Books

How white is your bookshelf?

The recent events in the US have had me thinking a great deal about a lot of things, but specifically, white privilege, police brutality, and the systemic oppression of Black people not just stateside, but all over the world. Not just in 2020, but historically, century upon century. And then I started thinking about what I could do as an individual and as an ally.

So I thought about this blog. Books. Reading. The thing I, like so many of you, turn to when I’m not sure what else there is to turn to. The place we go to learn, to reflect, to think, to live, and quite significantly, to listen to the stories those pages have to tell. And I’ll be damned if this isn’t a time to do all of those things with more intention and vigour than ever before.

How white is your bookshelf?

Let’s do a little experiment together, booklings. Take a look at your bookshelf, and either lay your trusty tomes out in piles or make a list according to these two groups:

  • Books written by white authors
  • Books written by Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) authors

If you want to talk about reading diversely in a wider sense, why not break things down by gender too? How many women are on your shelves? How many LGBTQ+ authors? It’s a learning experience no matter how detailed you decide to get.

If like me, you were raised in a predominantly white country and went to a predominantly white school with an overwhelmingly white reading list, then the final category will more than likely dwarf the others. And look – when you’re a kid, you basically read whatever you’re given. In my case, that was a lot of Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter, and Harry Potter. The important thing here is that as we get older, it becomes our responsibility to read across different cultures, genders, and classes.

During my undergraduate degree, two amazing lecturers taught me about postcolonial and world literature. They helped me realise that there was, quite literally, a whole world of authors for me to discover. Authors beyond the literary canon which is essentially a series of choices made by generations of white males. And in retrospect, I feel a bit silly. Precisely because it took me so long to realise. Because I didn’t see how narrow my reading had been until then. How obvious it became to me, how clear, that you can’t broaden your mind and really grow as a person without reading, hungrily, from a diverse range of voices. Since then, I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure my reading is more inclusive. It’s only enriched my life.

I will never understand, but I stand

As a white woman, I will never be able to understand the suffering, the struggle, of being Black in a world broken by systemic racism. By people who see differences as a means to control others, to divide, to hurt, rather than something beautiful that has the power to make communities richer, happier, healthier, kinder.

But it is within my power to be a better ally, and there are many ways to do that, but today we’re talking books and the book industry because, well, that’s what we do here. So I’d like to share a few different resources and recommendations to help us support Black writers, bookshops, and publishers not just right now but indefinitely as we move forward, because it’s not enough to post a hashtag and be sad or angry. We need to do the work, as Layla F. Saad so rightly put it in her recent article in the Guardian.

Books to help you be a better ally

Before moving on to the non-fiction section, I thought we could start with the historical, political, and social facts to help provide some much-needed context to the issues of racism that persist today. Enter, these titles:

  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler
  • The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
  • Black Skin White Masks by Frantz Fanon
  • How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
  • Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain by Trevor Phillips and Mike Phillips

Books by Black authors you need to read

Next, we’ll talk about fiction. If you’re looking for a few recommendations to get you started, here are some fantastic reads. Quick disclaimer here: this list is FAR from exhaustive, of course, but this wouldn’t be a book blog without me sharing some favourites, would it?

  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Recitatif by Toni Morrison (short story)
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • We Should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes
  • Petals of Blood by NgĆ©gÄ© wa Thiong’o

For a more extensive list of literature by Black authors, check out Penguin’s list of contemporary writers and this compilation by The Oprah Magazine.

Black-owned bookshops to support

I live in England, so I thought I’d cover the UK here primarily because there are people beyond these shores who know infinitely more than me about Black-owned businesses in their country. I’ll link to some other resources below if you’re looking for places to support in the US, and if you have any great resources to share, drop me a comment and we’ll add that in! Again, this list needs to be alive, it needs to grow; if you know of any Black-owned bookshops in the UK, drop me a link in the comments and I’ll add it to the list!

Additional resources

There’s so much to read around this topic, I couldn’t possibly hope to include it all in one little blog post. Besides, there are a lot of folks out there doing this with more authority and experience than me, so be sure to check these out!

Bookworms, if you have any additional books to recommend or resources to add to this list, let me know!

-Kelly

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things to do in barcelona
Travel

Arguably Abroad: Barcelona

Well, it took us a while to get to this one, but here we are! A few weeks ago I flew over to Barcelona with a couple of girlfriends to watch Ed Sheeran in concert, then, just one day after returning to Malta, I was off to Catania with my parents. I don’t think I even needed to unpack (never mind the fact that it takes me roughly a month to full empty a suitcase). Here are some of the highlights from Spain!

Barcelona

We arrived early on Saturday afternoon and really hit the ground running. After checking into our gorgeous, Pinterest-worthy hotel, we were off again, looking for some much-needed tapas and wine. Every meal I had the pleasure of eating was just delicious, and service was always friendly – even when we struggled a bit with the language barrier.

Art in Barcelona

Barcelona is often affectionately referred to as the ‘artisan city’ – and I’d say that’s a spot-on description. The city is an open art gallery, and Gaudi seems to be everywhere. I could sit and type about all the incredible art and architecture Barcelona has to offer, but I’ll save you (and myself) the time and suggest a few things that you definitely shouldn’t miss, even if you’re only there for three full days, like we were.

The Sagrada Familia

Unfortunately, we left it a little too late to buy  tickets to get inside – but we still made time to visit and appreciate this stunning piece of magical architecture from the outside. My top tip? Book. Tickets. Now.

The Picasso Museum

You just can’t go to Barcelona without spending a couple of hours appreciating Picasso. Even if you’re not particularly into art, I promise you’ll find the main exhibition really interesting. It’s incredible to see Picasso ‘grow’ from a young artist, just learning the ropes, into the fully-fledged, confident master who gave us artworks like Guernica.

what to do in barcelonaPark Guell

I first found out about this beautiful, mosaic-filled park thanks to Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 on my PlayStation. No, not joking. It was kind of surreal seeing Gaudi’s flamboyant park in ‘real life’, and it was not as close to the centre as I thought it would be (for some reason). Anyway, plan your route there in advance and try to get there before sunset to get maximum photo-op time. To see the best bits at the best times, you can pay a small fee to get in before 8ish – after that, it’s free, but you’ll have loads of other tourists contending for the perfect photo spot.

things to do in barcelona

The Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter is Barcelona’s old city centre, stretching all the way from La Rambla to Via Laietana and filled with some serious sight-seeing spots. If (like me) you’re a bit of a history dork, you definitely need to spend a couple of hours wandering around the area. My top tip? Plan your visit to The Gothic Quarter, The Picasso Museum, and La Boqueria market on the same day, because they’re all within walking distance.

Something Extra Special: Montserrat Mountain

This one was a definite highlight and I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same. Just a train ride and cable-car trip away from Barcelona city centre, you’ll find Montserrat, an incredible mountain range with its highest peak hitting 1,236 m (Sant Jeroni). This idyllic place is home to Santa Maria De Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey where you can visit the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary, the rumoured location of the Holy Grail of Athurian legend. Oh, wear comfortable shoes  because you’ll be walking quite a bit if you really want to enjoy this piece of paradise properly, and if it’s sunny you’ll need a hat and sunnies to protect you during your little trek. Stay hydrated, kids.

things to do in barcelona

How to get there (well, this is how we did it anyway)

  • Go to Plaza Espanya train station – it’s in the same building.
  • Look for the signs leading you to the R5 Train.
  • Stop at Monistrol De Montserrat – a cable car (funicular) will arrive/leave to coincide with train times.
  • You can get tickets there, but the cable car might be included in your train ticket depending on which option you went for.

Remember to check train and cable car times to make sure you don’t end up stranded there! Not that you’d complain…

Something Extra Tasty: La Boqueria Market

If you love food then this is an absolute must-see. This huge, public market is located in the Ciutat Vella area and is probably one of the most colourful markets I’ve ever seen. You’ll find anything from freshly-squeezed juices, fruit cups, amazing fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat, to dried goods and artisan chocolates you can take  back home. It’s all ridiculously well-priced, well-presented, and so fresh the fish might just jump up and make a run for it. I got to see real ostrich eggs! (I’m very easily amused).

things to do in barcelona

Unfortunate timing, butt you get the idea. Pun fully intended.

Quick Tips

Here are a few ‘top tips’, collected from friends, the internet, and my own experience:

  • The city has a bit of a reputation for pick-pocketing (like any big, European city), so be extremely careful and aware of your surroundings. Forget those cute, just-a-flap-no-zip-to-protect-you bags, and make sure your phone, wallet, and ID are safe at all times.
  • If you do end up getting pick-pocketed, make a report at the nearest police station for insurance purposes. There’s one down the steps in Plaza Catalunya, the same place as the station.
  • Getting around  on foot is easy, but you might want to use the (really efficient) Metro system too. Buy a T-10 ticket from any station for just €10 – it cover 10 trips and will serve you well.
  • The Gothic Quarter seems to be a pretty popular nightlife spot – check it out!
  • Shops open at around 10 am, and close pretty late.
  • Do not leave without trying tapas and sangria!

That’s all for now – if you have any questions or tips for future trips to Barcelona, leave them in a comment! 

-Kelly

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what is a slut
Adult Life, thoughts

What does a slut look like?

what is a slut

Hey guys! I recently wrote a little something for Eve  – let me know what you think! Here’s an excerpt:

Language is a powerful thing when it comes to shaping society and how we interpret the world. The way we speak about women who own their sexuality and refuse to be ashamed of it reveals a cultural assumption that women can either be virgins or whores, and there’s nothing in-between. It reveals a ridiculous level of societal concern (and nosiness) about the sheer possibility that a woman might be promiscuous; religion and state are so concerned about female sexuality that it creates rules, unreasonable dress codes, and even legislation protecting this sacred, purely feminine purity.

[Continue reading on Eve.com.mt]

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HOW TO HAVE A DEBATE IN MALTA
Adult Life, Funny

How to have a Debate in the (Maltese) Comments Section

I do this strange thing where I ping-pong between either being cripplingly shy, or not being able to stop myself from voicing my opinion on something. That ‘something’ is usually related to gender, women’s rights, racism, civil rights, religion, and whether or not we should be putting pineapple on pizzas. Sometimes, I can’t stop myself from entering the dark, dank abyss that is Malta’s comments section. There are a few publications that actually moderate comments, meaning that some of the downright abusive stuff doesn’t make it through – but sometimes they kind of…delete the civilised, well-structured comments responding to things like ‘your parents should have taken the morning after pill so you wouldn’t exist’ and ‘you’re an idiot’.

how to have a debate judge judy eyeroll

Last week I got well and truly stuck in a debate (I use the term very loosely) on whether or not we should secularise schools – the news article was basically reporting the opinion of a local Muslim leader, one shared by many Maltese people. He said, in a nutshell, that we shouldn’t be teaching one religion at school, using the education system to indoctrinate children into one faith while making those who have been raised in another one to feel somewhat marginalised. It’s a fair sentiment. It makes sense. Educating people about the different religions of the world would, in turn, lead to a more tolerant society and lessen the chances of radicalisation across the board. The fact that he was a Muslim leader, however, sparked some serious xenophobic outrage loosely disguised as religious fervour. Anyway, enough of that – here’s a quick go-to guide on how (not) to have a civilised online debate, with the help of the iconic Judge Judy (because why not?).

1 | Pretend not to be a racist/Islamophobe/xenophobe

(While totally being a racist/xenophobe and launching personal attacks on anyone trying not to be a racist/xenophobe)

giphy

A lot of comments section lurkers love to hide behind the illusion that they’re basing their arguments on some sort of religious moral highground, when in reality they’re just using religion as an excuse to spew venom. If they were the staunch Catholics they were pretending to be, I’m pretty sure they would be less like this, and more ‘love thy neighbour’:

how to have a debate

2 | Use ‘Go bekk to jor kantrij!’ ASAP

(Translation: ‘Go back to your country’ – the ignorant person’s go-to comeback when their close-minded and sometimes hateful views are questioned by someone who might be foreign, but also might just happen to have a different skin tone/ethnic background)

how to have a debate judge judy

It’s not really their business, but I was born in Malta and have lived here all my life. That doesn’t save you from the ‘get off my island’ bullsh*t that seems to be a shared sentiment among our so-called patrijotti, apparently. I was told to pack up and leave Malta if I didn’t agree with their opinions. Great job, guys.

how to have a debate in malta

3 | Be as petty as humanly possible

Losing the argument? No problem. Abandon whatever semblance of a point you were trying to make (MALTA IS A CATHOLIC COUNTRY IT’S IN OUR CONSTITUTION) and start throwing and picking on particular words to launch playground level insults. Example: Using the expression ‘flogging a dead horse’ could result in…

how to have a debate in malta

That’s the way to win, right? (It’s not, you’re being a d*ck.)

how to have a debate judge judy

4 | And then be even more gross and rude

The comments directed at me were quite a mixed bag. I was called, among other things, a prostitute, a ‘weed of society’, a ‘shame to my sex’ just because I was pushing for tolerance and saying that we should keep religious studies at home and at doctrine classes. I don’t have an issue with different opinions – I have a big problem with how so many seem unable to keep things civil, and go for pure venom instead. I was raised to stay as respectful as possible. Others seem to prefer getting personal.

how to have a debate in malta

I wonder if he spelt my name wrong on purpose, or if it was an honest typo. Either way, implying I am a prostitute, are we? Cute. Adding a sprinkle of sexism into the mix to keep things fresh.

how to have a debate judge judy

5 | GET WEIRD

Are you bleeding out on the Comments Section operating table? No worries. Use a dictionary definition of a person’s surname to try and win some dignity. You’ll fail miserably and look like someone with the social skills of a stroppy teenager, but hey, you feel good. Low-grade bullying is awesome, right?

how to have a debate

Now this guy was interesting, because while he thought it was acceptable to hold a full inquiry into my surname and origins, he refuses to use his own name. Unless his name is “Mustaccun”, which I  sincerely hope is not the case.

If that fails, repeatedly insist that  you find the person ‘hilarious’, and do your best to belittle the person you’re talking to, because that is totally going to help you win and look like the mature pure-blooded Malteser  bully you are. Prosit, ħaqqek wejfer! (Translation: [Sarcastic] Well done, have a wafer/biscuit) 

how to have a debate in malta

how to have a debate

So there you have it, my internet friends. I really don’t take it personally if you or anyone disagrees with my or anyone else’s views about, well, anything. It’s okay to have different opinions – that’s an incredibly important part of moving forward as a society, and I’d hate to live in a place where everyone had the same thoughts about the same issues. Debating through different points of view is how new ideas are born. 

It’s not, however, okay to be rude, get personal, and insult people for not sharing your opinion. Hiding discriminatory views behind something like religion isn’t just weak, but kinda of insulting to other believers of that faith. It’s not okay to live by the ‘like it or leave Malta’ attitude that so many seem to subscribe to. What gives me hope is that I see a shift in attitudes when I look around my generation and beyond. Some say I’m cynical, but it just gives me hope to see more tolerance and kindness coming through in our society. Be kind to each other. There’s enough hatred around.

-Kelly

Have you ever received insulting/abusive/uncivilised comments in response to a fairly-expressed opinion? How do you handle it? Share in the comments below! 

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difference between bachelors and spinsters
Adult Life, thoughts

The Difference between Bachelors and Spinsters

difference between bachelors and spinsters

For as long as I can remember, the words ‘bachelor’ and ‘spinster’ were universes apart. A bachelor is this cool, good-looking guy who can be in a relationship, but chooses not to. He probably lives in a penthouse with a lot of leather furniture and blue-grey decor, and a turntable playing smooth jazz; a different woman stays over every other weekend a la Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. The charming, eternal bachelor (never a slut) looks at his monogamous friends and sighs; attends weddings and mourns the loss of another brother in arms – after fully enjoying the Stag Night. Being a part of Bachelorville is a magical thing brimming with slick hairstyles and chiseled jawlines – sharp suits and naughty nightcaps.

But Venus help you if you and your uterus are single after a certain age, because you’re this strange creature with scaly green skin, three rows of teeth, and a gnome where your lady-business should be, frantically searching for a mate before those all-important child-bearing years are over. A wild Homo Innupta Tristis – a sad spinster, thrust out into the wild armed with little more than a DVD box set of Bridget Jones’ Diary, a pack of tissues to wipe your salty tears, and your pet cat, probably named Morris, there to keep you company.

difference between bachelor and spinster

Oh, and you’ll have already noticed that the world of bachelors and spinsters is completely heterosexual and cisgender, too. Add that to the list of questions.

Wait, what?

I always felt that there was something not quite right about this uneven split, even though I couldn’t always articulate it. I’d scratch my little head and wonder what exactly the right word would be for a lady who was quite happy to be single (like Charlie Sheen or otherwise). Defeated, I just stuck to an un-imaginative ‘not married’. Or ‘single lady’ (my inner-teen was very excited when BeyoncĂ© released her hand-twisting hit into the world). But once I’d come to terms with that one, my next question was: what do we call a man who’s a spinster? Cue frustration. Enter exasperated tween. Give up and play video games ad nauseum. Give it a couple more years, and I’d soon start asking why we felt the need to assign names to people based on their sexual/relationship status or levels of perceived desirability – that bit came a fair while later.

We’ve tried to sort this out by coming up with the word Bachelorette – which actually isn’t a bad one, but doesn’t solve the problem of double-standards on its own. We need to dig a little deeper into the ideology behind the words. The problem is that with or without those all-important signifiers, males and females are judged differently once they reach a certain age and happen to be single and – yes – childless. And that’s where the biological matter of sex fades away, and the cultural issues of gender and, more specifically, gender roles, come into play. Yes, I’m dropping the G-bomb. Don’t panic.

gender roles

The mental knee-jerk reaction we experience when we hear words like ‘bachelor’, ‘spinster’ or ‘bachelorette’ is based on the way we’ve been taught to perceive and understand the world around us. Before we’re even old enough to mumble one-syllable words like ‘no’ and ‘ka-ka’, the world around us starts to build us into boys and girls, men and women. Blue for boys, pink for girls. Boys play with cars and wear super-hero t-shirts, girls play with Barbies and toy babies, and wear dresses. This might seem absurd to some, but I promise you that that’s just how early it starts – and it just continues, over time, in the subtlest of ways.

Human beings are uncomfortable with anything that can’t be identified, categorised, and slotted into a box for convenience – genres, animal species, men, women, spinsters, bachelors, sluts, players, nerds, geeks, bimbos, and so on and so forth until the end of time. We like clear-cut lines and definitions. We like naming things. When you disrupt this black-and-white division of the world, you cause some serious turbulence. You’re a scary thing that broke out of your category. Where are we going to put you now, weirdo?

Re-definitions

Spinster (noun)difference between bachelor and spinster

An unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage, without children.

The gender problem I outlined earlier is captured quite neatly in this straightforward dictionary definition. This word defines a woman based on two key assumptions:

  1. All women should aspire to be married to a man by a certain age
  2. All women want to have children and be married to a man by a certain age

The view that women are essentially baby-factories waiting for a dapper prince charming to roll up and woo them into oblivion is supposedly convenient for society in the wider sense, but is vastly out of touch with reality. Some women want children, some don’t. Some women get married, some don’t. Similarly, some men prefer staying single, others would rather like to get into a relationship, raise children, et cetera. There’s no good and bad about it, however there is a massive misconception surrounding the subject of singledom. The driving force behind the words ‘bachelor’ and ‘spinster’ is the notion that a man can choose to be single, promiscuous, and not want children, while a woman is single because of some intrinsic flaw that marks her as ‘undesirable’, on the shelf. If she also happens to be promiscuous, then she’s called a slut, by the way.

difference between bachelor and spinster

So perhaps, like many things, it boils down to the question of choice. The fascinating thing about language is that it reflects the culture that creates and uses it; if we look a bit closer, there’s that small suggestion that the word ‘spinster’ is a pretty good snapshot of our society. The word captures this blurred image of a nameless woman, deemed undesirable, who can’t choose to be single or without children. It’s something that happens to her, a melancholy condition she has to ‘cope’ with.

Unless, of course, I’ve missed some critical part about being a human being who happens to have a uterus. Do I not get to level up if I decide not to have kids? Is there an exclusive Femininity Club I can’t be a part of if I don’t have a significant other? Will my ovaries explode if I don’t need to be desirable to men to have a good sense of self-worth? So many questions. 

Anyway, this is a little ramble that came up when I was sipping my cappuccino. What other pairings do you think are total bullshit? Hit the comments and let’s talk about it!

-Kelly

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thoughts

It’s starting to get to me.

Ominous title, I know. But you know me – I like to be as blunt and to-the-point as possible. Today’s topic is something that many living on tiny Malta will be familiar with – construction. More specifically, the unbridled spread of construction, cranes, and concrete across the island like some sort of cold, grey plague, and the general ugliness you’ll be smacked in the face with in most of our towns – particularly in central Malta. This is a taste of what you see during an incredible, fiery sunset in my hometown:

16473361_10154301435563316_7713514317804544091_n

Great view, isn’t it? How about no. It’s depressing, and messy, and it looks like nobody gives a damn. I’m embarrassed to say that this is my hometown. Half-finished apartments, cables and wires reaching across from block to block, and pavements and roads so riddled with holes and craters they’d give Sonny Corleone a run for his money. Of course, we always make sure that the roads used by foreign dignitaries are lovely and smooth, just in time for their visits – to hell with everyone else (i.e. the people who actually live here).

And the cranes. The cranes. 

During my 5-minute walk from my car to work, I counted no fewer than 8 gigantic cranes in St. Julian’s – and that’s without turning my head to look around. There used to be a bit of greenery just before heading down the hill to St. George’s bay, but that’s been ripped down and replaced with – wait for it – more parking spaces for a local taxi company. It bothered me, this assumption that we have the right to eat up every bit of nature or beauty in favour of more money and more parking spaces and more concrete.

If it’s not the cranes, it’s the so-called “Malta Planning Authority.”

I say ‘so-called’ because it’s less about the planning, and more about selling any piece of land or tearing down any building, regardless of historical and aesthetic value, to the highest bidder. There are some stunning town houses and villas dotted around central Malta, Sliema in particular, and it seems the ‘Planning Authority’ is perfectly fine with adding eyesore after eyesore, paying no mind to what the impact will be on the town or community as a whole. They’ve got a whopping 1.7 star review rating on their Facebook page, and if you ask me, that’s pretty generous. Check out what locals have to say about their ‘planning’ and you’ll see what I mean.

Where do ‘they’ draw the line? Why do we seem so powerless to do anything about it? How is it that we can have Valletta 2018 and the EU presidency on the one hand, and this, on top of the rampant corruption and general failure to govern on the other? You do know that Joseph Muscat hasn’t properly dealt with Konrad Mizzi’s Panama scandal, right? Why is Konrad Mizzi even working with the government at all? The list or questions goes on and on, so I’ll hit pause there. We just don’t deserve the EU presidency if our PM can’t clean up his own house. 

That’s what I’d love to know. Right now, I just feel like running away from this hot mess.

-Kelly

Check out a 2013 article about this issue here, and feel free to share your own thoughts and links below! 

 

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T.S. Eliot the love song of j alfred prufrock
thoughts

Thursday Thoughts & T. S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot the love song of j alfred prufrock thursday thoughts

So I’ve never written anything like this (i.e. thinking out loud) before, but hey – why not? I was going through some photos I took yesterday, and stopped at this one. It’s nothing special, just a photo of the sea – something which we have in abundance here in Malta, a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean, sandwiched between Europe, Africa, and everyone else. Something about it (don’t ask me what or why, because for the life of me I don’t know) reminded me of T.S. Eliot, one of my favourite poets, and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – a beautiful poem I studied when I was reading for my master’s. It’s a pretty long poem, and I’d recommend listening to it here, but here’s the ‘full’ quote in all its poignant glory:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

Something about this part of the poem resonated with me. Maybe it’s the sense of apprehension Prufrock feels, the ping-ponging of ideas and lukewarm decisions that plague and terrorise those so unsure about what to do next or how to do it, scaring themselves out of taking action in the process. Maybe it’s the potentially-maddening routine he captures in his ‘evenings, mornings, afternoons’ and coffee spoons. Maybe, being a coffee fiend, I just remembered the coffee. I don’t know, but I just wanted to share this particular poem on my little piece of internet in general, and with you in particular. Read it. Enjoy it. I won’t go into any more detail about the poem or my thoughts on it because I don’t want to colour your own interpretation, but I would love to hear what you think about it and how it makes you feel. Hit the comments if you’d care to share, fellow literature-lovers.

Have a great Thursday!

-Kelly 

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Reasons to Travel
Adult Life, Travel

Arguably Abroad: My Reason to Travel

Reasons to Travel

As a girl who has grown up on a tiny island with just barely (and that’s being generous) enough room for around 450,000 inhabitants, I can’t think of anything worse than spending a lifetime living in the same country indefinitely. Take away the promise of yearly holidays, and it becomes plain terrifying.

It’s dangerously easy, I find, to get too comfortable; to become lazy and almost forget that just beyond our little trio of islands is a whole world to explore and a wealth of memories to be made. It’s terribly easy to forget that we’re a WiFi connection and a few clicks away from your next great adventure at any given moment. For some, that might mean a 1-2 week holiday; for others, that holiday might stretch into a month. Others – a year. Two years. Why not?

Reasons to Travel

Looking out over Ponte Vecchio, Florence

I guess one of the key points I’m trying to make here is that travel (real travel, not overgrown shopping sprees) is the way to develop as a person. It’s always interesting, rewarding even, to find out what ‘you’ are when you’re removed from the people and places that have been constants in your being and becoming. For some, it’s more frightening than anything else. But that’s okay (do it anyway).

Some might comment and ask how  you could possibly be planning another holiday, how you could spend your money seemingly without a second thought when there’s other things your could buy or save up for. Some will be surprised you’re not saving up for no specific reason other than to save up. Honestly, at the end of it all, what’s more valuable? Do I want things or do I want memories? I know which one I choose. Be self-sufficient, save up, get your own place (or rent) – but please, travel. See things and meet people; try new types of cuisine and see what it means to be you without the things which usually serve as the backdrop to your life.

At the end of it all, you might have less money in your account, but you’ll be so much wealthier. Life is entirely too short to be spent working solely to have lots of things  to fill the house on the island you’ll never leave.

So where to next? What are your top travel destinations? 

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Books, Travel

Bella Italia: Books I bought.

Buongiorno a tutti! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve spent the last week or so shamelessly gallivanting around Italy, eating all of the food and drinking all of the red wine. Despite going through 5 years of secondary school Italian, I have a bit of a confidence problem when it comes to actually speaking to someone and reading a few pages takes forever.

That’s a problem for another day – preferably one to be solved while sitting in a bustling piazza sipping cappuccino and reading something in Italian. Until then, I’m perfectly happy hunting down small but very well-stocked English sections in librerias dotted around the cities.

La Feltrinelli

I made my first purchase at La Feltrinelli in Pisa – a treasure trove for those of us who are as obsessed with pretty stationery as we are with books. I almost didn’t care what this particular one was about, I just knew the cover was beautiful in its simplicity. Then I saw the title, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Sold.

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Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

IBS.it

My only ‘problem’ with this bookshop is that I actively have to stop myself from popping in every time I walk past it – it’s 2 minutes away from the Duomo. Oh well! It was a tough call, but I exercised serious self-control and only bought one book – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned. Honestly now, would you be able to resist a book that looks this good? Didn’t think so.

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The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Galileo Galilei Museum

The first time I visited Florence, I bought a Thames & Hudson book about Greek and Roman Mythology from the Uffizzi Gallery. This time around, I hit the immensely interesting Galileo Galilei Museum and (of course) had to buy something from the gift shop.

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The Great Scientists in Bite-Sized Chunks by Nicola Chalton and Meredith MacArdle

I have a few books to get through before I read these beauties but I’ll be posting a review on one of them soon enough. Promise!

What are you guys reading right now?

-Kelly

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