A Short History of the World According to Sheep by Sally Coultard (2020)
A friend lent me this. A wonderful read, refreshing in it's brevity and attention holding. Sally Coultard writes with wit and detail as she explores a global history of sheep farming and the development of wool as a fibre, and the many crafts and trades, political unrest and culture formation that arose from it. From breeds of sheep in ancient Mesopotamia to the hand-spun sails of anicent Norwegian ships, export of royal stockings to agriculture in Australia - the stories and historic records are fascinating. Not to mention the section all about sheep and wool derived words and idioms: warp, weave, fleeced, spinster, dyed-in-the-wool, spin a yarn, pull the wool over one's eyes, moral fibre, bellwether, sheepish, wolf in sheep's clothing, black sheep!
This Golden Fleece by Esther Rutter (2020)
Following on my sheep theme, I read this one by Esther Rutter exploring Britain's history and love of wool. She travels around the countryside and isles, visiting sheep farms, woollen mills, museums and markets - weaving personal stories with history and folklore about the craft. She also documents her own progress knitting some special projects for herself and loved ones. I enjoyed this so much!
Madam Bovary by Gustav Flaubert (1856)
Read and dissected slowly in my book club (with my sister, sister's partner, and mum). Such a rich and provocative work. Originally written in French, it was interesting to compare our various English translations. I have read MB before - in high school, but didn't get nearly as much out of it as I did re-reading it in this season of life. It raises so many questions around femininity, sexuality, marriage, class, narrative, faith. So worth reading.
I thought it was just me (but it isn't) by Brene Brown (2007)
I listened to this as an audiobook while I cleaned the eggs over a week or two, and appreciated the time and space to reflect in-between sessions. I ended up buying a hard copy I enjoyed it so much - although enjoy isn't the right word, more that I valued it's insight and wisdom greatly. Brené does a great job unpacking the devastating social, emotional, and physical effects of shame through her 6-year study with women of varying ages and ethnicities. “Nothing silences us more effectively than shame" she writes. I found her case studies and personal stories heart breaking and sadly familiar. She shares lots of practical suggestions and ideas for identifying and abandoning shame and finding life-giving and compassionate alternatives. “If empathy is the skill or ability to tap into our own experiences in order to connect with an experience someone is relating to us, compassion is the willingness to be open to this process.”
Anti-Social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians and the Hijacking of the American Conversation by Andrew Marantz (2019)
My beautiful library purchased this one after I requested it. I have followed Andrew Marantz's writing for the New Yorker for a few years with great interest and respect. His book explores the rise (and rise) of political extremism and white supremcey made possible through digital media and social networking. An engrossing, disturbing, important read.
Love Objects by Emily Maguire (2021)
This was a random library borrow based on the back (and front) cover. I felt like reading fiction and was intrigued by the synopsis and her exploration of hoarding as a mental health condition, as well as the complicated nature of extended families in times of crisis. It held my attention mostly, though some parts are quite graphic and disturbing. Always strange and wonderful to read a book set in my birth city, Sydney and in neighborhoods I know well.
Things I don't want to know by Deborah Levy (2018)
This was the first installment of her "living autobiography trilogy" and my favourite of them. It is the shortest in length but felt the most intimate and revealing. Beautifully written. Levy delves into her childhood growing up in apartheid South Africa, and later moving across to England. Highly recommend.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)
A friend lent me this. I have long wanted to read it. So beautiful, so heart-breaking. I couldn't put it down, and thought about it long after the last page ended. Highly recommend. “We are not idealized wild things.
We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.”
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ABOUT the author
Emily Clare Sims is a farmer and mama to three young boys. Each day she looks for ways to notice beauty, contemplate her faith and savour the seasons...