Best Books I Read In 2018

I read a lot of good books in 2018 and it was tough choosing my favourites reads, but here they are in order in which I read them. I hope they might inspire you to read them or to choose not to.

 

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

A literary fiction book that sets in the 1950s, the ’60s and ’70s mostly in Belgian Congo during a time of upheaval. It follows an Evangelical Baptist family who moves to Belgian Congo to a tiny village to turn them all into Christianity. The story is told from the first-person perspective by the women of the family, who describe the events, other people and their thoughts in the own unique ways.

I really enjoyed the plot, the way the author handled the history and the situation of the country, and how she explored the colonialism and white man’s way of doing things their own way which to them is the only way of doing it right. It is interesting to see the cultural differences and how they bump into each other and the patience of human’s in difficult situations.

The book has quite a dark and melancholy feel to it but is dripped with funny events that feel natural to the storyline.

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

The book is a beautiful reflection of clashing cultural differences between east and west. It discusses it from the point of view of lovers, although other relationships do come along occasionally as well. It discusses the English language and the meaning of words and how they can be interpreted in different ways by a different culture. Or how different the expectations are of the relationship by people from different cultures and the different needs of people from different cultures.

The book is about a young Chinese girl Z who comes to the UK to study English. She falls in love with a man and she discovers her sexuality and self-identity through travels in Europe and the rocky relationship.

It is fairly easy to read and it has great insight into the western culture from an easterners perspective. It is fresh and beautiful!

 

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ruby tells a story about a black girl who suffers her whole life from the hands of one man who takes advantage of her innocence and fright. The story is mainly concentrated in a small town in East Texas in a black community where everybody knows each other as they do in small towns. Ephram is a reverends son who is in love with Ruby who is considered to be a crazy person and a whore. The story is haunting, aggravating, depressing and beautiful. It tells perfectly how other people can influence your own perception of yourself in bad as well as good, and how difficult it is to get rid of that bad. It tells how love sees into the soul through all the fences and it shows how the minds of a group of people can be manipulated by a strong voice and how any bad action, in a person’s mind, can be turned into a good deed.

Ruby is definitely not for the light-hearted, but it discusses many problems we face in feminism, racism and religion very well. I was so surprised by the story, with its hint of fantasy, and it stayed with me for a long time.

 

Pirate Women by Laura Sook Duncombe

Pirate Women was a very fascinating book which told the fictional and nonfictional stories of the most famous female pirates of the world from ancient Greece to the modern day cinema heroes. It portrays and discusses the female characters who are moved by not only love, but by revenge and joy as well, and is supported by historical and cultural events. It tells stories of strong women who I wouldn’t have probably heard of from anywhere else.

The book is well researched, very sophisticated and critical, but still easy to read and really interesting. It has a strong feminist voice without having to put men down, but with criticism and speculation for culture and women’s position in that culture. If you want to read about several strong women who took their lives into their own hands, this is an excellent read!

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

Bear and Nightingale, and Girl In the Tower by Katherine Arden

I was so surprised by how much I liked the two books from the Winternight trilogy and can’t wait to read the next and last part of the trilogy. The fairytale trilogy follows a young woman Vasilisa or Vasya in Russia at a time when a woman had her place in the house making children. When Russian wasn’t yet one big country, but rather where Tatars were controlling all the groups of people around Russian territory including Muscovites.

The books discuss the old faiths and how they along with old cultures are wiped to give room for Christianity. It discusses a woman’s place and how Vasya is trying to challenge what it should be. And it is all wrapped in a historic Rus during the winter. The books are fast paced, filled with mystery and intrigue, and will make you want to keep turning pages. It is easy to read and one of my new favourite fantasy series! I read them as ebooks, but now I really want to get the actual books maybe even hardcovers as I liked them so much!

 

An Almond For A Parrot by Wray Delaney

A book that I couldn’t put down! This is a story about Tully who decides to be a whore to keep her independence and who is a seer. Her husband is adamant on kidnapping her even though she doesn’t know why and she has to rely on the kindness of her gallants and her friends. The book is erotic with a touch of supernatural, of great friendships, love, mischief and mystery. It’s excellently written and not too obvious.

 

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge

This is definitely one of the most important books to read in one’s life. Not only is it very informative, but it raises important questions about racism in our society and about class and equality in our society. It delves into the truths that you might not have heard of because they are purposefully hidden to drive you to think in a certain way. This book is eye-opening to the problems people of different colours and cultures face and to the white privilege. It makes me want to know more and investigate what else is hidden from us by those with power or what is fed to make the class distinction stronger. Read this book before you talk about it!

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

This is a book that still makes me go aww, it was so beautiful! It is a very unusual story of how life can take its hope from stories or books, in this instance Great Expectations. It tells how sinking into the imaginary world can keep people sane or hopeful when the situation is far from it. I read from the back of the book that the story is beautiful, surprising, charming, heart-breaking and has some horror. While that is all true it made me surprised when the tone of the book, throughout, was melancholy and starts with childish innocence.

It tells how different cultures have to live together and how they accept each other, however, I hoped to read more on that. It is surprising in many ways. And it will make you cry and be horrified by people’s cruelty, but still being very honest at the same time.

 

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

A lovely collection of thoughtful, strong and feminist poems. Very thought provoking and often relevant to each woman’s life. I will be coming back to it over and over again!

 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

A really interesting biography of the life of a mixed raced boy in South Africa at the end of apartheid and time after it. Trevor writes in an entertaining but also informative way with his young naive thoughts and his adult views on the events. It tells about the different cultures in South Africa that he experienced and about his bond and relationship with his mother, which is really special and wonderful to read about. This book made me laugh out loud and cry. It gives you glimpse into another culture and how people survive in it. It also provides you with a different view on crime and what is right or wrong.

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

I did finish 36 books, most of which I like, but these were my favourites. Reflecting on this list I realise I didn’t read any books on ethics or sustainability, which I need to change for this year. Also, it looks like I’m reading mainly female authors, but actually the list is more balanced there were just more books by male authors, that I read in 2018, which I didn’t like. We’ll see what the list is going to look like in 2019. Some of the books that I am excited to read this year are Villette, The Bees, Running with Scissors, The Winter of the witch, Spinning silver, Nevermoor, the Immortal life of Henrietta Jacks and a few books on fashion and ethics which I still need to choose.

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

What were your favourite books you read in 2018? And what you looking forward to reading in 2019?

With love,

Lii

 

Happy Favourites of December 2018

Christmas – The time I got to take to just be. The end of December was very busy and a bit stressful, so I took a complete hiatus from social media, blog and work. Instead, I’ve spent time with loved ones, played games, watched a lot of tv, eating great food and too much chocolate, and given my brain a rest.

Seeing My Grandmother – Just before Christmas, I visited Finland to see my Grandmother who is staying for a bit with my mother. It was lovely seeing her after over 10 years and after a day of fumbling with how to behave in each others company we spend a lovely time together.

Happy Favourites of December 2018 - byLiiL

Time To Read – My preferred time to read is the morning before I start working or when I am travelling somewhere, but if I am stressed I rarely have the concentration for reading books. Now with the holidays, I spent every day several hours reading books and how I enjoyed it! I managed to finish 7 books in 7 days and therefore finished the year with 36 books read in 2019, which was my goal for the year.

Organising – I finally managed to purchase a storage shelving unit into our walking wardrobe. I’ve been planning it for several months in hopes that it will help us keep the little storage space we have in order. Until now that space has had a clothes rail and a small bookshelf left by the previous tenant, so all our stuff is piled on top of each other and it was a nightmare to get anything out of there. Now thankfully it looks a lot tidier, more organised and we can actually see what we have in the storage space. Hurray!

Forbidden Island – I received this new board game as a Christmas present and have really enjoyed playing it. It is based on co-operative playing where all the players are trying to survive without sinking with the island. It’s either all win or all lose and although it is stressful it is fun as well!

Recycled Wool Blanket – I’ve wanted one for ages as our flat gets pretty cold in the winter in spite of heating, but I couldn’t find one anywhere until I finally found Future Kept before Christmas! The blanket is so warm and cosy, I absolutely love it!

Illustrated Best News of 2018 – This is an awesome idea and so I wanted the post. Although there is a lot we should know about climate change and the affairs of the world, it is also important to see the progress!

Happy Favourites of December 2018 - byLiiL

Watch

Material Girl – Why I Choose Organic – This video by Kate Arnell (I am a bit late on this as it was published in 2017) is like a short documentary on organic fabrics and other items and why it is better to use them. It is informative, entertaining and just excellent. I really recommend watching it!

Read

Trevor Noah – Born A Crime – I actually listened to it on an audiobook which was narrated by the author himself which I think everybody should ‘read’ the book. Trevor brings depth to his book by narrating it and I felt like I was watching a movie or a documentary. The book is great for explaining what life was like for a mixed race boy in South Africa during and after apartheid. And although it doesn’t sound like the book would be pleasant when it is based at such a time, Trevor discusses his experiences with the naivety of a child with some comments but lacking any judgement. The book is fairly humorous when it explains the differences in culture and race. I can truly say I enjoyed this book a lot!

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – This excellent book took me a bit longer to read, but it is so informative not only about race but about our culture in general and what we don’t see or realise is happening. It’s a book that everybody should read!

Girl In The Tower – A second book in the Winternight trilogy which surprisingly I enjoyed even more than the first book (Bear and the Nightingale). The book is still based in Russia and entangles Christianity and old beliefs with magic to create a wonderful adventure which is both gripping and exciting. I didn’t want to put the book down!

Mister Pip – A beautiful and sat book by Lloyd Jones tells about a story about the magic of stories and how they can transfer your anguish and fright to make people and especially children resilient in time and place which is filled with horrible events. It is set on an island which is in the midst of civil war and where the civilians are facing all the struggles of the war.

Happy Favourites of December 2018 - byLiiL

Support

Labour Behind the Label For UK Garment Workers – UK is getting more and more garment workers each year. This helps many small and ethical brands to manufacture locally, however, it also means that fast fashion brands are able to create sought-after clothing faster but with consequences to the labour. Even in the UK, there are problems with companies that are not paying their employees the national minimum wage. The labour is afraid to report about this or might not know that this is not the norm and the companies take advantage of the situation. They might be paid as little as £3.50 an hour. I have a first-hand experience of this, although, at the time I didn’t realise what was happening. I was asked to work as a freelancer, over the busy Christmas time, for a brand in their factory that is claiming to be ethical and sustainable, however, because they wanted to employ me as a freelancer they paid me by the item and not by the hour. I was naive and agreed to it. After a week of working for them, I realised I had been only paid less than £5 an hour, whilst I also travelled to their factory every day.  They asked me to come back to work for them after Christmas, but when I asked to be paid the same amount as the rest of the factory labour I didn’t hear back from them. Only later did I realise that they took advantage of me being naive and young. I would’ve felt different about that pay if I could’ve worked from home, or if they paid for my travel, but they didn’t. Now, as I see that their company is considered very ethical and sustainable I feel sick and I wonder if any other person has experienced with them what I went through. Now you can help by supporting Labour Behind the Label with their initiative!

Happy Favourites of December 2018 - byLiiL

What were your favourites in December?

With love,

Lii

Happy Favourites of the Week – Something Good

A gentleman in Moscow – I finally finished this book! I was very intrigued to read it, but from the beginning, I felt like the book was dragging. It was written in a very upbeat sense, but somehow I found it hard to get my head around the book. Until I got to the middle point and then I was hooked. This book is situated in Moscow at a time of revolution and tells a story of how people had to adapt to their new lives. Unlike many such books, this held the focus on beautiful relationships, beautiful memories and beautiful food.

Happy Favourites of the Week - Something Good - byLiiL

Starting Good Summit – I get to participate in a starting good virtual summit where I get to expand my knowledge on sustainability issues and how to work to make things better! There have already been so many great talks and inspiring ideas. Ernesto Sirolli’s Changing the way how to give aid was very passionate, but also with a great point! And Jan talking about the future of work was something everybody should listen to, to be prepared for the future of their careers. If you are interested in this go check them out: Starting Good Virtual Summit.

Fiance making dessert – This is a rare treat to get fiance to make me different desserts that we’ve not tried before. I am usually the one who makes desserts so it is great that I do not have to be doing it!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Something Good - byLiiL

Spring is on its way – It might not seem like spring is coming, but there have been a couple of nice sunny days, which are rare in Glasgow. Also, the ever-horrible/wonderful appearing spiders… they are back. I might be okay with them if the warmer days are on their way! We moved our clocks last night, and although today is a bit of a tired day I know that there is more sunlight every single day! I can’t wait for Easter next weekend!

Meeting new inspiring people – I am doing a certain course this week, where I’ve met several very inspiring people with different skills that I am very admirable of. It’s wonderful to see people who are different and can work so well together!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Something Good - byLiiL

World Water Day and Earth Hour – This week saw two important dates to connect us to our planet, one for the water and one for the earth. Both immensely important and I was really inspired by all the posts on Instagram and around the web to support this connectivity. We are all fighting to have a better place to live in and have a better place for our future generations so we should be working on this together!

I won a book – I am taking part in the Our Shared Shelf – book club and a couple of weeks ago got the notice that I won their last book club book, which I hadn’t yet read or acquired: Why I No Longer Talk About Race With White People. I am excited to read the book and about winning a small competition!

 

Happy Favourites of the Week - Something Good - byLiiL

The Best Coconut Oil – We often don’t even think whether the food we eat actually is sustainably produced. So I was really happy to find out that Reviews.com did a research into several coconut oil brands and their coconut oil production and checked which ones are actually produced sustainably. Luckily for readers who live in states, this review considers mainly USA brands. For the rest of you, I thought this was a great article to see how you can question what you put into and onto your body. How to figure out whether it is sustainably sourced and how to go about it. I would still love to learn a lot more about this topic but this was definitely a great start!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Something Good - byLiiL

 

How was your week? Let me know in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

Happy Favourites of the Week – Chat and Nap

The Beauty Myth – The feminist book about how women are controlled with beauty. It is not news, but still, a very interesting book as it digs deep into the issues.

Happy Favourites of the Week - Chat and Nap - byLiiL

Get off Facebook Now – I am one of those people who really doesn’t like facebook. I talk about it pretty openly and the answer I get in return is “Oh, you are one of those people” as though there was something wrong with it. The way Facebook has developed doesn’t bring me joy anymore and it is amazing to see that there is a growing network of people who see Facebook as what it is! If you don’t know what it is, then definitely read the article!

Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine The Great – I am quite fascinated by the Russian history and this is a tv-show on Amazon prime that tells the story about how a young but determined German girl became one of the most celebrated emperors in the Russian history. And it is a story about a powerful woman! It is filmed in multiple languages so you will need to watch it with subtitles, but I found it to be more authentic.

Happy Favourites of the Week - Chat and Nap - byLiiL

Doisy and Dam Date and Himalayan Salt Chocolate – This chocolate is so delicious! I don’t seem to be the only one who thinks it’s delicious, it is always out of stock in shops!

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers – This was such a beautiful book on cultural differences, especially when considering the relationship between a man and a woman. It is a love story, a story about cultural conflicts and misunderstandings, sexual awakening and becoming independent. I would definitely recommend this book to everybody!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Chat and Nap - byLiiL

A Nap In the Middle Of The Day Under The Sunlight – I love naps, but rarely have time for them with my busy schedule. And naps while the sun is shining sound almost criminal when everybody else is going out to soak up all the energy they can from the rare phenomenon (rare at least in Scotland). But one day I wasn’t feeling well and went to my bed in the middle of the day to take a short nap before going to work. I woke up energised, warmed up from the sunlight in the room and immensely satisfied and happy!

A Chat With And Old Lecturer – I rarely get to talk with my old teachers without disruptions or what is going on in our lives, partly because I still hold them as authority figures in my life, although I left University a couple years ago. Our chat was short but honest and friendly, leaving me uplifted.

Happy Favourites of the Week - Chat and Nap - byLiiL

 

How was your week? Share your happy moments in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

Goals and Reflections

As the year of 2018 began I scrolled through so many goals posts and New Years resolution posts it just made me depressed. I ended the year 2017 with a couple of colds one after the other and started the year 2018 with yet another cold, so I didn’t have the energy for much else than watching Netflix and drinking my new favourite Pukka tea. I thought to myself every day that I need to now make the new diary and start planning this year, but the task seemed pointless when it was already the 5th of January and everybody had already started working on their goals rather than just thinking about them.

Goals and Reflections - byLiiL

Then I read the blog post by Rebecca from roses about how she also started the year with a cold and how she decided not to let it bother her, and I realised that is exactly how I should be thinking about it as well! New Years is for many the time to start over, but I don’t think I am starting over, I will be continuing with the goals I set last year and building on them with maybe a couple of new ones. But the funny thing is that I didn’t wait until new years to set those goals, I’ve thought of them earlier and started working on them. On New Years I like to reflect on how I did with the goals I set the previous year and then see if I need to refine anything for the coming year. This doesn’t need to be done right after the year changes, but whenever I feel that I need to do it. In the words of my partner “New Years is just one day among the rest of them” the only speciality of it is that our culture has decided to follow this calendar system when the year changes on a certain date. There are other cultures where they might follow another way to follow years and when they change.

Goals and Reflections - byLiiL

It is, of course, easier, after the long holiday break, to get back to business if you have goals, and it is great to make plans to go to the gym to lose all the holiday weight. However, the way I see it, it is quite awful to start working on all those plans straight away with the highest productivity at a time when it is dark and damp and the only thing you want to do is sleep and eat those delicious comfort foods you can get delivered to your door. I feel much more motivated and alive in the spring when nature is coming to life and there is more light. That is the time I feel at my most productive and inspired!

So if you feel left out, like I, from all the goal setting, don’t worry. There are still over 300 days to set goals for this year and many more to set goals for your life! And if you have any trouble to reflect or make goals you should check this post by Anuschka Rees.

Goals and Reflections - byLiiL

REFLECTING ON 2017

You can see what goals I set for myself in 2017 here.

My year of 2017 was tough and demanding in many ways, but also one of the happiest I’ve had so far! I got recognition as a freelancer and due to getting out of my shell and actually talking to people and networking I got more work, was able to gain my main income from freelance work and got great contacts for the future! This was hard but very rewarding! I used my money smartly and only on things I felt I needed. I got engaged, which will mark this year deep into my heart and I met my godson who I will love forever!

The goals that I did achieve were:

  • The reading challenge of reading 24 books, which I exceeded by reading 36, more on them in another post.
  • I kept most of my plants alive and learned better to understand what they need. I also finally got a book about plants for Christmas!
  • I made great leaps in understanding sustainability not only in fashion and textiles but on a much wider and global scale. The biggest thing I learned is that the problem is much more widespread and rooted into our culture and the humankind and it will take a lot of hard work to change our culture into a more mindful and nurturing towards our planet.

I still need to work a lot on German, yoga and photography!

Goals and Reflections - byLiiL

MY GOALS FOR THE YEAR 2018

  • Holidays and Trips – I have several trips scheduled for this year either for work, seeing family or just a holiday. My goal is to actually make them all come true and be a sustainable traveller at that.
  • Family and Friends – Spending more time with family and friends who are close to me. We live quite far away from our families and so need to make extra effort to see them and keep in touch with them. I know that I feel better after talking to my family and friends and I want to share the same feeling with them!
  • Being healthy – In my body and in my mind. When I get busier with my work I seem to lose touch with keeping myself healthy, maybe that is why I’ve got so many colds in the past couple of months? So as I want to progress with my career I need to remember to take care of myself and listen to myself. In other words more yoga, meditation and walks outside alone or with a friend!
  • Sustainable life – make at least 3 changes for a more sustainable life. Only 3 because I realise that I want to properly change my lifestyle to accommodate the changes and because 3 is attainable.
  • Learn German – I am sure this will be on my goals list until I will be fluent in it!
  • Social skills – As I saw already some development in my social skills I would like to develop them more and be more comfortable around people.
  • Time for creativity – I realise that the reason I didn’t achieve some of my goals is that I didn’t give them the time to actually be creative with it and trying things out. So now I need to give myself time to be creative with photography, writing and any other creative endeavours I come up with!

Goals and Reflections - byLiiL

2017 was great! I am now more confident with myself and my career. I couldn’t be happier with my partner who supports me in anything I do and loves me unconditionally. I have a great life and I am striving to make others lives better. So now I hope my 2018 will be even better!

 

What are your goals for 2018? Have you made goals? What do you wish for 2018?

With love,

Lii