‘The Stranger in the Woods’: Fueling my fantasy of an exodus from society

Once upon a time, a man called Christopher Knight got into his car and drove. He drove although he didn’t know where he was going, and he didn’t stop until he reached the woods. He abandoned his car, never to see it again, and there he lived for nearly 30 years, away from everything he ever knew. In this true story, Michael Finkel explores the life of “the last true hermit”. And though I didn’t love it, the book certainly gave me a lot to think about.

I picked this book because I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with survivalist literature, and a tentative curiosity about hermits. I mean, who hasn’t contemplated giving it all up and becoming a social outcast? We’ve all had that kind of day where we’ve just felt so fed up with the world – and with people ugh – that we feel so monumentally tempted to just sell our shit and fuck off to Tibet forever. It sounds so fun for a while, so freeing. But then of course the practicalities are considered and you start thinking about how rubbish you are at building a tent and what would you eat anyway and could you realistically live without the internet? It’s a good little exercise in gratitude really; when you’re feeling down about society and how free you certainly are not, consider the benefits of supermarkets and indoor plumbing. And NETFLIX. A life in isolation, a pariah of society, is a thought we often entertain but would never go through with. So obviously I wanted to read the story of a man who actually did. Continue reading

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Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around” – and this much is true for Lazlo Strange, a junior librarian obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, a fallen world whose very name disappeared from the world, the city along with it. Filled with dreams and monsters, gods and magic, Laini Taylor’s new fantasy is just as fairy-tale-esque as it sounds.

I was hooked from the start. Lazlo Strange is a sweet and likable protagonist who I enjoyed following. He suffers a bit from Laini Taylor’s typical protagonist blandness (they’re all just so nice!), but really it was the plot I was there for. Intriguing from page one, Laini Taylor presents us with so many fantastic ideas and interesting questions to be answered, all written with a prose so purple I should have hated it, but when it’s Laini Taylor I just lap it up.

“There were two mysteries, actually: one old, one new. The old one opened his mind, but it was the new one that climbed inside, turned several circles, and settled in with a grunt – like a satisfied dragon in a cosy new lair. And there it would remain – the mystery, in his mind – exhaling enigma for years to come.”

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May 2017 Releases – My Watch List

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May 3, 2017 · 11:33 am

Review: A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax

Well, I have spent most of my waking hours (and some of the sleeping ones) in the Land of Frazzledom, so I feel qualified to act as an expert tourist guide, pointing out some of the more notable swamplands of confusion and self-doubt. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in these lands. I’ve come to the conclusion that we all in this together: many reside in the Land of Frazzledom and we all trying to find some kind of exit route. I’ve also decided that rather than spending all time complaining, or pointing a finger at problems outside in the world for making us feel so unhinged, we need to learn to navigate those sharp rocks of uncertainty and bewilderment. In this book, I’ll give you some recommendations for the best holiday destinations to rest and refuel.”

The land of Frazzledom is probably familiar territory for the best of us. Everyday stresses are a constant companion, and In this semi-autobiography slash self-help guide, Ruby Wax attempts help us de-frazzle with an introduction to mindful psychology. Continue reading

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Should.

You should get out more.

You should get out and find a man, or a woman, but preferably someone of the opposite sex.

Because you should get married by a certain age deemed appropriate by your parents, but inevitably before you are ready.

You should also have children. Soon, because it’s better to be a young mum or dad than an old mum or dad.

You should have more than one kid, but less than five because that’s just a ridiculous number.

And, if female, when you have finished giving birth, you should breast feed and devote all your attention to your child and feed them organic foods and be mindful not spiteful but also think about returning to work or not returning to work (whatever is trendy in the neighbourhood you live in) and also find time to lose that baby weight, haha! Oh you haven’t given birth yet? Or found yourself a partner?

Well you need to get out more.

Spend eight hours at work, at least five days a week, possibly more if you want to be considered worthy of respect. You should spend the rest of your free time meeting new people in social gatherings that make you nervous while drinking alcohol but (not too much) and wearing alluring yet “appropriate” attire. Don’t do online dating because stigma, but do do online dating if it’s trendy in your area, but overall basically do whatever you can to find yourself a man, or woman, but preferably someone of the opposite sex.

With the last few remaining hours of your free time you need to spend 30 minutes per day doing moderate exercise – try the gym, Β you’ll meet new people! You should probably spend at least another hour a day on meal prep because healthy, organic, protein-rich and carb-free meals take time to make, and you’re probably going to ruin at least one batch crying into your saucepan because the pizza cravings are so intense. But it’s okay because you’ll feel better after a lovely eight hour sleep, right after you clean up the day’s mess, take off the make-up you have to wear (only if you’re a woman of course) have a shower, wash your hair, exfoliate, shave, moisturise, rinse, brush your teeth, floss your teeth, mouthwash your teeth, squeeze those spots you shouldn’t have and perfectly blow dry your hair.

What’s that? Only six hours before you need to be up for work? That’s okay, let’s learn to function on 4 hours sleep! You need extra time to enrich your mind: read one book a week, start learning a new language, engage in a hobby, go to an art gallery, practice some mindfulness and do some yoga. The yoga especially, it’ll help you focus on what’s really important like the amount of money you should have or the career you should always be working towards. Top tip, if you turn on the news while yoga-ing, you can multi-task and form opinions from a selection of curated options because you have to be informed, educated and on-top of the game. Speaking of, have you decided what your personal identity is yet? Because the world has all these forms in it and you just need to decide decisively NOW before the age of seventeen what’s your gender, sexual orientation, goal profession, religious view, hair colour, BMI, favourite colour and football team?

Let’s not get sidetracked, have you finished ironing, washing, bleaching, sewing, sweeping, rearranging, disinfecting, unloading, vacuuming, dusting, wiping, waxing, retiling, resurfacing and reupholstering your abode yet? Like you should? Good.

So you’ve got one whole hour of free time left, just about. And let’s face it, you need that time to worry about not being good enough. That you’re not doing enough at work, that you’ll never climb the corporate ladder high enough to secure that mortgage you need for that family you need. You need to worry that you’ll fail to find the love you must have, that you’re not the size you need to be, wearing the clothes you have to look good in. You need to worry that you’re not happy enough. Not good enough.

Not enough.

You shouldn’t be enough. You should be more than enough. You should be worthy. Of the box we want to place you in. Along with every other person of your gender, colour, age, and nationality. The box is where you should be. It should be where you want to be.

Why? What do you mean why?

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