inspiring books

Bringing Two Worlds Together

Welcome back to another post in the Monday Inspirations series, where guest bloggers write about the books and authors that have inspired them. Today’s post is by Dr Gulara Vincent.

What can a memoir set in Soviet Russia have in common with a memoir set in Iran? Let’s find out.

Elena Gorokhova’s ‘A Mountain of Crumbs’ stole my heart straightaway. Her writing is exquisite: I can see, smell, even taste the places she is writing about. Set in Leningrad in the thick of the Soviet regime, the characters in her story and the oppression she experienced as a young girl feel painfully familiar. Her mother reminds me of my grandma, and her rebellious sister of my mum. The poverty mentality, the constant fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, even her sweet tooth and the candy she used to eat as a child – I could relate to them all. I have memories of becoming a young pioneer, and the brainwashing we underwent at school. The public humiliation for loving someone at school if it came out into the open was on the cards too.

There were also points which diverged from my personal experiences. Like Elena, I loved English. Albeit grudgingly, Elena’s family supported her to pursue her dream and learn the language well. In contrast, Read More »Bringing Two Worlds Together

Return to Walden

Welcome back to the Monday Inspirations series for an inspiring post from Matt Steel.

Have you ever read a book that made you more awake and aware? A book that made you wiser, kinder, or more creative? That challenged the way you see the world and your role in it? In my life thus far, there have been several books that catalyzed various turning points. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, is near the top of that list, despite the fact that it took two attempts for the book to work its power in me.

Thoreau was a man of many facets and trades: A writer, transcendentalist philosopher, naturalist, abolitionist, surveyor, and historian, among others. In 1845, Thoreau built a small cabin on the shore of Walden Pond, near his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts. He wanted to create a quiet place where he could write. But he also wished to withdraw from the noise of society and gain a clear view of it, live simply in the thick of nature, and, in his own words, “to suck all the marrow out of life.” He did not want to reach the end of his life only to find out that he “had not lived.”

Thoreau lived on the Pond for about two years. Walden is the account of his experiment and reflections during that time. First published in 1854, Walden is a heady mix of memoir, philosophy, satire, and nature writing. Although the book was initially met with small success, many later critics have praised it as an American classic that explores simplicity, harmony, and the savage beauty of nature.

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A Victorian Obsession

Welcome back to the Monday Inspirations series. Today’s post is written by Luccia Gray.

I write historical fiction because I love travelling in time and space. I’m not interested in purposefully (I’m afraid I can’t control my subconscious) writing about myself or people I know, at the moment. I prefer to lose myself in other places and eras. I’m especially obsessed with Victorian times and writers, because they have become my beacon in the sea of words and ideas I need to express.

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