July 2013: What I bought, watched and read
WHAT I WATCHED
Nada. TV is not a big thing for me especially in hotel rooms. I saw reruns on TV5 Monde of “Nues et Culottes” but nothing particularly exciting while on vacation.
WHAT I READ
Instead, I had plenty of time to read believe it or not, and I blew through the following books in July.
[SOCIOLOGY – FASHION]
Excellent, EXCELLENT book. I really recommend this if you are into fashion and style, or even if you aren’t but are curious about the true societal cost of cheap fashion.
It tied in very nicely to my new life philosophy of not buying anything ridiculously cheap, specifically items made in China (still going swimmingly well for me!), and it heightened to me the dire situation of what we consumers are doing to our own selves.
We’re basically killing our own industries, promoting and supporting the unsatiable lust for cheap crap. Cheap, falls-apart-after-2-uses, plastic crap produced all over the world in Third World countries.
Forget about the suffering in these countries to produce these items, the book outlines that you’re basically wasting your money buying cheap crap, and you will always pay for it in the end, which is something I’ve aways strongly believed in.
Even now when I go into H&M to browse (I like to see what the new trends are), I touch a stylish polyester blouse and can’t bring myself to even want to try it on, no matter how enticing its $10 price tag is.
Kitchen Confidential [BIOGRAPHY – FOOD]
He is no doubt a fascinating man but I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain (chef) to begin with.
I find him funny at times, but rather abrasive and too blunt without the need to be at times (I know, as if I can even call myself the Queen of Tact and Diplomacy, right?).
His need and flare for extravagant showmanship sometimes overpowers basic human decency and manners, which rubs me the wrong way.
That said, the book was riveting. RIVETING.
I want to buy every one of his books now. He tells the most salacious, deprecating stories, and goes into such detail, even telling you WHEN you should go to a restaurant to eat (Thursday to Saturday is safe), when you should order fish (never on a Monday or in a “special”), and how to tell if a restaurant is clean (just look at the way they take care of their bathrooms).
Even if you don’t enjoy cooking or food, it’s a good read.
1000 years of annoying the French [HISTORY]
I just liked the title which is why I picked it up.
I didn’t expect it to be as dry and as witty as it was, then again, it WAS written by a Brit so I suppose we should also take his view on the British & Americans versus the French with a grain of salt as well.
He revealed a lot of interesting tidbits about history, and overall if you do NOT enjoy history especially “modern” history (as in, not a book on ancient civilization), you will not enjoy this book. He has a lot of dates, a lot of information, and somehow manages to weave it all into an interesting book that was for me, someone mildly interested in the social aspects of history, not in the least bit dry to read.
The 3 biggest takeaways I got from the book were these:
1. The French have a way of hiding their faults and trumpeting their victories.
Take for instance their cowardice during WWII, they will pretty much universally tell you that they were all waiting for Charles de Gaulle to come and save the country, so they were just PLAYING along with the Nazis. Even BF agrees that when he was a kid, he found the way they presented it a bit suspicious, and didn’t quite believe their stories about having a secret intention behind welcoming the Nazis into their country.
2. Charles de Gaulle was not the hero everyone in France makes him out to be.
In fact, he sounds downright annoying and bothersome. He annoyed the Brits and the Americans, and had to be shuttled away into London and given busywork so he wouldn’t blab and give away secret plans and screw everything up. How much of this is totally true (as I said, it’s written by a Brit), I will leave it up to you to take it with a grain of salt.
3. The Francophones are always somehow against the Anglophones, yet their histories are linked pretty closely.
French versus British. French versus Americans. French people even helped the Americans at one point to be free of British rule during the American Revolution, something they keep on the down low, but played a part in.
Then the French turned around, rather liked the American way of not being under a king and took inspiration from the Americans for their own French Revolution. How’s dem apples? 🙂
First to Die [FICTION – MYSTERY]
I’ve heard so much about the author James Patterson on “Castle”, that I thought I might as well start branching out into other mystery writers and finding a new source of fiction to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed his style of writing.
In fact, this book reminded me a lot of the fictional books written by Richard Castle on the TV series “Castle” of Nicky Heat — strong, independent woman who finds it hard to find a boyfriend, and has a best friend who is a medical examiner who is a black, independent woman as well. Sound familiar?
Anyway, I liked the book and am looking forward to devouring his entire range.
The Beauty Experiment [SOCIOLOGY – BEAUTY]
This was written by a white American ex-pat who moved to Hong Kong for her Chinese husband’s job, with a new baby in tow, plagued with the common American problem of self-image and worth and surrounded by what she describes as tiny, fit, gorgeous Chinese and ex-pat women. She felt tired, fat, awkward and not at all very beautiful among these women and wondered why our society made us feel as though being “natural” was a bad thing.
In an effort to feel beautiful as a woman no matter what, she cut her hair very short like a man’s, stopped wearing makeup and using a lot of toiletries, stopped shaving her legs (although her husband timidly protested her furry legs)
I can’t say that I really connected with this book as a result.
Truthfully, I really don’t have a problem with self-image and confidence. I did when I was a teenager but that has pretty much become a memory of my gawky adolescence.
Yes, I am really into being more natural these days, but I don’t see the point of trading one extreme (plastic surgery, heavy makeup, diet fads) for another (going entirely natural with no shaving, refusing to use skincare products or any minimal makeup at all).
The book seemed to be more of her way to find peace with her looks, which she ends up doing, but I can’t say I would recommend it because I personally didn’t like it.
Maybe if you do suffer from self-image issues, you should read how she battled with these problems and perhaps you can come up with some ideas of your own to change the way you feel.
The Hunger Games Trilogy [SCI-FI FICTION]
- The Hunger Games (Book 1)
- Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
- Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)
I give it my highest recommendation. I actually saved this trilogy for when I was on vacation because I knew I would have time to read and this trilogy would be perfect for long periods of time with nothing to do.
I had purchased what I thought was the Hunger Games Trilogy, when in fact it was just the FIRST book in the series. By the time I devoured its pages, I pressed my Kobo Glo to get to the next installment only to be shocked that the book finished!
I luckily had a spot of internet, quickly surfed to the Kobo Ebook store and forked over $27 for the other two books in the series so my reading momentum would not be broken.
THAT, is how good this trilogy is.
It is like a modern “Lord of the Flies” meets the resourcefulness and creativity of the Harry Potter series with a good sci-fi Orson Scott Card’s “Enders Game” twist.
WHAT I BOUGHT
Not much, in France for July. Wait until my August post. EPIC.
I couldn’t find many things of fantastic value. I also saw that the grand sales were on, which meant that they were putting out on display ALL the things they wanted to get rid of during the sales, and hiding the good stuff (new collection, or too-nice items to go on sale) for after the sales were over.
I decided I would come back and do a quick look around the stores in August when the sales were done to see if I could find anything nice.
2 scarves at Galeries Lafayette – 300 EUR (They were NOT on sale!)
I was under the impression they were on sale but apparently not THESE specific scarves which made sense to me, seeing as they were seriously gorgeous and I would have been shocked had they been on sale for 30% off, to tell you the truth.
Something I’ve learned is that the best stuff never really makes it to sales very often.
One is extremely luxurious, soft, made in Italy with different patterns mixed around so you could twist it to get a different style of scarf (and look!) each time from Pierre Louis Mascia:
I was in line holding and stretching out this scarf and wondering if it was really worth 135 EUR, when an elegant French girl descended on me and demanded to know where I found that scarf.
Surprised, I pointed over to the area where I had found it, knowing that it was the last one I picked up in this deep purply, inky blue. Usually, when I get accosted by French people who want what is in my hands, I consider it a confirmation that I have chosen something of good, universal taste.
INOUITOOSH SCARF IN A STRIPED BLUE SUMMER PATTERN
The other is a simple linen and cotton scarf made in Italy, but I just really liked the striped colours and pattern of it. It was cheaper, as in half the price of the one above, which is still expensive in my opinion, but it just looked like the perfect scarf for Spring or Summer.
I bought more in August which you will see in my post 😉