Make Me Remake Me by Gillian Cott

IMG_1810“I realized that I deserved romance if I dreamt it and adventure if I desired it.”

With a desire to travel and expand beyond what is familiar, Gillian Cott embarked on an adventure by saying “Yes!” to an opportunity to live on a farm in Burgundy, France.  A decision which would lead her to Paris, Prague, Montreal, and New York, among others.  Through a combination of poetry and prose, she recounts moments, people, and locations that were significant to her experience, along with the feelings that came with those moments.

Walking on Windy Days

Embrace all colours and feelings of life
like the wet autumn leaves that stick together
crushed under boots
but still bold

At times, you still feel inexplicably alone
more like the last leaf left on a tree
begging to fall
to feel more than
just yourself
shaking against the wind.

Make Me Remake Me: Writing Myself Across Two Continents is a lovely little book that beautifully conveys the author’s feelings about the different and new places she found herself along with romantic hopes, desires, and disappointments.  The combination of prose and poetry works very well and I loved the writing style, finding myself quite often marking phrases that particularly struck me.  Mostly this is a book about self-discovery, finding your place in the world, learning to love yourself and not be defined by another.

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

IMG_1150“To know a new language, to immerse yourself, you have to leave the shore. Without a life vest. Without depending on solid ground.”

In Other Words is Jhumpa Lahiri’s first book written in Italian, a language she fell in love with and dedicated years to learning.  The book is uniquely done, with the original Italian text appearing on every left page and the English translation on the right.  The author shares  a very personal part of her life by not only taking us through her journey with Italian but also writing in the language as well.  The result is an honest and open piece of writing that not only captures the experience of learning a new language and the challenges that come with that, but also how it relates to identity and culture. 

“I believe that what can change our life is always outside of us.”

This is the first book I have read by Jhumpa Lahiri and can in no way compare it to her previous works, but I don’t feel it would be fair to do so in any case, as it is a completely new endeavour.  She followed her passion for a language and truly immersed herself, creating a written account of her experiences and feelings about the process.

As I have no working knowledge of Italian I could not truly appreciate the Italian text that was such a personal undertaking for the author.  However, the English translation is incredibly well done, and I feel it really captures the essence of the original writing.  I related to this book so much and found that it perfectly described the feelings, experiences, and frustrations of adopting a language.  If you have adopted new languages yourself or perhaps struggled with identifying with any one language or culture, you should definitely read this book.  I would also recommend it to anyone interested in languages as well as to fans of Jhumpa Lahiri, as it does provide a window into her life and approach to writing.

“… in the end to learn a language, to feel connected to it, you have to have a dialogue, however childlike, however imperfect.”

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day

BLOG“There will be video game references galore, and at one point you may say to yourself, ‘This book might be too nerdy even for ME.’  But the heart of my story is that the world opened up for me once I decided to embrace who I am – unapologetically.”

Felicia Day rose to fame with her internet show The Guild and has found tremendous success online with her shows as well as in her acting career.  She is an actor, a producer, a director, a writer, a violinist, a math genius, a gamer… I may be missing at least five more.  She is one accomplished individual.

“It’s hard being weird. No—it’s hard living in a culture that makes it hard.”

I wasn’t familiar with Felicia Day before reading her book so I was not sure what to expect.  During the time You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) was being released, I watched an interview with her and she just came across as a very charming, funny, and quirky person.  Who doesn’t love charming, funny, and quirky?  All of these qualities translate into her memoir, which is such a fun read.  She takes us through her “hippie” upbringing, interesting childhood stories, the mastering of violin and mathematics, her acting career, and of course the evolution of her relationship with gaming and how she created her own success in the online world.  With humour and the awesome use of Photoshop (A+ use of images), You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) is a memoir that can be enjoyed by anyone, whether you are a gamer or not.  And if you don’t know Felicia Day yet, you should!

“My story demonstrates that there’s no better time in history to have a dream and be able to reach an audience with your art.  Or just be as weird as you want to be and not have to be ashamed.  That lesson’s just as legit.”

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

22716447“If my childhood, teens, and twenties were about wanting people to like me, now I want people to know me.”

Mindy Kaling is back with a collection of personal essays tackling a variety of subjects, from relationships to confidence.  Her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? talked about her childhood, her friendships, her start in show business and the progression of her career.  In Why Not Me? Mindy gives us a look into her life and her experiences as a successful writer and actress, along with everyday issues and concerns.

I absolutely loved Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, which had me laughing out loud many times.  Her second book definitely still has that Mindy Kaling charm and humour, but feels a little more serious and personal. It shows maturity and a woman who knows who she is, recognizes her faults, insecurities and is very open and honest about it all.  I didn’t connect to every single chapter but I truly appreciate the honest and funny nature of her writing, along with the overall message: feel entitled to what you want to achieve, but work hard enough to earn it.

Favourite quote: “People’s reaction to me is sometimes “Uch, I just don’t like her. I hate how she thinks she is so great.” But it’s not that I think I’m so great. I just don’t hate myself. I do idiotic things all the time and I say crazy stuff I regret, but I don’t let everything traumatize me. And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.”

My Fight/Your Fight by Ronda Rousey and Maria Burns Ortiz

BLOG“The fight is yours to win.”

Ronda Rousey is an Olympic medalist in judo and the undefeated UFC women’s champion.  In her autobiography she details her life growing up, the tragic loss of her father at a very young age, her struggles with relationships, her dedication to judo, and the challenging road to becoming the undefeated UFC women’s champion, sharing life lessons along the way.

My Fight/Your Fight is the story of an inspiring journey of incredible dedication, difficult challenges, hard-fought battles, life-lessons and success. Rousey teamed up with her sister Maria Burns Ortiz in creating this book, and the final product is well-written, engaging, and truly uplifting.  Each chapter begins with a message or a lesson such as: Know When to Move On, People Around You Control Your Reality, and Do Not Accept Less than What You’re Capable Of.  It then goes into personal stories and life experiences.  It is written and presented in a way that makes it relatable to everyone in addition to UFC and Ronda Rousey fans.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds themselves in need of an encouraging word and whole lot of inspiration.

Favourite quote: “I never would have been able to do any of those things without hope. The kind of hope I’m talking about is the belief that something good will come. That everything you’re going through and everything you’ve gone through will be worth the struggles and frustrations. The kind of hope I’m talking about is a deep belief that the world can be changed, that the impossible is possible.”