Portrait of a Young Woman Reading, Dean Cornwell (American, 1892-1960)
At the moment, I spend about 2 hours and 20 minutes a day commuting. The good thing about this daily journey is that I get to spend a lot of it reading. Here are some books that have captured my interest lately:
Recently finished: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
I so much enjoyed For Whom the Bell Tolls. I haven’t read any other books by Hemingway, but now realise I must. I was gripped from the start of the novel and found the expertly crafted build-up of tension to the climactic ending almost unbearable. Hemingway, through use of incredible dialogue and powerful description, transported me to a country torn apart by the Spanish Civil War, to snowy mountains where an American Spanish professor turned dynamiter joins forces with Republican guerrillas to play out their own small act in the war against the fascists: that of blowing a bridge. As well as a brutal telling of the destruction and cruelty of war, For Whom the Bell Tolls is also a powerful love story, and the backdrop of war, chaos and inevitable tragedy lent even more poignancy to the not quite 3 days shared by Robert Jordan and Maria.
Many years ago, I saw the film of For Whom the Bell Tolls, starring Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper. I remember I very much enjoyed it, although can’t recollect any details so I shall have to watch it again soon.
Does anyone have any recommendations for which Hemingway to read next?
Currently reading: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
I have almost finished Quiet and am finding it such a fascinating read. I believe introverts and extroverts alike would find much of interest in this book. As an introvert, I was intrigued to find the answers to so many questions that no doubt many other introverts find themselves asking, living as we do under the ‘extrovert ideal.’ For instance: to what extent should you pretend extroversion, if at all? How come extroverts get so panicked at the thought of time alone? Why do introverts often get sick if they don’t get enough down time? Why are introverts better listeners, and, often, have a deeper connection with friends and family than extroverts? Why is it that I enjoy hosting parties, but sometimes have to force myself to go to other people’s? Why is public speaking often so hard for introverts? Is it ok to cancel a social engagement if you just don’t feel like it?
Susan Cain explores these questions and many others with authority and skill. The answers she proposes, backed up by convincing scientific evidence, are wonderfully thought-provoking. I found one simple difference between extroverts and introverts that she explains quite illuminating: extroverts gain their energy and inspiration from contact with other people; an introvert’s source of power is from within. In order to ‘recharge’ and tap into their rich inner life, introverts need to spend time alone, which explains why I feel so burnt-out if I get too crazy a social schedule.
As a tool for gaining further understanding of yourself, and your own strengths and limitations, whether as an introvert or an extrovert, this book is invaluable.
(If you’re not sure whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, try this simple test.)
Dipping in and out: Occasions by Kate Spade
My Grandmother sent me this book (frankly I feel flattered that she thinks of me when she sees the name Kate Spade!). Occasions is a delightful guide to party giving and going, from what to wear, drink and eat, to how to decorate your home and the best party playlists. I’m enjoying it so much that I’ve ordered some second hand copies of Kate Spade’s other books: Manners and Style, which look equally entertaining.