that you’re not being selfish and manipulative. I will probably never look at a romance novel in the same way again (lol).

 

Friendly Debates

Of course not everyone loved the book. There were quite a few people who had strong opinions about either the plot or the characters. But the point of the book club is that you have to read it anyway, regardless of whether you want to throw the book against the wall halfway through. I knew from the start that this was the kind of book that would polarise the group and I was right. It was very interesting to hear from both the “lovers” and the “haters” and I really enjoyed debating plot points and character development with people who were as into these things as I was.

 

New Friends

One of my friends told me once that she really envied how I could easily feel at ease with people I’ve just met. I think I’m just the kind of person who’s interested in everyone’s story. I enjoy a good gab session, I really do. So if  you put me in a situation where I meet new people AND I get to talk about books, then you’ll really see me in my element. I genuinely enjoyed the company of the people I met last night and as a result I have more Facebook and Goodreads friends this week than I had last week. Life is good.

 

I know joining a book club doesn’t really sound like a cool thing to do. But in my opinion, we already do so many things just to project a certain image to the world, we should be able to do things for ourselves or just because we love it. And that’s what being in a book club means to me. I hope all my fellow bookworms out there find a similar outlet for their passion as well.

Cheers! x

 

 

Posted in Lifestyle, Music, relationships

Haters Gonna HateHateHateHateHate: Why I Really REALLY Like – And Relate To – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift releases a new single and its big news on the internet. Sure, some of the reactions were negative but they were reactions nonetheless. Even though people criticised the song “Look What You Made Me Do” the fact remains that they listened and took the time to react to it. They say the opposite of love is indifference so we must all love Taylor Swift, because love her or hate her, you just can’t ignore her.

Like Tay-Tay, I often feel the need to take on all my haters. And for some reason I also have quite a lot of Kanye’s and Katy Perry’s in my life. People who insist on portaying my character in a certain way; people who just can’t leave me alone. And for some stupid reason, I always get affected by what these people say even though really, in the grand scheme of things, I never really gave a f**k about their opinion until I heard all the s**t they’ve been saying about me. And when finally confronted about their behaviour, these master manipulators find a way to turn the tables on you and make it seem like you were in the wrong. They even have the nerve to cite “evidence”. They twist your words to their own nefarious purpose.

Like Tay-Tay, I find it hard to keep a low profile. I know she’s trying to do that by erasing all her previous social media posts but believe me, she won’t be able to help herself because I think just like me, she will always feel the need to defend herself. She also cares far too much about how she’s viewed by the general public. It doesn’t matter how many times people tell us you can’t please everyone. People-pleasing is a DISEASE, its an ADDICTION and I would like to check into rehab please. I feel like every time she speaks up, I get validation that I’m not alone in this world. Lol. That sounded way too creepy. Maybe what I’m trying to say is that it makes me feel better, when dealing with my own detractors, to know that at least its not as bad as what Taylor Swift must be dealing with and like her, I can channel all that hate into creative energy. Like writing. 



After a disastrous week, this new Taylor Swift single could not have come at a more auspicious time. Its the lead single to her new album ‘Reputation‘ and I for one am really looking forward to listening to that album. I will now have something besides ‘Shake It Off‘ to play when someone throws shade at me. You go, Taylor. Keep doing you. Just like you said in one of your songs:



I am officially putting a period to this week; all this hating and all this drama. So much negative energy is not good for my stress-eating. People, let us all take this opportunity to shake it off. Happy Friday!

Xx

Posted in Books, Careers, Feminism, Lifestyle, london, Reviews

Book Review: The Great Chick-Lit-A-Thon

I always think that people who abuse chick-lit as being all fluff and no substance has never had a week where you’ve used your brain so much that you just want to sit down for a day and not use up any more brain cells. That is what a chick lit is for. Its not unintelligent; in fact, I think it takes brains and talent to write a good chick lit. I don’t think it should even be called chick lit, that term is absolutely sexist. Yes, these books are written for and by women but I think men can learn a lot from them too (It certainly won’t hurt their E.Q. )

I will defend chick lits with my life. I think there comes a point in your year where you absolutely need a good escapist read. I think people who disparage these books as being so far from literature should get over themselves. Of course they’re not literature! One way to avoid going through life perpetually disappointed is to adjust your expectations. Take these books the way they were meant to be taken: they are pure, escapist enjoyment meant to be taken on a beach holiday and read for relaxation. Once in a while they provide a good social commentary and that is why this genre exists, because it is relatable AF.

Ok, I’ve said my piece. Let’s get to the review.

Eligible – Curtis Sittenfeld

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Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books of all time (talk about literature!). I love it so much that I’ve seen both the tv and movie version at least 10 times;

I salivated over seeing Matthew McFadden walking down Soho and I’m still kicking myself for not having the balls to get his autograph. I’ve read every spinoff of the book that has ever been released, even trashy ones such as Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife and Elizabeth and Darcy. I even considered reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies but stopped myself. So when I saw this book on a trip to Waterstones, I thought, why not?

Eligible is a modern retelling of the classic tale every woman out there (who hasn’t been living under a rock) loves. For the life of me, I cannot understand why out of all the bars and gin joints in the world Curtis Sittenfeld chose to set this story in Cincinnati. There could not be a less glamorous setting for a retelling. But I read on a review somewhere that the author came form Cincinnati so she’s probably killing two birds with one stone: writing about what she knows and shamelessly plugging her hometown.

Mr. Bingley (or Chip Bingley in this version) is an ER (A and E for those of us on this side of the Atlantic) doctor who was once a contestant in a reality show called Eligible, which I imagine to be something similar to The Bachelor. He went on it on the urging of his sister/manager Caroline and because he wanted to find love. At the end of it he just could not bring himself to choose from either of the finalists because he didn’t think what he had with them was real. He moved to Cincinnati and took a job at the University Hospital where his good friend Fitzwilliam Darcy was a bloody neurosurgeon (of course he is).

Liz and Jane are not the shy, innocent virgins that they were in the original version. In fact, Jane is nearly forty, a yoga instructor and has been trying to have a child through IVF for years. Liz is 38, works for a magazine and has been having an affair with her close friend, the married Jasper Wick (Mr Wickham) for a long time and has been stupidly in love with him for even longer. They are both called back to the family home when their father has a heart attack.

I found this to be a really clever retelling. The Bennets are just as ridiculous as in the original and Mrs Bennet clearly transcends generations, revisions and retelling because I found her just as overbearing and annoying. I think the book did a really good job of injecting modern issues while still keeping the theme of the original intact. And I guess that’s only to be expected because no matter how enlightened and progressive we believe ourselves to be as a society, marriage is still by-and-large a game. An eligible bachelor such as Chip Bingley is still eyed and sized by ambitious mamas out there to see if he’s the right fit for their daughters. I’ve talked about the pressure to be paired up and settled as you grow older in my previous blog and that’s hasn’t changed from when Jane Austen published her novel. The shelf-life of women has probably expanded a bit, but a woman in her 30s who is still single is still seen as an anomaly.

I like how this book tackles feminism and proposes the idea that to devote yourself to another person doesn’t mean having to give up being your own woman.

There’s a belief that to take care of someone else, or to let someone else take care of you—that both are inherently unfeminist. I don’t agree. There’s no shame in devoting yourself to another person, as long as he devotes himself to you in return.

All in all, this was a really enjoyable book.

My Not So Perfect Life – Sophie Kinsella

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I used to love Sophie Kinsella when I was in college. When I moved to London I found it a little hard to read her books because I thought they were unrealistic. Living in London is fun but its incredibly tough. Not everyone gets the glamorous jobs in advertising; we don’t all have fun Friday nights where we do all kinds of quirky things. In short, its not as perfect as her novels seem to portray.

Which is why I love this one.

My Not So Perfect Life is a glaring reality check on what social media has done to us as a society, especially for the younger generation, the so-called millennials. I think that we’ve all always felt the pressure to be perfect: the perfect daughter, the perfect employee, the perfect woman. With the advent of social media, there is an added pressure to not just be perfect but to make sure that everyone else knows it. To be honest, I sometimes hate looking at social media feeds, especially when I’ve had a particularly tough day at work or if I’ve had to re-think my holiday plans because I just can’t afford it. I see my friends’ posts and they just seem to be on holiday all the time and I find myself thinking, how in the hell did they find the time and money to do all that? Or I look at other people’s blogs or vlogs and think, mine will never be as interesting as that, my life just isn’t that instagrammable.

Truly, don’t ever go on Facebook or Instagram if you’re not feeling good about your life. 

This book tells the story behind the social media posts. It dares to say that there’s a story behind every perfect post. People project what they want to project into the social media world because they feel the need to maintain an image. Not all of it is real. We shouldn’t lose sight of who we are just because we inspire to be instagrammable. We shouldn’t bend over backwards to make other people think life is perfect because guess what? No one’s life is perfect. Not even movie stars with their blogger poses. They go through their ups and downs the same way as we do, they probably just hide it better. And maybe they have more expensive drinks to process their grief, but grieve they do nonetheless.

I loved this book. I finished it in one sitting. At one point, I felt the need to book myself into a glamping campsite just to see what the experience is like.

I think this book has an important message, especially to the young women of today.

Whoever started the rumor that life has to be perfect is a very wicked person, if you ask me.

Life isn’t always instagram-perfect but you don’t want it to be. You are more than your social media feeds, you do not need to maintain an image. Be real, be you, be better than Facebook.

 I would definitely recommend both these books for people who are looking for a light easy read as we near the end of summer. Enjoy, bookworms!