On not reading

It’s no secret that I love to read. Being a reader has always been a huge part of my identity; I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading and books.

As a kid, I loved going to my local library and getting out a big stack of books. I’d go home, dump the pile on my bed, and settle in. I loved books about vampires, anthropomorphic animals, and children leading double lives as detectives or spies. I loved escaping into fantasy worlds. I read the first Harry Potter book when I was 11 (I literally grew up with HP) and I longed to get an acceptance letter from Hogwarts in the post.

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A few books about pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood

Reading has always been my route into understanding the world. As soon as I get interested in a topic, I immediately start searching Google for lists of books on that topic. So, when I found out I was pregnant I started Googling. I also headed to my local library: the baby and parenting section was mostly comprised of copies of What To Expect When You’re Expecting and baby name books, but I did manage to pick up a copy of Like A Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes. I devoured it in two days; it was exactly the kind of book I was looking for. I wasn’t interested in dry textbooks or manuals that would tell me the how. I wanted to hear from other women who had gone before me—with a smattering of interesting research into the science, history and culture of pregnancy and parenting. In other words, exactly what Garbes was offering.

There are many lists out there of books on pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. BUT, ho hum, here’s my list of books I enjoyed and/or found particularly enlightening.

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Of toast and time

Image by Ruocaled. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

The other day, I finally accepted something about myself: I like to eat toast for breakfast. Of course, I’ve known this for years (and my husband clearly thought I was stating the obvious when I told him about this new-found acceptance). In fact, I can (and have been known to) eat toast for every meal. But for the last few years I’ve (mostly) resisted my love of toast because I felt like I needed to eat a healthy breakfast. I peaked during my overnight oats period. But when it comes down to it, I’d always prefer to have toast (spread with marmite or jam) and a cup of tea first thing in the morning. Being a tea drinker has been a big part of my identity for a long time—I used to drink milky tea from a bottle as a toddler—and now I have a new facet to add to my identity: I eat toast for breakfast.

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How to fold laundry

Image by briandeadly. Used under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

It’s winter and I’m home from school. My mum is in the kitchen chopping vegetables and I’m kneeling on the couch in front of the window. Our house has a bay window, a divided-lite window—the kind with lots of little panes of glass. I can’t see out of the window because the dryer has fogged it up, so I draw on the condensation instead. These panes of glass are 50 years old and you are 25 years in the future.

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I want to sell you the world

Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, New Zealand

Last night I watched the first episode of Our Planet, a Netflix Original David Attenborough series. It has been on my radar for a while and I wanted to watch it, but I also knew it wasn’t going to be comfortable viewing. I was right. I desperately wanted to look away, to close my ears, as my TV flickered with images of skyscraper-sized chunks of Greenland iceberg crashing into the sea and Attenborough spoke of how the polar regions are warming faster than the rest of the planet.

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Reading outside my comfort zone (and the art of creativity)

Warning: this post contains spoilers!

On a recent holiday I decided to switch up my reading and go outside my nature writing, non-fiction comfort zone. At the time I was doing an internship with a publisher, so I had access to lots of free galleys (the bound uncorrected proofs that are sent as advanced copies to reviewers). I decided to read two of their new and forthcoming titles: The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher. In between those two books I also read Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (it was a very reading intensive trip!).

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A year in Toronto

View of the Toronto skyline from Toronto Island
View of the Toronto skyline from Toronto Island by Spencer Cappallo

Can it really have been a year since my husband and I landed in Toronto to start our new life here? In a way it feels like no time at all has passed. Despite the big move our lives have a rhythm that feels old and comfortable. We still wake up too early on weekdays and go to bed later than we should, we still cook the same meals, and we still snuggle up on the couch in the evening to watch Netflix.

And yet, our lives have changed quite a bit. Shortly after we moved to Toronto we flew back to Amsterdam for my husband’s graduation. At a party a friend commented on my husband’s new haircut and glasses, to which my husband responded, yep I’m just tearing it up, burn everything. In a way it does feel like we tore up and burnt the rule book of our old lives.

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