Posted in Sparks Book Club

EverydaySparks Book Review #1

I have come up with a clever plan to help with my effort to read more books in 2014. It’s not a resolution, mind, it’s just an effort. Cos it was a resolution last year (along with painting my nails and seeing one new release movie per month) and that didn’t turn out quite so well. I’ve always been a reader – I am very grateful to my folks, who must have passed it on in the genes. I can’t hope to compete with my Dad in the reading stakes, though – he’s chain-reads books like a champ (well, books and more recently that Hay Day farming game on the iPad…grandpas these days…).

Anyways, I have a stupid number of half-read books perched menacingly on my bedside table – from funny books about the Camino, to sad books about the Camino, to educational books about packing for the Camino (probs should’ve finished that one before we went), to a book on advertising in the Mad Men era, to one about passengers on the Titanic. And, for good measure, there are a few more bookmarked on my coffee table. I’m sure there’s probably a name for it somewhere in that psychiatric handbook – bibliodistracta or something like that. But that’s so 2013 – this year, I’m all about making time to read (and that includes finishing) more books.

My clever plan? To read them and then tell you about them here, in case you might like them (or need a gift idea for a book-loving pal). Now, given that I’m recovering from bibliodistracta…and it’s only the beginning of the new year…and [insert another excuse here]…my first book review is for a small, 97 page non-fiction number from 2008. Ann Patchett is an American writer, though I must confess that I’d never heard of her until I read some reference to this book that she wrote following her inspirational commencement address to the almost-graduates of Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

An easy read with a cup of tea. Maybe two cups.
An easy read with a mug of tea. Maybe two mugs.

What now? is a nice little piece of motivation for people who are looking for a new direction or a bit of a sanity check about what they’re doing. I like Patchett’s style – it’s not an over the top, rah-rah, YOU ARE AWESOME kinda pep talk. It’s more of a story about the twists and turns that make up your life’s journey and how there’s really no ‘wrong’ decision –  it’s only in hindsight that you can see how the student became the waitress and the cook and the teacher and then the super-successful award-winning author. Hey presto – just like that!

NB, most pages have more words than this.
NB, most pages have more words than this. But I do like this inside cover.

I think this book is a nice gift for someone who’s finishing their studies or a job or whatever – it’s a small hardcover with lots of cool photos, full of sensible, practical inspiration. It’s a thought-provoking book, but overall I think it’s mostly reassuring: don’t get too stressed about the big question of WHAT AM I MEANT TO BE DOING???? Stop over-analysing; always keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities; learn from the people around you; and be ok with the fact that you’ll never be 100% sure that you’re on the ‘right track’. Because (in my words, not Patchett’s), there’s no such freakin’ thing.

Because I couldn't resist including this pic of grannies in a maze.
Because I couldn’t resist including this pic of grannies in a maze.

If the thoughtful, academic analysis of my first EverydaySparks Book Review makes you realise that you need this book too, you can check it out on Amazon here: What now?

Now, I’m off to finish another book to review before 2015 flies around…

Posted in Musical sparks, Travel sparks

Overcoming the post-holiday slump

And so today it hits me. That inevitable post-holiday slump as things return to normal – bills need to be paid, appointments need to be made, work needs to be done…and the chances to reminisce about my recent holiday will be few and far between. So, I need a bit of a boost today. Normally, Dr Seuss is my go-to guy for motivation and a smile, but today I’m going with Flight of the Conchords and their recent NZ charity single: Feel Inside (and stuff like that).

You have probably already seen it by now, but in case you haven’t (or you need a refresher, like me today), here it is – a longish clip, but the interviews absolutely make the song, so I suggest you grab a cup of tea and sit down and enjoy it with me. A bit of feta really can make things better. Oh, and you can now buy this song on iTunes outside of NZ, so it’s like having a source of smiles on tap – I love it!

Posted in WWWhat?

The Doctor is in…

Today I’m struggling a little for motivation and inspiration. Just a little bit blah. At such times, some people look to Tony Robbins to guide them. Or perhaps the Dalai Lama. Or even Oprah Winfrey. Not me. Dr Seuss is my go-to guy for motivation and inspiration.

And this morning I remembered a great You Tube clip that my friend Naomi showed me earlier this year. It’s a short film of my favourite book, recorded with a cast of colourful characters from the Burning Man festival in the USA last year.

I often think that I’d love to experience Burning Man just once, but am pretty sure I’d stick out like a sore thumb amongst these very cool cats…

Hope you have a great day today, on your way to the places you’ll go!